The "Big Ask" - Tips on making bold requests
In the midst of leading as a Chief Information Officer in a large hospital and running a homeless ministry during the winter months in South Bend, my lead pastor had the audacity to ask me to take a class on how to preach a weekend message. I was working 50-60 hours a week at my normal job, trying to figure out how to wedge in the homeless ministry, raise three boys and be a good husband. Why in the world would someone ask me to do more in the midst of my crazy schedule. Didn’t he realize I was incredibly busy already?! It was a “Big Ask”, and I said yes.
I took the class and ended up co-teaching a weekend message some months later. It was a huge stretch for me, but it helped me overcome a few hurdles in my spiritual walk. It pushed me to thinking in new ways about my walk with Jesus and using my gifts in a different way. Fast forward another 18 months and my lead pastor asks an even more audacious “Big Ask ”question…. Would I ever consider coming on staff at the church. SERIOUSLY… My current job was my DREAM job and I had never considered working full time in ministry?!? After praying significantly about it, I quit my job and came on staff to lead through an amazing journey and period of growth in my life and in the season of significant growth at the church.
Without the “Big Ask” I would not have made those leaps. Asking large and audacious things of people are a critical part of advancing the kingdom.
To advance the kingdom it will require you making “Big Asks” of people. In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus makes a “Big Ask” of Simon and Andrew when he says “Come follow me…. And I will send you out to fish for people”. (Mark 1:17). Simon and Andrew both left their nets and family behind to advance the kingdom.
I have learned over the last eight years that without asking for larger commitments you will likely miss large moves of God. Let me clarify – without a “Big Ask” our homeless ministry would not have been funded or successful. Without a “Big Ask” I would not have given up an amazing salary and great job to be in full time ministry. Without a “Big Ask” I would not be married to a great wife.
Now that I am helping to lead at the Vineyard church as well as helping a number of other churches and ministries in the region I find that others are somewhat hesitant to lean into asking for large contributions of time, effort and money.
Here are some tips that will help you get to a “Big Ask”:
1. Make your “Big Ask” specific and tangible – The larger the ask the more detail and context you need. If you are asking for a time commitment, then how long is it? If you are asking for a large financial commitment then how exactly will it be spent and what is the benefit? A very large ask without details or context can be easily disregarded and may be perceived as offensive.
2. Don’t automatically assume a no for the person – A normal inclination is to assume that someone is too busy or may not be interested, which leads to never asking. Don’t make the decision for the person – let them hear you out. The worst they could say is “no”. In my experience individuals love being asked and considered and more times than not, they say “Yes”. If you find yourself saying “Oh they will never do that….” maybe you should let them answer…
3. Don’t say “It’s probably a no”, while you are making the ask – Pay attention to the language you are using when you ask someone for a large commitment. Too many times individuals buffer a “Big Ask” with a verbal assumption that the answer will be no. This happens more time than you would think! Jesus didn’t say “Simon and Peter – you look busy and it’s probably a no, but will you follow me?”.
4. Let God be your guide and help – People want to connect with mission and with a worthy cause. On a number of occasions I have outlined the need and have been amazed that God grabbed the person and without effort at all by me, the answer was “yes”. I have now started to assume that God is already working on people when I make an ask. Your ask combined with God’s prompting many times creates a beautiful opportunity for kingdom advancement.
Ask big things of people! Every now and again you will find that they were just waiting for someone like you to do something they had only dreamed of.