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Books for those in ministry organizations who desire to take their leadership, teams, governance, and ministry effectiveness to the next level.

20 Jan '12

Missionary support team building: Very tough work!

Posted by T.J. Addington in missions, support team building
The blog by a ReachGlobal missionary family raising their support for France could be the story of thousands of missionaries today who are heading for global service but must first raise their support. Unlike ministry positions in local churches, there is a triple whammy for those serving overseas. They must leave home and family, they work in some incredibly hard places relative to the Gospel and they must raise their own support. Oh, and there is the little thing of learning another language. Add to this the challenge of the economy, and the pressure that church budgets are under and you get the picture. 


It is a process that tests resolve, persistence, character, and call. 


There are some up sides to this hard process. First, mission agencies are raising the bar for who they accept knowing that congregations and individuals are going to want the staff they support to be high quality individuals. The cost today is too high for anyone else.


Second, mission work is tough, tough work. There are many days when one asks oneself, "Why did I sign up for this?" Support team building, after the exhilaration of being accepted tests the resolve and call because it too is very tough. It forces staff to ask the hard questions about whether they are ready to go the distance and whether they heard God right when they signed up. Like the work they will face on the "field," support team building is one person at a time, relatively slow progress and can be very discouraging. The support team building process actually prepares staff for the realities they will face on the field when they arrive there. 


Third, one is building a team, not raising money. There is a big difference. It is the team - those who are relationally connected and financially invested who will pray, pay attention, and encourage those they support. Relationships are not built in a day which is why it is a long tough process. But that team will also be intensely loyal over the years and stand by those they support. Not once, for instance, have we ever personally dropped support from someone we had started to support. 


As the leader of a mission agency I wish support team building was easier. Or do I? The very faith that is needed to believe God can work in hard places is the very faith that is needed to raise one's support. The resolve and persistence needed on the field is the resolve and persistence needed to raise support. Most important, being sure of God's call in the tough times in missions is the same assurance one must have to go the distance in building one's support team. On balance, that tough work prepares one for many of the real life realities one will face on the mission field.


If you are invited to join a missionary in their work by supporting them, ask the right questions and ask God if this is something you should invest in. But understand the need for these servants of God to raise their support. We have so many options for people to hear the Gospel in the US compared to the rest of the world. America spends more on pet food each year than it does on mission support - a sad statistic. Forty dollars twice a month (a small investment) is one thousand dollars a year (a significant investment). We love to find ways to support more missionaries. What I do wish for is a new spirit of generosity among believers generally - a spirit that reflects His unbelievably amazing heart.


Jesus has an amazing heart for the lost and we make His heart glad when we share in that heart. One of the most basic ways we can demonstrate that heart is in supporting those who are the global ambassadors for the Gospel. Our personal goal at our home is to support as many as we can  because we want to share His heart. It is an investment we make on behalf of the heart of Jesus and His call on our lives to be involved in the great commission. 


I long for a more generous church and more generous believers whose financial priorities reflect the Gospel priorities. If that were ever to happen, it would expand the cause of the Gospel in amazing ways. Whether others choose to live that way, we choose to live that way and we love it.