How to Make an Effective Ask at an Event or Small Group: Combat the Bystander Effect

I was a psychology major in college. Loved it. I learned about the brain, personality, and counseling. It was all super intriguing stuff. In one of my classes I remember learning about the sociology principle of diffusion of responsibility. Maybe some of you know of it? It’s the principle that states that people are less likely to take action or responsibility in the presence of a large group of people. When referring specifically to responding to an individual in distress, it’s also known as the bystander effect.

Though it may not be helping an individual in distress, I think the principle of diffusion of responsibility comes into play in a huge way when asking for financial support. Think about it. Here’s a scenario:

You are sitting in a church service and a missionary comes to the platform to speak. You like what they have to say and are drawn by their level of passion and the tone of their voice. You pick up bits and pieces, but you are distracted by the need for more coffee or maybe your wiggly kid. At the end the missionary clearly shares that they are in need of monthly financial support and you look around the room at everyone else. You think simultaneously that you are looking forward to lunch and that you hope some of these good church folk give generously to the missionary speaking. You even consider giving yourself. Then, your wiggly kid spills your coffee on the floor and you don’t think about it again until your walking out the church door. You see the missionary is smiling at you as you walk past and you hurriedly tell the missionary “thanks for sharing, we enjoyed it!” and walk out the door. And scene.

Familiar? This is the principle of diffusion of responsibility. Totally. AKA this is why we ask for financial partnership one-on-one, face-to-face.

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Take that scene and think about it – if you’re sitting in a large group of people you will be less likely to give if the person asking is not directly asking YOU. You’ll be sitting in the congregation, just like everyone else, thinking that there are plenty of others in the room that will likely give. And the problem is everyone in the room is thinking THE SAME THING. Thus a real problem occurs when speaking to a group of people – large or small.

As I pointed out, the absolute best way to ask someone to join your monthly financial partnership team is in person, and best done one-on-one. Right? Right. However, there may be times you are asked to speak to a small group or at some type of an event. And keeping that personal interaction and the principle of diffusion of responsibility in mind – what do you do? What if a friend offers to throw you a dinner party to raise funds? What if your church wants to host a fundraiser specifically for your assignment? What if a small group at your church wants you to come and speak?

What do you do if you want the personal connection that a face-to-face appointment offers, but you want to jump on the chance to interact with a small group or say yes to that event?

First off, even with the bystander effect in mind, sharing at a small group or event is a great way to garner contact information and connect with people you otherwise may not have the opportunity to interact with. And it’s always a bonus to make new connections and widen your contact base! So say yes when new connections can be made from sharing at a small group or doing an event! Keeping that in mind, let’s talk about how to make that group ask in the best way possible.

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THE TWO MAIN OBJECTIVES WITH ANY SMALL GROUP / EVENT

With all small group / event opportunities you should have two main objectives:

  1. To make an clear, bold, ask – live at the event.
  2. To grab contact information from everyone at the event in order to follow up with face-to-face appointments where appropriate.

Let’s break both objectives down and talk about the how-to’s involved.

OBJECTIVE 1: THE LIVE ASK AT A SMALL GROUP OR EVENT

When sharing at a small group or event make a clear, bold ask. To make that ask the most effective possible, come super prepared. Chat with the leader of the group or pastor beforehand and make sure you know the details needed. This would be some of the following:

  1. How long will you be expected to speak?
  2. Dress code?
  3. What time does the event / small group start and end? Address / directions.
  4. What is the program for the event / small group?
  5. What do you need to bring?
  6. Is there any protocol the leader would like you to follow when asking?
  7. Any special instructions or things you need to know?
  8. Are you allowed to make a clear ask during the event?

When you arrive mingle with the group and introduce yourself to anyone you do not already know. This will help the bystander effect for many people. Have with you the needed pledge forms / giving information and any printed materials you typically take with you to an appointment.

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When you share, fill in the WHO WHAT WHEN WHERE WHY of what you are doing. Make sure to talk about how you were called and take the opportunity to inspire those you are sharing with to follow their own callings. One of the most important questions you can answer to any group when sharing about your assignment is “why you”. Why you are going, why you are called, and why is this important to you.

When you make the ask – make it bold and clear and spell out what your needs are.  Do not assume they know. Don’t leave them to fill in the gaps.

