An Interview with "Ask Without Fear for Christian Ministry" author Marc A. Pitman
Marc Pitman is a true believer. He’s an international leadership coach and fundraising trainer and helps nonprofit board members and staff get excited about asking for money. He believes in the ability of nonprofit organizations to do immense good in the world and he’s a Christian believer who sees fundraising as a ministry. He launched a new book, Ask Without Fear for Christian Ministry, on March 20th.
Q: Marc. you’ve done a lot of things in your life and helped thousands of nonprofits. Why did you decide to write the Christian ministry book?
Marc: That’s a great question. It’s pretty exciting for me because I got my start in fundraising raising money for Christian causes. So this has always been behind the content in the other Ask Without Fear!® books. Ministry has always been what motivates me. My faith is very influential in my life. I love, I love, I love being a follower of Jesus and I feel like this book allows me to share all of that. It’s taken so long to write, in part, because I just love people. With my other books, I’ve been able to help so many different people from so many different walks and faiths and countries. I am honored to be able to help so many and take that privilege seriously.
Q: How do you approach Christian groups about raising money?
Marc: I’ve wanted to be very careful. When I pastored a church for 4 years, I was very careful to talk about money regularly but I was very careful about how I talked about money from the pulpit. There have been so many prominent bad examples of Christians talking about money. So I’ve been trying to be very strategic. Actually, this book has been a work in progress over two years now. I probably am more vulnerable in this book than in my other books. People feel like they know me from reading the other books but with this one I really feel like I put even more out there.
Q: Who, is the person you hope will pick your book off the shelf? What do they look like? Who is the reader you wrote for?
Marc: (laughs). Ha! It’s like that Michael Jackson video, “It doesn’t matter if you’re black or white.” Remember that one? Where the faces keep morphing and the hair sprouts out and it goes down. That is the image that just came to mind because the person that will benefit most from this book really isn’t a demographic as much as a calling.
Whether they’re in a church or at a large, multi-national relief ministry, or a missionary raising their own support. Or even if they’re somebody at a church that just sees a need and wants to fill it. The person that’s going to really benefit from this book is someone who got into ministry to do good and thought the money was going follow. They were told that if you follow God’s call, everything else will work itself out. And it’s not. What they didn’t realize is that they had to be just as intentional with fundraising as any other aspect of the ministry. Because people don’t just “get” that they’re supposed to give.
Q: Does the framework in your book speak to unique characteristics of Christian audiences and ministries?
Marc: This book is written for people surprised by fundraising. It tells them it’s going to be okay. And that there is a strategy fully in sync with the Bible they can follow. Even that, if they let it, fundraising can be a fulfilling part of their ministry, not just a “necessary evil.”
Fundraising really is part of ministry. Stephen Covey used to say, “when you pick up one end of the stick, you pick up the other end too.” So when you picked up the ministry stick, you picked up the other end, the “needing to resource the ministry” end.
But people don’t necessarily tell you this. It’s not something that’s typically well taught. The framework in Ask Without Fear for Christian Ministry has been tested over more than 20 years and have been proven to work. They’ve also proven to be accurate with Scripture, which is really nice because there are a lot of things out there that say they work but they aren’t necessarily things that we want replicated in our ministries. We want to be people of integrity.
Q: I sense with you, with this book, there’s an alignment between your path and the work that you’ve been doing. How does that change the way you’re speaking about the book?
Marc: Well, there is a deep joy in talking about this book. There’s also a tension because I’m aware that I have been blessed to have a wide range of people that are benefiting from my teaching. I’m honored that Islamic Relief USA had me in to teach them about public speaking and that I was just teaching 110 Chasidic rabbis on Long Island, New York. I love that atheists and Hindus and Wiccans and agnostics are inspired by my work.
I love being the ambassador, exploring differences. So the tension is that I don’t want to unnecessarily remove people from finding help that they need with fundraising because they see there’s a Christian fish on this book.
Q: An interesting aspect of your book is you talk about references to fundraising being in the Bible. Can you say more about that?
Marc: I was able to bring together pieces of this book from my blog, my sermons, and my fundraising training. On my site, and on the YouVersion app, I had the “Fundraising in the Bible” study. I looked at stories of asking for money that are in the Bible. Like Moses asked for money from people who had just been rescued from slavery. Moses made a pretty bold ask! And others like David and Hezekiah and Nehemiah and Paul. And to share that along with the best world class research that’s going on. I’ve been privileged to be on the Rogare Fundraising Think Tank with the University of Plymouth in the UK. So I’m also exposed to cutting-edge, solid academic research. Part of what I love to do is blend the Biblical, the practical, and the academic together because they’re not at odds with each other at all. It’s exciting to see this stuff really resonate with people.
Q: What are you going do to celebrate the publication of this book?
Marc: Part of my personal mission statement is releasing people, helping people find the joy in life. For me, the joy is with a capital “J.” It’s Jesus. I don’t feel like I need to talk about that all the time. It’s more of a Saint Francis of Assisi thing, “Preach the gospel everywhere; use words only when necessary.” I don’t feel like it I need to micromanage someone’s walk. That’s not it. I really love meeting people where they’re at. So whether it’s serving in the community or working with my kids, I just love being able to see people grow and thrive and excel.
Q: Thank you so much for sharing a bit about why you’re excited about your latest book, Ask Without Fear for Christian Ministry!
Marc: Thank you! It’s been a pleasure.
You’ll find a great framework for fundraising for your ministry in Marc’s book. Many people who respond to God’s calling set off on the journey before they create a plan to fund it. The mission is to do good, help people, and spread God’s Word, but without a funding plan they run out of resources long before they reach the finish line. Often the task of asking for money can be easy to push aside and even seem outside of God’s call. Marc guides you with stories and a solid approach that will help you get excited about asking for support for your ministry.