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Singapore: The Place for Us

February 27, 2014 1 comment

As I mentioned, when leaving America many people were keen to let me know that needs existed at home, too. They were confused as to why I’d have to leave & go so far just to meet needs in the world. Oddly, when we arrived in Singapore people were (and are!) confused as to why would would come. “So, why are you here exactly?”; “But there are already many Christian ministries on the campuses…”; “But, we are a sending church…we are who is sending missionaries out…” At times these questions were asked out of curiosity & genuine interest. However, more than once I felt that we seemed unnecessary to them. In other words, people were saying, “The Christians here are doing just fine, shouldn’t you be doing what you do somewhere more needy than here?” (Again, people didn’t say this so directly, but the confusion does make you wonder “why here” again)

After plenty of reflection, I believe that Singapore is indeed the place for us to be because of theological, personal, national, and global reasons.

Marina Bay

The undergirding reasons are theological. Just as Abraham left in Genesis 12, Jesus coming as a servant, like Phillip in Acts 8, or Paul traveling place to place – when God sends it is for a purpose. The place is not insignificant, the people are not insignificant, the cause is not insignificant. After a series of events and steps of obedience we landed in Singapore. God is sovereign and God is in control of chance (Proverbs 16:33). I fully believe that if we shouldn’t be in Singapore, then we wouldn’t be.

Next, we should be here for the sake of our own personal development. Singapore is  an excellent launching country. People can easily learn many cultures & languages that could prepare them to go on to somewhere else. Plus, Christianity is already established in Singapore. In fact, there are at least 600 churches in this little country! I am so thankful for an opportunity that doesn’t just make me give, give, give. I also receive countless life lessons, focused training, and knowledge during our stay here.

Further, having many establishments doesn’t mean less needy…just different needs. This country is excellent at first impressions – upon arriving it’s hard to see any issues at all! But, reality is there are still poor, lonely, and misguided people even here. According to Joshua Project there is quite a lot of work to be done in here! Not only in terms of spiritual needs, but also emotional needs. I’ve had the privilege of befriending students that have shared with me societal pressures they face, sexual abuse, broken family history, and doubts in God. I may not be able to meet a TON of needs in Singapore, but I can love a few people and meet needs such as leadership development, life-coaching, friendship, Bible study training, and teaching english. Also, what could I possible offer a developing country??? I have zero skills in medicine, agriculture, or architecture. But..that’s another topic. Financial prosperity does not solve the hurts here – in fact, it may perpetuate them – but love and kindness goes a long way.

worldwide

And lastly, seeking the good of this country ultimately multiplies the redemption that can happen worldwide. Like I said earlier, this is an excellent country for sending people out. A huge reason for this is also because of the high number of foreigners that stay here. The nations are in Singapore! No need to look far! If the people who move here experience a wondrous change in their life, then they will one day return to their home country and promote Christ & love there too.

Although Danny and I don’t intend on spending our life in Singapore, it’s not because it wouldn’t be well worth it. Most foreigners only pass through SG, because like I said, it prepares you for the rest of Asia quite well. Plus, the locals are established in the faith and able to evangelize & love their neighbors. However, it isn’t likely that 600 churches could care for all 5 million people! God has redeemed so much in this nation, but there are many lives in need of something beyond a materialistic or moral aspiration -they’re in need of eternal security & joy in Christ.

I’m glad to be here while God has me here. (Btw, It took me MONTHS to be able to say that!) In future posts, I’ll share more about our adjustment & accalamation to this lovely little country.

 

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Why Did I Move to Singapore?

January 18, 2014 Leave a comment

Why did I move to Singapore? What a loaded question! “Why” questions usually are.

Opportunity. Commandment. Calling. Passion. World Needs. Adventure. Vision.

I suppose all of these words could be used to describe the reasons behind my leaving the USA…but all of these words are so vague or broad, that really anyone could say them about nearly any mission they go on. But, why did I move to Singapore? Why specifically did God want me there? I must say, I didn’t know that answer until December 2012 (I flew off January 2013!) and I’m still unpacking it more and more each day.

