Congratulations! After several unsuccessful attempts, you have finally succeeded in scheduling an appointment with the pastor of the largest church in your community. You envision the possibility of a strong and lasting partnership that will be beneficial to your ministry and to his church, and you want to present a positive image of your mission and ministry.
So where do you start? How do you mentally, physically, and spiritually prepare for this important appointment? Let's walk through some steps that are applicable to any meeting in creating a positive image and outcome.
Prepare a professional packet of information. This should include a ministry brochure, samples of informational client materials, ministry programs and statistics from the previous year, a list of ways the center can serve the church, and a general letter about the work of the ministry.
Expect to be successful. This is no time for negative attitudes. Practice the interview mentally and verbally by thinking of questions you would ask if you were the person with whom you're meeting. Be prepared to give short but complete answers. Have a mental list of questions to ask in order to accurately assess ways you can serve the church, i.e., needs of youth group, needs of women in the church, and post-abortion ministry to women. Then connect your ministry with the church's needs and offer the center's services to help meet those needs. Be prepared to suggest ways the center can serve the church.
Dress professionally. A casual business suit, dress, or pants and jacket are appropriate. As a representative of the center, the impression you make will determine the impression the church forms of your ministry.
Pray. Ask your prayer team to pray specifically for your meeting. Personally, pray about the meeting and believe that God hears and answers your prayers.
DO'S AND DON'TS OF THE MEETING:
Shake hands and thank him for his time. Find common interests in order to form a connection. Speak confidently and make eye contact as you speak. As you speak about your ministry, focus on ways your center can help meet the church's needs. Possible areas to suggest are referrals for parents who come to the pastor with news their single daughter is pregnant, women who are homeless, families who need help with their baby's physical needs, youth group abstinence speakers, and post-abortion counseling. Find places to insert two or three good client stories that demonstrate ways you could serve the women of the church or members who need help. Give him opportunities to ask questions throughout your presentation.
Ask if this sounds like something that would be helpful to the church. If so, ask what your next step should be—who your church contact will be, what materials he would like you to provide, and who should receive emails about your ministry or be added to the newsletter mailing list. Finally, make sure you limit your visit to the length of time you were promised. It's much better to leave a few minutes early than to overstay your visit.
But wait—we haven't asked for anything. That's correct. During the conversation, let him know your ministry is non-profit and is supported by the community, but never ask for anything on your first visit unless the person with whom you're meeting asks you how they can help. This is the start of a relationship, and a good first impression opens the door for long-term growth. You can be sure any non-profit that doesn't ask for financial help but only wants to serve others will be remembered favorably.
Finally, send a thank you letter for the visit, add the person he suggests to your mailing list, and begin to cultivate the relationship. You are well on your way to making a new and supportive church partner.
In our final installment of this series, we will look at creative ways to cultivate your relationships with the local churches.
Elaine Ham is Founder and PRC Business Coach for Plans For You, Inc., a consulting company she and her husband Tom founded in 2000 to train and assist pro-life organizations. The highly successful company has helped raise over $65,000,000 in operational funds for over 1,300 organizations through their Baby Bottle Boomerang program. Elaine trains pregnancy centers in evangelism, fundraising, board management, and other areas tailored to fit your center's needs. She can be reached at Elaine@plansforyou.org or by calling 770-401-5216.