It is that time again. It seem like every year that you sit down with your Core team or adults in the parish and discuss how to afford taking your teens on an upcoming trip. Bake sale? Car wash? Please don’t say we are selling frozen pizzas again.
Fundraising can seem like a burden that you didn’t sign up for when you took the job. You are a youth minister, you want to spend your time with the teens and help build faith and community at your parish, right?
Consider what Henri Nouwen said in his book Fundraising as Ministry,
“Fund-raising is proclaiming what we believe in such a way that we offer other people an opportunity to participate with us in our vision and mission.”
Fundraising is ministry. You aren’t just asking for money to send teens to a conference, you are inviting families, co-workers, parishioners, and friends to be partners with you on a mission to lead teens closer to Christ. At Life Teen, we have over 40 full-time missionaries who are asked to fundraise personal funds for their 2-year mission commitment. The missionaries boldly ask families to be their “Mission Partners” which means committing to prayer and financial support throughout their mission year.
Your Mission Partners are both your personal prayer team, your army of prayer coverage as you go out to be witnesses to the ends of the earth but also your first mission field. There are men and women that love what you are doing, but may not have the opportunity, time, or energy to hang out with teens every week. This is your chance to allow them to be a part of your mission.
Jesus had mission partners. St. Paul had mission partners. Mission Partnering isn’t begging or simply asking for money. It’s biblical. It’s learning how to share your vision and draw others into ministry. You’re not just developing a “donor list” but a ministry team with an eternally crucial mission.
Here are 4 practical steps to fundraising, and building up a base of Mission Partners for your youth ministry:
1. BUILD RELATIONSHIPS
This is at the heart of everything you are doing as a youth minister. Be a part of the parish community, and just like you would invite a teenager to a Life night to get to know them, reach out to the adults to let them know what you are doing, and why it is so important.
2. SHARING GLORY STORIES
Everyone loves hearing stories. Stories bring to life the mission of what you are doing with the teenagers. We can be very good at sharing about WHAT we do, and HOW we do it, but sharing glory stories about what God is doing in the hearts of the teenagers can help us communicate the WHY of youth ministry.
People want to be a part of something big. Come up with a master plan of what you are hoping to accomplish through youth ministry at your parish. If you are in relationships with people at the parish and you can clearly communicate WHY it is important and what you need to accomplish those goals, you are ready for step four.
4. PLAN/JUST ASK
This is the time to ask families, business owners, parishioners, family, and friends to be your mission partners. Bake sales, car washes, and selling frozen pizzas are all short-term fixes for your ministry. If you want to serve the teens and have the mission continue into the future, invite your mission partners to come in on the ground level and help support a ministry that is going to change the world.