I serve as the President & CEO of the Association of Christian Nonprofits, a nationwide membership organization focused on serving the local church and para-church. In my position, as you can imagine, I speak with Christian leaders from organizations of all sizes and backgrounds. And as I explain what we do at ACN, I regularly get one of two responses – 1) Why? and 2) Huh?
Let me answer the first question and the fog should clear on the second.
In short form, because I love the nonprofit sector, and more importantly, the church and christian ministry subset. There is ample evidence that neighborhoods and larger communities do better when a vibrant house of worship is present. In one report, posted by the Huffington Post in 2013, “Violent crime decreased as greater numbers of people were religiously active in a community, according to a study analyzing crime and religion data from 182 counties in three states.” The affect on a community amplifies when a ministry nonprofit and local church partner for a catalytic affect. All one has to do is look to The Hope Center in Omaha, NE. A run down Boys Club building in the middle of a run down, crime-ridden community breathed new life into that community with practical and spiritual outreach. Why? Because a white suburban pastor made a move to live intentionally for racial reconciliation – and with the help of local churches and business partnerships, was able to experience the light that shines when a community is allowed to smile again.
But this is in effect, what happens when ministry leaders begin worrying less about how it will affect them individually, and more about how it will affect the community in which God has called them. In the end, faithfulness and humility in partnership will win the day.
However, another harsh reality is, so many small organizations feel isolated and lonely. They do not have the revenue to afford software and systems they feel they need, nor the time to research it. And really, most ministry leaders do not possess the operational skillset to know what they even need in the first place. This isn’t a knock on these leaders personally. They simply did not get into ministry to administrate their organizations. Large organization can simply hire staff to do this. Not a small church or ministry – that admin work falls directly on the lap of the Executive Director or Pastor. There simply is not enough hours in the day. These leaders are tired, stretched way to thin, and need buoyancy.
That is why we launched ACN. I am a visionary with a strong operational and organizational leadership bent to me. I love to see organizations run well. One of the slogans we use is “spend less on administration; spend more on mission”. That is a goal we have for each of our members. We want to come alongside and provide credible, practical, and affordable resources and services that help their ministry thrive, nothing more. For some, we simply serve as a sounding board for leadership communication and transition, for others we help manage a new website or software implementation, and for others we provide the community of like-minded leaders at workshops and events.
Why do we so it for ridiculously low membership rates? Because every time we meaningfully interact with a ministry, I get to watch a ministry leader inhale a breath of fresh air, and grin as the weight begins to lift. I get to observe as mission field workers and other support raising personnel react as they learn they can raise their support with an admin rate of less than half of what they are used to paying, while maintaining a technological advantage through our Donor Fund program. I get to serve the ministries that give it their all, and are rarely noticed for doing so. I get to help make these leaders’ dreams take hold and help alleviate the pain where it is needed most.
Churches and ministries are the ‘Moses’ of the story, ACN gets to be the ‘Aaron’. That’s why.