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In 2012, I started the process of planting a church near downtown Toronto. I worked on the budget for the new church and showed it to my church planting director. “Looks good,” he said. “Now you just have to raise it.”

I had served as pastor before, but never as fundraiser. I began to read everything I could about how to ask people to partner with me financially to see this church started. I felt intimidated.

I met with two friends, and they gave me two insights that not only changed the way I looked at fundraising but evangelism too.

We’re Just God’s Lackeys

“You’re not the fundraiser,” my first friend told me. “God is the fundraiser. You’re just his lackey.”

She explained that God had already prepared people to give. My job wasn’t to create givers, but to find those whom God had already prepared. If someone wasn’t interested in supporting the new church plant, no problem. Just keep looking for others. Fundraising became a discovery process in which rejection was just an indicator to keep looking elsewhere.

She was right. I kept discovering people who were ready, and others who weren’t. “I’ve had the money put aside for a while. What took you so long to ask?” one person said.

The same is true when it comes to evangelism.

God is at work. We don’t bring spiritually dead people to life. We just go sharing and looking for the ones God has already prepared. I’ve often found, as I’ve shared the gospel, that a person has just been waiting for someone to come along to help them, and that God has prepared them for the encounter. When someone rejects me, no problem. Just keep looking. God is at work in people’s lives, and I just get to discover who they are.

We Get to Serve

I initially thought that I was extracting something (money) from people. I wasn’t serving them; I was expecting them to serve me. But another friend gave me a different way of looking at fundraising.

He began to set a goal in fundraising to bless the potential donor rather than expect them to bless him. He prayed before he visited, “Lord, allow me to encourage them.” He asked questions, not as a tactic to build rapport, but because he really cared. He prayed for them genuinely. If he found out that they had a passion for God’s work in another area — seminary education, for instance — he would direct them to give there instead of to his ministry.

He found that he started to look forward to fundraising visits instead of dreading them. He discovered the truth of what Jesus taught: it’s more blessed to give than to receive. Ironically, he also became a more effective fundraiser. The less he focused on himself and his financial needs, the more God seemed to supply what he needed even as he shifted the focus from himself.

The same applies to evangelism. When we take a genuine interest in others, and look for ways to bless them, the pressure lifts, and God seems to give more opportunities to share the gospel.

Fundraising taught me about evangelism. We’re not the fundraisers or evangelists; God is. Look for ways to serve others with no expectations, and you may find that you enjoy the process more, and that God will bless your efforts.