For many of us in full-time college ministry, raising financial support isn’t just a consideration, it’s part of our lifestyle. This is how we sustain our ministries, and also how we cover basic personal needs like food and rent. Some people look at support raising with disdain. They argue that one can do ministry while working another job to pay for expenses, otherwise known as tent-making. John Allert makes his case for why support raising isn’t just a bad thing, it’s the better option to ministry.
This isn’t madness
I know this sounds crazy. I want to raise my support, and I would not have it any other way.
Don’t get me wrong, a paycheck is nice. I’ve been there too. But the blessings to my soul, my ministry, my witness, and my character far outweigh the cost to my ego, my time, or my effort.
I believe the principle of support raising to actually be the most biblical way ministers of the gospel receive their provision from the Lord Jesus. So check me on this. Consider these and see if you would not agree. Raising support…
1. Allows me to share my vision for ministry – Many more people are exposed, excited, and have a chance to join me in Kingdom work.
2. Galvanizes my vision – I must know, believe, and articulate why I am called and what I am passionate about. Many times the Lord even reveals new things about the vision or clarifies it as I share it with others.
3. Brings others into Kingdom work in a way that is different than if they just cut a check to an organization or church – They personally participate with someone they know and join a vision they are compelled by.
4. Expands my ministry to include my supporters – It enables me to encourage, share with, pray for, counsel, and make a difference in my supporters’ walk with Jesus.
5. Challenges others personally to join God in fulfilling the Great Commission by partnering with me financially and beyond – Raising support enables people to lay up treasure in heaven and invest in eternal things; in return, they receive great joy. Many people have never been challenged to do this.
6. It fills a need that people have to give – God created them to give. People want to be involved in a cause bigger than themselves.
7. Creates an army of praying friends who “have my back.” – My supporters become committed prayer warriors who pray for me, my ministry, and my family. There are so many times I have received answers to their prayers or wisdom from their counsel.
8. Keeps me dependent on God in a way that a paycheck does not – I see the tangible and on-going ways God provides for me. Relying on Him month to month keeps me humble, dependent, and thankful. These are qualities I seek to grow in my life.
9. Reminds me constantly where our provision comes from and adds an additional level of accountability to how we steward our finances – Having supporters makes me think more carefully about how we use the hard earned money invested in our ministry. Hopefully I am more wise and kingdom oriented in use of the resources God has given us.
10. Draws the right people to my ministry and gently repels the wrong people – You must be willing to leave your comfort zone, share Jesus, ask for a decision, initiate with others, maintain many relationships, and trust God for great things. “Faith missions” attracts people who are willing to stretch their faith and do this daily.
11. Builds skills, vision, and character (not just finances) – as I struggle through doubts, lack of faith, persevere in difficulties, face my fears, form my convictions, and improve my communication skills. All of this makes me a better minister.
12. Is a mutual fund approach to finances—providing security from God through team support – Income comes from 40-80 sources rather than one. I rarely loose more than 10-15% in a year. However, a salaried position can be completely eliminated due to budget cuts. If I maintain my end of the partnership, my team will weather even the toughest times with me.
13. Raises up new laborers for the harvest – How many times have people had vision or passion for something they believed God was calling them to, but their budget would not allow them to do it? Support raising provides the opportunity for many more laborers to go out into God’s harvest.
14. Models godly leadership to my staff – Leadership is about vision, relationships, and character. Support raising actually builds my character as I trust God for great things. It strengthens our vision both as individuals and as a team. It builds relationships with others as they join with us in God’s work. I want to do what I am asking my staff to do and I want to display this kind of leadership in front of them.
15. Equips me to be a better evangelist – Evangelism takes initiative to share the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit and leaves the results to God. Support raising takes the initiative to share my vision/calling/ministry in the power of the Holy Spirit and leaves the results to God. Both must build rapport, share a powerful message, and give an opportunity to commit. If I cannot share my ministry, how can I share Jesus?
16. Allows me to follow the vision – I do not start with “Here’s how much money we have. What can we do with it?” I start with “What is God calling us to do?” My budget follows my vision. If God’s is in it and owns it all, He can provide exactly what we need to accomplish it. Salaried positions with definite budgets and job descriptions rarely allow you to do this.
17. Allows me to keep up with old friends and make new ones – Some of my best friends are supporters. I have been richly blessed by the many relationships that I’ve developed within the Body of Christ.
18. Develops humility – Raising support mortifies our flesh (like prayer) and cultivates a selfless attitude. There is something profoundly humbling in choosing to be on support. Everything in my flesh resists this, but everything in my spirit exults in God, His provision, and how He is forming Christ in me.
19. (This one blows me away..) Emulates how Jesus chose to support His ministry – He chose to be dependent on individuals for His provision. Chew on that for a while. Almighty God in the flesh, who could have financed His ministry any way He wanted, chose to be dependent on other individuals! Consider the coin in the fish story (Matthew 17:27). God could have amassed mountains of gold, but He chose the way that would bring Himself the most glory.
20. Is obedient to Jesus’ command – Not only did Jesus depend on and receive support from individuals, He taught His followers that those who work hard for the gospel should get their support from the gospel because “a worker is worthy of his wages.” (1 Cor 9:14) I follow Jesus’ example when I am financially dependent on individuals for the work I do, and they show obedience to God’s commandment to provide for the workers in the field.
Keep Pressing On
If you are raising support, take this list and think/pray about one item each day. By the time you reach the end, it will be time to start over. If God has placed it on your heart to serve His Kingdom full time, and you have left all to know Him and make Him known, then step out in faith.
Where God guides, He always provides. There is no place more secure than in the arms of the One who gave up all for you. When He has given you so much more than money already, why would He not also provide everything else you need?
“If God is for us, who (or what) can stand against us? Since God who did not even spare His own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t God, who gave us Christ, also give us everything else” (Romans 8:32)?
Now go be strong and courageous!
John Allert is the Executive Director of Campus Ministry Toolbox, a ministry serving church and para-church campus ministry leaders nationwide with proven tools and strategies. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.