OBJECTIVE 2: GRABBING CONTACT INFORMATION AND FACE-TO-FACE FOLLOW UPS

As I stated the downside to any small group or event is the diffusion of responsibility / bystander effect. What’s the best way to combat this problem when speaking to a group? Insert connect cards, the super hero of event asking! images

You can find out more about how to make your own connect cards in the link above. Essentially they are cards where individuals fill out their name, address, phone number, and check little boxes that apply to their level of interest – such as “interested in more information” “give me your newsletter!” “make me a prayer partner” and “I want to give!”

How do you use them? During your time speaking at a small group or event, hold up the connect cards while you are presenting and explain them. Something along the lines of “I would love if you took a moment right now – yes while I’m talking – and fill out this handy dandy card I’m holding up. It gives us a way to stay connected with you and share information on what is happening overseas. It also helps us if you’d like to join our prayer or financial partnership team. Please go ahead and fill it out and if you’d be so kind – find someone from your table to collect them and give them to me afterwards.”

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Boom. Now you have shared clearly from the platform what you will be doing, why you are going, that you need financial support, AANNNND you also have contact information to call people after the event (preferably as soon as possible after the event – like 24 to 48 hours). When calling, thank them for attending the event/small group and find out if you could meet with them face-to-face to answer any questions and find out more about them. Engage each person based off of what they checked in the check boxes. This removes the bystander effect as you invite them relationally on your team. When meeting with your new friends take time to find out who they are and build relationship, and ask if they’d like to join your team.

So now that we have the basics of our main two objectives in asking groups and small groups, here are some special notes to keep in mind:

SPECIAL NOTES ABOUT SMALL GROUPS

  1. Connect with the leader before hand and discuss some of the questions above – like how long you’ll be expected to share.
  2. Ask questions about the group to the group, people love talking about themselves – and groups like to share what makes them special.
  3. Bring donuts! Everyone loves donuts! imgres
  4. Find out how you can stay connected with the group at large. Ask them to adopt you as a group in prayer.
  5. Revisit that same group (if it still exists) when you come back from the field or into the area to strength relationships.
  6. Have each member of the group fill out a connect card, and explain the connect card while you are there.

SPECIAL NOTES ABOUT EVENTS

  1. Prepare the program you will be following prior to the event and add elements that make it extra interesting and informative. Come up with attention grabbers and interesting stories of lives changed.
  2. Find ways to add value to those attending.
  3. Decorate! Make the event enjoyable and attractive.
  4. Have food, dessert, or coffee available.imgres-1
  5. Time your event to insure that the most amount of people can make it as possible.
  6. Share a video. If a few of your ministry team members are already serving, ask if they would create a video for you explaining what they are doing and how much they want you funded and on the field with them. If your ministry has a video that already exists, share it (keep videos pretty short though).
  7. Have a ministry co-worker, friend, or pastor speak on your behalf during the event. Consider having a pastor or well known figure make the ask for you to the crowd.
  8. Have pledge forms and connect cards on each table before guests arrive. Explain about the connect cards and pledge forms from the platform when speaking.
  9. Make your presentation appropriately professional, clear, vulnerable, and real.

Do you have any tips for sharing in small groups or events? Share them in the comments! I would love to hear them!

 

 

Start 2017 Off Right!

Did you know that 45% of the American population make New Years Resolutions? In general this is the month that the nation is thinking about health, wellness, and personal goals. Are you? Though I didn’t make New Years Resolutions per say, I know I am thinking about my personal goals for this year. As I have been developing my own for 2017, I found these Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions from 2017 interesting:

Top 10 New Years Resolutions for 2017:

#1  Lose Weight

#2 Get Organized

#3 Spend Less, Save More

#4 Enjoy Life to the Fullest

#5 Stay Fit and Healthy

#6 Learn Something Exciting

#7 Quit Smoking

#8 Help Others In Their Dreams

#9 Fall In Love

#10 Spend More Time With Family

Can you relate to any of these? For those of you thinking about your 2017 goals along with me, I’d like to add the goals below for your consideration. Consider making 2017 your best year of living a healthy lifestyle of ministry partnership development. Without further ado, here are some goals to consider in making 2017 a fabulous ministry partnership development year:

