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Personal Symbolic Rituals: A Way to Inspire Stewardship & Surrender

February 5, 2013 3 comments

I have been reading a book by Pastor Edmund Chan, titled Cultivating Your Inner Life: Reflections on Spiritual Formation in Discipleship Today. The most recent chapter described features of “toxic spirituality” and one example was Rituals without Reality. In it, he discussed the value of rituals such as Communion & Baptism, but also some of his personal rituals. An example of a personal ritual is when he offers up his watch to God as he prays to represent his desire to steward his time to God’s glory. timex watch

I began reflecting on ways to enjoy prayer through symbolism, too. I thought about  items I own or see on a regular basis that represent something that is of great value to me. So far, I have thought of seven items and I hope that when I see them, I’ll be reminded to keep this value surrendered to Christ’s lordship.

  1. My wrist watch: This represents my time & schedule. I hope that seeing this during the day reminds me to steward my time in a godly way (Ephesians 5:17).
  2. My cellphone: This symbolizes both my speech & my relationships. I can be short & sharp with my words so I hope that pulling my phone out helps me to pray continually that I’d be a woman who “opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue” (prov. 31:25). Secondly, I want to value my relationships and steward them well, but not be controlled by them by needing the approval of others (Gal. 1:10).
  3. Photo of Danny in my wallet: I see this photo throughout the day and I want to remember that my marriage is of highest importance for it is what displays the gospel to the world (Eph. 5).
  4. My tennis shoes: To me, my shoes represent Vision & Enthusiasm/Passion. I want to be a woman who has a contagious energy about her. I want to continually walk with God and move forward in mission (Isaiah 50:5-7). nike
  5. A pocket mirror: This item brings my mind to 2 values. First, to the verses that describe Character, “Strength & dignity are her clothing” & “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. (prov. 31:25,30)”. Second, it reminds me that God is enthralled by my beauty (ps. 45:11) especially because when he looks on me he sees a Bride, blameless & holy (Eph. 5).
  6. My writing pen: This symbolizes my thoughts and ideas. I am far too protective & prideful of them.I want to surrender my thoughts so that I will be obedient to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5), rather than being opinionated or insightful. This also inspires me to have protected time of just thinking, reflecting, and evaluating so that my inner self is at peace, not in chaos.
  7. Cash/ Debit card: My money represents my possessions. When I see this I want to ask God to steward my purchase to His glory, not just to my comfort.

For now, I just want to practice prayer when I see these items. But, maybe in the future I will symbolically lay them before Jesus when I see my hand (heart) is holding them a bit too tightly. Maybe for you, it is a textbook for your studies, a pacifier to symbolize parenting, a house key to represent your household/home. Whatever it is that you find precious, I challenge you to practice surrender and stewardship in that area. If you lead a smal group, it may be a neat idea to ask your members to bring in an item that they are wanting to steward well for God this year. Hopefully, this is a private, active way to help your mind release to the Lord what already belongs to Him.

 

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God Values the Family

January 15, 2013 Leave a comment

Over the past few weeks God has been stirring in me a new value for the Family Unit. God started to solidify this value at Campus Outreach’s Christmas Conference in Jacksonville, FL. Two speakers briefly mentioned the family in their seminars.

Sandra Hearon spoke at the Women’s Rally on the topic of feminism. Using Deuteronomy 5:16 she explained that your family is who will still be around you when you’re old. She rebuked us softly in how we relate to our parents, siblings, and relatives. College students in America can focus so much on relationships with each other that we hardly fight to honor our family. And I thought to myself that the weak family relationships may be why even strong students of the faith struggle to walk with God so much after they graduate – they’re around people who hardly know them and visa verse. So, even if they have a desire to share and show Christ to their family, they can’t because their simply isn’t a common ground between them (if not even deeper unresolved family issues).

Then, Eric Mason gave a seminar that included different models of discipleship: (1)Air-strike -or classroom style, (2) Ground – or one-on-one discipleship, (3) The family, (4) Ministry teams, (5) a Christian community. When discussing the Family model he referred to Psalm 127 and recognized that this unit is the first ever discipleship community and is also the main place that discipleship takes place.

To, me this speaks VOLUMES. Here is what these truths should form in my life (and hopefully any Christian’s life):

1. I should take an active role in protecting the family unity because it is God’s plan for bringing redemption. With 1/2 marriages ending in divorces, with most people living together instead of choosing to be married, with pornography making its way into the family’s home, with promiscuity rampant amongst young singles, with fatherless homes, with gay rights activists uprooting the family design, with radical feminism destroying the value of selflessness, with the elderly not receiving visits or care from their children, with adultery, with grandparents raising grandchildren, abortion, and so on and so on…..ALL of this is a DIRECT offense to God’s plan of redemption through the family. So, find an organization to volunteer with, adopt a child, serve in the church nursery, babysit, receive church discipline, go to marriage counseling, have family meals together, be vulnerable and honest with your small group, consider homeschooling, develop a Christian worldview on these specific issues, etc. Find where you fit to help the family (not just your family).

