I’m a senior pastor. My childrens minister convinced me to say yes to her request to attend the upcoming Orange Conference.
I’ve been there… That moment when you walk into your supervisor’s office, hoping to convince them to let you go to the Orange Conference, only to have them tell you why it’s not in the budget, or not a priority at this time. Not a priority?! Emotions of anger and frustration overwhelm you, as you walk back to your office defeated and left pondering why? While this moment is all too common for some, what if I were to tell you that it doesn’t have to be this way for you? What if I were to tell you that there are four tips that would almost guarantee you a better outcome?
For the last twenty years, I’ve served as ministry lead for hundreds of church leaders who at one time or another have come to me with this same request. Some of the requests I’ve approved, and some I have not. While there are many unique circumstances involved in every situation and decision, there are principles that can garner success if deployed. Below are four tips that will help you turn the no into a resounding yes.
Narrow the Focus
When asking for the funds or permission to go to an event, your direct supervisor is going to expect you to know why “specifically” it will benefit you and your team. It’s not enough to ask to just go to the “conference”. You will need to tell them how a specific breakout, speaker, or topic will be beneficial. Do your homework. Study the speakers, and content, then match them with your specific needs. Narrow the focus of your conversation to reflect that you’ve thought about how this conference will meet a specific need that your ministry faces.
Avoid Silo Thinking
It’s exciting to think about the experience that you are going to have at the event, but while this is true, your supervisor’s mindset will be in a totally different place. Specifically, your ‘he or she’ is going to want you to answer the question, “How will this benefit our church?” It’s easy to slip into a siloed mentality as a ministry leader. After all, we are directly responsible for a specific ministry.
However, your supervisor will probably have multiple ministries, or the entire church’s well-being under their leadership. If you can show your supervisor that the information gathered at the conference will help your specific ministry, and then show them how it will also benefit the entire church, then they will be more inclined to grant your request.
For instance, years ago, there was a breakout at Orange Conference that focused specifically on “how to better minister to those with special needs.” I knew that our lead pastor was passionate about our church growing in this area. So, when asking to go to the conference, I shared with him that this would help us to better minister to the special needs community in and around our church. It was at that moment where he told me to pack my bags and go! Remember to connect your request with the greater need if you want to pack your bags.
Know Your Numbers
A wise person once said, “Don’t bring me problems, bring me solutions.” This is also true when making the ask. If you don’t have the resources to go, then don’t make the ask without a solution. Know your numbers prior to your meeting so that your supervisor knows how invested you are in the process. Your supervisor isn’t a magic genie who has endless resources (wouldn’t that be nice). However, they probably do have the ability to give some resources to your specific ask. Have a draft budget prepared for them and show them how much it will cost “turnkey” to go.
In addition, if you can share with them that you are going to pull some money from your specific ministry to help off-set the cost, this could be just enough to get the answer you are looking for. Too many ministry leaders come to the meeting ill prepared, and walk away with nothing, because they didn’t know their numbers and show enough investment and passion about their request.
Most churches work on their ministry budgets months ahead of the new fiscal year. If you want to avoid a stressful ask in the future, work ahead of the process. Put together a proposed budget within your yearly budget. Schedule a meeting with your supervisor way ahead and ask for the allocation ahead of the new year. Share with your leader how there are many areas within your ministry (be specific) that you would like to improve or expand. The Orange Conference offers the opportunity to learn, compare/contrast, and birth new ideas that can exponentially grow your ministry if you invest the resources and time. Concurrently, it’s important that you share (post-conference) all the new and applicable information that you gained from your experience which justifies your supervisor’s wise decision.
Getting approval for a conference can be challenging depending on the church and leader. However, If you narrow your focus, avoid silo thinking, know your numbers, and work ahead of the conversation, you might just receive the approval you were hoping to receive.