Raise Your Vision

November 21, 2014


Freebie Friday: Podcast with Mari Smith

Get your free podcast on social media effectiveness with Mari Smith.(Click on the image to download your podcast)

November 11, 2014


Creating a Generous Culture: 3 Stories By Mike Stickler

Mike Stickler—Pastor, philanthropist, Managing Partner of The Vision Group, Ltd.

My first stint in ministry was a homeless mission. I was 30 years old, just out of my career in sales, and I got roped into taking the position as executive director. They forgot to mention that it took a million bucks a year to keep the thing going.

They had about a half-million dollars in the bank that they were just sitting on. I found out that the money came from a lady who had passed away and donated that money to the organization. Her specific instruction was that we would use that money to develop more housing for the homeless. But the organization was sitting on it for a rainy day. I convinced them to release it, and we started building houses and facilities and really starting to take care of the homeless.





Dr. Brian Kluth—Pastor, Christian Stewardship Educator of the year

I had the privilege of being a camp director for a number of years. But before I became the director they made me the CFO. They said, “We’re out of money. We have tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of bills. We won’t have any money for five months. How’d you like to be the CFO?”

So they gave me the box of bills and the empty checkbook and a five-month calendar until I had money. And I said to them, “One of the things I know we have to do is be more generous.” And they said, “What do you mean? We’re a camp—we’re generous all the time.”

And I said, “No, we need to look for specific ways to be generous, because ultimately if God can get something through you, He can get something to you. So we need to practice generosity.” I actually wanted to give a tenth of the camp income to other Christian work beyond ourselves. And the board said, “We can’t do that. We can’t touch the cash. We don’t have any.”

But we came up with other ways that we were intentionally generous. We allowed the 12th person to come free whenever there were retreats. When we had 250 beds and we only had 150 beds filled, we’d call international groups to come in and be there for free. We started a scholarship program for needy children.

From an organizational side we made that decision. Now from a church side, I helped start a church. We started out with eight people and ultimately grew to about a thousand. And when we were just 20, 30, 40 people I said, “Every offering, we will set aside the first portion of our offering to give beyond ourselves.” And so that was in our DNA from the first month of operations—no matter how little we had, we would be givers from whatever we had.

Michael B. Williams—Pastor, Education Director of The Vision Group, Ltd.

As a pastor I was sent to a church that was struggling financially, struggling with its very low membership. The very first meeting I had with the board, the question was posed, “What are we going to do about getting more people and more money?”

And I said, “First of all, we’re not going to worry about getting more people and more money. What we’re going to do is see that we are in the business of being church. And that means being a house of prayer for the community. That means learning and. That means being available to those who have needs. And the people and the money part will take care of itself.”

Well, it did. It became part of our DNA, to make certain that we were doing the things that we understood ourselves called to do as church in that community.

What’s your story? Have you helped lead a ministry into greater generosity?

You can hear more about Effective Ministry Leadership from Brian Kluth, Mike Stickler, and Michael Williams on this week's featured program . They are just a few of the presenters at The Raise Your Vision Online Forum .


Get your free Podcast Today!
All information and images property of The Vision Group, Ltd. © 2014. Use, unless expressly given by the Company in writing, is unlawful by U.S. Copyright Law.
November 07, 2014


Free Training: The HeArt of Fundraising

Most nonprofits and ministries have an incorrect concept of fundraising. They find it a chore or necessary evil that must be done. I often hear it feels like begging of manipulating. But fundraising is just another opportunity to minister to others and build life-long friendships, if approached properly.
In this webinar, you will learn how to change your outlook and heart about fundraising. Learn the difference between "needs-based" fundraising and "Vision-Based" fundraising. You will learn the mistakes you have made in your approach and how not to make them again. No matter if you are a seasoned professional or just starting a new world-changing effort, your time will be well-spent.

November 04, 2014


What Are You Doing with Your 9 to 5? By Mike Stickler


lush gardenWith the exception of Christian leaders and other church-related workers, most of us work in what we think of as the secular world, or in some kind of marketplace situation. And often our mindset is that this 9-to-5 thing that we have to do is somehow separate from our Christian life and the work that we do for God. But we know instinctively that this isn’t the right perspective. Considering how many hours in our lifetime we spend at work, it seems worthwhile to consider what God has to say about it.What is the Creator's perspective on our daily work? What does the Bible say about it? 

God calling

At the very beginning, God created Adam to work. He designed him to be able to do a specific kind of work, and He gave him that work to do.

Note, this was before the Fall. Work was part of God’s design for man from the very beginning. In the perfect, unfallen world, Adam was designed by God to honor Him with his daily work in God’s creation.

