Most missionaries know preaching engagements are vital to getting fully funded. But how do you start? How do you get more invitations? Are there any “unwritten rules” in soliciting preaching engagements?
I’ve spoken hundreds of times as a guest speaker at churches, and my calendar is often full. This has directly led to helping our ministry get the funding it needs.
My goal here is to share some tips so you don’t have to spend your days navigating a financial tightrope that leaves you so exhausted or underfunded.
Here are a few ways you can get more preaching engagements to help increase the positive cash flow into your work.
1. Offer Churches A Unique, Unforgettable Story
The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you: your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. Jesus used stories to convey the message of the Gospel because human beings connect best through story.
Churches have 52 weeks a year to fill with content. If you can help by providing exciting content for them, you’ll greatly increase the chances of getting more speaking invitations.
Here’s an example: My father has the type of testimony they make movies about … literally. A Christian television network in the Middle East made a documentary about his life and conversion.
Dad was a devout Muslim who became interested in Jesus through his study of the Quran. Because of his conversion, he was abandoned by his family, fired from his job, and twice served time in jail.
When you tell the details of a story like that, it will move people. Most Christians in America have never felt that type of persecution.
This story has helped me connect with people when preaching because it gives them insight into what life is like for so many believers in the rest of the world.
This is exciting content for a church! Think about your story. Why are you a missionary? What have you seen God do in your work? What hardships have the people you serve overcome?
You have a unique story. Share it.
2. Be a Friend to Pastors
Churches invite speakers they know, like, and trust.
In most churches, the pastor is the decision-maker on which guest speakers come in. But this isn’t about cozying up to the pastor so you can get into the pulpit. It’s about being a friend.
Pastors have a difficult and often thankless job. They often need someone who can minister to them.
Take an interest and ask real questions. Get to know them personally and you’ll be surprised how often they will open up to you.
Here are some questions you might consider:
- What are you most excited about this coming year?
- Is there anyone I can connect you with that could help you or the church?
- Or, ask them for their best book recommendation from the past year.
This questions are meant to generate “forward” conversation. Pastors will rarely open up about all their challenges right off the bat, but these topics create a safe place to start genuine conversation.
Let me be clear, this is not meant to be done in a way that is disingenuous. You are not trying to be the pastor’s pet. Rather, see yourself as there to inspire both the people of the church and the pastor.
3. Know When Churches Open Up For Preaching Engagements, and Make Yourself Available During Those Times
During the summer months, churches are busy with VBS and camp for kids and teens. Members and staff are on vacation.
The summer is not a time when churches typically have guest speakers. The same can be said for Christmas.
But there is a rhythm to the calendar of the church and there are certain months you should be available.
April, March, September, and October are the months churches usually set aside to bring in special speakers or missionaries.
Keep your schedule clear for these months in the spring and fall, offering those weekends to churches up to a year in advance to get the most exposure and funding for your ministry.
Email Script: What To Say When Reaching Out to Churches For the First Time:
Remember, churches invite speakers who they know, like, and trust. If you’re reaching out to a church for the first time, you’re just starting on the “know” process.
I recommend a short, simple email that allows the pastor to decide on whether to take the next step or not.
Here’s a script you can use, and keep in mind: it’s very important to close the email with a question. A question at the end of an email keeps an open loop, and will statistically get more responses — even if they are no’s.
SUBJECT: Pastor [name], I’m not sure if this is for you but…
Hi Pastor [name],
My name is [your name]. I currently serve as a missionary in [location]. I have a story from the mission field that I thought would be of big interest to you and the church. It might even make a great sermon illustration for you to use.
I’ve shared this everywhere and it has received such a terrific response because it really shows what can happen when people simply trust God.
I can send you a link to the story — would you be interested?
The goal here isn’t to get a “yes” — the goal is to get a response. Even a “no” is better than no response, because at least you’ll have an answer.
If the pastor says yes, then send them a link to the story. You should have this written somewhere online where it is easily accessible. The last thing you want to do is send a really long Word document or PDF. The pastor simply won’t make time to read it.
Start contacting pastors in your area. The more you reach out, the more likely it is you will get more preaching engagements.
Finally, A Step-by-Step Roadmap to Raising More Financial Support
Many missionaries struggle to raise support in today’s world. This Missionary Support Raising Checklist gives you a step-by-step roadmap on how to focus your vision, enlist a team, ask for donations, and more.
This framework has been used to raise millions for missionaries and non-profits like The American Cancer Society and Special Olympics. There’s no need to “wing it” in your fundraising efforts anymore. Get this guide today.
Irfan Abdullatif is the founder and director of Light of Life International, a ministry that starts churches, shares Christ with refugees, and serves persecuted Christians in the Middle East. Working with national pastors has allowed Irfan to be involved in the planting of six new churches in Iraq. These pastors are reaching out to the communities they were raised in. They are seeing results as the gospel message is taking root in their neighborhoods. To find out more about Irfan or invite him to speak, click here.