2. I should aim to have a large family made up of many children! Psalm 127 says, “Behold children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are children of one’s youth, Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!” Can you imagine being in battle with only 2 or 3 arrows? Children are meant to be sent out into the world to “make disciples of all nations.” The Muslim community knows this. Islam is the largest religion in the world right now and a huge reason for that is because they have HUGE families! Christians are too conservative…we want things too controlled…too systematic. I’m not guaranteed that each child will come to Christ and live for him – but I can pray for them, train them, and release them into the world trusting in God’s power and redemptive purpose being fulfilled through my family.

3. Following #2, if possible, we must marry young enough to have children! Obviously, we aren’t all going to be married, nor will we all be married in our 20’s. BUT if God has introduced you to your future spouse don’t postpone marriage until after you have all your junk together such as a house, financial investments, a nice car, a good career, and the ideal magazine wedding. Yes, be responsible – but live by faith and trust that two is better than one. Keep in mind that if God has called you to marry someone, you’re being disobedient by not getting married.

4. Make the most of family time. Don’t be content with being near each other (geographically) and not emotionally or relationally. Some ideas: Be thoughtful about how time is spent when family visits, cultivate family traditions (especially for holidays), have fun together, have father-daughter dates, start learning to talk on deeper levels than just business matters, be the first one to apologize and repent. I don’t know, look up some good ideas on Pinterest :).

I hope that no matter what age you are and no matter what your current relationship status says, that this post inspires you to care about the family. And thus, I hope that you ask the Lord how YOU can serve and protect not just your family, but all of God’s families.

 

 

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

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??~~~

Raising Financial Support for a Living: The Letter & Phone Call

October 2, 2012 Leave a comment

Phew, we are pushing through this series. It’s been a good refresher for me. I’m actually learning a lot! Previously, I gave some pre-planning steps to take. Now, I want to give you some guidance in those first impressions with the Letter and Phone Call. Is this part of the process starting to be intimidating yet? If so, I hope this post relieves some fears.

So, you have already name-stormed and gotten contact info (i.e mailing address/phone #, etc) all written down. So, after this you need to write and begin sending out your contact letter.

Contact Letter = First Impression

When writing your letter use the guideline that I previously posted (or something similar).

Here’s some ideas for organizing the letter:

  1. Personal update: Important events such as graduation, work, engagement, etc.
  2. Introduce the ministry influence on you: mission statement, ways you’ve grown through it, etc.
  3. Inform them about the opportunity: describe ministry, benefits/God’s call.
  4. Invite them in:communicate your needs such as prayer & funds (clearly communicate your need for funds- do NOT surprise them with this!).

TIPS when making the letter:

  • Personalize it by writing in or typing their name in.
  • Include a professional picture of yourself.
  • Leave a handwritten P.S note directed to the individual.
  • Hand write the addresses on the envelopes.
  • Make sure they know that you will be contacting them soon.
  • Keep length within 1/2 -1 page.

REMEMBER:

  • Include prayer requests (if space permits)
  • Not all supporters will require a letter
  • Facebook message, text, or phone call may be best means for getting an appointment
  • Be clear and concise.
  • Have someone peer edit it.

***PURPOSE OF CONTACT LETTER: The Phone Call***

So, when determining how to write it, send it, and follow up. Remember that your goal with this letter is to call them.

Therefore, consider this pace:

  1. Send them out in groups of 10. (can you really follow up w/ more than 10 people at a time??)
  2. Start with your “Top-Ten List” (people that will give you confidence not discouragement! Start out strong)
  3. Send a new batch out after you have followed up with the first batch via a phone call.

The letter isn’t so bad, now is it? On to the Phone Call…

Phone Call = Get Them Face-to-Face

The follow up call after your letter is VERY important, but VERY hard. The purpose of this call is asking them for (1) a face to face appointment or  (2) informing them of the vision and inviting them to join your team (option #2 is only in rare cases such as distance!). In fact, even if we are not able to meet face-to-face Danny and I still use Skype or FaceTime to meet with potential supporters. I send them our presentation and give away sheets so that they can follow along as we share our vision.  Overall, make every effort to secure a time and place to share with them.

REMEMBER:

  • You are not asking for a commitment over the phone, but an opportunity to inform them further.
  • People are busy. Do not take their busyness to mean disinterest.
  • Be ready to offer 3 options for them to choose from.
  • Keep track of people and what progress you have made with them (how awful would it be to forget to call someone or to call them twice b/c you’ve forgotten!). *Disorganization is a sure-fire way to make people feel like a number…

TIPS:

  • Have a calendar and pen available & ready before calling.
  • Expect each appointment to last 30min-1 hour.
  • So, leave about a 2 hour window for each appointment in order to travel, gather yourself, and rest.

