Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Journey of Stewardship (+ Bookmark)


Becoming a faithful steward does not happen overnight—it’s a journey. It’s a journey that every Christian is on (whether we admit it or not) and each one of us are at different points of that journey. Since our example is Christ, who gave all, it means that none of us have “arrived”, nor can we say that we are completely done growing. Each day we must ask God to untangle us from the web of “stuff” that makes earth seem like home instead of the place Jesus prepared for us in His Kingdom.

But what does that journey look like? Where do we start? Since there are over 2,000 passages in the Bible that teach about stewardship one can get overwhelmed. However, there are foundational starting points in Scripture and the progressive steps of maturity that can help us along this journey.

Here are four stages to consider for your personal journey of stewardship:

Come and See – Exploring Stewardship

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” James 4:8

Every journey has a beginning. We have an open invitation from God but each one of us must choose in our own free will to seek and explore His truth. Before we had a personal relationship with Christ, we had to explore His claims, truths, and purpose. This choice to explore is a part of what ignites a personal relationship with Christ.

In regards to stewardship, your start may be admitting that you don’t even want to explore. If that’s where you are, I can relate, but don’t stay there. Admit to God, your Father, that this is where you are and ask Him to give you His desire. He is faithful and will not disappoint.

Below are five questions and verses that guide us into exploring our role as stewards:

  • Whose money is it anyway? (Psalm 50:10-12)
  • Why does God care about giving? (Matthew 6:24)
  • Can God be trusted? (2 Cor. 9:8)
  • Can I be trusted? (Luke 16:10)
  • What is the Law of the Harvest? (2 Cor. 9:6-7)
Praise God that we have plenty of access to His Word and the freedom to read and study it! God is inviting us to explore His Word to learn His will for our lives as stewards of His resources.

Follow Me – Embracing Stewardship
“At once they left their nets and followed him.” Matthew 4:20

Once we learn God’s truth we must embrace it and put it into practice. There is a difference between a believer and a follower of Jesus. The journey of stewardship is a journey of discipleship and that difference requires making hard choices that honor God and obey His Word. Here are five more Scriptures that surface critical choices God has presented us in His Word:
  • I choose to recognize God’s blessings. (Psalm 40:5)
  • I choose to follow Christ’s example. (2 Cor. 8:9)
  • I choose to excel as a giver. (2 Cor. 8:7)
  • I choose to store treasure in Heaven. (Matt. 6:19-21)
  • I choose to be content. (Phil. 4:11-12)
Deny Yourself – Engaging Stewardship
"Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves…” Matthew 16:24

The word “deny” can be so frightening, yet it is the very key to our freedom. In Matthew 16:24, Jesus invites us to engage and live in a Kingdom economy instead of the economy of this world. In this world, “he who has the most toys wins”, yet God’s viewpoint is dramatically different. The original Greek word here is aparneoma, which means “to forget one’s self, lose sight of one’s self and one’s own interests” 1. This presents a tremendous crossroads in our journey of stewardship. Jesus makes it clear though that “his disciples must deny themselves”. Here are five commitments you can make to deny yourself as God’s steward:
  • I commit to give to God first. (Prov. 3:9-10)
  • I commit to make a budget plan. (Prov. 21:5)
  • I commit to provide for my family. (1 Tim. 5:8)
  • I commit to give prayerfully. (Phil 4:6)
  • I commit to share with those in need. (1 Tim. 6:18-19)
Take up Your Cross – Equipping Stewardship
"Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” Matthew 16:24

What does it mean to “take up your cross”? Many viewpoints have been offered but it’s important to understand the history and context of this verse when it was written. In Jesus’ day the cross meant one thing…death. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that you must die to be a faithful steward as physical death is used metaphorically not as the application. But, what I am saying is that Jesus calls us to die to ourselves spiritually for Him. Those who die spiritually to Jesus will find life but those who take their eternal life into their own hands will find death (separation from God).

Jesus asserts that death is imminent—we don’t choose to submit to physical death or not—we are all going to die. The question is how are we dying? Are we gaining possessions and ignoring God while alive on this earth or are we embracing “spiritual death” so that we might follow Jesus into eternal, spiritual life?

