by David Royall, Resonate Finance Director
Everyone on Resonate staff raises support.
Everyone going on mission projects raises support.
Everyone going to Elevate or other discipleship projects raises support.
Every one of our foreign missionaries raises support.
That’s a lot of dependence on external funding! One pastor from a partner church asked me if we could pay for our staff entirely with internal tithes, if we would do that instead.
I told him no. Nor would I want to pay for our mission projects or discipleship projects without ministry partners.
Financial support raising is one component of a larger endeavor called Ministry Partner Development. From the very beginning of Resonate, our staff has had ministry partners investing their money, their prayer time, their encouragement, their wisdom, their talents, their possessions, and their networks of relationships into this mission.
I have been raising support for my ministry and family for over six years now. As I continue to invite more people to join my ministry partner team, my conviction grows stronger that support raising is a form of discipleship, both for me and my ministry partners.
Giving is an honor and a form of discipleship.
Everyone on Earth, whether a believer or not, is a steward of God’s resources, and is responsible to learn joyful, sacrificial, and obedient generosity.
King David understood the honor of giving. God forbade him from building His temple, but he was anxious to participate in the vision by raising the funds and materials needed for his son Solomon to build it. He allocated countless resources from his Kingdom for the purpose of the temple, but he didn't stop there. He gave generously from his personal treasury “over and above” those kingdom resources. The leaders closest to him saw his joyful generosity and they gave “freely and wholeheartedly,” and the people they led responded in kind.
This fundraising campaign led to “great rejoicing” in Israel. David broke out in song, and worshiped God, saying “Who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand. … I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things I have given willingly and with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you,” (1 Chronicles 29:14,17).
When crowds, tax collectors, and soldiers asked John the Baptist what the first step of discipleship is, he told all three to practice generosity (Luke 3:11-14). The first thing Zacchaeus did upon belief was to practice repentant generosity (Luke 19). The early church’s first disciples liquidated “their property and possessions to give to anyone who had need” (Acts 2:45, also 4:34-35). Conversely, false discipleship was exposed by the closed-handedness of the Rich Young Ruler (Matt 19), the Rich Fool (Luke 12), and Ananias & Sapphira (Acts 5).
Those who aren’t yet practicing obedient generosity should be given an opportunity to give! If our hearts go where our money goes, they should be invited into the joy of giving to the local church, to ministry workers, and to ministry projects instead of having their heart on a boat! While writing to his Philippian ministry partners, Paul thanks them for their support, and teaches them that it is more for their benefit to give than his benefit to receive: Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account,” (Phil 4:17). That is true ministry partner discipleship.
Inviting people to give is an honor and a form of discipleship.
Support raisers not only lead others in discipleship by inviting and challenging people to give, but they are themselves discipled in the process.
Pastor Alistair Begg declares, “If you cannot trust God with the physical, how dare you trust Him with the spiritual?” Ellis Goldstein, MPD Director for Cru, adds, “If you cannot trust God for your daily bread, then do not tell me you can trust Him for the fulfillment of the Great Commission.”
It’s easy to vaguely believe that God can transform hearts and change cultures, but our belief is challenged when we ALSO have to rely on him for the smaller, tangible things in life. God has provided for my family through our ministry partners every month for the last six years. God has proven that He can be trusted with our physical needs, so how much more do I believe that He can provide salvation to the world!
With this belief also comes humility and gratefulness. Not only is God powerful enough to provide, but he is gracious enough to provide for ME! Who am I that the King of kings would consider my needs and convince people to give toward them? There are millions of incredible ministries, organizations, and individuals worthy of supporter investment. God, the owner of cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50), sends a cow my way every month, and that floors me. I am so grateful and humbled by his consideration and grace, and I can’t help but be generous in turn when I have the opportunity to be God’s blessing to someone else.
The step-by-step process of cultivating a ministry partner team is an incredibly refining process as well. God has used this responsibility to increase my level of discipline as I identify, meet, follow-up, and stay in contact with my ministry partners. God has also built up confidence and courage in me. I must be confident in what He’s called me to do to the point where I not only believe that it’s worthy of my time investment, but that it’s worthy of others’ financial investment! Then, I must be courageous enough to stomp on cultural norms and directly ask people to give their money to my ministry.
I have grown in belief, humility, gratefulness, generosity, discipline, confidence, and courage, and these are all aspects of ministry partner discipleship.
If you have the opportunity to raise support, or are invited to support the ministry of someone else, I challenge you to think beyond the transfer of funds and see the larger opportunity God has given you. Whether for staff, missions, Elevate, or something else, it’s not a “necessary evil,” it’s a discipleship opportunity.
God is challenging you to obey, to give, to rejoice, to believe, to be humble, to be courageous; that is, to BE A DISCIPLE.