GOAL #1: DO BETTER AT KEEPING UP WITH YOUR EXISTING FINANCIAL AND PRAYER PARTNERS. Where do you find yourself on this spectrum:

  1. “COMMUNICATION ROCK STAR”: You have always been good at regularly contacting your financial and prayer partners. You keep up with at least a few of them each month by email, text message, phone call, or skype. You continually write your newsletters and are very personal with those whom support you.
  2. “KINDA STRUGGLE BUT E FOR EFFORT”: You have had seasons at being good at communicating with your financial and prayer partners, perhaps here and there emailing the ones you felt comfortable with. However if are were honest you haven’t done much besides a few group Facebook posts and newsletters.
  3. “#EPICFAIL”: You have never been good at contacting your financial and prayer partners. You avoid contacting them, feel awkward when you do, and struggle to write newsletters.

So where do you find yourself on the spectrum?

Maybe you find yourself somewhere in between “Communication Rock Star” or “Kinda Struggle but E for Effort”? Or maybe “#EpicFail” doesn’t even begin to describe your lack of efforts? Wherever you find yourself in that spectrum make 2017 the year you start with regular (and quality) communication with your financial and prayer partners. Make regular social media posts, newsletters, emails, skype conversations, and phone conversations a priority in your existing ministry schedule.  Go beyond the newsletter. Get beyond the mass communication and become relationally driven. Don’t just get a team of people giving you checks every month and wondering what your up to – strive to keep your financial partners informed and make them actual friends. Contact them personally and ask how they are doing, and how you can pray. Give personal updates. I PROMISE this is a BIG DEAL. Remember, without your financial and prayer team you WOULD NOT be ministering to your particular population. Make them feel valued and it will make all of the difference to them, and ultimately to you.

GOAL #2: ENSURE YOUR FINANCIAL PARTNERS CAN EASILY GIVE ONLINE. A recent study done by Dunham&Company shows that 67% of donors ages 40-59 said they have given online. That percentage is up by 20% since 2010. If your organization provides a way to give online, make sure you readily offer that option to your potential financial partners and that you make it easy for your financial partners to give online. Create giving instructions that can be emailed or texted out for your financial partners or get into the habit of walking them through the steps of online giving yourself.

GOAL #3: BEEF UP YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE. The same study mentioned above by Dunham&Company shows that 26% of donors said they have given to a charity’s website as a result of being asked on social media. This is up by 20% from only A YEAR AGO. Wow. I love this quote on the findings:

“It’s important to not misinterpret the findings,” Dunham says. “Donors are not responding more to requests for support from organizations through social media. They are responding to friends or others they know who, through social media, ask them for support of a specific charity, like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Social media for nonprofits is still primarily a means to build community and engagement rather than a fundraising tool.”

What we can say about social media at this point is this: it is a very effective tool to build community and engagement. I’m not saying to ask for blanket support on Facebook. Nope. Nope I’m not at all. But I am saying consider making your social media presence more intentional in 2017. Use exciting videos, informative posts with pictures, and infographics to grab people’s attention. Stay up to date on what is going on with your financial and prayer partnership team. If you do use Facebook for “the ask”, make sure you create a structured Facebook campaign.

GOAL #4: MAKE YOUR PRESENTATION GREAT. If you are regularly speaking inside church congregations or small groups, make sure what you are saying is as effective as it can be. Don’t have a mediocre presentation – make it great! Video yourself giving your next sermon or 5 minute window in front of a congregation. Spend some time going through that video and thinking of ways you could improve. Send it to a few trusted friends for a critique. Having their honest feedback could be what takes your presentation from “meh” to “YESSS!!” If you haven’t polished your presentation in awhile go through it with fresh eyes thinking of ways to improve. Maybe you could add a short video, or a visual of the population you serve? Maybe you could add a new effective story?

GOAL #5: STAY (OR GET) ORGANIZED. This goal is pretty self explanatory. If you are struggling in an area of staying organized, get back on the horse. Being organized with records of who you have asked, who has given, when they have given, how much, etc. is important to have in the genesis of a lifestyle of partnership development. If you are organized you will have more time for ministry and more time for staying connected with your financial and prayer partnership team – it’s that simple. Great programs for this are: TNTMPD, MPDX, or iMissionsPro.