The final growth stage in stewardship is when we mature and are willing to give all for Jesus. When we do, it affects every aspect of our life, especially stewardship. As you seek to “take up your cross” here are five more Scriptures to guide you in your journey:
  • I seek intimacy with God in giving. (Matt. 6:1-4)
  • I seek to be trusted with true riches. (Matt. 25:21)
  • I seek ways to give sacrificially. (Luke 21:1-4)
  • I seek to encourage and equip others to be generous. (1 Tim. 6:18)
  • I seek to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” (2 Cor. 9:6-7)
A Practical Take Away

You can obtain a copy of the Stewardship Bookmark which can serve as a helpful reminder of this growth process and highlights these key Scriptures. The front of the bookmark outlines this four-phased growth process with supporting Scriptures. The back of the bookmark highlights some of the most prevalent lies from Satan and the opposing Scriptures that guide to truth in your journey.

How about you? Where are you at in your journey?

1 – Denying Self

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

“Have you ever told God, “I’m all in”?

An analogy using Texas Hold’em
On page 39 of Chip Ingram’s book, Living on the Edge, he states, “One of the most popular new sports on televisions today is poker.  I never quite thought of it as a sport, but when ESPN, the Travel Channel, and almost everyone else airs poker games multiple nights a week, I think it’s safe to say there must be a lot of interest.  The game that has seems to have captured America in recent years is “Texas hold’em.”  The biggest moment in “Texas hold’em” comes when three little words are said, “I’m all in!”  The person who has gone “all in” will either leave as a big winner or will be removed from the game, as every single chip that he or she possesses is at the center of the table.”
This serves as a great word picture for our faith and walk in Christ.  Chip goes on to say, “Texas hold’em demonstrates better than anything I know of what it means to surrender your life to Christ.  The drama doesn’t really get started and the action doesn’t really begin until you say, “God, I’m all in!”  It’s when you take the chips of your family, your future, your money, your gifts, your dreams, and all your possessions and you push them to the middle of the table and you say, “Ok, Lord, you deal”, that your life gets really exciting.” 
What about you?  Are you all in?
Have you ever committed to God that you are “all in” or are there areas of your life still “off limits” to God.  Paul shares a powerful verse in Romans 12:1, stating, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” 
A godly steward recognizes that they must fully surrender everything to God.  To be a living sacrifice means we are active stewards of the time, talent and treasure God has temporarily loaned us on earth and that we trust Him to be faithful to His promise to never lack. 
Use the grid below to chart your progress on complete surrender to God:

Increasing your capacity as a godly steward
I had a mentor share a powerful analogy as it relates to one’s spiritual capacity using a barrel.  A traditional barrel is made up many vertical wooden staves that are bound either by metal or wood.  A barrel can only hold as much liquid as its lowest stave.  The liquid will drain out from the top of the lower stave and eventually level off, regardless of the height of the other staves. 
Let’s use this analogy and relate it to our capacity as a steward.  As a steward, your life (the barrel) consists of three primary staves:    time, talent and treasure.  As you charted your progress above, which stave did you rate the lowest as fully surrendered to God?  In a similar way as the barrel, your capacity as a godly steward is limited by your lowest stave.  A Scriptural example of this is found in Luke 16:10 NLT, “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won't be honest with greater responsibilities.”  If we are good stewards of our finances, then we should also strive to be good stewards of our time and talents.  Nowhere in the Bible does it justify a person who is faithful in one area of stewardship but not the others.  Scripture provides ample examples of followers who were good stewards of their time, talent AND treasure, so we must seek to grow and surrender each one completely to God.  Much like the barrel and its staves, as we grow in one particular area of stewardship, it will strengthen our capacity in others. 
Taking a step toward surrender
Take a note of which area you noted as lowest on the percentage scale.  Was it time, talent or treasure?  Before discussing practical ways to improve, the most important aspect is the condition of your heart.  Can you honestly say you are ready to surrender this area to God?  If not, I would recommend a focused season of prayer, studying stewardship Scriptures and reading one of my favorite books, The Treasure Principle, by Randy Alcorn.  If you answered “yes”, there are there are a couple of ways to approach growth in surrender from a practical perspective. 
One way is to focus on what you are doing well and do it more.  Take time to note or write down three ways you are witnessing a life of surrender as it relates to that specific area of stewardship:

1.  ________________________________________________________________________
2.  ________________________________________________________________________
3.  ________________________________________________________________________

Then write down how you can increase your level of commitment. 
__________________________________________________________________________
Write these down in your personal journal or on the inside cover of your Bible.  Pray regularly for God help you continue to be faithful and to continue to grow.

Another approach is focusing on those things that are hindering surrender in that particular area of your life.  Take time to write the top three:
1.  ________________________________________________________________________
2.  ________________________________________________________________________
3.  ________________________________________________________________________

In a similar way write these down and then make a part of your quiet time praying for God to change you.  Like David, pray Psalm 139:23 to God, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” It starts with agreeing with God’s perspective and then being open and willing to change.  He is faithful to show up because He is the Living God.
In closing, “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being” (Ephesians 3:16).

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Uncertainty of Tomorrow

But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ – Luke 12:20 NIV

At 80 years of age my grandmother still ran a business and was able to care for herself. Without any known health issues, she went to sleep one night and never woke again. It was tragic. Whether we go in our sleep, or not as graciously, we all face the reality of the grave.

Facing Death

Consider for a moment how Jesus faced the grave. Hebrews 12:2 urges us to fix our eyes on Jesus, “the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross.” God had promised to raise Him on the third day. Death could not hold Him and His faith never wavered in this promise. His relationship with His Father was so strong He could face the grave with great courage.

We all face death, but will we face it with the same courage? Romans 6:5 NIV states, For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.” What’s so uncertain about that?

In Psalm 90, King David wrote, “As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years; Or if due to strength, eighty years; Yet their pride is but labor and sorrow; For soon it is gone and we fly away.”

Store Treasure in Heaven!

What lesson can we learn? Jesus provides that answer in verse twenty-one, “So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”

Jesus then goes on to direct the Disciples not to worry about the basic provisions of life, but to “store up treasures in Heaven” and to “Be like men who are waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast, so that they may immediately open the door to him when he comes and knocks.” Living day-by-day, moment-by-moment with the reality that we will be in the presence of the Lord at any moment is both a matter of faith and obedience.

There is tremendous insight here as we consider how we give. To be rich towards God, one must first know Him and love Him. Then, as we grow in our knowledge of Him through His Word, our lives will continue to be transformed and marked with generosity.

Are you storing treasure in Heaven, or on earth? What are your thoughts on this topic? How can someone store more treasure in Heaven?


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

What Does it Mean to Become a Ten-Talent Steward?

Matthew 25:16 - “Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents.”
John Beckett, a successful businessman from the Midwest, faced a huge challenge. He and a few other businessmen were postured to purchase land in the Midwest that was projected to be one of the most strategic development investments. Yet, God used the vision of Dr. Bill Bright and the testimony of an elderly woman who gave sacrificially to propel him in a completely different direction.  John and his wife obeyed God’s call to give all they had set aside for a struggling Christian college in New York instead of going through with the land purchase.
Today, both John and his wife can see how their decision has helped hundreds of young students be trained for Christian leadership. They are modern examples of ten talent stewards. Rather the real estate, this investment will multiply through the lives of these students and have an incomprehensible impact for the Kingdom.
To do this, we must approach each day with the same sense of urgency of the slave in Matthew 25 that returned the ten talents for the five. He went to work right away! His approach was to trade or exchange that which was of lesser value for something of greater value. This would require “releasing” what he was initially given to invest in that which was of greater value in the eyes of his master.
Giving resources entrusted to us for the advancement of God’s kingdom and glory is foundational to this principle. In Luke 16:9, Jesus says, “And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by means of the wealth of unrighteousness, so that when it fails, they will receive you into the eternal dwellings.” Again, He says in Matthew 6:19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.” The concept here is to trade earthly treasures for eternal treasures that last. How wonderful it will be to meet the faces of those reached for Christ, or those that grew closer to the Lord as a result of our investment and generosity towards His work.
God has entrusted a measure of time, talent and treasure to each one of us. We must consider how can they be traded and invested into eternal matters that will advance God’s kingdom and bring Him glory.

