If you’re building something from scratch, you’re going to have to know how to ask people for money. Essentially, you need the skills to become a Ministerial Entrepreneur, whether you’re building a church or a business (or both).
Yes, it will be awkward at first.
No, you are not the first person who feels awkward about asking for money.
But you’ve got this. And I’ve got you – let’s check in with the Bible to tap into your Entrepreneurial Spirit, based on my own experience with Affirm Fundraising, and a recent conversation I had with Father Cathie Caimano, of Free Range Priest.
Tap Into the Spirit: Get Biblical About Money
We aren’t just nervous about asking for money, we’re downright guilty about it. Maybe we can look to the Bible for some insight and direction. After all, the first thing that Jesus talks about the most is the Kingdom of Heaven. The second thing Jesus talks about the most is money.
What does the Bible tell us about money?
Jesus says in Matthew 6:24: No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate one and love the other; or else, he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You can’t serve both God and money (Mammon).
But I don’t think this means we can’t earn money. This says we cannot serve money.
What’s the difference between earning money and serving money?
Let’s read on a little further (if we were sitting with Jesus, it’d be “wait for it…”) to Matthew 6:19-20:
“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust corrupts, and where thieves break through and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven…” Matthew 6:19-20.
Between these two pieces of advice about money, here’s what I think. You can earn money – after all, Jesus was probably aware that people need to earn money to live and survive, even in Biblical times. He hung out with prostitutes and tax collectors, and only sometimes asked them to give up their day jobs (to follow Him, not because their income was the problem).
The important piece is that we can’t be owned by money, earning it and hoarding it, defining yourself by it and forgetting to serve God.
How can we do important ministry, create programming, and transform the world, without financial resources to do so? You can’t pour “it” out (so as to avoid laying up treasures) without having “it” first – and that means that money is a tool to use, rather than a master to serve.
Case Study: The Free Range Priest
Father Cathie Caimano has run into some friction when asking people to pay for her services. As the Free Range Priest, she uses a task-based contract model to provide spiritual services. This is definitely a more business-minded concept, that steps away from a “time-based salary” model (like ¼ time or ½ time).
This gives Father Caimano more flexibility in who she serves, from congregations that only have a few necessary tasks, to people needing marriages or funerals. She targets people who are interested in “investing in a spiritual experience without going into a church,” and we know that there are plenty of people who are looking for something like that.
“Sometimes, I get pushback for asking people to ‘pay for a relationship with God,’ as if I was that powerful,” she laughed. “I’m asking people to pay who need help fostering a relationship with God. We have to reimagine what we do for the good of the Gospel.”
But interestingly, she doesn’t get pushback about her fee structure from one of the congregations she serves: “It works really well for them, because they don’t have to pay a salary they can’t afford, and they get to choose which tasks they need from me.”
Entrepreneurial Mindset: Can Church be Like a Gym?
Father Caimano blew my mind when she shared with me an analogy that challenges church communities to think more like membership-based gyms.
She explained further about the concept:
“An analogy I often use is church as the gym. We are responsible for keeping ourselves fit, but we go to the gym to use the equipment and have the community we need to specifically exercise our muscles and hold each other accountable. What if we saw church as the place where we were working out our spiritual muscles?”
But the gym analogy goes further than thinking about our “spiritual muscles,” it can open the door for a new funding model as well. In terms of finances, gym members pay subscriptions, and can also pay extra for classes or personal training.
What if we saw clergy and church staff as responsible to support members in their spiritual fitness, and we paid church subscriptions because we know the church is there when we need it. And when we need extra services – one-on-one time, classes, counseling, then we pay extra for those.
And the mission is that everyone grows in their spiritual health.
Interesting, right? What do you think about this? Might make you nervous, but I think it teaches us a few things:
- Ministerial Entrepreneurship can be an actual reimagining of how ministry is funded
- These are the kinds of bold ideas and innovation that could reinvent what spiritual growth and engagement looks like
- This model understands that it takes money to run a ministry, and attempts to find a sustainable way to find that funding
- This model also takes a funding model that people know and understand (gym memberships) and translates it into the church community – how often have you felt that “tithe” language is inaccessible to people?
Father Caimano’s vision for the future church challenges us.
“There’s no inherent spirituality in what model we choose. A business model or an educational model – who’s to say which is more spiritual, when both are helping people grow in their faith?”
Well, if that doesn’t boil your noodle for a bit…
What do you think about that boldness? Her Entrepreneurial Spirit is strong, and I think it will help her connect to the Spirit in others.
Here’s my favorite quote from Father Caimano, that I hope will ignite Entrepreneurial Spirit and remind you that it’s your job to ask for money to build your ministry:
“If we’re going to navigate today’s world as ministers, we’re going to have to navigate money.” -Father Cathie Caimano
Still struggling to ask for money, but need it to build what God has called you to create? Let’s set up a call. Helping people work through mindset blocks to ask for money is one of my specialities.
I’m also excited to share with you Father Caimano’s latest venture: Bring Church to People, a community for people doing and being church in new ways. https://bringchurchtopeople.org. She has a passion for helping sustain part-time work in congregations; Bring Church to People even has a Creative Ministry Director for entrepreneurial ministers. They’re going to be launching group-based events where ministers can get paid for content, and more!