OSCAR is the premier online information portal for missionaries. We spoke to its founder - Mike Frith - about the top 5 resources every missionary should know about.
You can email Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org for more info on any of the topics above.
image by Cory Doctorow, used under Creative Commons Licence.
In 2011, we set out to discover how we could support Christian workers more effectively. We conducted two surveys and asked a range of questions relating to personal finances, budgeting, income, savings and lifestyle. It came as no real surprise to learn that Christian workers are living on far less than average income, and are often receiving less financial support than they need.
You can read the full survey summaries and results here:
How we're going to help:
This year Stewardship will oversee a substantial increase in free resources for Christian workers, based on what you shared with us in the surveys. From free training days about support-raising, to downloadable guides about pensions and savings, we’re aiming to equip and help Christian workers so that they can be effective in their calling.
Free training days... if you’re in full time Christian work, we believe you should always feel confident and equipped with your finances and personal support raising, whether you are brand new to the work or long established. But we know it isn’t easy, which is why we now run regular, free, ‘training days’ at our offices in Loughton, Essex. Designed to cover the biblical basis for support-raising, technical issues such as taxation and practical subjects like budgeting or using social media effectively. You also get a great Stewardship lunch thrown in for free and the chance to have a sneak peak behind the scenes!
One visitor from last year commented:
“It was an invaluable opportunity to meet fellow workers in very different fields – it gave a refreshing perspective on my work; seeing the bigger picture. I’d encourage others to attend.”
Free resources... The first of our free resources is entitled ‘Finance for Living’. In this three-part series, Myles Wilson (founder and author of Funding the Family Business) discusses the key issues of support raising, and asks two vital questions – ‘how much is enough?’ And ‘to ask or not to ask?’. As well as tackling the practical ways to approach finances, Myles looks at the psychological barriers that often prevent Christian workers from asking for support.
Download the Finance for Living series directly from this blog, or head to the Christian worker area of our website to download them from there. Please note, the Finance for Living series is in PDF format requiring Adobe Reader. This is free and can be obtained here.
"As a chartered surveyor in Local Government, I enjoyed a good salary and loans with preferential rates. Then God called me into the ministry. Living by faith in Bible College was somewhat different!”. Restructuring debts and taking on a second job, whilst working for the church, seemed like the only option. “We ended up using credit cards to buy groceries, we felt we had no other choice; we chose more debt rather than allow our children to go without.”
This is how Julian’s story begins; one of a number of Church ministers who have found themselves reaching out to Christians Against Poverty’s debt counselling service in recent years. And Julian isn’t alone. Our own anecdotal research suggests that debt amongst senior church leaders and ministers is rising, with many feeling forced to suffer in silence.
“Being in debt is a massive taboo subject especially for a church leader – who can you confide in? You worry that your ministry will be affected if people in your church learn of your struggle and not everyone has a family friend they can turn to.”
Which is why this week we are celebrating the launch of CAP Money Ministers - a new, confidential service for senior church leaders experiencing personal debt issues, working in partnership with Christians Against Poverty.
Mike O’Neill, Stewardship’s Chief Executive, adds “We often hear from church leaders who lack confidence in their own finances and in their ability to speak confidently about money with others. That’s why we are so thrilled to be partnering with CAP to launch CAP Money Ministers; a service which we hope will release hundreds of church leaders from financial worry and, in doing so, free them to do the same for their congregations."
For Julian, the lifeline came when a friend referred him to CAP, who quickly worked to turn his situation around.
“The great thing that CAP did for us was to give us hope: hope that we could sort out the debt, hope that it wouldn’t last forever. There is a way out of debt.” Read the rest of Julian's story here.
Anyone can struggle with their finances and fall into debt, particularly in the current economic climate; those that lead churches are no exception. Even those leading churches, who are expected to be perfect all the time!
If you are in a ministerial position and need help with money management, contact CAP Money Ministers’ confidential helpline on 01274 760780, or click here to find out more.
blogs by the Stewardship team and selected guest writers.