“A goal without a plan is just a wish” ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Dollars are scarce and the competition for them is fierce. Funders, in these lean times, have far more reasons not to give, not to award, or deny a request, simply explaining that there are “so many worthy projects, but limited funds.” Larger and multi-service non-profits seem to have an inherent edge, simply because it appears an investment in them will produce “a bigger bang for the buck,” as it were.
So how do smaller and less established non-profits and faith-based ministries become more competitive in pursuing grants and foundation funding?
Planning. Taking the time and effort to plan. And, let it show.
There are three documents that show potential funders that a non-profit has thought seriously about what kind of impact they can have, how they plan to realize their goals, and how they plan to pay for accomplishing their goals:
• Strategic Plan
• Community Assessment
• Development Plan
Although not every large and established non-profit has these documents, small and less well established non-profits more often do not. Few faith-based non-profits and churches have even thought about the importance of developing these types of planning documents for their churches, ministries, and community outreach.
These three documents are your organization’s planning tools, guides for decision-making, and benchmarks for measuring success (or what might need to change). Not only does the process of developing these tools help your organization, church, or ministry focus, they also tell potential funders you are serious, have a plan to accomplish your goals, and have taken the time to think through how to achieve the outcomes you believe will impact others for the good.
Each of these documents serves a purpose:
1) The Strategic Plan tells what direction your organization is taking, what are the goals, and through what outcomes the efforts will be evaluated to measure success.
2) The Community Assessment helps the whole organization or ministry to understand the community’s needs, telling funders that research was done to determine what needs should be addressed and what capacity is needed to meet those needs.
3) The Development Plan provides a thoughtful and intentional plan for how an organization or ministry plans to fund the strategic goals and the activities that support those goals.
When potential funders read your requests and proposals, they want to clearly see that you and your organization have taken the time to plan and that there is evidence of such planning.
Written requests and grant proposals that refer to an organization’s Strategic Plan, Community Assessment, and Development Plan will stand out—thus making the request more competitive.
Words’nTone can help you develop one or all three of these important documents. Message me through the Words’nTone facebook page or contact me via email at .
I have launched a new Facebook business page, Words’nTone consulting services:
Words’nTone: Enabling non-profits, faith-based ministries, and churches to create a vision that can be strategically fulfilled.
The mission of Words’nTone is to provide planning services to community-based non-profits, faith-based ministries, and churches that will enable them to be change agents in their communities.
Words’nTone provides consulting, planning, and development services to organizations that seek to assist others and change communities.
• Creating Vision
• Strategic Planning
• Forming Mission
• Grant Writing
• Community Need Assessments
• Organizational Self-assessment
• Programs/Services and Client Flow Management Assessment
• Logic Models and Outcome Development
• Focus Groups, Retreats
Words’nTone seeks to provide activities and products that help organizations to focus on effective planning, management, and services to the benefit of others.
Words’nTone offers five types of consulting services:
• Strategic Planning
• Development Planning
• Community Assessment Development
• Organizational and Program/Service Assessment
• Grant Writing
Contact me if you have any question or if I can be of any assistance to your non-profit or church ministry: or message me through the FB Words’nTone page.
The hatred and poisonous vitriol of anti-Christian attitudes and words among young, new generation self-proclaimed atheists seem to be coming at believers in abundance these days. Fueled by the likes of Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris on the pseudo-intellectual-academic level and at the more popular, the magician and comedian Penn Jillette and journalist Dan Savage, young atheists seem to project their disdain for anything Christian—following these established atheists and their talking points and irrational arguments. It seems harder to reach and talk to these young, modern atheists than older, more classical atheists—mostly because the younger are still followers and haven’t lived much of life yet (or have had children!) and actually are using the chic and trendy modern atheism to express their anti-establishment attitudes, as well as their profound hatred for any religious—particularly evangelical Christianity—worldview that impinges on their own sense of morality. Additionally, these young atheists haven’t realized or admitted that they are borrowing from the very thing they hate, Christian for their sense of right and wrong. Although difficult, I like taking on the poor atheistic arguments, particularly the gaps and holes in their own philosophical approaches to the question of God’s existence. Here are a number of posts and essays from my Words’nTone blog on the subject of Atheism. Some might be helpful…or frustrating depending on who takes the time to read them…
The problem of playing with poison
It is so comfortable in our culture to be atheistic and doubt God’s existence
The faulty accusation of exclusivity
Imagining time before time, and space before space
If there is no God, would we be good?
