Say You, Not Me!

“We constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith” (2 Thessalonians 1:11).

Thessalonica was a brief, but productive stop on Paul’s second missionary journey (Acts 17:1-8). The unbelieving Jews were so jealous of the gospel’s success, they ran Paul and Silas out of town. Though he left abruptly, he kept thinking about and praying for these friends and sent Timothy back to check on them (1 Thess. 3:1-2). We can learn much about our donor relationships from Paul’s relationship with the Thessalonians.

We can hear Paul’s heart for these believers in the language he used. In 2 Thessalonians 1, he emphasized “you” and “your” seventeen times to express his love. He thanked God for them (vs. 3), boasted about their faith (vs. 4), gave them hope in God’s justice (vs. 5-10), and “constantly prayed for them” (vs. 11). Paul’s writing style should prompt us to incorporate more “you” phrases in our writing and conversations. Consider these phrases, “Your help is needed now more than ever,” or “You can fan the flames of revival,” or “We know you want to make a difference,” or “Your gift will last beyond your lifetime.” As you design marketing materials, focus on your donor—not you.

The Thessalonian believers were suffering under great persecution. Twice Paul asked God to make them “worthy of his calling” (vs. 5, 11). What an incredible encouragement it must have been to know that the Apostle Paul was constantly praying for them. Your donors are also experiencing trials of many kinds and you have the privilege of praying for them. Point them to the cross. Pray that God will bring relief and glorify himself (vs. 6, 12).

Donor Success
Paul prayed for God’s favor for his friends. Your donors desire to be good stewards of the resources God has given them. Paul prayed that their every good desire and every deed prompted by faith would become a reality. Know your donors well enough so you can pray effectively for their concerns. Pray for their businesses to thrive, their investments to yield amazing returns, and God’s blessing for a bountiful harvest. As they succeed, they will have more capacity to be generous.

Your Success
When Paul collected money for the poor in Jerusalem, he was reluctant to ask the Thessalonians because they were experiencing extreme persecution and poverty (2 Cor. 8:2). They surprised him and insisted that he receive their gifts so they could join him in serving others (2 Cor. 8:1-4). Generosity is not connected to a person’s net worth, but their heart. Cheerful givers want to make an eternal difference with their gifts (2 Cor. 9:7).

Think About This: Henry Blackaby wrote in Experiencing God, “Find out where God is at work and join him there.” When your donors see God working in your ministry, they will want to join you. Invite them to give, even if they are going through tough times.

Response: Lord, please teach me how to use more “you” language in our materials. May our donors experience the joy of giving through our ministry.

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 At the Center magazine and Christian Leadership Alliance’s Outcomes magazine.

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