I think it’s a pretty safe assumption that those who read this blog and are fans of Exago believe in the Great Commission.
You may know someone that has entrusted their family’s finances and career to a compensation paradigm that counts on others to invest in their ministry – month to month – for the sake of sharing the gospel with those in another nation, or an under-reached demographic in our country.
Face it: you’re sold out. All in. And for many reading this, you’re personally living by this model and discipling other Christian workers to do the same.
I’m confident that you believe God’s promise in 1 Thessalonians 5:24 is trustworthy: “Faithful is He who called you, and He will do it.”
Do we have the same confidence in John 17:20-23? Because there, Jesus’ prayer makes a rock-solid, non-optional connection between honoring biblical unity and reaching the world with the gospel.
In this pivotal prayer, Jesus prays “that we might be one” (with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – and with each other) so that the world will understand God’s love and believe. To underscore how vital this unity with God and each other is, Jesus repeats the petition three times. He connects our unity to the very nature of the Trinity.
Far from being a peripheral issue, unity is a big deal. Theologian N.T. Wright highlights that “unity is at ‘the heart of Paul’s ecclesiology.’ In fact, it’s a building block in every one of the Apostle Paul’s letters. Currently, respecting and living in one accord is the passionate and prophetically delivered message of Francis Chan’s new book, Until Unity.
What does this look like in practice?
How does this impact our cooperation with potential ministry partners on the field where we labor? What if their theological tradition is different than yours…even dramatically? What if you speak in tongues, while they don’t believe that’s how God expresses Himself in this season? What if it’s like blue vs. red?
In our ministry with the Network, we try to keep “the main thing the main thing.” For the sake of working together to reach a lost generation of students, we remind ourselves often to “check our egos and logos at the door,” roll up our sleeves, and find common ground.
There are just too many lost people out there for us to not get along. Yes, truth matters. A lot. However, compared to some of my other interpretations of Scripture, I am more certain about John 17. As Chan says in his introduction, we should take this teaching of Jesus very literally.
In other words, since Jesus taught/prayed that the gospel depends on our oneness, then we need to honor that and work hard to keep it central. And sometimes it will be hard (see Ephesians 4:3)! We would rather err on the side of grace than on our personal or denominational version of how we interpret some non-essential doctrine in Scripture.
Remember in Mark 9, when Jesus’s disciples wanted to silence others for “not being one of us”? Jesus channels the heart of His John 17 prayer by His response.
Communicating with Supporters
There are implications for this in how we communicate with our supporters. Am I being gracious with comments I make toward other ministries, denominations, or groups of people? I am very grateful for the checks and balances of having my wife and another staff member read every prayer letter before it gets published.
The German theologian Rupertius Meldenius said (in 1626) “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.” I need to remind myself that Paul’s famous 1 Corinthians 13 definition of “charity” includes facets that it “is patient…kind…not envious…does not dishonor others.”
It’s also worth noting that many who don’t claim to follow Christ are familiar with 1 Corinthians 13, and are watching to see if we demonstrate this kind of agape love in how we get along.
So let’s get along.
Doug Clark is National Field Director for the National Network of Youth Ministries (N.N.Y.M.) in San Diego, California. Doug was a youth pastor at an Evangelical Friends church for 16 years before joining the Network staff in 1990. He graduated from Fuller Seminary. Besides helping youth workers cooperate to reach and equip teenagers in their cities to find what God wants them to do in the world, Doug helps coordinate promotion for See You At The Pole, a movement of students praying for their schools. He is married to Debbie and has a son and daughter, both married with kids.
By Aaron Babyar
Exago started as a concern, concept, and finally a calling. God provided myself and my wife Marque the eyes to notice a simple, yet profound, problem:
The personal needs of Christian ministry leaders are often not met. A result of that reality is that though a leader may believe they had once had a clear calling from the Lord, far too often, they will quit, burnout, or leave ministry while carrying a deep sense of loss and confusion.
Marque and I both sensed a leading to Christian ministry early in life, and we were married in 1994. For over a decade, we served the Lord in a variety of vocational ministry settings. Along the way, over and over again, we noticed a pattern of gifted men and women running away from ministry, often hurt, and often due to reasons that seemed no fault of their own. At one point, we also experienced some hardship that had us strongly considering a different vocation. Yet God called us to continue serving Him despite our many reservations.
This led to a quest for understanding. Why did Great Commission focused workers, such as missionaries, youth pastors, and church planters - gifted people doing great work for the Kingdom - so often run away from the mission God had put in front of them?
There are many answers which contribute towards turnover, and those answers led to a deeper question: While ministry leaders focus on ministering to others, who is focused on ministering to them? Far too often, the truth was a blunt: No one.