Prime Calling Times:

  • Mon-Thurs: 7-9pm
  • Sat-Sun: 11am-5pm

*** PURPOSE OF THE PHONE CALL: An Appointment***

Since you want a face-to-face meeting intend on your phone call looking something like this…

  1. Greeting: Catch up w/ them! I know you’re scared, but try and act normal.
  2. Transition: Well, eventually you gotta get to the point. Let’s face it, most people are probably wondering why you’re calling them (because you probably never have called before, or because they did get your letter and are just waiting for you to say something about it.)
  3. Ask for an Appointment: This is as simple as saying, “Did you get my letter?” (half of your potential sponsors probably haven’t gotten it, and over half will have a legitimate conflict with your first proposed date/time. This does not mean people don’t want to support you. Remember that they are busy. So, you have to be flexible and persistent at times.
  4. Confirm: Make sure you are both on the same page about when, where, and why.

Q&A:

  1. What should I do if I get their answering machine? Leave a short message, then call again in a couple of days.
  2. What if they do not want to meet? Do not let them make a giving commitment over the phone. The goal is a lasting partnership, so give every effort to meet anyways and explain why it would be such a valuable time for you both.
  3. What if they say they will get back to me? Respectfully, let them know that you will contact them in x days. People are busy and you are not their top priority even though they care about you and what you’re doing. So, be wise and keep the calling as your responsibility.

The phone call is without a doubt, the most frightening part of support raising for me. Those awkward moments when people get straight to the point or don’t call you back after you’ve called 3 times make me so insecure for some reason. But, I have never in the past 4 years of raising support had someone who intentionally tried to avoid me (at least, not to my knowledge).  ***If you have any questions or suggestions about the Letter and Phone call please comment! We can all learn from each other! Also, if there is something specific you want me to cover with the Appointment and overall cycle be sure to let me know! More posts coming soon!***

#1 Christianity is not so much about me and Jesus as it is about Christ and His Church

April 26, 2012 2 comments

The Enduring Community

I’m starting a series about 5 truths I’ve learned from doing ministry at VSU. I wish I had known them sooner, but I’m glad for the experiences that taught me these.

1. Christianity is not so much about me and Jesus as it is about Christ and his Church.

2. Worship is more about devotion than it is about emotion.

3. People do what they see, not what you say.

4. Focus on faithfulness, not on results.

5. The more holy you become, the less holy you’ll feel.

Something that I began to see a couple of years ago, but didn’t really live by until this past year is that Christ reconciled His Church – not just me and God! Yes, there is a uniqueness about our salvation, but far too often we lean way to much on the unity between us and God, and not enough on us and others. I’ve been partnering with other Christians in ministry for a few years and so I’ve been learning this through experiences. But also, this past semester my discipleship group has been studying Ephesians and reading the “The Enduring Community” together. Reading these has really developed my idea of the Church.

Why do we focus so much about us and God and so little on others?

There are a number of reasons for this. Probably some common responses to why we do this would be: relationships are messy, it requires lots of effort, they will see my sin, and it’s just easier not to pursue people. I think all of these reason narrow down to the problem of having a small vision and value for God’s people. If we really saw individuals as significant and valuable we would not only be involved in their lives, but we would be anxious for unity with our fellow brothers and sisters.

What exactly did Christ reconcile on the cross?

Hebrews 7: 25 tells us, “Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” The first thing we think of when someone asks what happened on the cross is that we have been reconciled to God. This is absolutely true. Yet, God is not the only one we were reconciled with. I used to think that Ephesians 2:13 which states, “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” was only referring to our connection with God. However, after studying the context I found that the entire second half of the chapter is about our unity with fellow believers. This verse provides the transition from the hostility between the Gentiles and God being reconciled, and also the hostility between people being reconciled.  We have been brought near to each other and are no longer “Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. (Col. 3:11)”

How can we turn from division and become unified?

 In order to avoid division we must actively seek unity with other believers and be proactive in the upbuilding of the Body of Christ. Here are a few ways that if had been practiced more by both myself and others, lots of harmony would have been gained. All of them really boil down to one’s character.

1. Verbalize your thoughts in an understanding way: I cannot count the times that division has snuck into a fellowship simply because no one shared how they felt (at least to the person that they have concerns with). When I say “in an understanding way” I mean two things. First, to clearly articulate concerns. Second, to do so with gentleness and humility. I really believe most problems within the Church could be overcome through good communication.

2. Be quick to reconcile your relationships: Matthew 5 :23-24 states, “…if you are offering your gift to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother , and then come and offer your gift.” The verse tells me that even if I am not the one harboring bitterness, it is my duty to reconcile my relationships. Another verse puts the responsibility on me and not someone else is Romans 12:18 which says, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”

3. Live sympathetically: Take on the feelings of another – relate with them. If many really have become ONE body then you are affected by the wellness of your brothers and sisters. Therefore, we must “mourn with those who mourn and rejoice with those who rejoice” we must serve one another and care tenderly for each other.

4. Value individuals: Appreciate people for who they are, not for how comfortable they make you feel. Every relationship is significant. John Piper once said that every person is made in the image of God, therefore everyone is interesting! Appreiciate people for their unique design and contribution to the whole Body.

I’ve had to face all of this while at VSU. Soon, I’ll be moving and I’m nervous because I will need to learn to practice this truth with people that I am not as used to and close with. However, Christ has reconciled the biggest gap of all: me and Him, therefore I know that He can unite me to others too.