By on October 1, 2013   /   5 Comments

Imagine being charged with leading a group of people who are spread far and wide geographically, each is focused on diverse aspects of work and ministry, and yet all must be unified to accomplish a common effort. Does that sound appealing, or simply impossible? In many ways, this is the very scenario in which every missionary who develops a team of ministry partners finds himself or herself.  In his book, The God Ask, Steve Shadrach references Nehemiah in modeling for us the fact that he first turned to God – made the “God Ask” – before he turned to King Artaxerxes and in bold faith asked for his permission, his blessing, and his Home Depot card!

All too often, missionaries see reaching their goal of getting to 100% support as a final destination, rather than the embarking of their journey.

Most of us who train others how to biblically raise support reference Nehemiah chapters 1 and 2 to show the importance of making the “God Ask”, then casting clear and compelling vision to those we approach to partner with us. Recently, the Lord opened my eyes to a much larger, more comprehensive picture that goes beyond Nehemiah showing up in Jerusalem with an entourage of escorts and a load of fresh-cut timber! Actually, his support raising efforts were just getting underway because the rest of the book describes his ministry partner development from the beginning to completion of the project. Through reading the rest of Nehemiah, God challenged me with these five essential principles that will help all of us who are raising support:

    • Continually cast the vision. Move from just making the presentation in order to raise funds, to getting people lined up behind the vision. All too often, missionaries see reaching their goal of getting to 100% support as a final destination, rather than the embarking of their journey. Thus they have a tendency to rest on their success instead of pressing into the ongoing effort of building and developing a team. Never miss an opportunity, by newsletter or otherwise, to cast the vision of what lies ahead under God’s leading and what you have asked your team to invest themselves in.
    • Continually help your ministry partners see that they are part of a significant team. The whole of Nehemiah chapter 3 is the story of the wonderfully diverse team God used Nehemiah to knit together to accomplish what was on His heart. Never miss the opportunity to let your partners know that not only are they a part of a big vision, but also part of a big team God is using to accomplish what is on His heart – fulfilling the Great Commission.
    • Continually fight against wrong assumptions. Thoughts such as, “They aren’t committed,” “She wouldn’t be interested,” or “They won’t come to anything” can paralyze us from doing the very things that foster a healthy and growing relationship with our ministry partners. 1 Thess. 5:24 says, “The One who calls you is faithful, and He will do it.” Don’t let the enemy convince you otherwise when you challenge your team of partners to do even more. Nehemiah did just that in chapter 4 when he told the workers they would need to add guard duty to the already exhausting task of building the walls. Find ways to involve your supporters beyond just giving or praying.
    • Continually fight the spiritual battles for your team of ministry partners. We must be as committed to pray for our team of partners as we want them to be committed to pray for us. In 4:4, Nehemiah understood he needed to stand in the gap in prayer for his team. This is a wonderful model for us. Our ministry partners deserve our valiant intercession on their behalf! You never know how God might use your prayers to bring about a life-changing victory for one of your partners.
    • Continually champion what God, and (your partners) have accomplished. Not only did Nehemiah exalt God, but also appropriately bragged on his team, including the pagan king who sponsored him. This encouraged them and even challenged those on the fringes to get more involved. He was a tireless advocate for those who were standing shoulder to shoulder with him and everyone around him saw and heard this. Be your team’s biggest cheerleader!

Continually apply these five simple, but intentional principles and you can cultivate long-term relationships with your ministry partners. Keep building and growing a great support team over the long haul and you will the Kingdom of God advanced!


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