It’s no secret to missions agencies that one of the top hindrances to people entering the field is finances. However, it’s not necessarily a lack of money that keeps people from fulfilling a calling from God, but often a lack of revelation.
Let me explain; in recruiting people for our short- and long-term work, there’s never a lack of enthusiasm for the cause of Christ to be preached throughout the earth. Believers tend to be thrilled and excited to be presented with the opportunity to join one of our short-term expeditions. Thrilled and excited that is, until they come to find out some of the financial costs involved.
Suddenly, the reality of airfare prices, and the other logistical expenses associated with reaching remote people groups, loom larger than the cause that had originally captivated their hearts. Jesus himself told us that it’s a wise thing to count the cost of pursuing a dream before one makes a commitment to it, and of course, he’s right! It would be foolish to charge ahead into a missions setting unaware of the financial commitments required to be an effective minister.
Yet, the dollar amount attached to any particular endeavor should never serve as the bottom line for what is achievable. In fact, if anything God called us to do were affordable, where would be our need for faith in him?
It’s often the fund raising process that refines and prepares a believer to reach their full potential when in the field. That season spent fundraising before launching out into the mission can make the difference between one who goes out in full confidence and assurance and one who is likely to crack under the inevitable pressures that will come during the ensuing service.
There’s a spiritual process to fundraising that if overlooked, can cripple a person’s faith. How can we trust God to use us to change a nation, if we struggle to trust him to meet our basic financial needs?
Perspective over Stigma
Yet there’s no denying that in many circles, talk of fundraising brings with it more than a little negativity. The stigma surrounding the activity can be found throughout all parts of Christendom, manifest in a multitude of ways.
Parents, pastors, teachers and students can all hold strong opinions on the mechanics of fundraising, while some will be unwilling to embrace the idea at all. It’s a subject that has the potential to divide a household, or even a church. So it stands to reason that we need to get the right perspective to avoid fracturing the unity we’re called to have as Christ’s body.
So what does effective and Biblical fundraising look like? And how could it possibly be more enticing than a job with a salary?
What Fundraising Is Not
Fund raising for service in Christian ministry is not begging. It’s not unspiritual. And it’s not impossible! In fact, when approached from the right perspective (a Biblical perspective), fundraising can provide some of the greatest opportunities to grow in faith: overcoming fear, pride and doubt, while gaining a deeper knowledge of the Word. That’s not to mention a likely exposure to a greater network of people, and the opportunity to forge deep bonds and relationships to those who partner with your vision.
A salary, of course, doesn’t guarantee any of these opportunities. Salaries can come and go too, because they are reliant on so many other factors. Great job security exists in knowing that the provision for the task at hand comes from a personally built support network. The partnership that exists between a missionary and their supporters not only provides financially, but often emotionally, spiritually and practically too.
And while circumstances will always change over time and support networks will be constantly evolving, for the missionary there is always the opportunity to recruit new partners as the need arises. With a salary, the fixed income will often be used to determine what can be achieved. With missions work, the vision of what God is doing propels our efforts to raise the necessary resources.
In fact, to many of those who’ve been successfully living off full-time support, the idea of trading in their financial support team in place of a regular salary would be like trading in an HD TV for an old black and white version. To one who is willing to embrace a Biblical perspective of fund raising while facing their personal fears great reward lies ahead.
Let’s Be Biblical
Scott Morton, International Funding Coach for The Navigators and one of Overland Missions’ partners in ministry, says:
Let’s be Biblical. Don’t spout your personal opinions on money or fundraising until you’ve spent at least 20 hours in personal Bible study on these topics. If you’ve never studied what the Bible says about money or raising support, how do you know your opinions are Biblical?
It’s only after spending this time in personal Bible study, along with good training, that we can begin to move away from the stigmas surrounding fund raising. And when this happens, we begin a journey towards a God-focused ministry, free of the fears and opinions of man.
There’s no question that fundraising is a challenge; one that will cause even the most confident believer to confront deep questions in their heart. And fund raising isn’t the easiest option either. But Jesus never promised us the easy option. What he does promise though is his faithfulness to accomplish the task. As with anything else in life, it’s our trust in this truth that he is who he says he is, that will enable us to fulfill all that he calls us to.
Fiona Killough is the Graphic Design Media Manager for Overland Missions where she serves with her husband, David. They came to Overland Missions from successful careers in the teaching and business fields respectively and now live off full-time support with their daughter, Faith.