Go/No-Go Fundraising

“Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’ After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them” (Acts 16:6-10).

NASA uses the Go/No-Go decision making process to determine everything is cleared for launch. Critical details are checked and double-checked before mission control declares, “All systems are go!” Discerning God’s will can be confusing at times. We map out our strategic plans but sometimes things don’t progress as we hope. Paul’s experience at Troas is a perfect example of handling uncertainty in ministry.

In Paul’s first attempted to preach the gospel in Asia, the Holy Spirit prevented him. What happened? Could they not get passports? Did someone physically stand in their way? Ultimately, the Lord holds the key to the door, “What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open” (Rev. 3:7). When your first idea doesn’t work, keep trying.

No Again
Paul pivoted toward Bithynia, “but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to.” Can you imagine the conversations among his traveling companions? Perhaps they questioned God’s leading; perhaps they questioned Paul’s leadership. Solomon counseled, “for though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again” (Prov. 24:16). Every “no” gets you closer to a “yes.”

That evening, the Holy Spirit gave Paul the vision of a man of Macedonia calling for help. A church hired an architect to design new facilities. The congregation gave positive feedback but wondered if the sanctuary plans were too large for the available parking spaces. To discern the Lord’s will, the elders proposed two Go/No-Go data points: (1) conduct a traffic study, and (2) move forward only if the elders had one hundred percent unity. God answered their prayers, but not like they thought. The study revealed the site did not have adequate parking spaces, and the elders voted unanimously to ask the architect to significantly rework the plans. God brought clarity. Yet, it took courageous leadership to pull back and start over.

Go Now
Once Paul had clarity, they “got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them” (Acts 16:10). Clare DeGraaf wrote in his book, The 10 Second Rule, “Just do the next thing you’re reasonably certain Jesus wants you to do and do it quickly before you change your mind.”

Think About This: How will you know which path to take? “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it’” (Isa. 30:21).

Response: Father, please guide us on your path. Help us listen for the Spirit’s voice to know the right next step.

Ron Haas has served the Lord as a pastor, the vice president of advancement of a Bible college, a Christian foundation director, a board member and a fundraising consultant. He’s authored three books: Ask for a Fish – Bold Faith-Based Fundraising, Simply Share – Bold, Grace-Based Giving, and Keep on Asking – Bold, Spirit-Led Fundraising. He regularly presents fundraising workshops at ministry conferences and has written fundraising articles for  Christian Leadership Alliance’s Outcomes magazine.

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