By Guest Author: Aaron Gonyou (from Unmuzzled Ox)
Support raising is considered a ‘necessary evil’ by most missionaries. They typically dislike raising support but ‘swallow the pill’ because they want to perform outreach ministry to the people-group they are called to. Flawed thinking like this creates an attitude that will, at least, hamper their ministry or, at most, lead to its demise.
In my coaching experience with missionaries, even a small adjustment in attitude and perspective can result in significant changes to the amount of support coming in. I have found over and over that adherence to the following ten basic understandings for support raising will lead to support-raising success:
- If God calls you, he will provide. He just will. There are no two ways about it. When God asks you to do something, he will resource it. He doesn’t call you to another country somewhere around the world and wonder how you’ll be fed, clothed and sheltered. That’s not our God. There are reasons why full support may not be coming in, but we will deal with that in another post.
- You are an Advocate. Not a support raiser, not a fundraiser, and not a partner developer. Instead, you speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves (Proverbs 31:8-9). This shift in thinking will improve the way you approach potential donors. It will also change the level of joy that you have in raising support. A side benefit of doing skillful advocacy is full support.
I will expand on the concept of advocacy in a future post as well.
- You go to God for support, not people. No man determines your destiny. Only God. When you send letters and have appointments with people, you are inviting them into what God is doing. You don’t need to feel the pressure to make a slick sales pitch. If they choose not to support, that is between them and God.
- You never ask on behalf of yourself. Whenever anyone says that they hate asking for money for themselves, I know right then that they are not approaching their support raising from the proper theological perspective. First, you are asking on behalf of God, as his representative. Second, you are asking on behalf of those you minister to. Never on behalf of yourself.
- You never rob someone of the opportunity to give. Don’t make decisions for people before you even ask them for support. You might not make the ask because you are saying the following statements to yourself:
- They are struggling with money right now
- They are not well right now
- They do not know me well enough
- They wouldn’t want to
- etc…(insert excuse here)
In my experience, every missionary is surprised by who gives to their ministry and who does not. Read about the widow and the mite in Mark 12:41-44. The Bible teaches that ‘it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35).’ Do we really believe this?
- You have a responsibility to raise your support first before ministering to others. Think about the in-flight safety demonstration before the plane takes off. They tell you to put your own oxygen mask on first before your child’s. We all know why. The same goes for support-raising. Getting yourself in a secure place will ensure that you can stay in ministry and impact many people.
- ‘Relationship’ is the most valuable thing you can give to a donor. They want to feel connected to you and what you are doing. After all, ‘For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Mat. 6:21).’ If donors are supporting you with their treasure, they will want an update on how that eternal investment is performing. Make sure you are regularly communicating with your support team.
- Understanding that if you preach the gospel, you should make your living from the gospel. Getting paid for ministry is a right thing, and it’s a good thing. It is also a God-ordained thing. In 1 Corinthians 9:14 it says, ‘In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel (NIV).’ If you are not preaching the gospel, this may be why you are not at full support. Food for thought.
- Support raising keeps you from working in a silo. Working in a silo means you are working sheltered, alone, or cut-off from others and the larger vision. Many Christian workers I know would be quite happy only to do the outreach component of their ministry. Advocacy keeps you looking outward by inviting others into what God is doing.
- Support raising is a movement maker. Think of it. If you had dozens of supporters praying, volunteering, and giving, how much more effective would that be for accomplishing your ministry goals? Imagine if all the staff in your organization were doing advocacy properly. Think about how many people in your community would be making a difference. Think about how that would attract more workers for the harvest, who would then impact even more people. Pretty soon, you’ll have a ministry greenhouse in your region and a potential revival!