Living on Support

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Regarding funding through “support,”, ie, gifts given by other to support those in vocational ministry, Alan Hirsch writes in The Shaping of Things to Come;

...mission support is the support sytem of the future. Sutainability and organic growth are at stake.” (pg. 213)

Patty and I have lived on such support for the past 30 years. Recently I wrote about this to CRM staff around the world:
“There have certainly been ups and downs ‘…times of plenty and times of want.’ (Phil 4:11-12). While we have never failed to see God’s faithfulness in meeting our needs, there have been seasons when financial fatigue has set in.”

So is this the only way for those in vocational ministry to be financially sustained? Of course not. There are a variety of factors and combinations that have to be taken into consideration. And there are many ways to creatively provide sustainable funding, regardless of the context. CRM Enterprise is one such a way where business is used directly to subsidize ministry. However, we cannot dismiss out of hand biblical examples and injunctions—such as I Corinthians 9:13—about the right that those who minister have to benefit tangibly from the results of their labor.

Unfortunately, there are those who grow weary of living in such a posture. In my experience, most of the time, they have not worked hard at this. They have refused or failed to see it as an integral and essential aspect of apostolic ministry. And when the financial woes mount, some head for the door looking for whatever can relieve the pressure. Some go to tentmaking. Some seek fees for services. Others justify their posture by blaming changing cultural demographics or the unwillingness of the church in their context to give. The excuses are legion.

An organization that I have found very helpful in getting one’s arms around this whole subject has been the Bodybuilders. They do a good job debunking all the excuses and all the irrational and sometimes emotional thinking that surrounds the topic of support raising for ministry.

There are four books that I would recommend—also recommended in the Bodybuilders most recent newsletter:

“Friend Raising: Building a Missionary Support Team That Lasts” (Betty J. Barnett)

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“People Raising Kit” (William P. Dillon)

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Funding Your Ministry: Whether You’re Gifted or Not” (Scott Morton)

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“Getting Sent: A Relational Approach to Support Raising” (Pete Sommer)

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