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Some Background:

When Danny and I got engaged and discussed this opportunity to minister to college students in Singapore (SG), I was on board. Why not, right? Single or married, I’d be on the mission field, somewhere, doing something…that’s about all I knew. Now, we had already gone on a short-term mission trip (STM) to SG a year earlier. And I didn’t leave ever expecting (or hoping) to return. I was glad to have the experience, but didn’t have any emotional high or burdened heart for the country after leaving. So, my willingness to return and live there wasn’t based on emotions so much as it was on purpose.

When you are planning to move overseas to do “good work” a common objection from family and even random strangers is “Don’t we need help here, too?!” Honestly, during our journey to leave we talked with people who were either excited or confused. I didn’t understand what was confusing until our wedding rehearsal dinner. During that dinner, many friends shared rather touching appreciations and thanksgivings about us and our life with them. That was the first time that I saw how much I had in America. I had multiple amazing friends, job opportunities, a supportive family, potential homes & land, education opportunities, & a loving husband to build a life with… honestly, my life couldn’t have gotten much better or more fulfilling. That was when I first realized that my commitment to leave all of that for a place that I knew very little about is kind of crazy.

Commitment & Surrender

So, I began to wonder…why shouldn’t we just do the same thing here…there are students who need Christ here, too…and then a deeper issue surfaced. I asked, “Is the Christian life meant to be more about our commitment to Jesus or our surrender to Him?” I really believe that our most genuine commitments to Christ are in context of our surrendering to Him. True, I can do very similar work in America, but what does it cost me to do that? There is little room to surrender anything if I had stayed.

“…count the cost…any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14)

“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—” (Phil. 6)

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it” (Luke 16)

What is a common theme in the verses? The giving up of our life for Jesus! So, aside from having an opportunity, a biblical commandment, a calling, passion, etc… I was going to Singapore, because God was going to lay in me a foundation of surrender. My oh-so-mighty comfort idol was to be ripped up and thrown out! That’s a pretty intimidating thought to have as you board an airplane heading to Asia…“Me leaving, will be the start of releasing all that is too dear to me, in order that I may be a willing, surrendered, servant for my Lord Jesus.”

I hope to share more about this journey of becoming surrendered in future posts. All questions and comments are appreciated.

Multiply Movement: Review of the Gathering

November 12, 2012 1 comment

WOW! Talk about being charged and strengthened. Francis Chan, author of Crazy Love, and David Platt, author of Radical, joined together over the past year to start a movement that spurs on disciple-making. This weekend they hosted their first conference or “Gathering” in Birmingham, AL and San Fransisco, CA. Danny and I had a couple people over both nights to hear about their vision with Multiply.

I want to urge everyone to scurry around their website. Their podcast will still be available for the next 30 days so sit back, listen, and and let the Spirit move you towards being a disciple-maker.

Highlights from the Seminar

I really just want to highlight some great points and quotes from the conference in hopes that it will challenge you to join in on disciple-making – no matter what phase of life you are in!

  • This movement is not anti-church or anti-small group, but if those things are not leading to making disciples; we’re missing the whole point!
  • Discipleship is not doing Bible studies with other Christians!
  • To be a disciple of Jesus and to make disciples of Jesus is a command from Jesus himself. It is a big deal to disobey a command of Jesus, for he has all authority.
  • We make disciples because Jesus has all authority and therefore He is worthy of each person’s worship & praise!
  • Problem: Pastors say it is their job to just teach their people to go share. While, the church says that it is the pastor’s job to share the gospel. We are in a cycle of disobedience and must lay excuses aside and realize that we are all responsible for the Great Commission being fulfilled!
  • We must have a mindset that we receive in order to reproduce.
  • Unity is an outcome from being on mission with other people.
  • “Why did GOD supernaturally put His Spirit into you? (Each believer literally has God’s power inside him, WHOA!) To sit in a pew? To attend a worship service?”
  • Final Challenge: Make a list of whoever is in your sphere of influence who does not know Jesus or does not have vision for disciple-making. Then, share the gospel with them all in a pursuit to make 1 disciple this year.

