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Mind the Gap

Photo of Jo Arkell Jo Arkell
4 min

So often in Christian ministry there is a gap.

It’s a gap between the vision God has called someone into and the support that allows it to flourish. At best the gap is a hazard that gets in the way of a ministry reaching its full potential; at worst it is a yawning chasm that threatens to swallow up the vision entirely.

Surely that’s a bit melodramatic you might be thinking? Actually, no.

Stewardship is privileged to work with an average of 3,000 Christian Workers and Bible College students at any one time and that gives us a unique understanding of what makes a ministry sustainable. We know that many of them struggle financially (in fact only 1% actually reach their support-raising target). We also know that shouldn’t be the case if both receivers and givers fully understand their responsibilities.

We partner with some very experienced trainers who’ve raised and lived on support for many decades (almost a century between them) so they know a thing or two about what you need to know and how it feels.

In our experience, without the right support ministries can be vulnerable and so can the individuals at the centre of them. Which is why at Stewardship, we’re in the business of helping to bridge that gap with biblical teaching, practical advice and wisdom.

It’s a bit like learning to drive. We trust God for our ultimate safety but we need to learn how to control the car, what the rules of the road are, to be aware of potential hazards and so on. Without these things we just won’t reach our destination.

Let’s talk about that little word ‘support’ and what exactly we mean by it.

  • It starts with an understanding of God’s view of money and its right place in your ministry.
  • Support is financial but it’s so much more than just about the money.
  • Support is about the people you surround yourself with and that may sometimes be surprising.
  • Support isn’t a one-way street – it is about partnership in the gospel. You don’t go it alone and there are very good reasons why you shouldn’t go it alone.

Take a look at our series of short videos – Money and Ministry – which are an introduction to these ideas. You’ll be able to hear from real people talking from experience. People like Mike who talks about what it feels like to live on the financial gifts of others and what he would say now to his younger self; Barrie who talks about how budgeting was fundamental to him as a Bible College student with a family to support and Jacqui who tells the story of her decision to give to a young Christian Worker for the first time.

The videos are a starting point; designed to help you think and ask questions about what it means to have answered God’s call into full-time ministry and the financial implications that surround that calling. There are also some ideas for further reading or study to help you go a step further. It’s a start.

To help you go deeper there’s our 2-day Support-Raising Training which aims to give you an all-round grounding in what in means to raise and live on the support of others. Simon Lissak of Chosen People Ministries sums it up neatly:

“the training was Biblically-based, interactive and fun and I left feeling better equipped to engage potential Gospel partners.”

It takes time to really get under the skin of what those bullet points above mean and how they impact the way you think about and ‘do’ ministry. For many, coming to this training is a turning point and some have talked of a ‘paradigm shift’ or ‘scales falling’ from their eyes as they grow in understanding of the significance of partnership and the importance of being both a good giver and good receiver.

Back to that gap. The one that won’t go away until you acknowledge it’s there and do something about it. There are no shortcuts to creating a sustainable ministry but there is plenty of guidance available to you and biblical principles to draw on and help you grow in understanding. So don’t fall into the gap; let us help you to close it up.

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Written by

Jo Arkell

Jo helps and encourages Christian workers to be fully resourced for the work God has put before them. She passionately wants people called into ministry not to scrape by but to be equipped, encouraged and to have the confidence in their support raising and creating new partners.

 Previously Jo was at home for 15 years as a mum to four sons as well as taking on many roles including preaching and teaching in her local church. She is a trustee for Agape and volunteers for Familylife, a couples ministry of Agape.

Jo lives in East London with her husband and four sons and anytime left over is spent running, swimming, cycling and walking the family dog, Pepper.

Jo supports causes that care for the most marginalised in our society, those caught in addiction, debt and causes that provide education for those with few opportunities.