ShaView 10-08-116

View Points

Fresh Perspectives on Personal Support Raising


Steve Shadrach

Fayetteville, AR: BodyBuilders Press, 2010, 174 pp.   

ISBN 978-0-9825107-0-4



Steve Shadrach is the Director of Mobilization for the U.S. Center for World Mission and president of The BodyBuilders Ministry that trains Christian workers to raise support.  Rather than a ‘how to’ manual, this book is more of a handbook, providing a variety of perspectives, paradigms, convictions, attitudes, etc. on personal fund raising. 


1. Followership

“Jesus really did live on support!”  “It was regular, ongoing support from individuals.”  “He wanted to initiate and experience a simultaneous dependence upon God and those around Him.” See Luke 8:1-3 (3)


2. Fulfillment

“…our Creator placed within every human an innate desire to give.” (6)


4. Urgency

According to a 2003 survey at Urbana, the average time it took most missionaries to raise support was 23 months.  [An average of 17 months is given on p. 148.]  “But setting a support raising completion date of as little as 100 days should come with five pre-requisites.  The Christian worker must:

  1. Obtain the right training
  2. Gain the right perspective
  3. Use the right approach (there are a number of good approaches, although most workers don’t even have one!)
  4. Secure the right accountability
  5. Focus on it FULL TIME!

Mixed with a ton of hard work and the blessings of god, I believe most workers can raise their support in three to six months.” “Through prayer and experienced counsel, set reasonable but challenging start and finish dates. (10) 


5. Risk

Support raising can set the pattern for other areas of your life.  “You are building a track record of hard, but faith-filled decisions that set the course for your entire life.  Never underestimate how these early and seemingly small steps of faith can have a profound effect on how our life and legacy turns out 30, 40, 50 years from now.” (12)


7. Prayer

“Prayer is the real work of the ministry.  Service is just gathering in the results of prayer.” (17, quoting S.D. Gordon)


“The amount of time I spend in prayer can indicate whether I am trusting in God or myself.”  “Whatever else we do when support raising, we can’t afford to neglect prayer.”  (17)  Only God can change hearts.  “We must talk to God about men before we talk to men about God.” (18)  When asking for significant end-of-the-year gifts, the author prayed for each person and asked God to lay a certain amount on that person’s heart to give for that year. (18)


8. Sacrifice

Christian workers should lead the way in giving.  “All believers are commanded to give.”  “We must model what we ask others to do.”  “We reap what we sow.” (19-20) 


9. Full Funding

People who begin ministry while fund raising allow support raising to drift to the bottom of the list.  Marriage and ministry suffer under the long-term stress.  (21)


10. Asking

“Lift up Muller as an ideal for faith, prayer, or preaching, but unless you have a worldwide pulpit ministry like his, you may not want to use him as your fund-raising model!” (23) 


13. Teachability.  Getting ‘buy in’ from your supporters.

“If you want others to ‘buy in’ you better first let them ‘weigh in!’ (31)  “You can almost never go wrong by inquiring, ‘What do you think?’  So if you’re considering embarking on a new ministry (or a transition to a new position or organization) and you want to have (or maintain) a strong support team, you might want to read and heed the following:

  1. Always honor and include your supporters. …
  2. With many counselors there is victory (Proverbs 15:22) …
  3. The greater the investment, the greater desire for input.” (32)


  • “Who are the 6-10 people who might be able and willing to be major prayer and financial stakeholders in your ministry? Go to them personally to ask them to pray and think with you, to give you feedback and questions.
  • Identify 8-12 potential medium stakeholders and (at least) phone them for their advice.
  • Finally, send out a mass newsletter to everyone, sharing your heart and journey in life and ministry, including all your contact info, and asking for their counsel or concerns.”  (32)


14. Patience

“Don’t ever do anything that substitutes for the personal, one-on-one approach.” “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” (34)


15. Courage

“Walk toward your fears.”   “Ministries do personal support raising just like they do their personal witnessing.  Consider the necessary steps in both activities:

  1. Create the need
  2. Share the solution
  3. Ask for a decision

Even though rejection is possible, the bottom line for both endeavors is: Are you able to ask the ’golden question?’” (35)


“The fears we face in evangelism are the exact ones we experience in support raising.”  “…the support raising golden question: ‘Mr. Smith, it would be such an honor to have you and your family investing in us and our ministry.  I am wondering if you would consider supporting us for $00 or even $150 a month? What do you think?’  Once again, zip the lip and let them answer.  It is now their turn to talk!”  Ask the golden question as casually and as relationally as possible, but ask. (35-6)


16. Affirmation

“We think we offend people by asking too high, but with most people, we offend them by asking too low!”  When approached by someone asking for $200 a month, “I was honored because they not only believed I was generous enough to give that much, but that I also had the ability to.  They thought I was willing and able.” (37)