Personal Confessions

Dear Jesus,

The past two months I’ve been more proud of advertising discipleship than actually doing discipleship. Please, make me an authentic disciple-maker; one who pursues and loves people no matter what my context is. Yes, keep me faithful to the campus. But, lead me to my neighbors, family, and other regulars in the coffee shop! I want to be intentional, not passive; I want to be courageous, not fearful; I want to be like Jesus, not religious.  Lead me to making a constant effort by prayer, word, and deed to make disciples for Jesus all over the world.

In the Lord Jesus’ name,

Amen

Societal Structures V.S. God’s Call on Our Lives

November 8, 2012 2 comments

My Lord has been doing some amazing work in my life the past few weeks. He has been bringing my mind to “seeking the things that are above, where Christ is” (Col. 3:1) and He has been revealing idols in my life. More so, God has revealed these idols before I set myself up to live in daily temptation of them. He has shown me that Jesus is greater than my culture & that His Great Commission may require me to forsake dreams and hopes that I have. For, His Calling is greater than my Culture. Thus, I hope to expose societal structures that keep us from “giving it our all” for the Lord.

Common American Phases of Life

The American way of life is quite different than most other countries. But, still each country has a culture or multiple cultures that create a type of order to a person’s life.  In America, it goes something like this :

We are born and  begin learning everything we know from our family. Once kindergarten hits, we begin receiving all of our education from a school system (whether public, private, or through homeschooling). The goal of this stage is to prepare us to be self-sufficient individuals in the next stage. Once we graduate twelfth grade, we are encourage to either work a job and make money or go to college in order to make even more money and be even more successful someday. So, for the next few years we prepare ourselves for our future employment that we hope will provide financial stability. Then, once we graduate we seek to excel at our career and be promoted until we consider ourselves “successful”. Once we are satisfied with this we tend to “settle down” by getting married and starting a family. At this point, we struggle for the next 20 years to juggle this career, our children, our elderly parents, and our marriage. Erickson’s Psychosocial Stages explains that that as we move into our 40’s we are wanting “to create or nurture things that will outlast us.” Once we believe we have accomplished this, we begin to retire at about age 65 so that we can no longer be involved in the world – for that’s what we deserve. Right?

Practically all of these stages are setting us up to live a more comfortable  & accomplished lifestyle than the one before it.

Interesting, huh? We all seem to fit this mold no matter how “radical” or “unique” we hope we are. This is because, from birth we are taught what the appropriate timeline is for our life. Sure, we all have different stories. Not everyone will get married & have children at the same age. And there are definitely gender roles, values, and economical challenges that have and will continue to cause this timeline to change. But, overwhelmingly we all divide our lives into these categories or phases.

How God Changed my Thinking

This recently began to frighten me a lot. Why? Because, I really don’t see God’s calling on my life fitting into this cultural structure that we have deemed “right”. In two months Danny and I will be in Southeast Asia. As we get closer and closer I’ve seen God expose lies that I’ve been believing and truth that I must cling to. I have been debating for a while as to whether or not I should write this blog, simply because I figured most people would deem me unqualified to speak on this topic. And, to an extent I am. But, God has been pounding me over and over and it would be wrong to keep it to myself. Through Kathleen Neilson’s Colossian’s Study, conversations with Danny and other people, podcast sermons such as the Biography of Bill Piper, current life examples such as The Flora’s Family, and personal reflection I have found that having children, a nice home, & retirement are not excuses to cease living sacrificially as a missionary. And if you don’t want to listen to me, maybe you will listen to their stories.