GOAL #6: USE VIDEOS. According to statistics found on the www.Cadre31.com website videos on landing pages increase conversions by 87%. Not only that, 65% of audiences are visual learners and visual data is processed 60,000 times faster by the brain than by text. Let the reader understand: videos are a big help in effectively communicating your visionIf you have not created a high quality video that communicates your ministry vision I highly suggest you make it a priority to do so. Spend some time looking at the videos found on Cadre31’s site for some great examples.

If you are not in the habit of making videos (not necessarily high quality – just home videos used to communicate) on social media, get into it. Another statistic states that by 2017 90% of all web traffic will be video.

GOAL #7: PRAY FOR YOUR FINANCIAL AND PRAYER PARTNERSHIP TEAM. When was the last time you made prayer for your financial partnership team a regular part of your prayer life? Have you ever prayed for your team? If you haven’t taken the time to talk to God about your team, then start in 2017. There are multiple benefits of praying for your team that go beyond the obvious. For starters remembering your team in prayer will promote your desire to stay connected to them, naturally have you asking what is going on in their lives, and will remind you that they are a vital part of your ministry.

zachgalifianakisthumbsuThere you have it! May your 2017 be a year filled with happy and relational support raising! Consider making some of these goals your own in 2017.

Podcast on Financial Partnership Development

Recently I was honored to be on the family podcast of one of our areas in Eurasia talking about Financial Partnership Development. On the podcast we talk about partnership development topics such as how to build and maintain good relationships while busy in ministry, adding new financial partners, and much more.

Take a listen by following the links below:

 

Podcast 1: https://www.dropbox.com/s/ac8ug933tlca5yi/November-2016.mp3?dl=0

Podcast 2: https://www.dropbox.com/s/23uhw5e4fwnwxpo/December-2016.mp3?dl=0

Get the Right Perspective, Get to 100%

I try whenever possible to stay away from the words “fundraising” and “donor“when describing support raising as a ministry worker. Instead I use the phrases “partnership development” and “financial partner“.

Why you ask? The nuance lies within the overall perspective of raising one’s budget.

The word “donor” denotes someone who gives blood, gives one time, or is involved in a limited transaction. “Fundraising” denotes car washes, bake sales, golf tournaments, and transactional events. Right? Right. Of course fundraising and donors are in and of themselves not bad. OF COURSE. However, neither indicate an ongoing relationship between the giver and the organization or ministry. If our perspective of raising funds leads us to believe all we are doing is fundraising, it is likely we will struggle raising our support because what we are doing is truly more than fundraising. Simply put: we do more than fundraise. We invite people to partner with us in ministry.

Conversely, partnership is defined as this: “two separate but equal parties, with separate but equal responsibility, working together to achieve a common goal.” 

I like that definition much more as it encapsulates a what a healthy perspective while raising a budget looks like. It clarifies that the one sending is vital to the ministry instead of merely standing on the sidelines. The word partnership keeps us mindful that we are to be good stewards of our resources as Christians, and stewards of our calling to the Great Commission – whether that looks like going or sending. “Partnership” says WE ARE DOING THIS TOGETHER.

Experience has shown me that ministry workers who know the difference (in their hearts and attitude) between “fundraising” and “partnership” are those that succeed in raising their financial partnership teams. And FYI, success looks different than just getting to 100% and getting to the field fully funded. Again, think perspective — getting to 100% is only part of it.

Success in partnership development looks like fulfillment, retention in partnerships, healthy mindsets, healthy relationships, joy, actual enjoyment in the process, and getting to one’s field in ministry fully supported.

The opposite of success is strained relationships, procrastination, anxiety, 80% raised budgets being “good enough”, and low attrition in partnerships.

I believe that success in partnership development is 90% perspective.

“If our perspective of raising our funds leads us to believe all we are doing is fundraising, it is likely we will struggle raising our support because what we are doing is truly more than fundraisingSimply put: we do more than fundraise. We invite people to partner with us in ministry.” 

Those that are successful hold Paul’s perspective when he says “Not that I desire your gift, what I desire is that more be credited to your account.” Philipians 4:17 

Successful partnership development knows those that join your team are a vital and dynamic part of your ministry.  Partner relationships become important, growing, and vibrant instead of obligations and burdens.

