AN HONEST MESSAGE ABOUT “ASKING FOR MONEY” FOR MISSIONS
Other than the stresses of packing and transitioning for life in another country (be it passport culture or host culture) and the grief of having their hearts split in two for the honor of going where Jesus leads, missionaries generally hate raising support for their ministries. From our experience with the people we’ve run into in our pre-field preparation and time in Costa Rica, everyone seems to love the training time invested in understanding how to cross cultures, even how to learn new languages, how to cling to God when turbulence hits in the air and on the ground … but man, oh man, does it become deeply painful once talk turns to how to develop donor partnerships and, sometimes, more painful still, how to maintain them!
However, Jordan and I have come to a different perspective on partner development, support discovery, fundraising … insert your favorite euphemism for “asking for money” here! If given the option to Rip Van Winkle our way through it – go to sleep, then wake up and it’s over – we still wouldn’t skip the process of fundraising, although we may be tempted to do so at times. Certainly, the trajectory of Christian missions is being shaken by the seismic shifts and cracks in the ground of traditional ministry funding efforts. However, even though we believe in aligning ourselves with what’s most strategic for the future, rather than clinging tightly onto what’s typical, we still believe that there is a supreme value in asking people to partner with us even with their finances. Here are some reasons why:
**NOTE: These are not all the reasons why we love the faith process of fundraising, neither are we saying that YOU should love it … we’re just sharing what we’ve learned over the past few years!
- THE CONVERSATION IS NECESSARY: As God writes our narrative, we’re learning so much about how He chooses to work in and through us, His children. He rarely does it in isolation, unless He uses solitude or disconnectedness to get our attention! God has commanded His Church to make disciples in all nations, right? When we make a plea for people to join our support team as a prayer warrior, a financial donor, or a cheerleader, we have a wide open door to remind them through the conversation that this commandment is NOT just for us, it’s for EVERYONE who wears the “Follower of Jesus” name tag. That conversation is so much more than just about the money. It’s about our hearts … and how our hearts respond when that conversation happens. We don’t pretend to have a say in how God will call each true believer to make disciples, be it praying, giving, going, etc., but we do know that when we have the “fundraising” conversation, we are echoing the same thing to our community that the disciples heard from Jesus during His last days on earth. We love being a part of that echo through the eras.
- IT’S NOT ABOUT US: Remember when you learned that someone’s behavior towards you says more about them than it does about you? We want to expose God’s greatness through our family’s life choices and when we see how He provides through our fundraising efforts, it magnifies His goodness in our eyes of faith. It’s truly about Him and all that He is! We get to declare that day in and day out when we raise funds. Also, it’s been a fascinating journey to see how people have chosen to navigate their relationships with us over the past 5 years. We’ve certainly had a front-row seat to how much those choices say more about our culture today than it does about us and our decision to be supported, rather than self-funded right now.
- IT MAKES US BETTER STEWARDS: While there are challenges to maneuver through whenever we hear “what will your supporters say?” in the back of our head, at the end of the day, it’s not a negative thing to have to stop and count the cost of major decisions. We like the accountability, even though we are independent and autonomous in making sure we reach our goals for our roles.
- IT KEEPS US HUMBLE: Even though we believe that every single penny that comes through our hands comes from God, whether we “earn” it through the business or “raise” it through the ministry, there is an unspoken reality that when we aren’t only self-funded, we actually feel ourselves relying on Him to provide for our every need. Don’t misunderstand: we also enjoy the opportunity of having some control over our income by working more/harder at a business endeavor (for the part of our budget that is self-funded), but we don’t ever want to fool ourselves into losing sight of the fact that it is God’s movement that causes money to materialize. Business increases, donors join our team and give, our faith is strengthened = all because He responds to our faith at work!
- THE KIDS ARE WATCHING AND PARTICIPATING: We see that our children are being schooled intensely in what it means to work and pray so that God would be glorified by seeing us funded for our ministry. When Jordan worked as a Business Analyst at Comcast, all Megan & Micah saw was that Daddy would disappear for 8-10 hours a day, while Mommy took them to the grocery store (for 8-10 minutes on a good day!) and the connection between Daddy’s work and Daddy’s paycheck was in the realm of Cinderella’s fairy godmother. It was just like magic and nobody knew how it worked. Now, we both work on our partner development together while the kids homeschool and then, we all interact and pray and work together towards the goal. This is not a 1 out of 365 day commitment of “bring your child to work.” We are all working together and it’s a blessing and their faith is growing. We would not trade that for the “ease” of never having to raise support.
So, where do YOU stand on this issue of fundraising? What has been your experience with either doing it, or being asked to give to missions efforts? Write to us in the comments section! We’d love to hear from you! Thank you for reading this!