Having Children & Living Against the Current

Since time ticks closer to our departure I have heard more and more, “It’s so good that you’re doing this while your still young & without children.” Or I’ve heard, “How great that you are serving like this while you still can, before you have children.” (This is the part that made me hesitant to write this, because I don’t have children & can’t speak from that standpoint.) After long contemplation though, I have discerned that children definitely change your schedule, priorities, energy & thoughts, but they do not necessarily change your calling. Why do we think that children keep us from serving as a missionary? Are we so bold as to think that God’s calling must fit into our American methods of raising children? There are so many factors that I have wrestled with. I hate the thought of my children not having regular visits with their grandparents or not being raised in their native land (America). And I understand the value and beauty in faithfully discipling our children.  But, all of those good things don’t negate that God has called each and every believer (with children or not) to participate in the Great Commission. Having children is just one of many stages of life that I’m realizing I must surrender to my Lord to, rather than to pleasing people or even myself.

Building Up Comforts VS Living Sacrificially

But the more and more I say the phrase, “Well, Danny, when we settle down I’d like to live in X city, with Y type of house..” I realize that as of now, God has not called me to “settle down”. And even if He does, who says that I am called to settle down in Georgia, or even in America? Why are you living where you’re living? Why are you working where you work? It’s tough. In a land of opportunities, I’ve found that just because we can move somewhere, doesn’t mean we should.

It’s tough, because this is not our home. And the Lord brought me to tears at this thought. I like comfort – it is a major idol for me. I realized that I kind of want this to be my home & that often times I believe it is. I hardly ever remind myself of my true citizenship that is in heaven (Philippians 3:20). So, recently the Lord broke me. And He was so sweet to show me that if I feed into to having a nice home, and everything else that comes along with the American dream – I will forget, again. I’ll build up comfort after comfort -no matter how subtle or obvious they may be- and before long I will have put my energy, money, & thoughts towards maintaining a lifestyle that God never called me to in the first place.

My New Great Aim

But whatever gain I had, I count as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. – Philippians 3:7-8

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. – (Jesus) Matthew 6:19-21

Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it – (Jesus) Matthew 10:37-39

These are just three of hundreds of verses that speak about the Lordship of Jesus in our lives. We are to live for Jesus only. And thank God, that he exposed an idol of comfort and misconceptions of relative societal methods that will seek to lure me from “giving it my all”. My new aim: To assume that God’s will would have me make costly sacrifices instead of being comfortable in this life. And therefore, repent of compartmentalizing my surrender to the Lord Jesus. 

Please comment with wisdom and lessons learned from your experience in parenting, living as a missionary, and fighting the cultural structures that pull you from Jesus rather than to Him. How can we remain faithful to the spreading of the gospel and faithful to our families if we are not called to local missions?

Little Victories & Fruit

October 23, 2012 Leave a comment

The other night, a friend and I went to a coffee shop together and talked for nearly 3 hours! It was soo refreshing. Something that I noticed to be a thread in our conversation was what I like to refer to as “little victories”. These victories are moments that we often overlook or take for granted, but in reality are a miracle that is happening by God’s power. I want to show that these moments are what many Christians neglect to call “fruit”.  I want to describe “little victories” to you and why it is so important for the Christian to recognize them as fruit, too.

What is Fruit?

The Bible refers to a Christian’s “fruit” or “fruitfulness” a number of times. Many are specifically referring to a strengthening in numbers or the physical condition of a place (i.e valley, field, etc). But, at times fruit is refereed to as evidence and also as a spiritual harvest.

Evidential & Evangelistic Fruit

An example of this is Philippians 1:22-24, “If I am to live in the flesh, that means a fruitful labor for me..to remain in my flesh is more necessary on your account.” In this passage, Paul is debating on which is better, life of death? Death is better for him, but his life is better for their sake, because his labor is considered “fruitful”. What was he laboring for? V25, “for (their) progress and joy in the faith, so that in (Paul they) may have ample cause to glory in Christ.” Their progress is what made the labor fruitful. So, this is an example of evangelistic, but also evidential fruit (fruit that shows proof of faith).”

