Let's face it: raising money for missions can be a real challenge. It can be really scary to commit to something and not know exactly how all the funds will show up. And, that on top of all of the other preparation.
If you've never been on a God adventure like this, it can be positively overwhelming. Truthfully, even if you have see God's extravagant provision before, it can be hard.
But hard isn't always bad. It's just hard.
Sorry, there's no easy recipe
I'd love to give you a “1, 2, 3” formula but there really isn't one because God doesn't always do things the same way. That's part of the joy of this whole crazy adventure of following Him.
But I can tell you that there are some key elements to keep in mind.
- Be sure you're actually supposed to go
- Be obedient to God's leading
- Prepare to be stretched
- Trust God's provision
I'm here to tell you that if God has really called you to do something and if you're obedient, He'll provide.
— Bryan Entzminger (@engagingmission) May 3, 2014
Be sure you're supposed to go
Before you ever start raising funds, spend some time in prayer. Get counsel from your pastor and other trusted leaders. Be sure that you're actually supposed to go on the outreach.
Bonus: Ask God why you're supposed to Go. Not in the whiney kind of way. But in the, “I want to be able to prepare and to share” kind of way. You might be surprised by what you discover.
Be obedient to God's leading
There are more “how to raise money” resources out there than you'll ever have time to read, much less apply. If you're going with a group, you'll likely have some group fundraising activities. Don't be afraid to take advantage of those.
At the same time, don't be afraid to ask God if there's a specific thing He'd like you to do. Or to not do.
And, whether you're following somebody's else's instructions or following an individual leading from God, do what He says.
Be prepared to be stretched
Yes, you might have to work to earn extra money. You might have to cut down to only three Starbucks lattes a week (ouch). And you might need to learn how to write a support letter to ask friends and family to partner with you.
I want to talk about that last one for a second because it can be really uncomfortable to ask somebody for money. And, if you are struggling with that, I'd like to offer you a way to reframe the “ask.”
First, think of the people you'll be ministering to. The work you'll be doing. If the cause is worth it, why would you ever hesitate to ask?
And, second, don't think of it as begging. If you're following God's leading, you're offering nothing less than the best investment a person can make – an opportunity to invest in God's Kingdom. The chance to lay up their treasures in heaven. (Matthew [6:19]-21)
Oh, and let's talk about stealing an opportunity!
Think for a second about what people are missing if they're never given the opportunity to partner with you. What if their blessing is tied up in being a blessing to you?
Trust God's provision
This is really one of the most critical elements. Yes, it's important to be diligent and obedient. But if you ever start trusting in your own ability to do this, you'll be in a very precarious position.
In the end, it's God who provides. Your effort is important. But it's God who provides (yes, I know I said that twice – it's important).
Here's one of my stories
Here's the plan I was given
- Work hard and save money
- Give generously at every opportunity
- Trust God
Thank God that He gave me the grace to do that!
I worked hard. I worked extra. I skipped meals out. I saved money. I squirreled away my bonus money. That was the first part.
The second was a little harder, though. I knew that I was supposed to be generous. To give when I had the opportunity to give. I even had a “standard” amount I was supposed to give. God had made it clear that my blessing was tied to being a blessing to others.
The thing was, there were more opportunities to give than I might have preferred, knowing that I was raising money. You see, at the time I was also involved in my church's Benevolence Ministry. Several times I felt like I was supposed to give my money to meet a need rather than the church's money.
That was uncomfortable. And it was also the visible expression of my trust in God.
Oh, and there were more uncomfortable parts. I also felt like I was supposed to send support letters to friends and family. That's when I saw the value of all the relationships my parents had maintained over the years.
I was essentially cold-mailing people I'd not communicated with for years saying, “Hey, will you give me some money for this thing.” And they did.
Glory to God! And thanks, Mom & Dad.
There were some sketchy times
More than once I was concerned because the giving seemed to have leveled off. More than once I was tempted to stop with the generosity. But I didn't.
In the end, as you've probably guessed, my needs were supplied. I paid around 50% out of my savings. And God covered the other 60%!
Read that again for a second if you didn't catch the math problem.
There was more than enough!
That's the God I serve.
I had enough to cover all my expenses, have some spending money, and to even help another person on the trip whose funding had come in a little less than needed. And that's so often how God works. He blesses and over-blesses so that we can be a blessing for others.
Will it be that way for you?
Probably not exactly. Probably never again for me in exactly the same way.
My wife tells me that in her time with Youth With a Mission, it was very common for God to provide in a variety of ways. It was also very common for God to over-provide for one person to bless another. But it's not always the same.
God is not a God of formulas. He's a creative, extravagant, personal, relational God. He provides for those He's called to do the things He's called them to do in the way He's called them to do them.
Can YOU raise the money for a mission trip? Maybe.
Can GOD raise the money for a mission trip? Absolutely, Yes!
What about your story?
Do you have a story of God's provision? Why not drop it in the comments below?
Photo Credit: NezTez