How about you?  Have you considered where you can trade earthly treasures for eternal purposes?  If so, share what God has revealed.  Or, do you have a personal story where you’ve seen God bless your generosity and multiply it?  Share and encourage other readers.


Sunday, May 20, 2012

It All Belongs to God

Psalm 50: 10-12 – “For every beast of the forest is Mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird of the mountains, and everything that moves in the field is Mine. If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world is Mine, and all it contains.”

For you and me it was an old worn out tool, but to a little boy it was a treasure…and it was “mine”! Little Aaron was playing with daddy’s tool belt left on the floor after a long day of work. Quickly he noticed the most fascinating multifunction screwdriver and took off to accomplish some minor repairs around the house. It was just an old tool, but to Aaron it was a new treasure and he had no intentions of returning it back to his father.

More than likely if you have children in your life this story sounds all too familiar to you. Have you ever sat and thought about the fact that we don’t have to teach our children how to take what is not theirs? Unfortunately, it comes naturally as a result of our fallen nature. How often do we respond like Aaron did to our Heavenly Father?

In fact, it was a case of misplaced ownership that led to the fall of man. The Lord gave clear instructions to His first children on earth, Adam and Eve, in reference to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil by stating “You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.” Yet they gave into the temptation from the enemy and ate the forbidden fruit. Ultimately, it was a futile attempt to gain something that was rightfully not theirs in the first place and their actions created severe consequences for the entire human race.

James 4:14, states that our lives are, “just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.” In 2 Peter 3:8, we see that “with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day.” Our lives are short in the sight of an eternal God.

In a similar way that Aaron was entrusted for a brief time with his father’s screwdriver, so we are entrusted with a portion of God’s resources: our time, family, home, car, financial resources, gifts, abilities and everything else. They’re His and when we give to support His work, we are only returning what was rightfully His in the first place.

Malachi 3:8-9 provides a firm warning for us to consider when we are not faithful with what is rightfully God’s. It states, “Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, “How have we robbed You? In tithes and offerings.” “You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing Me, the whole nation of you!”

When we embrace the truth that everything belongs to God it causes us to realize that we must hold on loosely to all that God has provided us and seek His face for wisdom so that we are faithful stewards for the short time we have on earth.

Personal Application – Seeking Input

I think it’s important that disciples begin to discuss what it means to be a steward again. Notice, I didn’t say “stewardship”, but steward. A steward communicates that this is a personal responsibility and not just another topic to discuss without personal growth and application. Giving and generosity have become taboo topics in many churches and most pastors are not providing solid biblical teaching and discipleship in this area. I don’t know about you, but when I’m struggling with something, part of my growth process is sharing with other disciples for wisdom and being teachable. If we never talk about this, how can we expect to grow?

Here are a few questions for readers to get the conversation started:
  1. How often does your pastor preach or teach on generosity? Do you feel equipped in this area of your life?
  2. What has specifically helped you to transfer from an attitude of an owner to that of a steward?
  3. Is there something in your life that you have not completely given over to God? Share anonymously what that is and allow other readers to pray with you.
If you would like specific solid free biblical resources on this topic, visit one of these website below:

http://www.revolutioningenerosity.com/resources.html
http://www.epm.org/resources/category/money-and-giving/

Monday, April 30, 2012

How Much to Pay a Pastor for a Wedding

Many readers who plan to get married in the future can think right away of the pastor they would want to do their wedding. Even if you don’t, nearly every state requires a member of the clergy to officiate a legally recognized wedding. Since this is the case and because budgeting is such a key component of planning a successful wedding, how much do you pay a pastor to officiate? What are other key factors to keep in mind when you contact your pastor?
What is the typical compensation range for a pastor who does your wedding?
Total compensation can vary based on the amount of time and effort you receive from your pastor so there’s a sliding scale below for reference. For example, some pastors require as many as four to six premarital counseling sessions prior to that special day. If you are receiving that counseling from another source, then it will obviously require less time, although the officiating pastor will want input from those sessions. Regardless, most pastors won’t simply “show up” for that special day without some preparation involved:

$? – A generous gift
$300 - A wedding with advance preparation and premarital counseling
$150 - A wedding with some advance preparation but no premarital counseling
$100 – A small wedding with little preparation

I can speak from personal experience of the value of premarital counseling. God used that time to confirm many things about our decision but also revealed areas we needed to be better equipped and prepared for as a couple. One pastor that has conducted numerous weddings states, “Couples come to the pastor thinking that they know everything when they are ignorant of what they don’t know. I will attach a “Questions for Better Communication” sheet that I use to send couples out on a date to simply talk about those questions that they haven’t asked each other yet. I have yet to have a couple come back that says, ‘We have already talked about all of these before.’”
How much notice is recommended?
Every pastor I spoke with stated, “The sooner the better”, but all indicated that the ideal amount of lead time to officiate a wedding is six to nine months. Most pastors have a very busy schedule and anything less will make it difficult to work into their ministry plans for the year. Also, a six to nine month notice provides the necessary time to schedule and complete any premarital counseling. Notices two to three months or less will most like find the pastor’s schedule already filled.
What questions should I be prepared to answer when I make that call to the pastor?
As I surveyed pastors, four common questions surfaced and these include:
·         When do you want to get married (date and time)?
·         Where do you want to get married?
·         Do you have someone doing premarital counseling with you? If not, are you willing to go through that together?
·         When can we meet together to do some initial talking and planning?

What are other important considerations a pastor will take into consideration?
·         Plan early and often – Most pastors will want the couple to think through what they want and not look to the pastor as a sort of pseudo-wedding coordinator.

·         Similar spiritual convictions – Pastors will want to determine if both the husband and wife recognize that the basis of authority for their marriage is the Scriptures. In addition, the will dig deeper to determine if both view this relationship in partnership with each other. For example, are future plans, mutual plans? Are both sensitive to each others needs and desires, and how they will do life together, etc.?

·         Be honest and forthright – The officiating pastor will need this to know where they stand and to serve you effectively. Important questions need to be addressed, such as are you marrying in opposition to your parents' will? Are you pregnant and trying to hurry things along? Have you been married before? Some of this will come out in your premarital discussions but you should not allow for any surprises. Get the whole story out there and allow the pastor to make an informed decision about participating with you in your blessed day.

·         Follow-through – Determine up front if you are willing to follow through with the recommendations of the Pastor, such as timing, issues that arise in premarital counseling and other observations that may surface from an outside person looking at your relationship.

·         Enjoy the journey - It is far too easy for couples to get caught up in trying to please numerous people, manage budgets, etc., and miss out on the joy that can be experienced leading up to the big day. Purpose up front to not become overwhelmed and to enjoy each moment together.

·         If you’re married, share your experience with readers. What did you pay and what other considerations would you offer readers?


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Raising Support for Short-Term Missions

A proven and tested approach

With so many books, resources, techniques and ideas out there, it can be hard to know where to begin when raising support to serve on a short-term mission.  We can lose balance with information overload and feel completely overwhelmed or go to the other extreme and do nothing and hope it works out.
In addition to this lack of balance, most times raising support is viewed as a necessary evil to get on with the real ministry.  Oftentimes, what most do is simply send out a letter announcing their plans with a request for support.  While prayer is a key component of this approach, we can miss the heart of discipleship that God intends for the short-termer and those who will take part as senders.