Another, more clear, evidential fruit analogy is in John 15. In verse 5 Jesus says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” This whole passage clearly shows that a true, born again believer, will have fruit, or evidence, that he is in Christ. If you want to know more specifically what those evidences are I recommend searching for them in 1 John.

Fruitfulness is Not a Cookie-Cutter Experience

So, what does this “fruit” have to do with Little Victories? Well, fruitfulness can’t be judged in a cookie-cutter fashion. Each person progresses differently. For example, last year at a college campus there was a group of students reaching out to international students. Only one person became a Christian within a couple years of laboring and so many students were discouraged and thus determined that the international ministry was “unfruitful”. I disagreed with that.

Salvation is not the only fruit that exists. In fact, most times that the Bible talks about “fruit” it isn’t talking about a Salvation Experience. A fruitful moment can be when someone in your family, in your dorm, or at your work place goes from never discussing God to asking you to pray for them. It can be when someone confides in you what they really believe about the Bible. Or it can be when a person may confess sin to you, even if they still remain a non-Christian. Those are still a Little Victories or Fruit, because it is showing a movement towards Jesus.

An example that is not so much evangelistic, but evidential is when it occurs within a believer. I’ll use myself as an example. The way that I have been designed is very different from my old classmate and friend, “Jim”. I am very confident in myself if I’m having a theological & philosophical discussion in a small group or one-on-one. I used to think I was so bold in sharing the gospel and truth because of this gift. But, it did not take many philosophy courses in college to show me how much of a scardy-cat I am in a class size setting, without a plan, and with no opportunity to take back my words if I were to mess up. I can remember a number of times where I sat in disobedience because I would not open my mouth. Jim, however, was excellent with speaking up in class. He took advantage of that setting and really stood as my role model. Sharing truth one-on-one might not have been much of a challenge or victory for me, but when I spoke up about the gospel in class – that was fruit, that was a victory for me.

Not Just Jargon

My objective is not to change the way we use lingo. Not recognizing fruit in the smaller, more subtle ways can really crush a Christian’s spirit. If we fail to recognize and praise God over this kind of fruit we will encounter the following problems…

  1. We will give up too quickly on people. Yes, we want to move where the Spirit is moving when we are sharing the gospel. But, could the Spirit be moving in someone’s life and you aren’t recognizing it? What if someone is being pursued by Jesus and we say, “Eh, he’s just not interested because he didn’t come to the retreat.” or “I’ve shared the gospel a couple of times and she still hasn’t surrendered.” Look for little victories in this person’s life, before deciding to move forward.
  2. We will fail to recognize God’s grace in our life as a believer. Can you recall what God has been growing you in lately? What have you recently repented of? When was the last time you picked obedience to Jesus instead of something else? If we aren’t seeing God move in mighty, but quiet ways we will fail to see God’s faithfulness to conforming us to the image of his Son, Jesus.
  3. We will dive into self-righteousness or self-pity. Building off of #2, if we are not seeing God work we will either (1) see ourselves as the one working or (2) we will believe nothing is working.

Experiencing these three outcomes will drastically affect your marriage, relationships with believers, witness to the non-believer, and personal walk with God. Let’s make it a great aim of ours to see these Little Victories and worship God in response to them!

Raising Financial Support for a Living: Support Preservation

October 10, 2012 Leave a comment

Okie doke, this is the final post on Raising Support unless there are specific requests. So, in this post I intend on addressing how to Cultivate your Support Team. To cultivate means “to promote or improve the growth of by labor or attention” (dictionary.com).

To labor or give attention to requires a level of commitment from you. Here are 6 commitments that I recommend you be steadfast in. (Notice the present-progressive tense of each.)…

  1. Praying – ask them for prayer requests
  2. Informing – keep them updated
  3. Thanking – communicate gratefulness
  4. Investing – helping them ($) on a mission trip
  5. Relating –  get to know them!
  6. Gift-Giving -give them thoughtful gifts (i.e foreign tea, magnet, card, etc.)

