“All I need to do is cast the vision.”
Maybe you’ve told yourself this before, or maybe others have told you this. It is true—you do need to cast the vision—but it’s so vague.
What do they mean by “cast the vision” anyways?
If you regularly make presentations to missions committee, congratulations. You’ve completed most of the hard work.
If the missions committees aren’t responding the way you had hoped, then you may figure that you just aren’t good at “casting the vision”.
You may wrongly conclude you are lacking some X factor, some stage presence, or some special charisma. (Of course, you may be right about that.)
And I get it. Most of us missionaries have a role on the missions field that doesn’t require a good stage presence. If it does, it can look wildly different in our context. The skills it takes to make a missions presentation to a committee in the United States is different from our ministry skills on the field.
But there are changes any missionary can make in their presentation to a missions committee. These changes will make them eager to support you, even if you have the charisma of a piece of moldy cheese.
Specifics make You Irresistible to Missions Committees.
Mention the specific pitfalls and challenges you will face in ministry, and how you will overcome them.
For the sake of example, let’s say you are going to join a church planting work in Japan. Instead of saying you will learn Japanese and do evangelism, you need to drill down to specifics.
What is a main problem foreigners face in learning Japanese? Exactly what methods of evangelism will you use, and what roadblocks have others run into? What will you do about that?
Specific as Possible.
It would be better to state you will be learning from one of the best language tutors in Japan. You will first learn to share the gospel using a short pamphlet (for example). Then that the person can then share with somebody else easily. That’s better. It’s more specific.
Even better would be to say that there are certain grammatical structures in Japan that almost all Americans get wrong, but your team has developed one of the best language exercises to master that grammatical element, all for the sake of being able to communicate the gospel clearly. The main pitfall people face in evangelism is that people don’t understand a Biblical nature of sin. So you start by sharing a specific Bible passage that makes more sense in their culture that shows what sin is truly like. (Again, this is all an example I’m making up, so if you know anything about Japan, this might be nonsense.)
The key is that you need to know the pitfalls, problems, and challenges in and out. You had better know them better than the people on the missions committee.
When you can concisely state the main problem, and you demonstrate you understand the problem deeply, you become irresistible to potential supporters. You can only be part of the solution to a problem if you have an accurate understanding of the problem.
Where to get specifics.
If you are new to the missions field, how can you get such specifics?
You need to ask pointed questions to the people currently on the field. Maybe they’re your teammates, maybe not. Either way, you need to know exactly what the main challenges are, specific solutions that have been tried, and then specifically how those challenges will be dealt with.
The more specific you can be, the more eager missions committees will be to partner with you.
What if there isn’t a good answer to a specific question or problem?
Here’s what to say if you know of a specific problem, but you don’t have an answer to it. “That is one of the challenges I don’t know how to overcome yet.”
If you know beforehand there will be time for questions and answers, say something like: “Unexpected things happen in missions, and so I will do my best to answer your questions, but I might have to say, ‘I don’t know.’” People respect you if you are willing to admit you don’t know something. The most important thing is that you do know specifically what the problem is. If you don’t know what the problem is, you can’t address it.
Big Visions that Multiply Make Missions Committees Eager to Support You.
When you share your ministry, you want it to look like a seed that will grow and then multiply. That is, an investment in partnering with you will have cascading effects that reach far beyond your personal ministry.
Its opposite is a ministry I like to call a “Money Pit” type of ministry. “Money Pits” usually refer to houses that constantly need repairs.
Likewise, a “Money Pit” ministry is one that constantly needs more money, but it never multiplies beyond its immediate impact. Of course some money is needed, otherwise nobody would be raising support. But at some point missions committees want to invest where their dollars have an effect beyond the ministry’s immediate influence.
Think of it this way: What if a church decided to partner faithfully with you for five or ten years, but then you left, and the money from the church stopped coming. Would that ministry still continue and have positive effects for the kingdom? If the answer is, “No,” or “Maybe,” then you have a ministry with Money Pit aspects.
Think of it this way: Does the amount of money directly change effectiveness of ministry? For example, if the ministry buys and gives away winter coats, is the only way to expand that ministry to buy more winter coats with support funds?
In this simplistic scenario, it would be easy to see how the ministry could do other things in conjunction with giving out winter coats so that the ministry wouldn’t become a Money Pit.
If you communicate with a church’s missions committee and demonstrate that what they would be partnering with is not a Money Pit, and you also mention the specific challenges the ministry will face and how you will address, then the missions committee will want to support you.
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