Two assumptions, one an unlikely guess about our universe
Making nothing something still doesn’t explain all the stuff of creation
An Atheism of the Gaps vs. a God of the Gaps: The Biblical God is the God of All the Stuff
Questions of disbelief should have follow-up questions
“Faith in the endgame helps you live through the months or years of buildup” ~Jim Collins, Good to Great
“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” Jesus in Matthew 6:33
“…for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” ~The apostle Paul in Romans 14:17
Posted on my Words’nTone Facebook page
I find it rather interesting and frustrating all at the same time: Atheists and those who are even in the doubt phase about God are rather selective as to which parts of life they disbelieve and believe. Elsewhere I have called this the Cheshire Cat Smile of Christianity here in the U.S.A. and, dare I say in England as well. Without God they still hold to meaningful (yet irrational) claims of morality and right and wrong. No matter how mad and angry they get when believers bring this up (and the atheist confuses being told they have no rational foundation for determining right and wrong with being called immoral—they can be moral, but) they just have no basis for any morality. They borrow their sense of right and wrong comfortably from the American Christianized culture. Disbelief in God is easy in a culture that allows for so much of their morality to find its foundation in what they reject—Judeo-Christian standards and worldview. It would be harder and less comfortable to be an atheist or doubter in God in, say, a cannibalistic culture.
And saying that such “wiring” of the brain comes from predetermined cultural influence neither is scientific (although convenient for them and it is cheating) nor is it realistic (nor good sociology). Note that the fastest growing groups in Africa are Christian—there are more Christians believers in Africa than anywhere else on the planet. Additionally, such pseudo-science and sociology does not explain why it is that in the communist-atheistic cultures and societies such as the former USSR and China (and I’ll include the former communist regimes in places like Vietnam, Laos, et. al.), the Christian church is growing at tremendous rate contrary to culture and public policy—and a downright hatred and militant stance against such. And furthermore, such thinking does not take into consideration the rise in conversion to Christianity in even Arab-Islamic countries.
It is so safe to express the cool, trendy, and anti-establishment stance of atheism today in the West (in the U.S.A. and England) because the young atheist and doubter live comfortably within the values and moral underpinnings of Christianity. This is all the more why it is hard to reach the modern, young atheist and doubter. Their leap of faith in disbelief is zoned and fenced in by a wall of protection that they don’t even recognize—Christianity. I am finding that the young atheist is more akin to a modern anti-establishment groupie or a follower of modern libertarian thinking. They are more followers than independent thinkers than they think. To my atheist and doubter neighbors, Stop borrowing from the Christianized culture that protects their anti-establishment and libertarian beliefs (or should I say mindset) and see where that leaves you.
[This is a repeat of a previous post]
Recently, I heard two rather sarcastic comments about interpreting biblical passages: whatever a biblical author actually wrote in a passage of Scripture is always subservient to what the passage means. (Remember, this is sarcasm!) And, when someone disagrees with your interpretation, we shouldn’t waste our time studying the passage and its context, but instead look around for other verses, words, and phrases to back up our interpretations. Of course, I jest. But these sarcastic insights reveal a problem often neglected in interpretation—ignoring the context and what the author actually says in the passage. The parable of the prodigal son, or what I prefer to call “the parable of the two sons,” is one such passage where the text and in the context are often ignored so we can treasure our familiar, heart-centered, individualistic interpretations.
