Yesterday I shared some popular methods for missionaries to raise additional financial support which almost never worked. The reason is our minds and energy are focused on the problem (financial Need) instead of finding the Will of God and serving Him. Unfortunately I had to learn this lesson the hard way.
Recently the Lord used the U.S. financial crisis and lowered support level in Melbourne to take my eyes off my own needs and look towards Him instead. Though this new response is still a work in progress, I wanted to share some ways we can respond differently to financial need in the prayer that God could help all of us draw closer to Him through these experiences
1. Find God’s Will: I cannot stress enough that the first thing we must do in any challenge is approach the Lord in prayer. The greatest problem with other methods of raising support is they use things such as marketing or emotional stories instead of relying on the Lord so WE get the Glory.
Crisis experiences are meant to put us on our knees before God and ask for His wisdom instead of reaching for the latest self-help book. He loves to speak to us through them: Pointing out a command to obey, a weakness to deal with, a decision to make, a new direction to take…but we cannot hear God’s voice if our mind is totally focused on “fixing the problem”
2. Create Goals: After allowing God to speak, take His Will and break it down into specific goals that can be achieved. For instance the Lord has been placing a burden upon my heart for children in the school system who don’t know the truths of Scripture. Some of my Goals are to minister for more than 30 minutes a week (currently I am only working for a half hour to an hour each week), bring those young people into the children’s ministry of Cornerstone Baptist Church, and begin mentoring them with the Gospel of Christ.
3. Invite People into that Goal: After creating these Goals (being in schools for more than thirty minutes a week) you share it whenever the Lord opens the door…you would be amazed at how many opportunities there are to tell others.
Eventually God will bring people along who have a strong interest in your ministry. These individuals become your partners, or the people who you develop a close relationship with based upon constant communication.
Partners aren’t meant to be financial supporters (although they could be) instead they give an investment of friendship, and encouragement. Of course this doesn’t mean you ignore everyone who doesn’t feel called to the same goals or meet a certain criteria; its just extremely hard to have communicate regularly with every one of your prayer supporters in a meaningful way.
Feel free to come up with a cheesy nickname using the word “team” just for fun. I am seriously considering team JB (short for team Johnny Boy); our symbol will be someone jumping up and down on a couch.
Editors Note: I realize 99.9% of you have no idea what that means, but trust me there are two people in the world who have milk coming out of their nose now.
4. Develop a Relationship: Through the wonders of social media and email there is absolutely no excuse for a monthly or bimonthly prayer letter to be the only communication a Church receives from its missionaries. I am not saying we should all check our Facebook status fifty times a day or reach for our phone when a bird chirps in the nearby tree. But you would amazed at how much of an impact one or two posts on facebook a week with friends back home could make.
Even though most of this would be focused on close partners its essential to communicate with every one of your prayer supporters at least once a week…even if its to share something silly like a picture of the family dog. That may seem ridiculous but our friends honestly want to experience every part of the missionary life with us, even the random funny parts.
5. Minister in the Relationship: Of course the relationship you have with your partners and other prayer supporters is about more than just letting them know what’s going on with you. It also involves learning about their needs and ministering to them in a real way. That could be a word of encouragement, answering a question, putting up a random picture to make them laugh, or perhaps just letting them know you’re praying. A book that I found helpful with this and would recommend is @stickyjesus
You will notice that never during this post did I talk about money. That’s because in the midst of those real relationships you will be able to share your need in humility and using GOD’s OPPORTUNITIES instead of trying to sell it or put on a song and dance routine. So the focus isn’t on you but God and the burden in your heart…the Lord will indeed honor that in an incredible way. Now if you will excuse me, I have some Team JB t-shirts to make.