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I challenge you to take a look at your perspective in partnership development. Is it a fundraising perspective, or one of partnership? Why is it important to see it differently than fundraising? What’s the difference?

You may not immediately see the difference, but as you work to find out what a biblical perspective of financial partnership looks like, it’s likely you’ll find it much more enjoyable and doable. Perspective leads to attitude, which determines action. You will do what you believe. Try and shift to a healthy perspective on partnership development. Having a wrong perspective may hinder you staying in full-time ministry long term, and can lead to stress every time itineration season rolls around again. Let’s not do that. Let’s do successful partnership development that leads to vibrant 100% funded ministry and healthy engaged partnerships.  – JF

 

 

How Postcards Are The New Postcards: Testimony from a Ministry Worker

Recently I received a letter from a ministry worker that I thought would be helpful to share with you. Essentially the letter is on the importance of keeping up with your financial partnership base, particularly through the form of postcards.

Thus this post is dedicated to all of you out there who have been in ministry partnership development for awhile. This post is also for those traveling overseas for ministry. Keep in mind however, postcards can work no matter if you find yourself domestically or internationally called / serving. Without further ado:

Dear Jenn,

I have a story to tell you.

The postcards…

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Over a year ago you challenged people to write postcards to their support teams. I went out and bought some to start, but in busyness I never got started. Finally, I got around to them at the beginning of this year. I was doing great writing the postcards, and then I counted how many I still had left. I still had way over 100, more like 150, to go. I wasn’t even half way through and felt like I had written a million postcards. I felt discouraged and stopped for about a month.

Then, I got with it and finished. I wrote somewhere around 250 postcards total, to every single person or church that has regularly supported us–whether they started 2 months ago or have been giving since we first went out. Honestly, I was bored to death with what I said.

“Assembly So-In-So, When we see your faithful gift come in each month, we are so grateful. Your partnership enables us to build His church in Holland. Thank You.”

I wrote that or some variation of those same lines, postcard after postcard. Of course, I got especially good on the variations toward the last 50. I was so bored, yet, with every one I wrote, I WAS grateful. I looked at how many gave to us so faithfully over so many years. I saw the incredible faithfulness of our home church and the churches and individuals that sent us out. We have some that give just $5 a month, many at $50 or $100 and some with several hundred a month. I wrote to them all.

I was so bored, yet, with every one I wrote, I WAS grateful.

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Today I just looked at our monthly giving from July. We had a huge month with NOT ONE SINGLE SPECIAL GIFT. It was comprised solely of all the people who regularly give. Many of those on our support team will miss a month or so, but no one missed this month. There are many months we will have a special extra few thousand from someone and that brings our overall budget up.

This month none of that–just faithfulness. And a great month.

Not only that, what blew me away was the new and renewed commitments. Usually there are 2 or 3. Today there are 27 NEW COMMITMENTS.  A few of those 27 increased the commitment. Some have given to us regularly and never made the commitment, but they took the time and made the commitment. Others have given for years, but never renewed it. This month, they renewed it.

Moral of the story: Postcards work.

Thanks for the encouragement to do something that is boring, but so worth it.

– Sincerely, “Kathie”

Ultimately, It’s Not About You

About 10 years ago I transitioned from a full-time ministry position with a team of financial partners giving faithfully, to a secular position with a salary. (I of course found myself back into full time ministry eventually.) As I made this transition I wondered how to communicate the transition effectively to my support team, and how to tell them how much I appreciated them and their faithful giving throughout the years. Moving from a job in ministry to a secular position was a hard decision to make, but I knew the Lord was leading me. 

Thus as I developed my exit communication strategy I decided that instead of merely sending a newsletter sharing the news, that I would have appointments (or phone call if I they couldn’t meet face to face) with my team to let them know personally. As I began making phone calls and having appointments, it became clear to me that my team members had invested themselves and their hearts not only in me, but the ministry I served. 

During one particular phone call, a team member asked if I knew of anyone serving in the ministry that needed more financial support. I said yes, and they asked and if I could connect them together.

Thus a great idea was born: What if I asked my support team to transfer their giving to one my ministry co-workers? That way, my team would still feel invested in the ministry they came to care so much about and my formal co-workers would be strengthened. = WIN WIN SITUATION. 

