It’s a bold statement, but I’d rank support raising up near marriage as one of the most formative experiences of my life thus far, and one of the primary ways I’ve witnessed the faithfulness of God. Over the last several months of emailing, calling, texting and talking to people face-to-face, and asking them to partner with me in my ministry, I kept a running list of ways I noticed God using the discipline of support raising to change me.
If you’re skeptical of support-based ministries or are nervously considering one, this is meant for you. I was often asked questions like, “Why isn’t the church paying you?” After raising my support, I have no question why. Believe me, I have a very high tendency to be cynical and question motives left and right, and as that person, I’m so grateful that my church gave me the opportunity to raise my own support. Here are 16 reasons:
1 – Support raising made me a nicer driver.
– If one could lose one’s salvation, I would’ve run over mine with road rage a long time ago. Driving to meeting after meeting, having no idea what car each potential supporter drives, it forced me to think about what my driving says about me, and what it says I believe about God and others.
2 – Support raising improved my people and conversation skills.
– I’m pretty introverted, and it took a lot to be willing to formally make a presentation to someone, but doing it over and over let me see the best and worst case scenarios, and it was worth it.
3 – Support raising helped me learn to take rejection.
– It’s hilarious how “Sorry, our finances are all tied up right now” sounded so much like “Get a real job” to my coddled ears. There were a lot of people I put faith in, and God didn’t let that fly. He tore that tower down fast.
4 – Support raising taught me how to be respectfully annoying.
– Always being a desirable presence is not the goal of ministry, and there’s nothing like a season of being annoying to teach you that. From the persistent widow (Luke 18:1-8), to Abraham interceding for Sodom (Genesis 18:22-33), to Moses repeatedly pestering Pharaoh (Exodus 7:1-12:32, the children wanting to play with Jesus (Luke 18:15-17), God has made it clear that his plan will lead us through times where we are not the cool kid. In my particular form of ministry, this is something I have to constantly test myself about.
5 – I lost zero friends.
– My biggest worry at the start was that I’d lose many friends over this. Things may have gotten awkward for awhile, but there was not one person who disowned me over it.
6 – I gained many friends.
– As I write this, I’m counting exactly 100 people who are partnering with me who I likely never would’ve spoken to again, had I not reached out to them, and I praise God for all of them.
7 – Support raising taught me to assume the best about people’s intentions.
– There are several people on my team that I honestly thought hated my guts before I reunited with them, but in most cases, it turned out to be my pure imagination. It’s better to extend grace and expect God to extend it back through others, than expect defensiveness, and therefore be defensive back (Matthew 18:23-35).
8 – Support raising did NOT show me who my real friends are.
– I was preparing to blow the cover off of some superficial relationships. What really happened was a lot of superficial relationships became closer, and many close relationships respectfully remained what they are.
9 – Support raising made me so thankful to be in a Missional Community.
– People in my Missional Community (church small group) have always said they support each other and will be there for each other. This was their chance to make the ideal a reality in my family’s life, and they all rose to the challenge and made it clear they loved and supported us. We have financially supported or partnered with people in our MC as opportunities arise, but being on the other side, we really felt God working through the people he intentionally graced us with. It made us so grateful for the faithful Christ-followers closest to us.
10. Support raising got me excited about loving people without reward.
– Let’s face it. I’ve been hanging out with people with the intention of getting funded. It’s no secret. This season made me anxious to get back to inviting people to coffee just because I want them to feel loved, heard and understood. Support raising tends to get one chomping at the bit to enjoy peoples’ presence without thought of reward. It has been an effective prep for ministry in this way.
11 – It made me more comfortable talking to non-Christians about Jesus.
– I set a hard fast rule at the outset that I wouldn’t ask non-Christians for support. There were some family and friends I refused to bother about this, because of their beliefs being contrary to mine. Then some of them started coming to me about it! I had to rethink my rule! I had some inspiring talks about Jesus with many people. In support raising, I saw God helping people through the very act of me asking people for help.
12 – Support raising brought many goals into my sights I had previously assumed were far beyond my ability.
– It made me think, “If God can be faithful in this, what else have I written off as impossible that he might be calling me to?” Public speaking? Long-term overseas missions? Seminary? The bar has been lowered on everything. I’m not saying I can do anything with enough willpower. Don’t hear that! But if God wants me to do something, he is sufficient for all my inefficiencies to do it (Philippians 4:12-13).
13 – Support raising gave me a real sense that God owns everything.
– When I started, I highly doubted God would come through financially. I awoke many mornings with tears in my eyes begging God to help me. After seeing his faithfulness, it is so clear that God can do whatever he wants with his creation—even money (1 Chronicles 29:14).
14 – Support raising helped me stop basing success on popularity.
– I was worried my lack of popularity would make me bitter against more popular people who had less trouble raising support. Now that I’ve done it, I’m positive popularity has nothing to do with it. If you’re thinking you don’t have enough friends, or enough followers, to get to your support goal, remember God owns everything. If he’s planning for you to be funded for a ministry, nothing can stop it from happening. God’s influence is bigger than yours (Acts 10:34).
15 – Support raising helped me stop basing my worth on my own goodness.
– During support raising, you can’t afford to repay everyone. That means you have to trust that they support you, not because of who you are, but who Jesus is (Colossians 1:4-5).
16 – Support raising reassured me that I’m not enough.
– I’ve often doubted that I’m doing enough for ministry, or that I’m unfit for God to use me. It all goes back to the terrible idea of trying to replace Jesus’ blood with my abilities. Fundraising for an “official” ministry did nothing to ensure my worthiness for ministry. It just made me rely more on the cross for it (Romans 1:16-17).
The bottom line is that the Gospel of Jesus is more attractive and glorious to me after this season. In whatever capacity you’re considering support raising, I pray this helps you seriously count the cost, and inclines you to accept the heart-changing process it brings. No matter how seriously you delve into ministry, it’s always God who justifies you by the grace of Jesus, and raising support can help tune your heart to that humbling fact.