Awhile back I read a book called The Google Story by David A. Vise and Mark Malseed, where I learned something very interesting regarding what top investors look for when considering investing financially in a start up company.
- Ideas that solved real problems
- The potential to produce real profits
- Bright, passionate and capable founders
When Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin needed to raise money so their new company could expand, the investor evaluated them by these three things. I found this so interesting because of the similarities in how I evaluate whether or not to invest financially in a new church planter or missionary. When a church planter or missionary is pitching me their vision, as I’m listening I’m asking myself:
- Do they have ideas that solve real problems? Nehemiah’s vision was to rebuild the broken walls of Jerusalem – an idea that would solve a real problem.
- Do they have a plan to survive and thrive financially? It takes money to do ministry and I’m looking to see if there is a plan in place (however tentative) to stay afloat financially.
- Is the person requesting my support passionate and capable – in other words: Do I think the person has what it takes to accomplish their mission?
- Is there any evidence of God’s supernatural provision? Where God guides, God provides. So I’m looking for evidence of God’s supernatural provision. If I don’t see any evidence of the supernatural, I’m hesitant to put money behind an endeavor that lacks any signs that God is a part of it.
- Do they track and report results? If they don’t have a monthly newsletter or annual report, or some means by which they can share their progress with us, we don’t partner with them.
- Are they pointing people to the local church? The local church is the hope of the world! If the ministry isn’t connecting people to the local church, the ministry is not for us.
- Could our church partner with them by sending a missions team? We don’t want to just send money – we also want to send people. So we try to support only those people/organizations that allow missions teams to come out and serve.
Even if you don’t use the same questions we do, you ought to have some means by which to evaluate whether or not you will support someone financially. In professional baseball, they evaluate five things to determine if a player is ready for the big leagues: 1) speed, 2) arm strength, 3) hit for power, 4) hit for average and 5) fielding. What are your questions that help you determine if someone is ready for your financial support?
This information isn’t just helpful for pastors who are considering supporting a new church planter or missionary, it’s also helpful for church planters and missionaries. If they know what pastors are looking for, they can better prepare their presentations, thereby increasing the likelihood of garnering the financial support they need to accomplish their God-given mission.