I decided to ask each of my team members if they would prayerfully consider giving the support they had been giving me to my friend Gayathri. I explained to them that Gayathri was a fellow staff member from India, and was saved 3 years ago while coming to the States for her masters program. Gayathri had several uphill battles in her ministry partnership development, a major one being she had limited amount of contacts in America. I explained Gayathri’s specific ministry and why I thought they should give. 

The response from my team was overwhelming… especially for Gayathri! 

Gayathri not only raised the majority of what she needed to be fully-funded, she eventually ended up transitioning herself and becoming one of the financial partner’s new youth directors. Gayathri had done such a fantastic job building relationship with this financial partner that they asked her to join them in their own ministry! Again = WIN WIN SITUATION!

I share this story with you to plant the idea of transferring your financial partners when it is time in your head. If you ever transition out of ministry, what would it look like to ask your financial partnership team to transfer their giving? Here are some practical tips if you find yourself where I did 10 years ago:

1. When exiting or transitioning from your current ministry, don’t merely send a newsletter out! Personally contact as many of your team members as possible before sending a newsletter. Thank them for their faithfulness in giving and praying and share with them what you will be doing moving forward. Share with them what the Lord has done while you’ve been in ministry. Sit down face-to-face with as many of your financial partners as possible. 

** if you are overseas and making a transition, share with as many of your financial partners personally prior to sending out a newsletter or coming home. This can be done while you are still overseas using Skype, email, phone call, etc. When you do come back to the States, seek your financial partners out and have an extended time with them face to face. Share with them what the Lord did through your ministry while overseas. Make it personal and thank them for their giving. You never know if this is the end of your ministry career, so be intentional and purposeful with closing this season of ministry. 

2. When contacting your team members, ask if they would be interested in transitioning their giving to one of your co-workers. If they say yes, schedule a time that all of you can sit down together as able. Your role would be to introduce each party, sharing appropriate details and connecting them in relationship. 

*if you or your team member is overseas while transitioning financial partners, you’ll have to get creative on this. Make sure you default to the most relational means possible to connect your financial partners and your co-worker, and meet face-to-face when you can. 

3. Pray about what c0-worker(s) could use the additional support.

4. If you have a specific co-worker in mind (like I did with Gayathri), prep that person prior to your asking. Let your co-worker know your intention to ask your financial partners to transition their giving to them. 

5. Communicate with your co-worker that your expectation is for them to build fruitful relationships with their new financial partners. Make sure you don’t transfer your financial partners to someone who will not invest relationally with them! 

**if your co-worker happens not to shine in this area, or perhaps your co-worker is too new for you to know how excellent they are in this area, perhaps coach them through best practices of ministry partnership development and what you have learned along the way. Advice of a veteran who is fully-funded is always helpful! 

6. Follow protocol and guidelines of your sending organization if you ask your financial partners to transfer their giving. If you don’t know what they are, find out prior to asking. 

Ultimately, your financial partners are not yours, they are God’s. Truly, it is not about you. Sure one of the main principles of ministry partnership development remains: “people give to people above a cause.” However, hopefully as your financial partners have given to you over the years they have heard your passion for the work you have done – and hopefully that passion has been infectious. Thus, ask your team to transfer their giving to a worthy co-worker and see what happens. The Gayathri’s of the world will be grateful!

You Need To Listen To This Podcast

Recently a friend of mine from Support Raising Solutions, Aaron Babyar, was a guest on a great podcast called EngagingMissions.com. He spoke on the topic of support raising.

I think every ministry worker needs to hear it. Including you.

Think of this podcast episode like a audio syllabus for a upper-level support raising class at a fancy university. Also, if you have been searching for better language to describe what you are doing in raising up a financial partnership team, steal every one-liner Aaron says and turn it into your own vocabulary. Here are some great examples of Aaron one-liners for stealing purposes:

Begging and inviting — those are diametrically opposed.

My supporters are a part of my ministry because they are in it with me.

“Believe and have faith that it all depends on God, but meanwhile, work like it all depends on you.”

Take an hour to listen sometime this week and thank me later – here’s the link:

http://engagingmissions.com/em140-aaron-babyar/