How To Approach Face to Face Appointments During a Pandemic

As I write this many cities across the US have gone to lifting restrictions of a stay at home orders or will do so in the upcoming weeks. We have yet to see how this will effect America in the wake of a virus without a vaccine. In the past few weeks, we have also seen Americans polarized by the politicizing of the virus and their beliefs. Some people believe that COVID-19 is a hoax, others believe it is deadly and dangerous and wear masks while still others don’t, others are grappling with how to reenter their workplaces and remain safe, some people are trying to figure out how to continue work and take care of children who are still not attending school, and others are just 100% over it all together.

Wherever you find yourself on the spectrum of Coronavirus belief (is there a better term? Let me know!) as you ask individuals for appointments in the upcoming months I believe it’s important to stay mindful that others may feel differently than you as far as safety is concerned. Thus, try to respect those differences. As you may be moving into asking for actual face to face appointments, it may be best to try to approach your potential partner by asking what makes them feel comfortable. Here’s a sample dialogue asking an individual for an appointment via phone:

(after beginning conversation and briefly explaining your ministry assignment…)

“…I would love to grab some time with you sometime in the next few weeks to talk more specifically about the vision and goals of this ministry assignment and joining some aspect of my team, whether that’s in prayer or finances or both. I don’t know what you’re comfortable with right now as far as meeting — would it be best to social distance on a porch at my or you’re home, we could use Zoom and meet virtually, or perhaps meet at a coffee shop if you’re comfortable.”

Basically, it’s important to not jump to conclusions as to what your potential partner is comfortable with! Stay mindful and ministry minded. If you need a review of how to approach individuals and churches during this time, this post and this one may serve as helpful guides.

If you have been struggling to make progress in the past few months, remember that God has called YOU to your assignment. He is still on the throne and He knows the times and the seasons. He actually knew this would go down in the midst of your support raising season. Stay focused and stay reminded of your calling. I have personally been so encouraged as I have dialogued with the workers I coach, seeing so many of them add numerous new partners to their team. You’ve got this. He’s got this!

I hope these thoughts help! Reach out if you have questions!

 

 

7 Things I Am Learning About Support Raising During A Pandemic

What day is it of whatever this is? If you’re like me, you’ve lost count somewhere along the way. As our groundhog days have gone on I have been busy coaching workers who are on the front lines of raising their support, many for the first time. I’ve been carefully listening and dialing into what is working and what is not. Thus, I wanted to take a moment to share some tips I have learned from coaching numerous workers raising their support during the Coronavirus. Here we go:

  1. If you have not done a newsletter in awhile (or you did recently, just pre-Coronavirus), NOW is the time to do one. I’ve been hearing workers mention that the number one question they are getting from their supporters and potential supporters is “are you still going to do your ministry assignment?” Stave off any doubt your supporters have by sending out a short newsletter that shares the following:
    • Reassure them you are feeling your call to ministry now more than ever! Remind them there are amazing opportunities to minister as people are searching for meaning and faith right now, and you’re excited to get on the front lines.
    • Yes, you are still called! Yes, you are still going to the field / on staff / your assignment! Let them know you are working as you are able to minister during this time, continue to raise support, and pray.
    • Ask them if they have any specific prayer requests.
    • Write a hearty thank you for their continued giving during this season. Let them how grateful you are. It’s huge they are committed to giving.
    • Don’t be afraid to keep it short and to the point.
  2. Video conference appointments are working. I have been taking with many workers who are having great appointments with individuals and are adding to their support teams during this time, Thus, don’t think of it as a time to stand still and do nothing! Reach for Zoom appointments using a mixture of discernment, wisdom, common sense, and prayer. When you do ask for an appointment, follow the guidelines found in this post and develop your own scripts.
  3. I coach a couple who shared this idea I thought was brilliant: for local appointments, think about having “porch picnics” with those who are comfortable. Their instructions:
    •  Get a Signup Genius ready (www.signupgenius.com)
    • Send link to potential supporters after you have called and asked for a appointment (or those already on your team that you want to build relationship with and see) to schedule appointments
    • “Take them” to dinner/lunch/coffee. (go pick something up with washed and sanitized hands or use UberEats or GrubHub or DoorDash)
    • Hang on porch at a distance
  4. Staying spiritually healthy matters. I talked with a couple yesterday who mentioned they are praying together for a different church every day, and are viewing this time as an opportunity to dial into their prayer life separately and together as a couple. They feel blessed to have extra time to bulk up spiritually. I don’t know about you, but I can’t imagine that this couple won’t be lead into great opportunities as a result of their heart and prayer life. Go and do likewise.
  5. Facebook / Instagram Live Q&As can be a good way to stay active and are FUN! As we all know, there are a lot of people online right now. Why not utilize that opportunity by doing a Facebook Live Q&A or Instagram Live and talk about your upcoming assignment? The main content of a FB Live Q&A should be comprised of giveaways, trivia / info on your assignment, questions for the audience, and time to let them ask you questions. Make it simple and fun, and promote it however you can before hand.  This post outlines some details on the subject.  (*sensitive workers — this is doable for you too with some extra precautions and permissions!)
  6. Continue having ministry moments. Ask pastors if you can help serve their congregation (if you have technical skills they could probably really use you)! Ask friends and family members how they are doing, just because. If someone comes to mind take a moment and reach out. What you sow you will also reap, so continue to sow into your relationships.
  7. Having a good attitude and staying empathetic matters. Remember, your ministry doesn’t start when you get to your assignment – it starts now! And hey, I totally get it, of course this time is challenging! I SEE YOU. But here’s a wild thought: God knew about the pandemic and still chose YOU for this time. Knowing that, choose to be the inspiration of courage and hope to someone else, as chances are they need it. Chances are you will be inspired by being an inspiration. You will be blessed by being a blessing. Stick with a good attitude. Stay empathetic and serve those around you in everyday small ways. One worker I know realized she is getting a lot of joy from having flowers on her kitchen table and tending to her plant babies. She is now driving around to her existing partnership team (who are local) and putting small plants on their porches with a short note of encouragement. What a great idea!

