About three weeks ago I became a support-based missionary. Kelly and I have considered a number of support-based ministry positions going back to 2009, but we never took the plunge. In fact, it was the support-based component of some of these positions that sometimes scared us off. We knew that support raising was a biblical concept and had no real intellectual hangups, but we simply weren’t ready to take the plunge.
When I accepted the call to relocate to NC and lead BCM, I was accepting a salaried position in a place with an established ministry and had not just an office, but a ministry facility. If I’m being completely honest, while I wasn’t motivated by those things, I wasn’t disappointed by the prospect of a salary and a more established role. It didn’t take too long to realize that for BCM to transition into financial stability it would require that I make a major decision. I could avoid support raising personally if I cut our budget drastically and limited the amount of ministry and leadership we could afford. I’ve never been a fan of such a retreatist mentality, and thus, the whole organization would need to evolve into a support-based organization. With one staff person already serving at BCM and operating as a support-based missionary, even if I wanted to avoid support raising, I couldn’t avoid the inequality if I maintained my salary while I had a growing staff team of 100% support-based missionaries. Not to mention, how would I be able to relate with them and unite with them? Some friends and family have wondered if I’m nuts to lead our organization directly into support-based ministry. I’m thankful to have people who care enough to wonder about my sanity. They are godly and caring people.
Over the last three weeks I’ve been waist-deep in support raising. I’ve sent out letters, made phone calls, and had face to face conversations. I have already been astounded by how God works through a ministry like support raising. In facing a rather large number as a financial goal I’m attempting to raise, I have quickly realized that while I do need monthly financial support to feed my family and pay my bills, the real focus in support raising is building partnerships with people. As a result, I have decided to adopt a familiar phrasing for support raising for our staff team and ministry – “Ministry Partnership Development.” The term “support raising” is good enough, but the focus is more on finances, similar to the term “fund-raising.” What I have experienced so far is that this is more about the relationships than the resources. I’m not looking for financial backers so much as ministry partners. I have a long way to go and a lot of hard work ahead of me, but I am already thanking God that I get the opportunity to put my faith in God’s provision to the test. He is faithful.