Lowering the Support Raising Bar: Whose Fault is That?

By on July 1, 2005   /   Leave a comment

I’m frustrated. Why is it taking 12, 18, 24 months for many Christian workers to raise their support and get to their assignment? Is it because of poor training, lack of faith, or a dismal work ethic? Well, maybe…but I think the guilty party may have been staring back at us this morning as we brushed our teeth!

Workers come into our organizations full of hope, enthusiasm, and teachableness. If we were to tell them to jump, they’d ask “how high?” on the way up. But instead of inscribing “GO FOR IT!” on the fresh tablet of their heart, we drag them down to the least common denominator by telling them it’s fine and normal to raise support in their spare time, to take 24 months, or to just have a few appointments per week.

I recently asked a group of seasoned support raising trainers: “If a new staffer is raising support full time, what’s a reasonable number of appointments we should expect them to have each week?” I was stunned to hear one veteran trainer answer, “I would be happy if they had 6-10 appointments.”

Six days in a week (take a Sabbath!) times six possible appointments each day (breakfast, mid-morning, lunch, mid-afternoon, dinner, and evening) equals 36 slots that could be filled. Aren’t the very people we’re approaching for support working 40, 50, maybe 60 hour work weeks? I’m not suggesting we become workaholics, but should we not be working just as hard at our support raising as the people are who we’re asking to sacrifice for us and our ministry?

Scenario #1: Joe businessman has dinner with Sam staffer who is going to ask him for support. Joe casually inquires, “How many appointments have you had today, Sam?” After a full day, if all Sam can say is: “This is my first”, what is Joe going to think?

Scenario #2: Joe businessman and his wife have Sally staffer over for dessert later one evening to hear about her ministry and financial needs. Curious, Joe again asks, “Sally, it’s 8 pm, and I know you’re working on support full time. Tell me, how many appointments have you had today?” Sally confidently responds, “Well, let’s see, my day started early with a 6:30 breakfast, then a 10:30 meeting, an afternoon appointment, and I just finished dinner with an old college friend. I guess that makes you my 5th appointment for today.”

You tell me. Which staffer will Joe want to invest in? It’s going to be the one who has a sense of urgency, who is on a mission from God, who is working hard morning, noon, and night to get to full support and their Great Commission ministry assignment.

But we organizational leaders, not the new staffers, are the ones who are part of the “we’ve always done it this way” crowd and lowered the bar to a safe, comfortable “snail-like” pace. I hope you will join me in my frustration, and that it would move us to action—and change.


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