Posted by: ritagone | May 21, 2014

All About Money…and Then Some!

 

Lately I’m obsessed with money.

I think about it constantly.

Why?

Because we’re on a fundraising campaign at Christian Associates, trying to boost our general fund as we head toward the end of the year budget-wise.

The general fund isn’t very sexy when it comes to asking for donations from people. They would understandably rather give to specific individuals, missionaries they know, whose work in various cities and projects they understand and appreciate. Giving to the general fund to them seems like throwing their money into a dark pit: vague, formless, unimaginative, worthless.

So it’s one of my tasks to tell them how worthwhile it is, how vital and necessary. Because giving to the general fund is indeed the oil that keeps the machinery going, it’s what allows the missionaries with CA to do what it is they do so beautifully and faithfully.

It is a “necessary evil” that most missionaries must raise their own support; I know of no organizations except the Southern Baptists where this isn’t true. (Not that it isn’t true elsewhere; it’s just that I’m not familiar with other organizations that “salary” their missionaries. But take it from me that it’s true when I say that most missionaries raise their personal support.) So they learn to talk, show Powerpoints, write letters and emails, make phone calls, and do anything and everything necessary to convince the people in their circle that a monthly donation to their cause is worth it. After all, everyone they meet has only so much discretionary money to spend, so missionaries are like everyone else: they’re vying for that extra $25 or $50 or $100 a month that a particular family can give generously to their support.

Sometimes, when I see what our CA missionaries struggle with in terms of support raising, my heart aches for them. Oh, I know there’s a huge component of this that requires faith, and I’m well aware of all the prayer that goes into finances and living under the banner of donations. I know that this builds character and focus and separates the weak from the strong, in many cases. You don’t have to convince me of the arguments that are pro missionaries presenting their cases to donors, laying out their pleas in an organized and well-articulated manner so that they win the hearts of those listeners and earn their support so that they can focus their own attention on the field to Kingdom work.

I also know another side of that scenario: the missionary who is able to be bi-vocational, either because he or she must, or because of skills that are marketable and allow for at least partial self-support in a world where economics often prevent them from answering God’s calling when it is heard. (Sometimes it can take a missionary or a missionary family several years to get to the field from the time they feel God’s calling, because the raising of support is such a difficult enterprise. So if that missionary has a marketable skill, it becomes a much easier endeavor.)

People fall in love with missionaries, and understandably so. When they make a presentation and tell you about the work they are doing, the peoples’ lives they are touching, how God is using them, it’s pretty difficult to resist. The speakers would have to be sourpusses to be unable to capture the hearts and checkbooks of enough people to send them on their way to whatever mission field they feel God has imprinted on their hearts. (And I guess, if they can’t raise their support, perhaps that might be a fleece that they’re not supposed to be going after all?)

So this whole issue of missionaries raising support is a complicated, many-layered one, fraught with emotion and tension, not black and white but gray in tone. Don’t be quick to judge, and if you’re a supporter of any missionary somewhere in the world, God bless you and bless your life for that commitment.

So now back to the general fund: remember? That black pit I mentioned earlier? The budget item that pays the utility bills, the administration fees, the cost of “doing business.” Doesn’t seem to have anything to do with winning people to Christ, with turning the world upside down for Jesus.

But, oh, it does.

Because, as I said, without money in the general fund, everything comes to a complete and disturbing stop. The general fund undergirds all that is necessary and vital for the missionary staff to plant churches, to do service projects wherever they are living and embedding themselves and their families, and allows us to go full-steam ahead.

It’s not sexy, but it’s absolutely crucial.

So here I am, asking for money for the general fund. So far people don’t seem to be running the other way when they see me coming. I take that as a good sign. They still answer my phone calls. They are comfortable saying “no” if they’re not led to give, and that’s fine with me too. I want their giving to be a part of something bigger, a feeling and an understanding that they are partners with Christian Associates in God’s work, and that we who are asking for their hard-earned dollars care for them as people, not just as donors.

It’s a big responsibility, not just because of the money, but because I believe that each donor – potential or real – is a person put in my path, my line of vision, to care for and about, to partner with pushing God’s Kingdom further and further outward.

So yes, I’m obsessed about the money, because I’m obsessed about the mission of CA. But I’m also obsessed about the people who give generously to what we’re doing.

It’s all tied up together.

bags of money

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