Is asking for financial support biblical?
"Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full.”  John 16:24 (NAS)

If you have been charged with the responsibility of raising support for your short-term mission you can’t do it without establishing the conviction that asking is biblical.  Now, I didn't say it was necessary for God to provide for your ministry, but it is clearly one of the methods by which He chooses to provide.  Here are examples from the Old and New Testament:

“Then the heads of households of the Levites approached Eleazar the priest, and Joshua the son of Nun, and the heads of households of the tribes of the sons of Israel. They spoke to them at Shiloh in the land of Canaan, saying, “The LORD commanded through Moses to give us cities to live in, with their pasture lands for our cattle.” So the sons of Israel gave the Levites from their inheritance these cities with their pasture lands, according to the command of the LORD.” Joshua 21:1-3 (NAS, emphasis mine)

Here we see the heads of the Levites verbally reminding Eleazar, Joshua, and the heads of the other tribes of Israel of God’s command to provide for their needs.  Even though it had previously been commanded it didn't happen automatically.  It took this verbal reminder for them to respond obediently.

Let’s take a quick look at this New Testament example:

“And whatever city or village you enter, inquire who is worthy in it, and stay at his house until you leave that city.”  Matthew 10:11 (NAS)

To inquire or “ask” required verbal communication with the believers in a particular city for their support and provision while ministering.  While there are other verses we could examine, these two make it clear that asking for resources has been, and always will be, a part of growing ourselves and others to be more like Christ and a biblical way to accomplish ministry.

Go and Make Disciples of all Nations

If you’ve committed to serve on a short-term mission, most likely you are aware of the Lord’s mandate to go and make disciple of all nations provided in Matthew 28:19.  In fact, your participation on a short-term mission may be one of the practical ways you are carrying out that mandate in your life!  Yet, we must remember that the call to make disciples is not just an overseas call but also one we must live out in the U.S. and within our own communities.  This is by no means a new concept, but oftentimes it’s a value we ascribe to as important but never fully live out.  In fact most believers agree with this strategy laid out quite nicely in Acts 1:8 (to be witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth) but they struggle with truly living a missional life.

Have you ever thought of “asking” others for financial support for your short-term mission as a viable part of making disciples?  Have you seriously considered that God might have plans to challenge and mature others in their faith journey as a result of your short-term mission?  After all, isn’t giving just as much a spiritual discipline as praying or reading the Bible?  Most of us are very comfortable challenging others to pray, to read the Word or to serve but are genuinely intimidated at the thought of asking for financial resources.  As a short-termer we have a tremendous opportunity to help others become “more complete in Christ(Col 1:28-29) through their giving and an opportunity to be co-laborers in the short-term mission.  We also have a tremendous opportunity to grow as we step out in faith, ask, and trust the Lord for His provision. 

How do I ask for financial support for my short-term mission?

Without love “it profits me nothing” (1 Cor 13:3).  Authentic loving relationships are the bedrock of asking for financial support. Our relationship with the Lord is our first priority followed by our relationships with those we intend to ask for support.  Oftentimes, the support raising process is a good indicator of the quality of loving relationships we have in our life.   

1.  Pray – Begin by acknowledging and adoring God for who He is.  Psalm 50: 10-12 states, "the world is Mine, and all it contains.”  These and many other Scriptures make it clear that everything belongs to God.  We can love and worship God by acknowledging and resting in this truth through prayer.  There’s no single vision or need He can’t provide for.

Share your fears and concerns for His guidance, and ask for the right words.  Also, pray for the individual(s) you intend to contact.  Pray that you will be able to connect with them, that their hearts would be open and ready for your request, and for God to lead them in their response.  This is not a “pray and pay” approach.  God knows our hearts and our prayers need to be rooted in love.  If we sincerely care about each person, our motivation is that all would be obedient to the Lord’s leading -- however that may turn out.

2.  It starts with you (Luke 6:40):  If we are not personally invested in the short-term mission, it can be difficult to encourage and ask others for financial support.  Jesus Christ set the ultimate example of generosity and challenges each one of us to conform to His image. As individuals seeking to serve on a short-term mission, we cannot attempt to develop other spiritual disciplines in our life yet neglect generosity, nor can we take others on a journey toward generosity or expect others to give if we are not personally committed ourselves.  A model often recommended for short-term mission fundraising is the 1/3 – 1/3 – 1/3 approach, where the first one-third comes from the short-termer, the second from the church and the last one-third from family, friends and others who want to partner financially with your short-term mission.  This is not a hard and fast rule but only a recommended breakdown.  The key here is that you personally invested at any amount and were generous towards what you are asking others to be generous towards.  Your portion can come from a monthly gift that you set aside prior to your trip through budgeting, out of your personal savings, or by creative ways to generate additional income such as taking on odd jobs or having a yard sale.