SupportER raising never ends. So, I recommend that once you reach 100% you continue to devote an avg of 2 hours/week to supporters. This time may include writing a newsletter, skyping, sending texts, praying, purchasing a small holiday gift, writing thank-you cards,  etc. Unfortunately, this is one of the first responsibilities dropped from a supporter raiser’s priority list. And that’s why 66/100 supporters don’t feel cared about and quit giving.

Now, that I have established commitments I want to expand ways to INFORM. I’m expanding on this one, because it tends to involve every other commitment. Plus, it is the one that most people have questions on. Also, your supporter’s vision and spiritual health is greatly affected by the quality of your involvement with them. So, here are some ways to inform your team…

5 Ways to Inform:

1) Newsletters:

  •  Send out 4-6 per year
  • Pick 4 months out of this year to send them out.
  • Send emails in between newsletters.
  • Send newsletters even if you only do short-term or occasional mission trips, so that supporters can see the fruit of their investment in daily life. My home church advised that I do this after I raised support twice for a summer project. Even though I was a full-time student, they considered me their missionary and thus wanted to hear from me while I was away at college. I should have been more diligent with this.

How-to?

  • It should read like a front page, not a novel.
  • Via snail mail, Mail Chimp, and consider this website to save on overseas shipping.
  • To create one use: Word, Pages (Mac), or download Newsletter Templates.
  • Include: titles, schedules, #s, color ink, quotes, contact info, pictures, readable font size & color, fun facts, upcoming events, personal things God has been teaching you, ups & downs. (Not every newsletter needs all of this, but keep these in mind.)

2) Emails:

  • Minimum, 1/month ( I had a supporter ask that I send out weekly emails.)
  • These should start even before you are done raising full support.

How-to?

  • Use Subject line appropriately & creatively.
  • Avoid long attachments or lengthy paragraphs.
  • Proofread.
  • Short bullet points & pictures
  • Respond Promptly!
  • Don’t assume privacy.
  • Remember, less is more. – Make sure they can see the end of your email in their email inbox.

3) Phone calls:

  • Avg 1/year for each supporter.
  • Make a goal to call 1 supporter each weekend or 1 day a month to call multiple supporters.
  • Just enjoy them. Get to know them.

How-to?

  • Sunday afternoons are a good time.
  • Voice-mails can leave an impact, too.
  • Ask about families, jobs, and overall well-being.

4) Visits:

  • Minimum, every 2-3 years
  • Make the most of “off the field” times.
  • Supporters know that you’re busy, but many want to see you while you’re home.
  • Give an outline in your Newsletter of what cities you will be in and when before coming home from furlough.

How-to?

  • Bring a gift of appreciation.
  • Visits at home really communicate partnership to a supporter.
  • Set up a visit 1-2 weeks before you intend on getting together.

5) Gatherings:

  • Every 1-3 years
  • These include: Cookouts, Going Away Parties, your wedding, baby showers, birthday dinners, etc.
  • It is a great way to informally connect with many people on your team.

How-to?

  • Have a supporter host a dessert/coffee get-together in their home for a group of supporters.
  • Think for room set up, invitations, food, planning, etc.
  • Have plenty of informal catch-up time, but a consider having a small slice of formal time to communicate something collectively to your supporters (i.e picture slideshow, DVD of ministry, or answer questions).
  • Have an informative table w/ pictures, newsletters, business cards, support info, etc.

Social Media

Technology makes updating ridiculously convenient. Discover the top ways your supporters want to be updated. Use some, but not all of these options. Also, keep in mind that you may have a handful of supporters who do not own a computer or prefer a letter. Keep track of how often you are sending them updates via snail mail & thank you cards.

