Non-Profit

Often Zhan

4 minute read

Serving in Christian Non-Profit

If you’ve met me before, you probably know that I serve in a multi-generational Christian non-profit. The bulk of my time outside of my job as a teacher is towards serving in this ministry to develop the next generation of Christian leaders. My hope is to train them to be a blessing and a witness in their workplace through integrity, boldness, humility, and strong leadership skills.

I’m very excited about this particular year because we are celebrating our 50th Anniversary. We are looking at how God has blessed this ministry these past 50 years, but we are also looking forward to see where God is leading this ministry for the next 50 years. As a result, the leadership has been discussing milestones, goals, and meticulously examining all of the legal documents, bank statements, and operational procedures so that this ministry can start preparing for the 100th anniversary on the ground running.

Concern over “Conference”

One specific topic in our discussions about the future of this ministry still bothers me. I’ll just get to the point, I don’t understand the insistence of keeping the word “conference” in our organization’s name. I’m afraid that if we continue to have that word in the title of our organization, we will stifle any movement forward and bind the success of this ministry to a single event rather than to the fulfillment of the overall vision that God has set for this ministry.

Our vision for the past few decades is the following:

“[Our] vision is to co-work with¬†West Coast Chinese churches¬†to bring about a grass roots spiritual revival.”

In addition, we also desire to train Christian leaders for the next generation by encouraging them to become self-motivated in fulfilling the Great Commission and equipping them with leadership skills and bible study skills to be a blessing in their local community. (I just made this up on the spot. I could have probably phrase it better, but I’ll leave it as is.)

Just an Event

To be blunt, this conference is just an event. Yes, our biggest event, but it is still just an event. By putting the word “conference” into the name of this ministry, we are hanging the success of this entire ministry on a handful of days with no alternative routes of success.

Take it or leave it, but I personally believe that a large bulk of confusion that has occurred in this organization over the past several years can be attributed to the ministry’s name.

The thought process goes like this: This ministry cannot exist without a conference, so we must ensure that the conference must exist. Regardless of the law. Regardless of who we use, chew out, burn out, and spit out. Regardless of what bridges we burn during the process.

And that is something I will not stand for.

The Conference is Important!

The word “conference” is important (extremely important!), but it should not be placed on a pedestal. There are other ways to serve and train others outside of the conference.

We should not remove “conference” from the ministry’s dictionary. We should put it as a major sub-point in the mission statement. Just don’t make “conference” the whole kit-and-caboodle.

Eggs in One Basket

A good organization should pursue multiple avenues towards of success to fulfill their purpose, not just a single trail. This is especially true if all the success of the organization hangs on a 5 day event. That is just bad practice. Don’t put your eggs in one basket.

And those so-called “outside ventures” are just as important or even more important than the actual conference. Leadership training. Bible Study training. Our ministry can and should impact people outside of “conference”.


Having “conference” is a severe detriment to the future of this ministry. So why the insistence on keeping “conference” in our ministry’s name? I just don’t get it.

And “That’s the name we’ve had in the past,” is not a good enough answer.

- Often