by David Ogunshola
“every member of our team and staff is expected to raise their personal support”
This comes up whenever people make inquiries about joining the organization or when they indicate interest in becoming missionaries, and that single line has scared so many people away from full time ministry. They don’t seem to understand what it means, what it entails and how it’s done. It just sounds like an impossible task.
For many of us who are already in ministry in one way or the other, personal support raising has become an unavoidable evil, and many of us would rather go broke waiting for God to send manna from above, rather than take practical steps to raise our support. For some, raising your support is an expression of faithlessness – “you should trust God to supply your needs” they will tell you, and so if you take the responsibility of raising your support into you hands, you are considered as not having enough faith. Well, I was there.
Here is my own story.
I was raised as a missionary kid. I saw my parents raise support, and I felt it was less dignifying and sounded like you were at the mercy of donors. It seemed to me like another form of begging and so from day one, I disliked the idea of support raising.
When I began to sense that God was possibly leading me into ministry in the future, I had made up my mind that even if I became a missionary, one thing I would not do is to raise support. I chose to rather be a tent-maker, using my skills to raise enough money to pay my bills without having to ask anybody for support.
A few years down the line, I was actively serving as a missionary in a community away from my country. My dreams of tent-making didn’t seem to be livable here. Nobody was building websites or applications that could generate my money, and so I was now left with the hope that God would either send me cash from above or touch someone to send me all the money I needed. None happened!
I worked with a team of missionaries from other countries and organizations and I realized that I was the only one who seemed to be spending much time and energy praying for my daily bread that I spent less time preparing for ministry and praying about the real reason I had come – the salvation of the people. This continued until I learned a few things from them and applied it to my work and within months, I could focus on my work and had my needs being met with less prayers and just a few practical steps. What was the difference? I began to learn support raising. Had God changed? No, it was me who changed and so did my situation.
So whats support raising?
…but how can they go unless they be sent? – Rom 10:15a
Raising support as a ministry worker is simply identifying what God has called you to do, and inviting others to join you in it through different ways. Some could join you by praying for you while others pay your bills. Ideally, everyone could do both, but it could also be either or.
So if its that simple, why then is it so difficult for missionaries to understand or to implement? Well, it sounds easy, but there are a hundred and one reasons why someone would not want to take the path of support raising. Some people have called support raising Friend Raising, so just see the entire task as that of connecting with friends on the basis of what God has called you to do, identify those who share the vision and invite them to partner with you. You will be amazed at how explosive the results could be.
Don’t be scared, support raising can be learned, and subsequently I will be sharing more thoughts about some steps I took in raising my support which worked, some which did not, some mistakes I made and the most difficult parts of the process for me. By the way, I am still learning support raising because I have realized that my prospects for fully maximizing my potentials in ministry depends so well on how I am able to build and maintain a support team.
In the time between, you might find some resources helpful:
- The God Ask – by Steve Shedrach
- Friend Raising – by Betty Barnett
- Funding your ministry – by Scott Morton
- Getting Sent – by Pete Sommer
PS: Just be a bit careful if you are in Africa as you might need to contextualize some of the methods to be appropriate with our culture.
David Ogunshola currently serves as a missions mobilizer with Christ’s Disciples’ Missionary Foundation in Nigeria