The Top Five Landmines in Support Raising

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By on December 1, 2009   /   Leave a comment

Walking down the narrow and dirty back streets of Phnom Penh, I couldn’t help but notice the many men, women, and children who were missing a foot or leg…or more. Even though it had been 30 years since the brutal Khmer Rouge murdered over 1/5th of Cambodia’s population, the scars from their reign of terror remained. Many of those who had unexpectedly stepped on one of the millions of landmines Pol Pot and his men buried were now full-time beggars, laying there with their bodies (and dreams) forever maimed.

You and I, though, will probably not spend much time today wondering if we will encounter a bomb in our neighborhood or workplace. But more dangerous than explosives that wreak havoc on us physically are the hidden spiritual or relational ones that devastate our mind, soul, or future. And we may be the most susceptible to naively stepping on a potentially “ministry ending” landmine when we engage in the ongoing raising and maintaining of our personal support teams. As you navigate through life, ministry, and raising support, here are five “landmines” to recognize and avoid. To be fore-warned is to be fore-armed!

1. Pursuing Provision Rather Than Vision
“If our security is totally in God, then we are free to ask for money. Only when we are free from money can we ask freely for others to give it.” This, says Catholic theologian Henri J.M. Nouwen, is the fundraising “conversion” God calls us to. If Christian workers start out (or later slip into this) with the primary goal of financial stability rather than continually “pressing on” toward a faith-led, and thus risk-filled, life of abandonment to God’s worldwide purposes—they’re in trouble.

2. Believing the U.S. Economy = God’s Economy
If, instead of tapping into God’s inexhaustible resources, we let so-called economic “indicators” and “experts” shape our thinking, we are doomed before we begin. Do I believe God uses economic downturn to purify His people and change how we use our resources? Even so, I have a feeling the Lord’s assets are sufficient to survive the bears and bulls of any stock market!

3. Taking Bad Advice
Some of the worst support-raising advice I have ever heard has come from well meaning, but uninformed, business people or Christian leaders. Nodding your head and following their confident assertions could blow up your plan to get to your assignment quickly—and fully funded. Just as the Bereans (in Acts 17:11) carefully evaluated every teaching before they embraced it, please weigh any input you receive against the Scriptures and those practicing (and fully funded!) support-raising individuals who walk the talk.

4. Personal Sin
Depending on what you choose to indulge in, this could completely derail you. At the most fragile time in your ministry (launching your work/raising your support), flee from debilitating “landmines” that won’t just weaken you, but leave you spiritually incapacitated. Don’t be deceived; we have an enemy who wants to “take us out” permanently and will do anything to sabotage our efforts—and thus negate all our future fruit for the cause of Christ.

5. Giving Up
A century ago, the Student Volunteer Movement (SVM) signed up 100,000 collegians who committed their entire lives to serve Christ as missionaries among the unreached. That’s misleading, though, because only 20,000 actually bought one of those one-way tickets to a life filled with sacrifice and serving. The SVM leaders carefully recorded the various “reasons” most graduates didn’t follow through, labeling them instead as “excuses.” Some were valid (like believing it was more strategic to stay behind to mobilize), but many volunteers, though initially excited, decided to give up, after being barraged by constant obstacles, opposition from family, or the challenge of support raising.

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