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Funding, Fears and Faith: What About Support-Raising?

Funding, Fears and Faith: What About Support-Raising?

Support-raising can be the elephant in the missions conference room. The idea of asking others for money to support your ministry can be confusing, and fear of the unknown and of rejection can stifle your passion to see the nations know Jesus.

The support-raising process can be unnerving, but it’s not just a box to check off on your to-do list so you can get to the field. Instead, it’s an avenue for spiritual growth and an opportunity to bless the Body of Christ in ways that have nothing to do with money. Let’s look at several key truths.

Support-raising follows a biblical model.

The Bible contains numerous examples of the Body of Christ financially supporting those who were proclaiming the gospel where it wasn’t yet known. In Philippians 4, for example, Paul rejoices in the gifts he received from the Philippian church:

“for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid more than once when I was in need. … I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.” Philippians 4:16, 18 NIV

Financial support didn’t come only from churches but from individuals as well. Luke tells of several women helping to support Jesus and His disciples out of their own means (Luke 8:2-3 NIV). In Romans 16:2, Paul wrote about Phoebe, who provided ministry funding not only for Paul but for numerous others as well: “she has been the benefactor of many people, including me.” Together, the support of these individuals and churches fueled Paul’s ministry to places where the gospel was still unknown.

It blesses the Body of Christ.

In Philippians 1:5, Paul refers to the Philippian believers as his partners in the gospel, and in a similar way, those who support your ministry are your partners in making Christ known. This partnership isn’t only a benefit for you and for the people you’re seeking to reach; it’s also a blessing to the Body of Christ. In fact, the very next verse reminds us that this cooperation for the sake of the gospel is part of the good work God does in the lives of believers.

When you ask others to support you, you’re not just requesting funds: You’re inviting them to invest in something eternal. Your ask gives them a clear pathway to participate in the Great Commission, and being involved in your ministry through giving and prayer can be a blessing to believers who have hearts for the nations.

Lisa, who serves as a mobilizer, has experienced being on both sides of the support-raising process, and she’s seen how her church’s support of a family in Southeast Asia has benefitted the congregation as a whole. “We’re so aware of what our prayers and giving are accomplishing,” she says, sharing how the church has shared these workers’ joy when people heard the gospel for the first time and accepted Christ. In turn, this family is on the receiving end of “enthusiasm, energy and abundance” from the church as it provides not only financial gifts but partnership in the gospel. “We can’t imagine not supporting them,” Lisa says.

In addition, as you share your heart for the least-reached and how you plan to serve, God can use your passion to increase others’ awareness of the need to take the gospel to all nations. You could become a catalyst that prompts your family, friends or church to get involved in giving, prayer and service in their neighborhoods or across the world. Some of them might even become your teammates!

Serving in a marketplace role doesn’t mean you won’t have to raise support.

Increasingly, many cross-cultural workers go to the field with plans to work in a professional role or start a business. For some, these paths can provide both income and a natural means to build relationships in a least-reached community while using their gifts and skills.

But marketplace ministry doesn’t provide an exemption from the need for support. Depending on your location, the salary you earn through a job or business may not be enough to sustain you and your family, especially when you factor in ministry-related expenses as well as the costs of health care, retirement and getting on a plane to visit faraway family and friends.

And regardless of whether you need the money, you still need a team standing behind you. Raising financial support involves developing partnerships with people who are invested in your ministry, and that investment entails more than the donations they provide.

One path doesn’t fit all.

There’s no one-size-fits-all path for funding missions—not even for Paul. At some points in his ministry, he worked to provide his own support, as he explained to the Ephesian elders, “You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions.” (Acts 20:34 NIV) But at other times, Paul intentionally set his tentmaking work aside to focus on proclaiming the gospel: “When Silas and Timothy came from Macedonia, Paul devoted himself exclusively to preaching, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah.” (Acts 18:5 NIV)

The fact that Paul stopped making tents to devote himself exclusively to preaching reveals a reality about marketplace ministry that’s often overlooked: It takes time and energy. While many marketplace workers have opportunities to be a testimony and demonstrate God’s love through their vocational roles, working in these roles still limits the time they can devote exclusively to ministry.

Compounding this is the likelihood that you won’t magically have more time for ministry just because you’re overseas. In fact, you’ll probably have less, especially in the early stages as you learn to navigate everyday life in a foreign environment. So, it’s especially important to factor in the time you’ll need to invest in a job or business when considering the implications of marketplace ministry.

It comes down to trust.

Self-sufficiency is highly valued in American culture. Most of us prefer to be the helper rather than the one receiving help, and it can be difficult to put yourself in a position in which you rely on the generosity of others rather than your own ability. But the truth is none of us are ever truly self-reliant.

When you’re holding a job or running a business, it can be easy to assume that you’re in charge of your financial state. But James tells us this sense of control is just an illusion:

“Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’” James 4:13-15 NIV

Regardless of where your money comes from, you are not your own provider. We’re promised that “God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19 NIV) Yet, often, when we read this verse, we focus on the fact that all our needs will be met and not on the fact that it is the Lord who meets those needs—not us.

Support-raising doesn’t increase our need to rely on the Lord; it just makes our dependence on God more obvious. And, because of that, it’s excellent training for the field. Cross-cultural life and ministry challenges will often require you to rely on the Lord in new ways, including ways that are out of your comfort zone. Building a support team before you go can help you learn to see the Lord as your provider and depend on Him more fully.

You don’t have to do it alone.

Though support-raising can be challenging, you’re not in it alone! At Christar, we’re committed to coming alongside you, encouraging you and praying for you throughout the process. In addition, each new worker preparing to serve through Christar receives personalized training and coaching from Tailored Fundraising. We want to support you as you build the team that will stand behind you on the field and as you minister to the Body of Christ through the support-raising process.


We’d love to come alongside you as you explore how God is leading you to be involved in the Great Commission! Just email [email protected].

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