Monday, September 26, 2005

My finances (and what I learned from begging)

About twelve years ago I started on my journey towards full time missionary work. I was a youth pastor, but it was not a paying position, and I began to work with a wonderful organization called Church Resource Ministries. I was working as part of the church planting wing of CRM, and would help churches learn how to start other churches, and why that was important. I specialized in youth culture, and gen x church planting stuff, mainly because of my wild hair and combat boots. But part of this job was raising my own salary. Which meant asking people for money. I needed to get others to give monthly donations to pay my salary.

Now there is two big problems here, the first: I hated having to ask people for money. It seemed so humiliating, and I was very subconscious about it. I went to classes that taught you how to do it, but it was a very difficult thing for me to actually do. I actually find it pretty easy to ask people for money for other people, but for myself, that is very hard. Imagine you having to do it. I recently was watching a reality show and one couple had lost all of their money, and had to beg for money at an airport so they could get a taxi and stay in the game. The woman started crying, begging was that humiliating, and I understood.

Second problem: Having mainly worked with youth, I didn't really have much of a network of people to ask for money. Most of my contacts were too young to have much disposable income, and their families were usually poorer families, or weren't Christians and were suspicious of our whole deal anyways.

Well, I did have one group of people that I could go to. The people in our church. They seemed to like the things we had done with the kids, and were very supportive of their strange youth pastor. So I made a few appointments, mostly with people that already expressed interest in our ministry.

One of the first people I talked to was a family friend. When I talked to him I explained the reason I was doing it and the things being a full time employee of CRM would allow me to do. Well I should have used the word enabled rather than allowed. Because when I was done he basically attacked what I had told him, suggesting that CRM was some kind of huckster making money off of poor innocent fools by getting them to donate money. He said, "you keep saying they allow you to do this, well who are they to allow you", I tried to explain, but he basically said he wouldn't give any money to this organization, but would consider giving some money to us. He never did that, and I left traumatized. He wasn't very nice about things and called the pastor to express his doubts about CRM.

Almost the next person I talked to was an older gentleman that I had grown to really love. He was one of the few people that constantly asked about our ministry, what we were doing? how could he pray for us? and was very encouraging. I called him up and told him that since he had always been so supportive and interested in what we were doing I would like to set up a meeting to talk to him about my missionary work, and ask him to pray about being a part of our support team. He was very nice and we set a time up to meet.

I got a call about twenty minutes later from the pastor who had just gotten off the phone where he had been chewed out for twenty minutes straight. The man has told the pastor I pay my tithes every single week and the last thing I expect is someone going through the church phone book hitting me up for more. Pastor asked me not to call other people from the church.

I never really recovered from that and eventually dropped off of staff from CRM having never gotten more than thirty percent of my suggested salary raised. I vowed to never have to do that again, I worked part time and did ministry on the side.

But then I felt called to go work in Australia with FORGE. I again have to raise my salary, and I haven't done it very well. You see I am still really bad at begging, though I do it reluctantly. If we don't keep our support up we will be forced to go back home and discontinue our ministry here.

This is the reason for the donate buttons on this website. There are other ways to give as well, that might be a bit more difficult, but also might be better for tax purposes if you would like to hear about those just email me Anyways, I would like to thank those of you who have over the years been very generous to my family and I.



Matt Glover said...

Rev, I admire you for even trying. I don't think I could and would probably starve as a result...

Something I have wondered about in terms of incarnational mission and raising support from the Christian community is this. If we are to be truely incarnational, living and experiencing life in the same way as those in the community are, and those same people have to work to survive, then shouldn't part of our mission to be working alongside them?

I struggle with this a lot. I'm paid by my church, but think my effectiveness or realness or whatever you like to call it suffers because of it sometimes. I also work part time in a secular job, but wonder if perhaps I should be doing this with more hours in my week. But at the same time, if I had to go to another job, there is much I couldn't do mission/ministry wise.

What are your thoughts?

The Rev said...


I think taking part in the finances of a neighborhood, includes working. I am not comfortable in my present situation and would rather work part time, live simply, and then minister as I can with the rest of my time. I like the tent maker philosophy.

Paul did this but he wasn't married. Peter was married and to live up to those responsibilities he needed assistance.

My issues here in Australia is different, my visa only allows me to work for FORGE, and since FORGE doesn't have the money to pay me full time, I need to raise my support. I am not allowed to work another job. But if I was allowed to, I would.

Ofcourse this is my personal subjective opinion.

It just happens to be right :)

the rev

Kitty Cheng said...

Rev, raising support is part of partnership development. I found that people that are supporting you financially are also those that are faithfully praying for you as well. For me personally, having financial support (rather than a set wage) means having a team working together. That's a nice image.

Matt Glover said...

Ah, forgot about the visa restrictions. Sorry if I came across a bit insensitive - it's just someting that I have yet to come to terms with fully.

BJJ NZ said...

Hey Rev good luck with gaining a fair living...

Kitty, I feel obliged to point out that:

people that are supporting you financially are also those that are faithfully praying for you as well.

Isn't necessarily the case. Some of us like the Rev for his ability to inflict pain and explain it in a way that is easy to understand.

Kitty Cheng said...

well bjj nz, although it isn't necessarily the case. According to my experiences, and the experiences of other missionaries, it seems that it's quite a norm.

Missionary's work is really not begging. It is done in dependence upon God and in partnership with His people, including prayer and financial partnership. More importantly, we join with God as He brings His people to partner with us. He is able!

However I also like the tent maker philosophy.

Kitty Cheng said...

Rev, will keep your support raising in my prayers.

Steve said...

Rev, Hope everything is going good for you in the land down 'unda. I know it's not much, but I'll help out when I can.

See you on the UnderGround.

Steve Lewis

Mark Watt said...

Hi John - understand your current situation. Some ideas include having a Fundraiser which not only rasies money but also friends that can then provide ongoing support. Heaps of people would love to see you in action and you have many wonderful friends that could put on a show. Lets get them all together for a Jensen Fundraiser. happy to meet/help organise and have a chat, - Maybe Matt Glover can provide the venue at Mitcham Baptist