18. Restoration

“I bet if you really brainstormed you could come up with a thousand people you’ve met during your lifetime.  I doubt you are keeping up with a hundred of them.  If you try to reconnect with the other 900 and they say ‘no thanks,’ what have you lost?  Nothing!”  (41)


19. Honor

“Face-to-face asking is the most personal.”  (How did you propose?)  We still need to be high-touch.  “If it’s important, we will do it face to face.” (43)


21. God or Others

Three philosophies of fundraising: Prayer only.  Pray and share needs.  Pray, share needs and ask.  (49)  Ask God which is best for you.  Don’t let fear make the decision. (50)


22. Full Time or Part Time:

“A full-time support raiser can schedule 20-30 appointments weekly.”  “Donors hesitate to come on a team until the newcomer really needs support.” (51) 


23.  Churches or Individuals

“I believe you should ask your home church to anchor your support team for at least 20 percent of your total, and, if you have time, approach a few other key churches.  But, in my opinion, if possible, the main focus of your support raising should be with individuals.”  “Here’s the principle: Going to people you do know will almost always bear more fruit than going to churches you don’t know.” (56)


25. Standard of Living

Follow two competing principles.  Live a Spartan lifestyle unencumbered with the non-essentials.  “The more we acquire and surround ourselves with luxuries and toys, the more time and energy (read: distraction) are required.”  Maximize your fruitfulness.  “Raise enough to maximize the fruitfulness of your family and ministry.”  (59-60)


34. Friends

Perhaps you can recruit a full-fledged support raising partner.  This person could support you, set up appointments for you, go with you on those appointments and share why he or she is supporting you and helping you raise support.  Perhaps this champion can even select a “steering committee” who will meet monthly, give, network, share contacts, set up meetings, brainstorm ideas and help hold you accountable for support raising efforts.  Perhaps this person will ask people who love and trust him enough to personally meet with you to listen to your ministry and financial goals.  (84) 


38. Communicate with Excellence

“Research tells us our readers will give us 11 seconds.  They look at pictures, captions, bullet points, and the postscript.  To draw them into the text itself, it better be short – and powerful.” (94)  Use simple language.  Spell it out.  Make sure the headlines, pictures, stories, and prayer requests stay focused on the vision of the ministry.  Include a transformed life.  “The purpose of newsletters is to share vision and changed lives.” (95)


39. Think Long Term

“If you haven’t already, go back to EVERY single person who supports you and meet with them face to face.  Heart to heart, review with them the vision God has given you and thank them so much for being willing to invest some of their strategic giving dollars in you and your ministry.”  “They want to know your heart and eyes are fixed on the person and purposes of Jesus Christ and that you are working just as hard as they are (in their secular jobs) to bring about eternal change in the lives of people.” (98) 


42.  Front Door-Back Door

Professor and author Howard Hendricks believes financial tensions (partly or mainly) cause up to 90 percent of all divorces, and I contend the same is true for most of our departing staff.  They may give every reason under the sun why they’re moving on, but it usually boils down to support related issues.” (105)


56.  Give Before You Ask

“Support raisers must be givers.  I consider personal generosity among the most important factors to successful fund-raising.  If God blesses givers, then support raisers can’t afford to miss God’s blessings from their own funding efforts.” “In a sense, my personal giving serves as a ceiling for the measure of gift I can ask of others.  The more I give and experience the joy of giving, the greater my funnel of opportunity for lifting the generosity in others.  I call this ‘earning the right to ask.’” (135, quoting Jeff Anderson)


57. Forty Years of Support Raising

“Support raising is not begging.  It is giving people an opportunity to make an eternal investment that will beat anything the stock market does – hands-down!  And there is no substitute for the caring and praying these giving partners will do.” (137, quoting Art Deyo)


58.  The Top Four Books on Support Raising

  • Friend Raising: Building a Missionary Support Team that Lasts, by Betty Barnett (YWAM, 1991)
  • Funding Your Ministry: Whether You’re Gifted or Not, by Scott Morton (Dawson Media, 1999; revised 2007)
  • Getting Sent: A Relational Approach to Support Raising, by Pete Sommer (InterVarsity Press, 2999)
  • People Raising: A Practical Guide to Raising Support, by Bill Dillon (Moody Press, 1993)


60.  Five Ironclad Policies Every Ministry Should Have

  1. Leaders must raise support.
  2. Provide thorough preparation and training.
  3. Require strong accountability every week.
  4. Insist on 100 percent support before reporting to assignment.
  5. Connect with Supporters at least bi-monthly.


 * * * * * *

Your comments and book recommendations are welcome.