All through Scripture, honorable, daily work is seen as part of God’s plan for people. Luke was a physician. Paul made tents. Jesus worked with his hands for many years before beginning his public ministry.

Fast forward to our day, and work is seen as a necessary evil. Even Christians view their daily work as somehow separate from their service to the Lord on Sundays. We live with an unbiblical dichotomy in our thinking, a divide between the “spiritual” and the “secular.” And we see our work is decidedly in the “secular” category.

Bringing Jesus to work with you

What if we viewed our work as God’s calling on our lives? What if we took Jesus to work with us, as it were, every day?time card rs

Bringing the Kingdom of God into the workplace brings it right into the midst of the world.
It brings the presence of Christ and the power of the gospel to bear in a powerful way in the daily affairs of the world. We would be effective messengers of God in the place where most people spend most of their waking hours.
When I was 32 years old, I left the “secular workplace” and “went into ministry” at a homeless shelter. (See how deeply ingrained that way of thinking is?) I happened to run into Christian leader who was very well-known locally.
When I told him I had this opportunity, he looked at me and said, “Please don’t do it. Please don’t. We need solid, committed believers in the workplace.”
It really set me back, and I had to spend some time praying about it and thinking about it. Obviously I left my secular job and I went into what we would call ministry at that point, but it was an amazing moment of revelation for me. For the first time I thought seriously about Christians fulfill a vital calling when they work in the marketplace. I still remember his question, “Don’t you see that ministry is in the marketplace?”


A famine of hearing the Word of God

We really don’t hear enough from the pulpit about what work is all about, do we? What a tragedy that is. Most of us spend most of our waking hours in that 9-to-5 (or more) world, and then we spend an hour on Sunday learning how to live as Christians in all kinds of situations and circumstances—except for the one where we spend most of our time.

My friend Art Ritter pointed out, “Did you know that we spend almost more waking hours with our workmates than we do with our life mate? We certainly spend more waking hours with our workmates than we do with our church mates.

So let’s look at the biblical argument for what the notion of work ought to be all about.

Dr. Bob Rayburn taught a 10-part series on work at his church, and I’m indebted to him for much of what follows.

  • “God made man to work and gave him work to do.” We read Genesis 2:15: “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and keep it (ESV). As Dr. Rayburn wrote, “It’s the very first command ever given to man. Indeed, the very first words spoken to him. It was a commandment to work and to perform a particular job.”

There’s the purpose for which man was created—to do work that would glorify God.

  • “Jesus himself was a carpenter and so sanctified all manner of occupations.” That’s a pretty ordinary and mundane job. By the way, most of his life he sanctified all manner of occupations. “If the perfectly righteous life of the Son of God was a life of work – and not “spiritual” work, but the ordinary work of ordinary human beings – if the only perfect human life ever lived in this world was a life of a working man, then plainly that is to be our life as well,” Rayburn wrote.

The Puritans concluded that a Christian could serve God not only WHILE he was tending sheep, but by tending the sheep as well as serving the Lord with the wealth that comes from the work.

  • “Work is the sphere of man’s service to God. Every man’s. Every Christian’s.” And of course this includes women.
  •  "Work will be our calling in the world to come."

Look at Isaiah 65:21-22:

21They will build houses and dwell in them;
    they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
22 No longer will they build houses and others live in them,
    or plant and others eat.
For as the days of a tree,
    so will be the days of my people;
my chosen ones will long enjoy
    the work of their hands.

“So much is work the calling of a human life,” wrote Dr. Rayburn, “so much is it what we were created to do, that it will continue to be the business of our life when sin is conquered and mankind has risen to a perfect state. Work was assigned to man in Eden; it will be required of him in heaven.”

A work check-up

Thinking about God’s perspective on our daily work prompts a number of significant questions we should each ask ourselves.

  • Am I working to give glory to God?
  • Am I serving the Lord in my occupation?
  • Am I a minister of Christ in my daily work that I do? Not only in the way in which I do my work, but is my work itself a service offered to God?
  • Am I treating my fellow workers, my boss, my employees, my customers, my children if I’m a homemaker, in a distinctively Christian way?
  • Am I setting out each day to perform my labor, whatever it is, under God’s watchful eye?
  • Do I see myself as answering God’s call when I begin my work each day?

As long as they are lawful for Christians, all occupations are in service to God. Our jobs themselves are service to the Lord. So we should look for ways to make our work, and our way of working, much more intentionally in service to the Lord.

How? Think hard. Find those ways. Our work is holy. Our work is from God, and it ought to be done for God.

