An Open Letter to the Pastors of Support Raisers

By on October 1, 2006   /   Leave a comment

I used to be a pastor, and I can still remember all the various demands and pressures put on me by so many. Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of interacting with thousands of different pastors —from almost every stripe. My respect for the shepherds of local churches is off the charts. But as it relates to the topic of support raising, I have noticed some who fit into these “less than encouraging” categories:

1. The “High Control” Pastors
They create strict rules that no one can approach their members for financial support. Or they make a support raiser choose —either ask the missions committee for support or approach members, but not both. Or if members give to the support raiser, they must do it through the church.

2. The “Denomination Only” Pastors
If someone isn’t going into ministry with their denomination, they get no help from the church. Not quite as bad as leprosy, but this person does feel pushed out from their local body just because God has called them to a different work.

3. The “No Para-Church” Pastors
If the support raiser’s ministry is not through (and under the authority of) a local church, it is not legitimate. This pastor can see the little “c” (local church), but not the big “C” (whole body of Christ) and believes all giving must be only to the local church. This can make Christian workers feel like they’re outside of God’s will.

4. The “Fit My Categories” Pastors
It’s fantastic that churches are specifically thinking through how they want to disperse their giving, but sometimes God does not fit into those tidy little categories and percentages. Priority must be given to a person who is raised up out of that church —almost regardless of what ministry they’ve chosen.

Dear Pastor of a Support Raiser,
You have a thousand things swirling around you and don’t have time for some armchair critic, but I am curious. If after being unanimously affirmed to be the pastor of the church you are leading, the head of the personnel committee turned to you and said, “Great! Now, as soon as you go out and raise your support, you can begin your ministry here” —how would you have responded? That’s the exact circumstance faced by myriads of Christian workers. They cannot start their ministry until they go out, from scratch, and raise their entire monthly budget (usually including all taxes, insurances, and even a hefty admin fee).
I wish you could have sat with me over the years to hear the numerous tearful, heart-wrenching stories of dedicated believers who feel called into ministry, and after excitedly going to their pastor or missions committee to be embraced and supported, walk away instead, feeling betrayed and abandoned. As a result, many never make it into ministry, but almost all struggle with resentment toward their church or pastor.
I appeal to you today to be different. I know church finances can be tight, but why not adopt an “open hand” policy —toward God, toward your members, and toward those who feel called to full-time ministry in your congregation? I call this:

The “Wider View” Pastor

They understand we have a big God who is using all kinds of people though all kinds of groups doing all kinds of great works all over the world. They actively look for members in their congregation to raise up and send out, to personally and corporately support, to pray over and encourage, and to lend their credibility and contacts to help them be successful.


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