I have to raise my own salary?? I don’t think so…
I remember the feeling well. I was 21, had decided I wanted to work for Agape and was off to the head office in Birmingham to hear more. I loved the vision: helping students explore and find faith. I was inspired by the staff; determined to share the gospel with a ‘why wouldn’t you?’ attitude. And I was full of hope that God was going to use me.
This newfound excitement was dampened somewhat when I learned how I was to be paid. “You will raise your salary yourself by building a team of partners who will give money to you each month.”
“Er…sorry? What’s that you say?”
I couldn’t get my head around how I was going to raise so much money. Even when I heard the stories of others who had lived on support, I couldn’t drag my enthusiasm up out of the gutter where it fell. This news even made me reconsider going to work at this amazing organisation. Anyway, God and I had a chat. I did go on to raise that money that initially looked like a mountain too high to climb, but it was a long and at times tough journey. Amongst other things, I learnt that God can do the impossible, that people love to give money away and that having a support team is less about getting paid and more about knowing that every time you step out for Jesus there is a massive crowd behind you praying and cheering you on.
Often people who consider living on support have to ask themselves some big questions. The idea of giving up a regular salary to live on money given to you by others is complicated in all sorts of ways. Not least because in the minds of potential Christian workers, the idea of living on support often goes alongside the idea of not being able to afford anything above the basics, not being able to own your own home or send your kids to university. Christian workers often end up accepting that the place where they live is the ‘land of not enough.’ But it doesn’t have to be that way and it shouldn’t be.
In this COVID-19 time of massive upheaval, everyone is vulnerable. Many of my friends in creative industries have had their work cancelled. Others have seen pay cuts across the company so that everyone can keep their jobs. But we haven’t seen a drop in the support of our Christian workers – in fact, April saw an increase in donations to Stewardship’s Christian workers to the highest amount for years. This is not a big surprise. People care about where their money goes and they don’t give up easily when they have a passion and vision for the ministry of a Christian worker friend. Often when push comes to shove, giving to something you believe in is the last thing to go.
Also, what lots of people don’t think about when they consider living from the giving of others is that if you work for a company and they can’t afford you any more, you lose your job and your whole monthly income is gone. If you live on support and you lose a partner supporting you £20 a month, you lose £20 a month. Then you get to go out and give someone else an opportunity to become a partner in the vision and ministry that drives the way you live.
So, yes, Christian workers often need to raise more support so that they can move from the ‘land of not enough’ to the ‘land of plenty’, but living on a support-based model is not as scary as some might think. You might argue it’s more financially secure than a job at Zoom.