Living on Support // The Elephant

I don’t talk much about living on support. Occasionally, I send out indirect requests as support gets low, but I rarely have intentional conversations to invite people to support us. If someone asks about it, I discuss it. But, some times I act almost as if I am ashamed that it is a part of the work I do. By avoiding the elephant in the room, I’m hoping that it just takes care of itself. My avoidance is usually an issue of my perspective of raising support, which I confess is not always in the right place.

When Sarah and I made the decision to join staff with EMI, the thing that haunted me the most was the prospect of raising support. Some people are natural fundraisers and salesmen, but that is not me. I am an engineer. I like numbers and I like making things work. I absolutely hated the idea of “asking people for money” (and that was my mindset when I began raising support). Quite honestly, I have moments where I still feel that way after living on support for 3 years now.

The first several months of “support raising” for me was spent delaying the inevitable. I knew that God had made it clear that we should join EMI, but I didn’t want to do the work that was required. I kept thinking that God would provide in some miraculous way, simply because I was willing to do what He called me to do. Maybe I could go fishing and find a wad of cash in the fishes mouth! That was my idea of biblical support raising. Then a good friend spoke some truth into my life. He quoted Matthew 6:26 and said that God cares for me more than the birds of the air, but how many birds do you see sitting in their nest waiting on God’s provision to fall from the sky. The obvious answer being, none. They go out and get what He has already provided all around them. This is true for those called to work for a paycheck as well as those who are called to work on support. I also had someone tell me that raising support (or developing ministry partnerships) is not about “asking people for money” because we are not running a campaign. Further, raising support isn’t about me, it isn’t about the giver, and it isn’t even about the particular organization or cause.

Raising support is about the work God is doing to restore people and creation back to Himself.

That is the narrative of scripture. All of human history is a story of the Creator pursuing restoration with His creation. His ultimate plan for doing this was made clear through Christ, and guess what… IT INVOLVES ALL OF HIS PEOPLE.

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  -Matthew 28:18-20

Sarah and I raise support and people support us simply because we have collectively dedicated ourselves to being a part of God’s restoration work with our time talents and treasures. Neither the supporter or the supported are greater than the other, but they are codependent in participating in this work. Partners in ministry.

There is a long list of biblical ministry partnership examples where people have funded other people in the participation of God’s restorative work. This is how God instructed His people to operate and it is a beautiful picture of how the Kingdom of God is revealed to us. Paul is a great example in the first century church, but even Jesus wasn’t completely self-funded in His ministry! Imagine being one of the women that funded the ministry of Jesus (Luke 8:3). Talk about making the maximum impact with every dollar! But, yet their money wasn’t what made Jesus’ ministry effective and it would have been funded some other way if they had not given. Instead, these women were blessed by being able to participate with Jesus in that work.

That is the perspective of raising support that motivates me to invite people to partner in this work (and one that the enemy tries to make me forget). The reality of what it means to raise support doesn’t change and the flesh in me still doesn’t enjoy the process. But, through it I get to be a part of something much bigger than my own selfish desires and I get to see God work in incredible ways (both in and around me).

Our initial commitment to EMI was for 3 years, however Sarah and I still believe God is continuing to lead us to be a part of the work He is doing here in our community and at EMI. This means that we will continue to live on support for this to be possible. It also means that we need to stop viewing it as a temporary assignment. That doesn’t necessarily mean He has called us here for the rest of our lives.  It simply means that for the foreseeable future it is where He has placed us. That could all change tomorrow, but we have no indication from Him yet that it will. It also means that our support needs to be at a healthy level so that we can provide for our family and operate effectively in our given roles.

Since joining EMI, we have received approximately 2/3 of our financial support from recurring/monthly donors.  The other 1/3 has come from less predictable sources such as one time or end of year giving. While we appreciate all giving, it is those recurring donations that give us security in our budget. Right now we find ourselves with a deficit in our support account, anticipating that end of year giving will bring us back up above negative. God has always provided (even when things have looked bleak) and we have no reason to believe He will not do so again since He has called us to this work. At the same time, we recognize that if we want more security in our finances, it is as simple as being faithful to get out of the nest and invite more people to join us in this ministry opportunity. In fact, it is my laziness and selfishness that not only prevents us from being fully funded through recurring donations, but also has kept others from being blessed by being a part of this ministry. I’m certainly not Jesus or Paul, but I believe we are participants in some amazing restoration work that God is doing.

As a family we also want to be able to save and give more, and that shouldn’t be limited by the fact that we live on support.  On the contrary, it should show that we are stewarding our support well. Our supporters have been good stewards, and they should expect that from us.  Thankfully (and much to the credit of our amazing parents), we are blessed to not have any debt (other than to our support account as previously mentioned). But, being out of debt is only the beginning to financial freedom. We shouldn’t be foolish about the future and we should put ourselves in a financial position to give generously when we have the opportunity. We are not there yet, but we do have the motivation to be there. We don’t anticipate having a six  figure income or living extravagantly, but we do want to be faithful stewards of the opportunities and the finances God provides.

So, I am asking for your support. Whether that is $25, $100, $200 or more per month… I leave that to you to decide what God has enabled you to give. I will continue to share about the incredible restoration work God is doing through EMI. I will continue to pray that people will see these posts, actually read them, pray about how they can participate and that God would motivate them to partner with us. In addition to that, I will also be praying for specific people I can talk to directly about partnering with us.  That may make some people uncomfortable….don’t worry, it makes me uncomfortable too. If you have read this far and are worried about being made uncomfortable then here is the link to join our support team now. (Select the STAFF donation category, and then CHANDLER-2126).

Please also know that I will not ask you to donate to anything that I have not also given my personal time and finances towards. I believe in the Kingdom restoration work that God is doing through EMI.

 

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One response to “Living on Support // The Elephant

  1. Pingback: Living on Support // Pt 2. FAQ | learning the rhythms·

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