Never Forget the Principle Behind the Method

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By on August 1, 2012   /   Leave a comment

Do your remember the bumper sticker, “My father was a Jewish carpenter?” I love that sticker because my dad really was a Jewish carpenter and could make just about anything. No matter what the problem was, he knew how to come up with a solution. We didn’t have much money, but that never stopped him from finding ways to make things. When I needed a bicycle, he “created” one out of old bike parts. The only time I ever saw him stumped was when Colleen and I bought our first home, a New England bungalow. We wanted to convert the attic into a living space. The roof was pretty complex with various valleys and dips. That made framing the attic ceiling an incredible challenge. I didn’t realize how difficult that project really was for him. Sometime later my mother told me that he almost couldn’t do it. But he did because he knew the principles to draw upon to figure it out and make it work.

One woodworking principle he passed onto me I have never forgotten is, “With wood you can always fix.” This little principle carried me through all sorts of woodworking and carpentry projects (simple fixes to whole house renovations) over the many years since my father gave me that little gem of wisdom.

A shop full of quality tools does not make a good carpenter. The carpenter who understands woodworking principles is the one who knows how to make those tools in his shop sing. He uses the principles to solve all sorts of carpentry challenges.

In the same way, a missionary can have a computer and office full of the best Ministry Partner Development (MPD) tools ever created, but that will not make him successful in developing funds for a lifetime of ministry. Like a good carpenter, he must have an intimate knowledge of the time-tested MPD principles so he can adapt his MPD tools for the variety of support challenges every Christian worker faces in raising support. When you know these principles, you can figure out how to adjust and use your MPD tools like a master carpenter.

Our MPD training, just as a number of other Christian organizations, does an excellent job in equipping missionaries to raise their support. None of us can teach our staff about every type of circumstance and challenge they will encounter in raising support.  However, we can teach them the principles behind the skills so they, as the carpenter, will be able to think through the variety of challenges and contextualize the principles to find a solution.

How often have you heard (or perhaps you have even said this), “You don’t understand. Raising support won’t work in my situation. It’s hard here. It’s different where I live.” It’s true that many face incredible challenges in raising their funds. What about raising support in Islamic countries? How about in countries where less than 1% are Christians? Now, those are difficult situations. But that does not mean that MPD and the principles behind it do not work.

I want to introduce you to Mickey Booth, a 42 year veteran of our ministry. I asked him to write the 2nd Opinion. It’s called, “Why MPD Works.” He’s been responsible for training our missionaries in 71 countries, some of which many would say that MPD is impossible. Who of us would not want to see national missionaries who work in some of most challenging countries in the world raise their support, not from the U.S. but in their countries? Impossible? No. I firmly believe that for the Great Commission to be fulfilled in a country, the Christians in that country must own the Great Commission, and they must fund it. Mickey is proving, country by country, that when staff have the right attitudes and know the MPD principles, they can raise their support.

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