3.  Involve your local church:  Acts 6:6 provides an example of the early New Testament church commissioning and sending missionaries to share God’s Word and make disciples.  Involving the local church is biblical and critical for success.  Most likely your short-term mission is taking place through your local church, but that is not always the case.  Either way, it’s important early in the process to schedule a time to meet with your church’s mission team/pastor and to share a bit of your testimony and journey, why you want to participate on the short-term mission and what you hope God will accomplish.  This is also a great time to determine if there are any scholarships or funds that would be available to help you along your way.  Most churches have a line item for short-term missions and plan for scholarship opportunities, but if they don’t have funds set aside, determine if there are any plans for members of the team to work together to raise additional funds.  This could be a number of things such as a fundraising dinner/dessert, silent auction, food sales, etc.  Be prepared to step in and help with events like this any way you can.

4.  Share the Vision/Need – Consider who you are contacting and what their passions are before making contact with them.  Because you are in relationship, you will know if what you are going to ask for is in alignment with their passions.

Seek first to meet face-to-face to share about your short-term mission and the opportunity to help with financial support.  If you cannot share face-to-face, the next best approach is by phone.  As you share, be clear and concise with your request.  Start with the vision or need of the short-term mission, and then work your way into the critical details such as the timing, overall budget and how specifically they can help.  Be sure to express how your role on the short-term mission can help meet the need.  After sharing, ask them if they will pray about supporting you financially.  If the answer is “no” or they make it clear it’s not a possibility, thank them for their consideration and ask if they would be a part of your prayer team.  If the answer is, “yes,” to joining your financial support team then always follow-up with the question, “When can I contact you to determine how the Lord leads you?”  All too often, this is where the “disconnect” takes place in the discipleship process.  We ask them to “pray about it,” and fail to identify what the next step will be.  Good discipleship requires good follow-through!  By asking them for a follow-up date, you are essentially getting their permission for follow-up.  This allows them to have ownership of their decision made between them and the Lord as well as to your follow-up contact with them.

5.  Follow-Through (Obtain “yes” or “no”) - Once you identify a date and time, be sure you make that follow-up call or contact.  Your chances of connecting are very favorable because they will be expecting you to contact them.  Once you connect, greet them, and briefly remind them of the reason you are calling again and that you are following up on the day/time they had indicated would work for them.  You have an opportunity to demonstrate a genuine sensitivity to their life situations by asking them if this is a good time to determine what decision they have made.  The goal here is to get a “yes” or “no” answer not provide a “sales pitch.” If you are unable to determine their decision be sure to ask them for permission to connect again.  Continue this process until they have responded with a “yes” or “no” answer.
This is most often where the support raising process breaks down due to a lack of persistence, fear or forgetfulness.  In Luke 18, Jesus shares about a persistent widow who was finally granted her request from a judge.  Verse 5 hilariously states, “because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!’”  The context of this verse is persistent prayer to God, yet I also believe God works and honors those who are persistent to fulfill their various ministries.  We don’t want to be a pest, but it is biblical to receive a “yes” or “no” answer from those who said they would pray and get back to us.

6.  Thank Supporters – Regardless of how individual(s) respond to your request always express your gratitude and appreciation for their time and consideration.  Saying “thank you” is another key component of an authentic loving relationship.  Take the opportunity to do this verbally during the follow-up meeting.  This may sound odd, but I have had the opportunity to thank individuals for saying “no” to a financial request.  I typically do this when I realize later how God intended to provide for a specific need.  Remember that a “no” can be an obedient answer and that God can use a “no” to reveal His pathway of provision.

When individuals do choose to support your short-term mission, set a personal goal to thank them a minimum of five times.   These “thank you’s” can come verbally, through written cards, emails, a final report, or by sending a thank you gift.  You can never say thank you enough.