This month, our family leaves for an Asian country that doesn’t openly welcome gospel witnesses. Deputation took one year. Our full-time deputation process kicked off when I, Mike,* quit his job in January 2012. We’d had 5-6 meetings with churches and shared with some families/individuals before this; but our commissioning service this January is scheduled for exactly a year since I quit my job. Because of the rarity of this timeframe, we’ve been asked to share our experience. Because of our destination, as well as the difficulty of leaving the glory to God, our real names are withheld, but we’d like to share how God worked.
When we started dating in late 2006, Leslie* began praying that we would be able to do deputation in one year. She has continued till now, and God has chosen to honor that prayer. We are grateful.
Mutual investment with a local church is a tremendous catalyst.
When we joined the church plant which became our sending church, our pastors committed to making sure we were ready before sending us out. They actually told us to wait three different times. But, when it was time, they gave us blanket permission to recruit partners from within the church both for finances and teammates. Our church corporately supports us at about 17%; individuals within the church (including the pastors) support us for an additional 22% (of $5,000/mn)! If this can work in an inner-city church in Denver, it can work elsewhere!
Individuals and families support those whose ministry they know.
Virtually all of our individual supporters are people who have known or seen our ministry for multiple years. Many of them have labored beside us quite literally. Family, friends of our families, college friends, members of our church body have all gathered to support the ministry to which God has called us.
Long-term relationships are key for partnering with churches.
Of the five lessons, this one may be the hardest to duplicate. Both of us grew up in ministry homes. Thus, when we put together a list of churches, we started with about 60 where we already knew the pastor and/or people of the church. Many of these churches had already supported us on previous trips to our field. Plus, M. had friends from college who were now in pastoral ministry. These contacts all proved invaluable.
We’ve shared our ministry in 45 churches. About 10 of those meetings came through ‘cold calls’, but only 3 of those cold-call meetings were scheduled without finding a personal connection of mutual friends/family. One of those churches has begun supporting us monthly. Of the other 35 meetings we had, 9 churches have begun supporting us. Several of these have come through friends who strongly recommended us to the pastor; most are churches that one of us has known for multiple years.
Compatibility is huge.
We didn’t ask to go everywhere we knew a pastor/church because sometimes we knew it wouldn’t be a good fit. Others times after open discussion with a pastor, we figured out it wouldn’t be a good fit. So, why fill their schedule and ours? For instance, we aren’t KJV-only, so we didn’t call KJV-only churches unless they already knew our position and were okay with it (or, in one case, they called us and asked us to come.)
The key to fundraising for gospel ministry is always God’s work on our behalf, but the suggestions given above are meant to give substantial weight to the means which He has placed at our disposal. In the next article, we will consider Deputation and the Local Church.
*Not authors’ real names