Friends, I hope some of these tips help or get the wheels turning on ideas of your own. What has been working for you? Post it in the comments! – JF

Partnership Development and The Coronavirus: Part 2

Many of you are faced with questions as to what should I do during this early time of the coronavirus. From the workers I connect with weekly, I’ve heard everything from “I’ve been having appointments this week on Zoom and they have been great”, to “we don’t know if best to wait and not ask for appointments this early into the pandemic.” I wanted to write a synopsis of what I have been thinking through this past week as we are navigating together. Here’s an update on some of thoughts (or just think of it as an expansion) since last week when I wrote Partnership Development and the Coronavirus Part 1:

1. This is not the time to do nothing! This is a great time to:

  • Build your online presence. Everyone is online right now! Do you have a Facebook group? Set it up! Do you have Instagram or TikTok? (guys, I don’t have a TikTok yet but I’m thinking about it) Set it up! Have you tried FacebookLive? Go for it.
  • Reach out to existing partners or just friends and family and ask how they are doing, and be an encouragement. Many of them will remember the times you reached out without asking for anything. Look for opportunities to serve and stay ministry minded:
    • send postcards (with washed hands)
    • send texts
    • send cards from your kids (with washed hands)
    • send videos from your kids
    • put a bag of coffee or a chocolate bar or something from a small business on their doorstep if local. if you don’t want to spend money go pick some flowers…there will be some in the next several weeks!
    • update your team with a newsletter

2. When thinking of continuing to reach out to individuals here are some thoughts:

  • It’s not time to pause completely or indefinitely. God still called you to ministry and that hasn’t changed because there is a pandemic. People need ministers now more than ever. It may be time to be sensitive and loving while thinking through your asks, and it may not be the right time to ask for some people in your contact list, but that doesn’t mean that your asks need to come to a full stop.
  • When going through your list it may not be business as usual. Use a mix of prayer, discernment, and common sense while thinking of who to reach out to in the next 2 weeks (or more). Do your homework and think critically: Are they a small business owner? (you may table reaching out to them for the time being) Are they someone you would have reached out to for a distance video call anyhow? Are they ministry minded?
  • When you do ask for a social distance video appointment with an individual here’s some specific thoughts on how to proceed:
    • Always start your phone call with 3 questions: “Hey, how are you doing? How are you doing in the wake of coronavirus? How can I be praying for you?” 
      • Take your time with their response and really listen with attuned ears. Ask follow up questions and don’t be afraid to get into the weeds. Let this be a ministry moment.
    • After you have listened, tailor your response to asking for a video appointment depending on their answer:
      • OPTION A: They said they are “fine” (sheltered in place / social distancing / but fine). If they say this you respond with:

“That’s great. I know it’s been a challenge and if their are any prayer needs that stand out let us know. We are calling because we feel our call to ministry now more than ever (to X – maybe a brief summary of your ministry assignment is needed) and are still raising up a team of financial and prayer support partners. You definitely came to mind as someone we would like to be a part of that. Realizing that this is a crazy time, we are wondering if we could schedule a video call sometime this week or next to tell you more about our ministry vision and goals and see if you could join some aspect of our team?” (proceed from there…)

      • OPTION B: They said they are struggling (financially, emotionally, etc.). If they say this respond with:

“We will absolutely be praying with you during this time with your prayer needs (insert here several of the things they mentioned that are challenging). Here in a minute if it’s cool we would love to pray with you, and would love to maybe follow up with a text or phone call in the next couple of weeks just to see how it’s going. We really want to pray with you. We were originally calling because we are feeling our ministry call now more than ever (to X – maybe a brief summary is needed), but let’s table that for now because there are so many things going on. Maybe at some point in a couple of months we could tell you more about that if that’s okay? (response) For now let’s pray…” 

    • If you are responding to OPTION B it may feel inappropriate to let them know about your ministry and why you were originally calling, though I think in a lot of circumstances that would be fine. Stay sensitive and use discernment.
    • Write scripts out for OPTION A and OPTION B and don’t be afraid to use them on live phone calls.
    • Stay organized. If you say you will reach out again, actually reach out again. If you say you’ll be praying, you need to actually pray.
    • Check in with your coach (or if you don’t have one, reach out to veterans within your organization or others who are also support raising that you trust) on a regular basis. If you are running into nuanced situations, ask for thoughts.

