Missionary support raising is a huge part of any aspiring missionary’s role. It isn’t a one or two year phase where you raise enough finances to be able to move and live overseas. It is much, much more than that. Raising support will be a part of a missionary’s life throughout his or her entire career in ministry.
If you are in Bible school or in missions training right now, you may be starting to think about this next step. Missionary support raising is in your near future. Here’s a few tips on how to get a head start on the process right now:
Understand The Importance of Partnership
As you head toward a life of missions, it is critically important for you to understand the important role of the local church in your life. You shouldn’t view your supporters as a source of finances alone. Money is important, but it’s only one of the many ways that the Body of Christ helps to support missions.
We sometimes refer to missionary support raising as partnership development. The very words “support”, and “partnership” insinuate that this endeavor into missions is not an autonomous work. It’s a team effort. This is how you need to view your supporters – as your partners in God’s work.
Always remember you are not a lone worker headed out to a job; you are an extension of the ministry of the local church.
You may have to rely on the people you partner with back home to be a major support system for you when you are on the front lines of the mission field. Their prayer, counsel, wisdom, encouragement, and gifts will be extremely valuable. These will all be part of you being able to persevere and reach people when times are tough.
Missionary support raising is not simply about raising money. It’s about forming deep, spiritual friendships with other believers. These friendships between you and like-minded followers of Christ is what will allow you to bring the gospel to a world that desperately needs it.
Keep Your Family And Close Friends In The Loop.
One way to begin this process of forming partnerships with other believers is to keep your family and good friends in the loop . Let them in on what you are learning, how you are growing, and what your plans for the future are. Some of your biggest supporters may be the people who are already closest to you.
Nurture your relationships with your loved ones by working hard to communicate with them. Including them will also prepare them for the next steps in your journey.
Know How To Communicate Your Ministry
A big part of missionary support raising is educating those that you are asking to partner with you. Remember, they may or may not be familiar with the mission organization, training program, or country you wish to minister in. They won’t automatically understand where all your money is going, what the next step is for you, or what role you want to play in missions. Practice how you want to talk about your ministry so that you can easily answer questions. Be sure you are able to explain your thinking to those you are talking with in a cohesive and fluid manner.
Do you want to be a church-planter? Explain what that may look like.
Do you wish to work in a support role? Give examples of what your different responsibilities might be.
Do you intend to be stateside or cross cultural missionary? Lay out your thinking behind this decision.
Be able to set the scene and give them relevant background information, so that they can be as informed as possible about your ministry. Before you go to talk to any church, elder board, family, or small group, be sure you understand what it is that they need to understand. This will help keep you and your potential supporters on the same page, and will allow them to know you and your ministry well. The more informed they are, the more they can be involved.
All this may take some thinking through on your part before you have these conversations. Practice describing your ministry in the mirror, or to a family member or good friend. Ask them to give you feedback on whether you are being clear and understandable.
Intentionally Communicate With Your Pastor, Sending Church, And Potential Supporters.
Life at school can be hectic. You are busy, with a lot of things on your plate and vying for your time. But in the midst of all the activity, make a point to intentionally and regularly communicate with your pastor, sending church, and potential supporters. This may mean emailing your pastor once a month. It might look like talking with your elder board whenever you are home. Or you can see if your church leadership would allow you five minutes on a Sunday morning to update the congregation on your life. Consider starting a newsletter that people can sign up for, so that when you write an update you can send it out to a lot of people at once.
Intentional communication doesn’t necessarily mean close contact every day or week. But take advantage of times when you can inform people about what is happening in your life. This will be especially important during times of big transitions in your training or plans.
View People As People, Not Dollar Signs
Again, remember that your potential partners are people, people who have lives, families, and ministries of their own. Each of them are on a journey with the Lord through this life, just as you are. Take time to care about them. Do you want them to be interested in you and in what you are doing? Then be interested in what they are doing! Ask about what they are learning, how life is going for them, and what they and their families are up to. They are not just there for you; this is a team effort, remember? It’s a two-way street, and the Body of Christ needs you just as much as you need them.
Pray for Your Potential Supporters
Not everyone you present your future ministry to will be interested in supporting you, and that’s okay. Trust that God will provide the people, finances, and circumstances you need as he leads you to fulfill your role in the Great Commission.
With this in mind, pray for your supporters! Pray for the people who will be your partners in a life of ministry. Talk with the Lord and ask him to bring the right believers at the right time into your life and ministry. Pray for current and future relationships that will sharpen, encourage, aid, and hold you up.
Trust the Lord
Missionary support raising may seem daunting, but God will be faithful to equip you with partners that will assist you. Look forward to these unique friendships as you pursue your part in bringing the gospel of Jesus Christ to the lost.
Interested in learning more about getting ready to be a missionary? Click below to download our free ebook on preparing for a life of ministry:
Anna Wishart is a graduate of Ethnos360 Bible Institute, and continues to seek ways to be involved with missions through writing. She currently lives in Winchester, Virginia, and enjoys biking, art, friends, the mountain views, and serving at Fellowship Bible Church.