Apr 26, 2011
Conversations around the identification of meaningful opportunities to train and grow champions in the cause can sometimes feel a bit like a wrestling match.
Side note: If you are new to transformational giving and the importance of being intentional in champion development, spend a few minutes reading this posting (part one) authored by my colleague, Suzanne.
Can you relate to the fact that it takes some wrestling – I’m talking the real deal which includes sweating, gasping for breath, heaving, and getting air knocked out of you - to break old habits and to identify new, meaningful opportunities to offer your champions to grow them in the cause and in their spiritual maturity?
Here are a few of the pained responses I’ve received from leaders when pressed to consider meaningful opportunities to grow champions in their cause:
…But our ministry is different than other ministries.
…But our work is outside the US so it’s not so easy to connect people to the cause.
…But we work in a dangerous neighborhood and people are afraid to come here.
…But people don’t have time to volunteer, they just want to donate.
…But our clients are (you fill in the blank). Volunteers don’t know how to work with them.
The problem with these responses is that they are, well, excuses. Taking the time to build a PEO map for your ministry – and having the discipline to work thru the process which could admittedly take months and multiple iterations - will yield not only greater champion involvement in your ministry, but also greater donations. And, given some of the excuses above, keep in mind that the opportunities you offer your champions do not always require direct contact with clients or care receivers.
I am a prime example of somebody who has had two separate and impactful experiences in the last month – in the comfort of my own home, no less – which have grown my understanding of the cause of poverty and homelessness. More importantly, these experiences have sparked my desire to do even more to advance the cause!
Experience #1: Several sources, including this article in the Chronicle Of Philanthropy, tipped me off to Spent, an online game created by Urban Ministries of Durham, in North Carolina that shows what it’s like to live in poverty. I spent about 15 minutes ‘playing’ this game and learned a ton.
At the start, you find out you are a single, unemployed parent who has just lost a home and savings. With just $1,000 left, you are challenged to make a number of decisions and see if you can ‘survive’ the month with your remaining $1,000.
I got an up-close experience of how quickly life could ‘fall apart’ when you are living paycheck to paycheck. I was also deeply affected as I considered the painful and difficult choices people are forced to make when they live in poverty. Try it - you will be changed, no doubt.
Experience #2: I read a book recommended to me by my friend, Jeff Gilman, Executive Director, Redwood Gospel Mission (RGM). Jeff is a hugely-enthusiastic owner of transformational giving, mostly because TG took RGM from near-bankruptcy a couple of years ago to a thriving ministry known today for how it effectively mobilizes its champions to care for the poor and needy in their community.
The ‘Learn’ page of the RGM website lists a number of books including the one I read: Same Kind Of Different As Me. It’s about the highly unlikely friendship over time between an affluent white man and a homeless black man. The narrative technique of moving back and forth by chapters from the voice of the affluent man to the voice of the homeless man is captivating.
By the time I was half way through the book, I was so utterly hooked that I spent four plus unplanned hours on a recent Saturday morning devouring the book to its last page. What really ‘got me’ was reading about the evolution of Ron Hall as his attitudes about and misconceptions of homeless people were deconstructed. Of course I also related to him – frequently – in that his humbly confessed and misaligned attitudes and misconceptions are similar to my own! I don’t think I can say much more than what Jeff has already said: ‘I have to warn you: don’t read this book unless you’re ready to have your life changed.’
If you are wrestling with identifying meaningful opportunities to grow your champions in the cause, take heart – there is hope! It takes an open mind and willingness to wrestle through a gritty but rewarding process. And just remember that you’ll be creating a menu of opportunities – like reading a book or playing an online game – that will have the potential to change somebody’s life, like mine, and prompt that person to take action to serve others in the name of Jesus Christ!