The Fundraising Chronicles: Starting points
Thank you for joining me on this journey! This is the first time I’ve ever written a series of blog posts and I hope it goes well! As I mentioned in the last post, I’ve been in full-time para-church ministry for over 25 years, all of that time I’ve raised the money that the ministry has needed. Over the last two years, God has clearly been changing the direction of how our ministry is funded and I’m learning a lot along the way. This series is intended to share with you all some of what I’m learning and I’m hoping that you may learn a thing or two along the way as well!
For those who feel God calling them into full-time ministry, there’s one main way that traditionally most missionaries and ministry staff have been able to commit their full time to doing the ministry that they are called to do: The must raise the money that they need to sustain themselves. This is a pretty simple process: Make a list of every Christian individual and couple they know, and begin setting appointments to talk about the vision the missionary has for the ministry and invite their friends to join them in prayer and finances, asking them to partner financially with the ministry. For the missionary or ministry staff then, it’s a numbers game. Let’s say they need $4000 a month, and they have 300 families on their initial mailing list. They would need 80 families to commit to an average monthly contribution of $50/month. Then as a support to those new donors, a mechanism of how they can get their contribution to the missionaries must be in place (send an envelope every time someone gives, an online tool, Electronic Funds Transfer, etc.) For many missionaries around the world, this method works really well and gives the missionary the opportunity to see God at work through their friends and relatives that are partnering together. My wife and I have a number of stories of how God met a need on the day the money was needed, whether for rent or a car repair. If you are feeling called into full-time ministry, your faith and your calling will definitely be stretched! For those feeling led to become missionaries and raise funds in this way, here’s some things I’ve learned on this journey:
1. If you feel God has led you into a certain ministry or to reach a certain nation or people group, do all you can to make sure that you are called to do this ministry and that it’s not just a ‘emotional high’ after a trip or hearing stories about this place. Discern as best as you can that the call is coming from God. Tell your pastor and a few good and Godly friends about your vision for the ministry and listen carefully to what they say. Proverbs 11:14 states, ‘Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.’ Consider your spiritual gifts and if you haven’t taken a spiritual gifts test, I’m a big fan of them because it’ll give you a sense of how God has made you and you can pair that will the type of ministry your preparing to go into. Here’s why this is super important: Full-time vocational ministry is hard. Like really hard! For those serving overseas, you’ll be an outsider of a culture that you are unfamiliar. This unfamiliarity breeds frustration and disappointment. For the ministry worker staying in their home country, there are different difficulties and in either case, you’re going to want to quit. And you’ll want to quit alot. You’ll think at some point, ‘Why am I doing this?’ And it will be the calling that God gave you and the certainty you felt when you knew God was calling you into it that will get you through the hard times.
2. When money begins to fall short, you’ll need to know God has called you into the ministry. One of my missionary heroes, Hudson Taylor said, ‘God’s work, done in God’s way, never lacks God’s provision.’ You’ll need to trust in God’s provision for His ministry when these times come along.
3. Don’t ever forget the way God is using your donors and what a blessing they are. This is something I forgot at one point, and God has just re-reminded me of that. These donors work hard for their salary, and for them to be willing to give some of THEIR money to you to do the ministry is actually pretty amazing! They don’t have to give any of it to you, but through their walk with the Lord, they feel God leading them to give some of their money to you. Thank them often and find ways to minister back to them. Keep them as up to date on what God is doing in your ministry as you can.
In the next post, let’s look at a few other ways a ministry can be funded…. There are a number of cool, innovate ways that money for ministry can be found. Thanks again for joining me on this journey!