3. When reaching out to churches here are some thoughts:

  • If you are reaching out to a pastor during this time, always start by asking the pastor “Hey, how are you and your congregation doing during COVID-19? What are some things we can be praying with you about?” 
  • Same conversation applies with OPTION A and OPTION B above, just tailor it to the church. Stay sensitive. Realize now may not be the time to ask them for anything but prayer requests and that’s fine.
  • Do your homework. Does the church have a strong online presence? Does it look like they haven’t got everything online yet? Great places to check are the church’s website, social media outlets like Facebook and Instagram, etc. If it looks like the church hasn’t posted several services online yet you may want to wait until it looks like they have made progress.
  • A lot of churches have seen reductions in their offerings and now may not be the best time to reach out to some churches, and that’s okay!
  • If you are close to a church(es) that you live near, ask if they need help with food distribution or assistance in setting up their on-line services (if you already have this expertise).
  • Stay sensitive and ministry minded. Always ask the pastor what works best for them and if now is a good time.

I hope some of these tips help! In closing, remember you are called and that God is still on the throne! You’ve got this. Go back and read the scriptures and stay spiritually healthy during this time. – JF 

Partnership Development and the Coronavirus

Many of you in the middle of raising support may be wondering what to do during this unprecedented time. Today there are more school closings, limitations on gatherings of more than 10 people, more chaos at airports, overall social distancing, and the like. We don’t know yet how the coronavirus will affect ministry workers raising support. Dave Dickens of CRU recently offered some brilliant thoughts on his email newsletter list that I wanted to share with you at explaining some helpful things to help you navigate this chaotic season (some of it is slightly adapted to serve this blog’s audience):

    • Let’s be prayerful. Pray for those affected by the pandemic, for ministry leaders who need to make tough decisions, for people’s financial situations, and for open hearts and gospel conversations as people are confronted with a broken world.
    • Reach out to ministry partners to ask how this is affecting them. Create meaningful conversations (via text, phone calls, FaceTime, etc.) and have a ministry mindset when connecting. Send your partnership team texts, emails, or phone calls. Be ready to see your inbox fill up! If you have kids at home from school, maybe have the kids do artwork and write handwritten notes of appreciation and love to your team.
    •  Here’s a sample text reaching out: “I know we are all navigating uncertain times, and was thinking of you today. How are you doing, and how is the coronavirus affecting you? I’m taking some time to pray for you today. Let me know if there are specific things I can be praying for!”
    • Send a coronavirus update prayer letter with specific prayer requests related to your assignment.
    • Because everyone is social distancing and at home, over the next few weeks it may be easier to reach people, and people are definitely wanting to talk. People are more likely to be on social media as well. Think about ways to add value in those spaces and reach out.

Here are some thoughts to expound upon what Dave writes:

  • Have you had a hard time staying organized? Are you caught up on thank you cards? This may be a good time to clean up your organization for financial partnership development. It also may be a good time to upgrade branding, overall materials, or if you don’t have an active presence on Facebook or other social media platforms to start.
  • It probably goes without saying at this point, but meeting face-to-face in person will likely be off the table for a bit (at the very least for some people). Think of partners to reach out to via video appointments. It may be wise to change course of action and instead of reaching out to your “A” list, reach out to those who would be long distance appointments anyhow.
  • It also may be a couple of weeks of relative pause on some people (maybe not all, but some) you were wanting to reach out to – that’s okay and understandable. That also doesn’t mean it’s time to do nothing. Pray, use discernment and common sense before asking for an appointment. If you have a coach, reach out to ask their thoughts on nuance situations – that’s what they are there for!
  • Many churches are not able to congregate during this time, so if you do reach out to a pastor ask for prayer needs. If you are asking for support from the church, suggest possibly doing a window online with them (especially in checking up for a already scheduled service) and be creative. It also may be good to hold off on connecting with some churches for a few weeks while they think of how to shepherd their own flock during this time.
  • One worker sent me an idea of scheduling a face to face via video conferencing, and going the extra mile to send that family some food or a snack and have it placed at their door for the appointment. Creative, thoughtful, and ministry minded!

I hope some of these thoughts at least get the wheels turning as to what to do for the next couple of weeks. It’s definitely not cut and dry. As Dave writes, “in the midst let’s keep our eyes on Jesus and remember His words: “Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27 New International Version). Wisdom to be sure.

Also remember, ministry doesn’t start when you get into your full time assignment, it starts now! Ask God how you can serve those around you during this season.

What are your thoughts or questions during this interesting season?