The past six posts in this series looked very deeply at the context surrounding Luke 15. Now, to examine the chapter itself, which actually has three parables that are about things lost that are found. All three, in the end, involve a celebration once the lost thing is found. It is a pattern, which guides the reader/listener to hear the point Luke is making.
The parable of the lost sheep (vv. 4-1) is about a shepherd who finds one of his sheep missing. I assume the shepherd leaves the ninety-nine fenced and guarded, but that isn’t the point of the story—he leaves the 99 to look for the one lost sheep. Upon finding it, he returns with it and to the 99 like any good shepherd. The second, a parable where a woman loses one of her ten silver coins (vv. 8-10). She does what it takes to search for the lost coin and finds it. These are simple parables, not hard to interpret—something of value is lost, searched for, and then, found. What is noticeable about these two short parables are their endings. They are similar:
When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!” I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance (vv. 5-7).
When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, “Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost!” In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents (vv 8-10).
Each brief parable ends with a request to celebrate the lost item being found. To help clarify the point, Jesus ends each parable with a similar pattern, namely that in heaven there is rejoicing over the repentance of sinners. So we know the thing lost corresponds with “sinners.” (Just a side note: sinners could very well refer to those outcasts in chapter 14, for the elite who heard the parable would not have considered themselves among “the sinner” class.)
There is a slight twist in the last parable, the parable of the prodigal son, or rather, the two lost sons: The rejoicing at the end is missing in the parable of the lost two sons!
Now his older son was in the field, and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. And he summoned one of the servants and began inquiring what these things could be. And he said to him, “Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has received him back safe and sound.” But he became angry and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and began pleading with him. But he answered and said to his father, “Look! For so many years I have been serving you and I have never neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a young goat, so that I might celebrate with my friends; but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him” (Luke 15:25-30).
The father plans to celebrate the sons return. The parable leaves us, however, with the son who remained at home, not only does not rejoice, but rejecting and complaining, and self-righteously comparing himself to the dirty, swine-smelling son. This is the point we hear in the introduction of the parables in vv. 1ff where the same is said by the Jerusalem leadership—complaining about the sinners: “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
This speaks volumes! How can there be any doubt that the second son is identified with the self-righteous Jerusalem leadership. As the Pharisees and scribes, listened to the parables—they knew they had been set up, for they are the ones who grumbled that Jesus receives sinners and even eats with them (obvious marks in the parable). The end of the prodigal parable was an indictment against them—more cause to hate Jesus or, perhaps, a call to repent themselves and rejoice that the unclean and outsiders sinners, the poor and unwanted are freely entering into the Kingdom. They should be searched for, those outcasts and those marginalized, inviting them to join in the feast for the Kingdom has arrived and all are invited to the celebration!
This is how the parable of the two sons needs to be heard—in context and with the emphasis that both Luke and Jesus are giving it: There are those who have excuses, who are alienated from the outcasts of society, and who ignore the presence of the Kingdom and there are the outcast sinners who are welcomed freely into the house (of God’s kingdom). We are left wondering which son are we?
“Those who don’t learn from the past are condemned to write end times books” ~Mark Noll
“The scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is not much of an evangelical mind … Despite dynamic success at a popular level, modern American evangelicals have failed notably in sustaining serious intellectual life. They have nourished millions of believers in the simple verities of the gospel but have largely abandoned the universities, the arts, and other realms of ‘high’ culture… The historical situation is … curious. Modern evangelicals are the spiritual descendants of leaders and movements distinguished by probing, creative, fruitful attention to the mind” ~Mark Noll
“A true opium of the people is a belief in nothingness after death—the huge solace of thinking that for our betrayals, greed, cowardice, murders, we are not going to be judged” ~Czeslaw Milosz, Polish poet and prose writer
“The problem with the argument is that it cuts both ways. If you suggest that people only believe because they want it to be true, then the counter-claim is that atheists are only non-believers because they don’t want it to be true” ~Simon Wenham, “Is Religion is Crutch?”