When Be a Fully Funded Missionary started over four years ago, many excellent resources on raising missionary support support existed. None of them went in depth on how to raise support from churches. I believe all missionaries should have support from churches (whether from a handful or three dozen). Be a Fully Funded Missionary is a step by step process to raise support from churches that entered the world way back in 2012.
Since that time, here are three lessons I’ve learned about raising missionary support.
#1. Desperation in Raising Missionary Support.
Too many missionaries, supporters, and potential supporters get this wrong.
Missionaries should never act desperately for supporters, but other Christians desperately need to support missionaries.
Some Christians who have never studied Biblically as to why missionaries raise support will tell you that raising support is begging. They put the missionary in the spot of the one who is desperate. Too many missionaries internalize this attitude and identity as beggars.
(Of course, people won’t always use the word, “beggar”. Instead, they may say things like: “Wow, I didn’t know you could take your wife out for dinner now that you’re a missionary.” Statements that seem like a light joke on the surface reveal a lot about what somebody truly thinks.)
Once missionaries take on the “beggar” identity, they feel like they are constantly interrupting people to ask for money, and they fully expect people to only give pocket change.
Then, as a beggar, they realize people might give extra pocket change if they give some kind of performance, and so the missionary will do anything and everything for a potential supporter—all in the hopes of gaining extra pocket change.
The missionary acts desperately for supporters.
Now consider a missionary raising support who rejects this idea that they are a desperate beggar and instead proceeds with the attitude that other Christians desperately need to support missionaries.
Supporting missionaries gives Christians the opportunity to show what is in their hearts. Christians gain clarity about what is eternally important. Supporting missionaries gives Christians the opportunity to pray on a larger scale for his Kingdom.
Yes, missionaries do need financial partners and supporters, but they should never act desperately. It is other Christians who are truly desperate, desperate to take part in what God is doing in missions.
#2. Naysayers and Negative People are the most Vocal.
I hate to add something negative in here, but I need to say it.
When you raise missionary support you will encounter naysayers. And I don’t just mean jerks; I mean people who honestly think they are helping you and doing good for you by trying to get you off the missionary track.
They may give you the reasons why they (humbly) think you’re not qualified. (As if God only calls the qualified.)
They may have an axe to grind because of another missionary, and then they take it out on you.
They may have a half-baked theology of missions and how the “old” way of doing missions just “never” works.
I said I hate to bring up something negative, but I need to because that little bit of negativity can totally mess up your support raising.
When you have one of those encounters while raising missionary support that leaves a bad taste in your mouth, it can send you into a discouragement that is tough to recover from. It affects you for days, even weeks. It’s so harmful.
What I’ve learned over the last 4+ years is that you will always encounter those negative people. However, they are by far a tiny, tiny minority.
Even if 90% of people you share with don’t partner with you financially, they want to see you succeed and God accomplish his work through you. Another percentage of people will financially partner with you. They are also positive about the work God has called you to.
It’s that approximately 1% of people you encounter who will be negative, but it can feel at times that they are all you hear. Don’t let that negative 1% get you off track. Instead, learn how to respond to the negativity; learn how to gracefully respond to objections and challenges. Listen to the vastly supportive majority instead of allowing that small minority of naysayers to pull you down.
#3. Theological Accuracy Alone is not Enough.
None of us would come out and say this, but many of us missionaries raising support secretly hope that simply being theologically accurate would be enough to raise the funds necessary to get to the field fully funded.
However, theological accuracy is the ticket of admission to start raising funds. It simply gets you in the door so that you can start raising funds to get to the field.
Don’t get me wrong. I love theological accuracy and Biblical studies, but knowing about all those theological truths is not enough to become a fully funded missionary.
The theological truth needs to make a difference in your life that potential supporters can see. Occasionally, churches will want to see some kind of resume about your ministry experience. Sometimes, they will want to talk to your pastor as a reference.
Guess what things make a huge difference. Teaching adult Sunday School class is great experience, but did you ever teach a children’s Sunday School class where the kids are not impressed by your exegetical insight? Did you ever change a diaper in the nursery? You might say there are other people who have those types of gifts, but potential supporters know that changing diapers in the nursery is good preparation for the missions field.
If these three lessons helped you in any way, join the Be a Fully Funded Missionary newsletter. You will get more tactics and strategies to raise support and a free download of the best online resources for missionaries—that aren’t for missionaries.