The Big Ask

There’s only one thing worse than going to church and listening to the pastor talk about money: being the pastor who has to talk about money. 

Ministry requires money. And in ministry, money can be tight. When the day came that I needed to ask church members, face-to-face, to help us close the gap for the fiscal year I was nervous. But I learned some valuable lessons.

I had spent the last few weeks gathering figures, creating a gift proposal flier, and rehearsing my elevator pitch. I spent an afternoon calling donors to set up appointments. That part wasn’t so bad. But now it was time for my first face-to-face meeting to boldly ask for money.

To the naked eye, I appeared calm, collected, just waiting for a friend at Starbucks. On the inside, however, I was nervously rehearsing my elevator speech and crafting “the ask.” 

The couple arrived. We paid for overpriced coffee and a muffin, took a seat, and laughed over small talk. Then I launched into the purpose of the meeting. I explained the church’s financial situation, the ministry’s current health, and future vision. 

Finally, I asked, “Would you two pray about giving $___ over and above your normal giving this spring?” 

The words barely escaped my mouth when one of them replied, “We talked about this before coming over and decided to give $____.” (The amount was eight times what I requested from them!) I almost fell out of my chair, but regained my composure and thanked them for their generosity.

So, my first fundraising meeting went great, I thought. Now the second meet-up is coming

I rehearsed the pitch several times before the couple came in and sat in my office. Same routine as the first: small talk, explanation, and an ask. I asked for much more this time. But once again, without hesitation or skeptical questions, the couple tossed my gift proposal aside and said, “How about $____? Would that help?” (The amount was five times my asking donation.) 

After picking my jaw up from the floor, I sheepishly said, “Yes, that should help,” thanked them, and prayed.

More fundraising meetings are on the schedule, but I will face them with less trepidation because I learned two vital lessons today in pastoral ministry. First, generous people who believe in the mission of your church are anxious to fund it. These two couples were genuinely excited that I called and gladly opened up their checkbook for the church. Second, the apostle James was right when he said, “You have not because you ask not” (James 4:2).

I know you don’t like asking for money. You don’t like preaching on stewardship, or pushing donations at Christmastime. Even the thought of sitting face-to-face with donors makes you nervous. But if your church has a financial need, and there are members able to meet that need, just ask. Every week we equip and enable volunteers who teach, sing, serve, evangelize or disciple. Do the same for those who love to give.

Nik Schatz serves as the executive pastor at Hershey Free Church in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

Nik Schatz
Nik Schatz

Nik Schatz serves as the executive pastor at Hershey Free Church in Hershey, Pennsylvania.