I want to start this post with a disclaimer. First, I am not at all opposed to ministries raising funds. Some ministries, especially those that minister to the very poor, have few other viable options for funding their ministries, and those ministries are so vital that fundraising is a necessity. Further, I am not opposed to giving to fundraising efforts. There are many good causes out there and I have selected a few and give to them as I can. Lastly I will not pridefully sit here and say I will never raise funds for ministry. Only God knows what He has in story for me and I learned long ago arrogance is a luxury I cannot afford.
That being said, I really can’t envision ever raising funds for my ministry. I haven’t set it up as a non-profit. I’m not even sure if I can. I keep record of all my income and pay taxes on it, just like everyone else and I kind of like it that way. I don’t want to have to go to friends, family, etc. and ask them to back my efforts. Again I am not against that for others but it’s not the way I want to operate at this point in my life. I’ve seen friends really struggle to live in this way and while I’m not immune to struggle, this is one struggle I choose to avoid. It seems as if my friends who live in this “missionary mindset” have to spend an awful lot of time working outside their gifting to keep the income coming in. I’ve also seen more than a few ministries that could provide for their people but instead leave them to fend for themselves. To me that’s a problem and they need to look for a better model.
Speaking of better models, that’s what I’m trying to create. A way to make certain I spend the majority of my time working in my gifting and moving my mission forward. This is why I write and books and illustrate books as well as why I am creating other types of resources, workshops, etc. You might ask, “What’s the difference between working to fund your ministry or raising funds?” To me it comes down to a couple of things, the first of which how do the people benefit? When I create a resource and someone buys it, it helps to fund my ministry, but it also benefits them. They get information they can use to advance their own ministries, or at the very least enhance their relationship with God. Similarly, my paid speaking engagements allow them to hear information that I have put together to help them in some way. They receive a benefit for their money and their money allows me to keep doing what I do. Conversely, every resource I create and every presentation I make, helps me to build my own skills and move my calling and mission forward. There are benefits all over this model.
Another part of my model is my pastorate. I have posted several times that I really did not expect to ever pastor a church again, but I’ve kind of learned you should never say never with God. Being a pastor has been so beneficial to this ministry, far beyond the steady income it provides. This ministry provides real world experiences I missed traveling from place to place. I get to build relationships, work through real-life leadership challenges not to mention the opportunity to try out new things with real people. It’s a win-win situation. True, I can’t go out every week like I used to, but my church has been generous in this way as well.
I guess in a way I am raising support, but this model is different. It allows me to keep my focus on what I do best most of the time and it makes it possible for me to do a lot while keeping my skills sharp, growing in my faith and moving my mission forward. I guess the best way to close is with a question. Ask yourself, “How much of my time is spent doing what I do best and how much of my time is spent raising funds?” The answer to that question should show you whether you need a new model.
My last words are for people running ministries, look at how your people are living and ask yourself, “Is this God’s will for this person or should I be mobilizing people to find new resources and creating new models, models that allow these people to give their best energy to their best gifts?” The people who make your ministry work are in it to serve God. Are you making them serve mammon?