One trick missionaries use to raise their support fast is to minimize their budget. We must be wise about how we use funds—and that means having a realistic budget as well as being good stewards of funds.
This is what it looks like in real life:
You only “count” monthly expenses.
You pretend you don’t know you will have to pay for a required conference and airfare once every other year. It’s a one-time expense. Instead of spreading the cost over several months, you hope you will have enough funds when the time rolls around. Or, you raise an “emergency” amount while on the field.
For example, you may know that during a four year term your whole family will have to attend two conferences in a different country. You should already know that airfare and conference expenses for each of those could be about $4,000 each. An extra $8,000 over 48 months equals about $167 of monthly support you need to raise.
Why minimize the missionary’s budget?
Part of the reason is that a lower monthly support level is less shocking for potential supporters.
This is also one reason why it’s nearly impossible to compare one missionary’s support need to another. Many of them have “hidden” expenses they don’t include in their monthly support need.
Also, some missions agencies provide funding for some things from a centralized source that the missionary doesn’t have to raise funds for. In other agencies, the missionary has to raise funds for it.
But here’s why a missionary would only “count” what they consider to be monthly expenses.
The thinking goes like this: “A lower support need gets the missionary to the field faster, and once they’re on the field, things will work out, and supporters will meet those ‘hidden’ expenses.” (Of course, nobody calls them “hidden.”) (This tactic also results in the missionary leaving the field after just a few years because of insufficient funds.)
And here is where the pitfall comes in.
The pitfall of unwisely shrinking the missionary’s budget.
This may be implicit, but the missionary raising support will definitely catch the vibe that: “A monthly support budget that is lower is better.”
Do you see how this can affect their mindset?
I’ve seen this kind of thinking present a challenge to missionaries raising support. They make mistakes like getting to 90% supported and then assume that it is close enough, or “momentum” will get the rest.
In some cases, the missionary becomes prideful of never having enough support. The cheapest plane tickets, cars, and computers become a point of boasting. They never stop to wonder how much time they are wasting dealing with unreliable cars, extra stop-overs to save $10 per plane ticket, or needing seven attempts to start their computer
This attitude filters down into a mindset that makes it impossible to boldly ask people to give financially and pray to partner with you in the ministry God has called you to. People won’t be able to put their finger on it, but they will sense something is “off” when you ask them to commit to giving $100 per month.
Lastly, your mind will be shut to the idea of ever taking on projects that require more funds. If having a lower budget is a virtue, then taking on bigger and more ambitious projects that require more funds is something you won’t be open to
Avoid the mindset that tempts you to shrink that monthly as much as you can either by being unrealistic or by shifting numbers around and counting expenses as one-time.
If your monthly budget scares you, or if it is higher than you expected, how can you communicate that amount without scaring away potential supporters?
Or, how can you even get people excited to partner with you and give, even if the budget seems huge?
It starts with a mindset to become a fully funded missionary. You can learn how to explain your budget to potential supporters, but none of them will matter if you don’t start with the right mindset.
Once that mindset is in place, you will avoid the pitfall of minimizing your budget.
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