Does anybody actually feel excitement when the term “fundraising” is thrown around at a staff meeting and then featured in Sunday’s announcements? Wouldn’t it be great if we could just pay for everybody to go do the stuff God’s planted in the hearts of our short-term teams to do in our missions partnerships?
But is it really “ideal” that your church have enough overflow in the budget to be able to fully fund or even partially scholarship individuals to serve in missions? Has it ever felt like you’re being “cheap” when you make short-term missionaries (STMs) raise their own funds? It shouldn’t; in fact, you’re discipling them. This discipleship will strengthen them for their future. There are many benefits at home, abroad, in church and in the individual, when those who go raise their own funds, whether it be taking the money from their savings, asking others to give toward their trip, or taking on another job(s). This blog in the Vineyard Missions Money $eries will offer some ideas as to what God may be doing behind the scenes as STMs raise their own funding to go to the nations.
STMs have a pretty cool calling, getting to travel and see amazing things, participate in miracles of the Lord, and get to know other people, other cultures, other food, but they should not offer to the Lord that which has cost them nothing. Yes, they are giving of their time and talents, and perhaps missing a holiday celebration at home, but why not give Him a sacrificial gift and sink all that the Lord has given into this thing He has called them to do? Which brings us to a question: Did God call them to this place at this time? If people are not willing to invest their own treasure into what they say God has called them to, one of those three elements is out of alignment and should be corrected: 1. His Call, 2. His Timing 3. His Provision (includes $ He has already deposited into their bank).
Raising their own funds from any of the above-mentioned funding sources (savings, asking for donations, earning more income through odd jobs or a temporary job) causes:
individuals to “have skin in the game.” There is a level of “ownership” that is available only from this investment of their own time, treasure, and talent.
encouragement for the individual to hear from God on their own that they are supposed to go, and at this time, thus increasing maturity.
When presenting their trip to friends and family to ask for financial help several benefits are reaped, first, the vision for their trip is refined and solidified in the STM’s mind because the STM is presenting it either getting it “just right” on paper (letter form) or saying it multiple times to different people as they ask for someone to invest in the vision they and the team have developed by listening to what God is revealing,
Second, asking for help produces humility (or exposes pride so it can be dealt with)
Third, it offers individuals who cannot travel or have not been on a trip a way to get involved in obedience to the Great Commission. Giving allows “pre-missionaries” to whet their appetites by supporting another as they hear God to “GO” and wait for their turn. The on-ramp to missions is always giving toward someone else’s trip first.
Lastly, when friends and family give toward another individual’s trip, the principle of sowing and reaping gets activated, when that principle is multiplied among congregational members in your church, it can be awesome to watch an entire atmosphere change. People are more interested in the “trip report” Sunday because they have invested in the people who went and the people ministered to abroad.
For the STM who has raised funds from among their friends, family and church family, there is a whole new level of accountability available:
If we believe that when people give, that their tithes and offerings are holy unto the Lord, then financial gifts don’t become unholy when they are spent. An STM should be keenly aware of the sacrifices that people make when they are giving money when they know the supporter personally. The STM can feel people behind them sacrificing for them to earn a heavenly reward for both parties. So hopefully, they won’t waste time or resources on the ground.
The STM should feel believed in. Because of the increased number of people involved, there is a built-in emotional support system and re-entry interest.
The pressure is off of church leadership to provide finances, make decisions on who should receive funding at what time, or make sure “everyone gets a turn,” while at the same time discipling those who go and preparing the team for a service trip.
What are some additional ways the Holy Spirit has used fundraising or individual responsibility in missions funding for discipleship in your congregation? We’d love to hear from you at Stories@VMTeam.org.
Kim Frolander started attending Inverness Vineyard Church in Birmingham, Alabama in 1994. She spent two years as a volunteer/missionary in Jerusalem, Israel, and upon coming home, she trained with Bubba Justice and led missions at IVC for 3.5 years. Now she uses her experience and degrees in research and writing, (formally known as English and History) for curating resources for Vineyard Missions. She has authored eight books and recently founded a non-profit ministry, the Ruth Israel Initiative.