  1. Social networks: Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.
  2. Blogging/Twitter: Plan to update a blog bi-weekly. We use a video blog that combines YouTube & blogging along with our Twitter feed on the sidebar.
  3. Video: Vimeo Video, YouTube, etc.
  4. Email: Mail Chimp, Gmail
  5. Other: Text messaging,  Whatsapp (for international texting), Google Docs, Skype, FaceTime.

Giving Accountability

Raising support puts the support raiser in a sometimes awkward position. Finances are typically an area that is very private and thus a place many Christians are not being held accountable in. The nature of your job causes you to both be held accountable to your commitments and to hold them accountable to their financial commitments. So, I wanted to briefly address how to handle a situation where the supporter has not been giving as they have promised.

  1. Evaluate whether or not you have been faithful with your commitments to them. Does this person feel involved/cared for? I know of someone named “Melissa” who had been given a letter for support money from a relative who is a missionary. Melissa’s husband had recently passed away and she had not heard a word from the missionary about it. Melissa was so offended and hurt that she would remember to ask for money, but not remember to be with her in her mourning. I understand how it is hard to be faithful to so many people. But, I don’t blame Melissa for feeling this way either.
  2. If a month goes by and the supporter hasn’t given any or has given less than the promised amount I would just make a mental note of it.
  3. If a second month goes by, I would call him or her and genuinely ask how they are doing, remind them of their commitment, and ask if there is a way I can help them in meeting their goal. Also, I’d remind them of the importance of their giving and ask them to try and make up for the month(s) that they missed.
  4. Avoid having money-talks via text or email.

Remember, people want to give. Sometimes you will have to take a not-so-comfortable step to help them do this.