Puritan leader John Cotton summed it up this way:

“A true believing Christian…lives in his vocation by his faith. Not only my spiritual life but even my civil life in this world, and all the life I live, is by the faith of the Son of God: He exempts no life from the agency of his faith.”

What can you do to be more intentional about serving the Lord in your daily work?

You can hear more about Effective Ministry Leadership from Mike Stickler on this week's featured program. Mike is also one of the presenters at The Raise Your Vision Online Forum.

 Would You Like to learn More? - Join Mike for this free webinar


All information and images property of The Vision Group, Ltd. © 2014 Use, unless expressly given by the Company in writing, is unlawful by U.S. Copyright Law.

October 28, 2014


Board Responsibilities vs. Staff Responsibilities By Mike Stickler


Responsibilities - Board versus StaffMany boards get tripped up when it comes to delineating their role in relation to the role of paid staff. A board member might not like the way a certain junior staff person (not the Executive Director) is performing his or her job. Should the board member address the issue with that staff person? Or the office copier breaks down, and the organization needs a new one. The funds aren’t in the budget. Can the Executive Director go ahead and purchase the copier without board approval?

These can be tricky situations.

In the first scenario, the organization’s Executive Director is responsible for managing the junior staff on a day-to-day basis. The board does not supervise the staff with the exception of the Executive Director, so this situation should be left up to the Executive Director. In the second scenario, the board sets the annual budget and must approve any changes to it. That means that the Executive Director can’t buy the new copier until the board adds the funds to the budget.

Separating board and staff responsibilities is easier if you think about each group’s focus. Broadly speaking, the board is responsible for overall planning and policy development, as well as approving and evaluating policies. The staff implements the policies and plans, broadly speaking.

Although I suggest a strict delineation of board/staff duties, it’s not unusual for staff members to be included in board activities. For example, the chief executive often collaborates with the board chairman on development of the board meeting agendas. Staff members may attend board meetings to give reports; for example, the Development Director may provide a progress report on a major grant application, and the Finance Director may provide financial reports. But it’s important to note that staff members do not have a vote and do not offer opinions or engage in discussion unless asked by a board member. Finally, staff members may be members of board committees. For example, the Development Directors would be a logical addition to the Finance or Fundraising Committee.

Your staff and your board will benefit—and therefore, your organization will benefit—from being as clear as possible about roles and responsibilities.

You can hear more about effective board leadership from Michael Williams at The Vision Group’s Raise Your Vision Online Forum. Mike Stickler is managing partner of The Vision Group, Ltd.

Would your Like to learn more: Join Mike for this free webinar
All information and images property of The Vision Group, Ltd. © 2014
Use, unless expressly given by the Company in writing, is unlawful by U.S. Copyright Law.

October 21, 2014


Your First Meeting with a Philanthropist: What He Wants to Know By Mike Stickler

Blog-Peter-Strople1When a leading philanthropist meets with an organization seeking his support, what does he most want to know about them? Peter Strople has been called “One of the World’s Great Rainmakers,” “The Most Connected Man in America,” and “One of the Most Connected People in the World.” He is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Zero2 Ventures, and he advises investors and executives involved in start-ups to Fortune 25 global companies.

He’s also my good friend.


I asked Peter to share the top things he would want to learn in the first 30 minutes of meeting with an organization that is seeking his support.

Peter said,

  • It’s not financial.
  • I want to look at the executive team. If they are all saying different things in regards to why this organization exists and what its future initiatives are, that’s a problem.
  • I want to meet the people behind the organization.
  • I want to know why they’re doing what they’re doing.
  • I’d love to know people’s backgrounds. Were they called to this, or is it a job they’re doing just to try support their families?
  • I want to see if they understand who their competition is. Even in a church environment, I want to know who they see as the people that they have to worry about in that community.
  • I want to know how much they have been given
  • I want to know how their resources are being managed toward fulfilling their vision.

You can hear more about Effective Ministry Leadership from Peter Strople. Peter is also one of the presenters for The Raise Your Vision Online Forum.


Would you like to learn more about Philanthropy?  Join Mike for this free Webinar - Click the image to find out More
All information and images property of The Vision Group, Ltd. © 2014 Use, unless expressly given by the Company in writing, is unlawful by U.S. Copyright Law.

October 17, 2014


Freebie Friday: Podcast with Philanthropist Arch Bonemma

Get your free Podcast about mentoring up and coming Christian Philanthropists and Marketplace Leaders.
Arch Bonemma is well know Christian Philanthropist. 

(Click on the Image for the Free Download)

1 2 3 4 Next »