“Consider tentmaking or business-as-mission.”
Some jobs allow you to earn your living while you serve. In missions this is sometimes called “tentmaking,” since the Apostle Paul sometimes earned a salary as a tentmaker during his missionary journeys. Beware: earning your living will likely consume way more of your time than you realize. To learn more about tentmaking look into the organization Global Intent.
One of the most important components of fundraising for missions is getting people to pray for you. If you’re not asking your friends and family for prayer, don’t even think about going into missions.
Answer from Jack Voelkel, missionary-in-residence with the Urbana Student Mission Convention; originally published on the Urbana website. Previously Jack served thirty years with Latin America Mission in Peru and Columbia. Find other answers and articles from Jack and others on the Urbana blog.
“I too thought it was begging, at first.”
At first, I also hated the idea of raising support and viewed such as begging for money. But now I’m so glad for the experience. It forced me to clearly share my vision. It forced me to talk to people I didn’t know. It forced me to deal with people, even pastors, who questioned different aspects of who I am and what I would do, such as differences in doctrinal emphasis, mission strategies, and church priorities. Now when I see listed each month the dozens of people who give to my support (and dozens more who don’t give financially but who pray), I am confident God has put me where he wants me. Many of the people who support me through finances and prayer were strangers to me before I began raising support. Now they are vital partners in what I’m doing in youth evangelism in Japan.
Answer from John, who has served in Japan for nine years with SEND International.
“Find a good sending church.”
Find a good church that will support your family financially and keep you before the Lord in prayer. A church with an emphasis on missions and seeking to use its resources for the proclamation of the gospel should budget their money accordingly. It may be that a pastor or leaders need encouragement to set aside money to save for missionary support.
Try to actively work in the local church. Consider staying until you have converted and discipled twelve families. If you’re busy, this might take somewhere between two to five years. In that time, you’ll practice what you’re supposed to do overseas. If you can’t do it in America, don’t go overseas. “A candle shines the brightest at home.”
Answer from Jonathan, who has served in Russia and the Ukraine and is part of the Gospel Lilypad Project.
“Humbly depend only on the Provider.”
Among the opportunities opened to us through support raising, the first is the opportunity to gain humility. It sure looks like begging before you begin, especially if you’re coming from the business world as I did. But as you consider God, his purposes, and his church, the scenario changes. I no longer see it as begging. God, who is sending me, will provide for me, through his church. It is just a matter of being led to the people whom God has already chosen to give support. If you want success, begin your service in humility.
The second great opportunity opened to us through support raising is the opportunity to depend fully on the Provider rather than depending on our own capacities, knowledge, abilities, and relationships.
Third is the opportunity to see specific prayers clearly answered. For example, I prayed that my supporters would come from one area, which would limit my traveling during furloughs. God graciously granted that.
Answer from Moises, a Mexican mobilizing Mexicans and Spanish-speaking churches. he has served with One Challenge and the U.S. Center for World Mission (now Frontier Ventures).
“Adjust your attitude.”
The framing of this question (Is there any way other than begging to raise support?) causes me to wonder if those asking are certain that God desires them in missions. If they are called, then sharing the ministry is part of involving other believers in kingdom advancement. “Going from church to church” is not about begging for money. It’s relating how you are answering God’s invitation to proclaim Christ to those who need to hear. Making known the need for financial support allows others to participate and affirm your future work, and you gain a deeper trust in God. (You’ll need that deeper trust, I’m sure.)
If “faith missions” is still too uncomfortable, consider your denomination’s mission board, which may subsidize missionaries, or tentmaking, in which you may receive a stipend or salary. But first ask God what he intends for you, both in your overseas work and how to fund it.
Answer from Karen, who served with what is now HCJB Global in Ecuador for eleven years.
“For one-time expenses, try “crowd funding.””
Crowd funding is a great way to raise money for your cause. Many websites are designed for fundraising, but we found none focusing solely on spreading the gospel. That is why we created giveforchrist.com, a crowd-funding resource for Christians to help other Christians fund their callings.
With this resource you can create a campaign and send request via Facebook or other social media outlets. Start with family and friends, then grow to friends of friends. I hope this venture is as successful as I know it can be.
Answer from Patrick in Kentucky.
Editor’s note: See also “Can I raise funds for missionary service by doing it mostly online, e.g., through crowdsourcing, GoFundMe, or Facebook?” An article on our sister site, ShortTermMissions.com, also includes descriptions of and links to other tools designed to help with fundraising. See Software and Services.
“Join the military first and retire early.”
You can retire from the military in just twenty years, usually when you are in your early forties. The value of your retirement income can double based on the cost-of-living in developing nations. That was my plan when I was in my twenties, and it is working well for me forty years later.
It may not seem true when you are young, but twenty years goes by quickly. You gain valuable leadership experience. You have the opportunity to travel and live in other cultures. You have the ability to continue your education while off-duty.
If you are (or plan to be) a seminary graduate, consider military chaplaincy.
Answer from L. R. who has served in Vietnam and Guatemala for ten years.
“Find an organization with centralized funding.”
Having read the other answers here and feeling they are all insightful, let me add a different perspective. There are organizations out there that fund the workers and work from a centralized fund. Workers still raise funding, but they do it corporately rather than privately. The main reason for such a model is that this can potentially lessen fundraising pressures and allow greater ministry focus. The organization I served with operates this way. There are others, too.
Answer from Rick, who has served with Christian and Missionary Alliance in Indonesia and Malaysia for more than twenty years.
“Learn what biblical partnership development is all about.”
Biblical partnership development starts with the understanding that missionaries don’t raise partners in order to get their needs met, but to bless partners, and ultimately, the church.
Partnership development ministry is not about “donors” giving and missionaries receiving. It recognizes that both missionary and financial partner give into the ministry and both receive blessing, joy, and reward in return.
Kingdom Come Training helps missionaries get to full funding by developing authentic partnership. The missionaries we work with get to one hundred percent in an average of six months.
Answer from David, who works for Kingdom Come Training and served with Youth for Christ for eight years.
“Be an entrepreneur and make your own money.”
I have been a missionary with the IMB, fully supported, and loved every minute of it.
I have also been an IMB volunteer, a bi-vocational tentmaker who started a business, hired six rural pastors and four local missionaries, and created over 60 jobs all while doing ministry work. I also loved that. In fact, I felt like I earned more respect by working with my ministry partners, and we were all in this thing together, balancing work and ministry.
In both instances, we saw people saved, baptized, and discipled. I loved both opportunities deeply. The path I took as an entrepreneur takes a lot of guts, and it’s not for everyone. You have to be able to stomach the risk.
My next goal, as an entrepreneur, is to move back to one of these countries I have eluded to and start a children’s home. I want to support all of the homes initially with my real estate investments.
By July of this year, Lord willing, I have will have purchased 58, rented houses, all within 12 months. This is my side business, not counting my family business. I have purchased almost all of these houses without any of my own money. The Lord has taught me, many times through my mistakes, to strengthen me because I know he has big plans for me.
We can walk the journey together. I love to answer questions. I have done about every business you can think of! Go make it happen.
Answer from Casey in South Carolina who served with IMB in East Asia and the Philippines for four years. Visit his website to connect with him.