In conclusion, remember that you are called to cultivate your team. This requires diligence and work. However, I think you will find it incredibly enjoyable and rewarding, too! It is easier to keep a supporter than to get a new one!

~~~Which communication method is your strength? Which is your weakness? What needs to change in how you communicate and connect with your supporters?~~~

Raising Financial Support for a Living: The Appointment, The BIG Ask, & Follow-Up Calls

October 5, 2012 2 comments

Okay, so you’ve gotten the right perspective about support raising & giving, you’ve written your letter (or received a letter), called (or have been called) and now it’s time for what you’ve been building up everything for: The Face-to-Face Meeting. Everything you have done has prepared you for this point. MAKE IT COUNT. This type of dedication is not just for the full-time missionary – students or people raising one-times gifts ought to apply a lot of this, too!

…side note: I feel weird posting these knowing that my supporters are reading it, too! Haha, I hope these posts show you how much we think about you as an individual and how greatly anyone you support desires your partnership!

Appointments= Sell Your Vision

Prepare well. Be professional. Be passionate. Hope this helps you do well with your meeting…

What to Bring:

  1. Presentation: We use a notebook that I made with PowerPoint. If you don’t like the notebook idea, you could use a website, video, or other form of presentation that clearly walks them through the Who, What, When, Where, Why, & How + images.
  2. Give-Away folder: You want to leave them with something! Our folder includes a pledge card with an addressed & stamped envelope, prayer requests, information sheet on Singapore, information sheet on the church we are serving, FAQ sheet, Newsletter, and work schedule. Lastly, we include this Getting to Know You Better sheet that they fill out and we keep for our records. We also use bright folders so that people don’t lose sight of it as easily (the theory is that they will remember us more too!).

This is usually what my Thursday’s before a support weekend look like:

First, I call or text to confirm our appointment. Then, I count how many people/families (not appointments!) we will  be meeting with. It can range from 3 people to 15 people in a given weekend. Then, I use my handy-dandy Target filing folder and see if I have enough of everything. If not, I easily see so and then go print out what I need (Usually, Kaitlyn in the CO office has me covered on all my copies though!!).

Then, I lay everything out like so…I suppose it’d be faster by laying them out on a table and walking around, but I like sitting in the floor (Just vacuum first!). Notice that I stamp the return envelopes for our pledge cards! Take little steps like this to serve them. They are serving you a lot!

And your final project should look something like this…Notice that to make it look more professional I try to keep a color scheme (Blues). I also face any images upward so that it looks nicer.

This is the presentation notebook that we use when we meet with people about Singapore…We include info about our job, our history w/discipleship, info about Singapore, our church, and a partnership page at the end. Keep it so that your presentation alone takes 10-30 minutes to go through.

Helpful Tips:

  • Focus on Individuals. Here’s a helpful article as to why, Churches or Individuals: Which Should You Focus On?
  • Block off 2 hour intervals for meetings (include travel time, etc)
  • Remember names & children
  • Excitement is contagious – people follow passionate people
  • Don’t get discouraged by questions – Inquiry means interest!
  • Sometimes the best answer is “I do not know, but will get back to you on that.”
  • Clearly ask for their commitment to partner with you.
  • Communicate thankfulness often
  • Send them a thank you card in the mail the day after you meet: This increases urgency and shows care.*Keep cards in your car and put it in the mailbox before even going inside your home!

***The Goal of this time, is a clear & confident “ASK”. That is why you are there. Do not leave the appointment until you have done so. ***

Therefore, the flow of conversation should move you to the reason you are there. If not, then transition by thanking them yourself. “Hey, thank you so much for being generous with your time and letting me come and share what God has called me to.” Share your presentation, and ask them something along the lines of (amount individually discerned), “Would you come on my support team with me at $100/month. How does that sound?” Then, shut your lips and wait for them to respond. It is so easy to panic at the silence and rush on to talking about something else. Don’t do that. Give them a moment to process your need and request. Hear what feedback they have for you first and then proceed to show them what they get to take home with them and that you’ll follow up with them in a week.

Scared of asking BIG? I recommend this article Asking BIG: Does it Offend or Affirm?.

The Big Ask & Extras:

  • Communicate your NEED and the DATE you are trusting God to meet! Be VERY clear with this.
  • When they start? ASAP. Have them support sooner than later (especially if you are raising monthly) so that you can build up for raising expenses, tickets, etc.
  • Ask them for referrals.
  • Give them a week to talk it over and pray if they are not sure about an amount by the end of the meeting.
  • Use Speaking opportunities as chances to get contacts, not supporters. (I suggest you have contact cards or a newsletter ready.)
  • Ask churches to come on at 15% of your budget.

***Refer to the first post in this series, https://therealcore.wordpress.com/2012/09/21/raising-financial-support-for-a-living-a-right-perspective/, under “Partnership” and see what commitments we ask of them and what commitments we promise them.

FAQ’s That You Should Know:

  1. What is my money going to pay for?
  2. Is it tax-deductible?
  3. How much do you need monthly?
  4. Is this a biblical method of support raising?
  5. Why are you asking for handout? Why don’t you get paid?
  6. How long is your commitment?
  7. Do you operate under the authority of a church?
  8. How do you differ from other ministries?
  9. If we miss a month of payments, will you have to go without?
  10. How will we keep in touch with you?

PURPOSE of Each Step:

Contact Letter= CALL

Phone Call = APPOINTMENT

Appointment= ASK

Follow-Up Phone Calls = Ask Them for a Decision

*It is your job to Initiate and their job to Respond.*

Do not let more than a week go by after an appointment before following up with a phone call. Ask, ” Has God given you clarity about joining my financial and prayer support team?” Walk through the process of mailing in the pledge card or making a donation online.

  • Do not leave messages, talk to people- keep calling.
  • Call people who have promised support, but haven’t actually pledged it. Simply ask, “Hey, I’ve just noticed that you haven’t pledged what you committed to. Would you like me to help walk you through how to donate online or is there a problem with the amount that we talked about?”

So many details, I know! But each person is worth every single step. After making all of these posts, I’m spotting all the ways that I don’t raise support well – But, at least I’m faithful with it! The final post I want to make for this series is on Support Preservation. Any requests for more posts on this series or future series?

~~~What has your experience in Support Meetings been like? What would you say are the top DO’s and DO NOT’s in a meeting??~~~