A dejected Christian worker called our Individual Partner team, and the conversation went down a road that I am very familiar with.
“I can’t carry on living hand to mouth like this. People know my situation, but they don’t seem to want to give.”
I could hear the disappointment in his voice. I asked him to tell me about his ministry. He is reaching out to men who struggle to feel that church is a place for them. He is a weightlifter and has built a community of lifters working out in a garage that he rents near his home in North Yorkshire. Guys come around to use his equipment and he shares his life and his faith with them. He came alive as he talked about what God was doing but as we returned to the subject of finances, his energy dropped. I could tell that living on so little was taking a toll on him, and then he asked me:
“Do any other Christian workers still live on support these days?”
My caller was at the point where he felt he had no choice but to take a paid job, which is common. He didn’t want to spend less time doing what he felt God was asking him to do, but he didn’t know how he could carry on. Because support raising wasn’t seemingly working for him, he wondered if it worked for anyone?
The answer to both questions is yes! Many individuals and organisations use the support model in the UK and around the world. At Stewardship, we receive applications for the Partner Account for Individuals every day from Christian workers who use the support raising model. We also help Christian workers who have lived on support for decades and don’t struggle financially. But as with anything, it doesn’t just happen. If you want to take up a new sport, you have to learn how to do it well. If you want to speak a new language, you need to study the grammar and put into practice what you are learning.
Some organisations are brilliant at helping their staff with their support raising, while others have a way to go. There are four key pillars for effective Ministry Partner Development that organisations need to think through in order to build a culture and create structures within which their staff can support raise effectively:
Ensure the organisation’s leaders model support raising well and develop appropriate strategies and structures for good support raising.
Provide good support raising training (or find someone else who does).
Provide coaches for those support raising. Coaching is the single biggest way to ensure effective partner development.
4. Policies and procedures
Develop the right policies and procedures that support staff to grow and maintain their partner team.
We help organisations work through those key areas and find support raising is a great model for them. The reach of the organisation’s message is broadened through each individual relationship between giver and worker. There is no limit to the growth of the organisation, as each worker brings with them or develops a team of givers who tend to be more committed to supporting the individual than an organisation. But Christian workers can flounder when they get weighed down by the challenges support raising can bring and don’t have the right encouragement.
Sometimes God provides the perfect job to compliment ministry work and through it doors can open to connect with others. But more often than not, Christian workers end up taking a job because the challenge of support raising seems like too much or that it’s not working.
At Stewardship, we have a dedicated team who have all worked in support raising ministry roles and know exactly what it’s like. We work with individuals and organisations to help them make support raising effective and turn the tide on Christian workers struggling financially. If you’re in that position, we want to encourage you, cheer you on from the side-lines and help you to see just how many Christian workers out there are in the same boat – working hard to build a team of supporters who love to partner in their work.
We begin to address some of those challenges that Christian workers face in our video series:
‘What I wish I knew before I started Support Raising’. Check it out if you need some fresh encouragement.