Contributed by Victor Barousse
If you are like the majority of missionaries I’ve known over the years, support raising is NOT a favorite part of your ministry. Yes, there are a few who actually relish this activity - and I admire them. They are usually the best funded. I’d rather be preaching, healing the sick and casting out demons any day! However, God is renewing my mind in this regard, and I am learning to appreciate Partnership Development (PD) not as an obligation, but as an opportunity; an opportunity to mobilize others for the Kingdom, connecting them with God’s redemptive purpose!
We were adequately funded in Russia. Admittedly, even then we were not at budget; yet, we frequently saw God provide supernaturally and that kept us “in the black” and rejoicing! Then we moved back to the states. New assignments usually mean more expenses. Like us, you may be in a new assignment; or perhaps you have been living in that unenviable place called “stressed and underfunded”. In either case, you need to increase your level of monthly support to maximize the fruitfulness of your family and ministry. I’ve tried the part-time, hit and miss approach to building my support team, and it provides little fruit. I encourage you to squarely focus on the task, set a specific timeframe to reach 100%, prepare your plan and then approach your supervisor with your full-time partnership development plan. Put in the 40+ hours per week now, work intensively for 30, 60 or 100 days, and reach your goal!
Some suggestions to gain and keep momentum:
• You PD activities must be IN your schedule! Plan the work and work the plan! If it’s not scheduled, it will not get done.
• You need accountability! Get a partner who will hold your feet to the fire! And get your spouse (if you are married) on board as well. My wife does not do partnership phone calls. But I’m learning that it’s critical to have her in on the planning and the prayer, and on partnership appointments when possible. Take out the calendar and prayerfully plan your strategy together!
• Bill Bright famously said, “Talk to God about men before you talk to men about God”. Schedule prayer times as well; have your spouse and children join you in prayer for current partners and the people you are going to challenge.
• Create your ‘top 100’ list: Which current partners should you challenge to commit more? If someone has been with you for one year or more at the same level, it may be time to ask them to increase their commitment. Which partners can you challenge to provide you with a short list of new contacts / referrals? Which past partners can you challenge to restart their partnership? Which new people will you ask? Pray for each and only then call them for that face to face appointment.
• Create an FAQ page of all the possible questions that could come up on an appointment-making phone call or in an actual support appointment. I’m working on this and it’s helping me to be better prepared. I’m considering sending it to potential partners after we’ve had our initial meeting, if they don’t immediately commit to partner. That way, in the interim prior to my call-back, they will have access to answers for every legitimate question (and the smoke screens the devil tries to put up as well)!
The Frequently Asked Questions: I would not dream of robbing you of the benefits of creating your own FAQ page. However, I will give you an outline of what I believe should be included:
• What is GTN, our mission and our core values?
• What is the biblical basis for missions?
• What is the biblical basis for support raising as a way to fund your ministry?
o You should include both OT and NT passages of scripture here.
• What is your specific vision and current ministry position?
• How do I give to your ministry?
• Multiple methods to contact you!
Most of my ideas for this article came from the book The God Ask. This book, their blog SupportRaisingSolutions.org/blog, and the training they offer is transforming the way I approach partnership development. I hope to be able to report to you in a couple of months that I have surpassed the 100% mark. "God in the flesh came to earth and chose to live and minister off the ongoing gifts of individuals. Let’s you and I, choose to as well!” (see Luke 8:1-3; quote from The God Ask, pg. 51).
Be encouraged; you are building for the long term. Friend-raising rather than fundraising. I’ll see you on the other side!