Many great Biblical leaders were ministered to. In Exodus 17, Moses was ministered to as he was serving the Lord. Jesus was ministered to by angels in the desert and by people, such as what we see in Luke 8. Evidently, this wasn’t just common practice, this was vital for spiritual growth. Yet time and time again, Marque and I noticed modern ministry leaders who seemed isolated. We wanted to restore this Biblical idea of ministering to the ministers.
Thumbing through a Greek-English Bible lexicon, Marque unearthed the word Exago - “to lead forward, while bringing others.” As God started leading Marque and I into the idea of starting Exago Ministries, we were both enthused and anxious. How could we build and serve ministry workers so that they could survive and thrive for a lifetime of ministry service?
A couple of significant challenges in my personal life were making themselves known, separately from the esoteric questions about Christian leaders “surviving and thriving.” God blessed my family with four children in six years, but I was unprepared for the financial burden of having a large family.
While God was forming in our hearts a focus for building Exago, I was in the midst of a short term commitment I had made to help launch a new church. The situation had required me to raise ½ of his support. And though the church plant went great in many ways, his support raising largely failed. Marque and I trusted God's provision but didn’t know how to invite and build a team of partners that would pray for and financially support their ministry vision.
Eventually, Marque emptied the bank account while buying food. There wasn’t much money to start with, but one particular day, she came home from the grocery store with the most bare of necessities - but there wasn’t enough. This was a pivotal moment that deeply humbled me. While it was obvious to many that God was blessing our ministry work, I sensed from the Lord that there had to be a better way of serving Him vocationally, without my family unnecessarily struggling for basic sustenance. Freshly, God birthed in me a passion of responsibility to fulfill my ministry calling and care for my family simultaneously - without it being a choice between one or the other.
Meanwhile, Marque was showing signs of personal medical decline (which eventually led to multiple surgeries). This brought about more questions. If this was God’s plan for our life, then why had we experienced so many financial and medical challenges? Could we raise a team that would really partner with us in ministering to ministry leaders? How would I build a support team when I had never been taught how or what to do? In the eyes of man, it felt like a foolish endeavor. Yet we were clearly called by the Lord to take steps of faith. A handful of faithful friends confirmed the Lord’s guidance on the situation, and Exago technically soft-launched in September of 2005.
Building a support team for a new ministry wasn’t going to be an easy task. In 2006, I began to focus more on building Exago as I left the church plant with their blessing. I searched the web for "support raising help." Of all the results that could have flashed across my screen, “Support Raising Bootcamp” stood out. At the time, I had never heard of it, so I had little understanding about what I was signing up for.
Steve Shadrach led the event, and the wealth of information was a blessing, if not somewhat overwhelming. There was more to learn than I could immediately commit to memory. Yet, I began to apply some of the things I had gleaned, and slowly God began to build a wonderful team of people that supported my transition from church planting to building Exago.
I will be the first to tell you that I made several mistakes along the way, but through primarily trusting in the Lord and applying biblical principles with intensive hard work - Exago Ministries became fully funded. Freedom at last! The ability to fully focus on the calling of God in ministering to ministry leaders was like sweet oxygen. Running full speed ahead, I would not take it for granted.
God blessed Exago’s vision and allowed it to minister to ministry workers in many capacities - from local coffee shops to large conferences to local and national networks, etc. - He has been good to lead us every step of the way! For many years, ministry leaders have regularly sent a note or somehow reached out to say variations of, “Thanks for seeing me. Thanks for ministering to me. No one else does that. I think I’m probably still in ministry because of how Exago served me.”
Furthermore, a great blessing erupted as Exago began to offer holistic coaching, and it continues to this day. Yet... that’s not the end.
Over time, a unique thing began to happen with increasing regularity. Ministry leaders started noticing something different about Exago. In various ways, leaders would ask for help with their finances, such as pulling me into a stairwell to quietly ask questions where no one else could hear their embarrassment about struggling with money. They knew I wasn’t independently wealthy, and that I wasn’t driven by finances. How was I able to fully focus on my ministry job and feed my family without going into debt or having to work a side hustle?
I knew exactly how they felt, as I clearly remembered the sense of crisis that came with not having the proper finances to fund our family and ministry. I began to resource them and often direct them towards Support Raising Solutions. But this just led to an influx of even more questions from all types of Great Commission-focused leaders who weren't just wanting a book or a training event, but also wanting to be personally coached - while in their support raising process as they built their own prayer and financial support team. At this point, Exago began to additionally offer support-raising coaching. I reconnected with Steve Shadrach for advice. Steve wisely pointed out that ministry leaders might have many needs which can contribute to turnover... but finances are often their MOST FELT need.
In 2014, Steve and Support Raising Solutions invited myself and Exago to formally partner with them. Though both organizations maintain autonomy, God has used the partnership to bless ministry leaders globally. Together, we have led numerous SRS Bootcamps, trained organizations to offer their own in-house training, and affected hundreds if not thousands of global ministries and their leaders in a multitude of ways. I also helped birthe and host the very popular “SRS Podcast.” At the time of writing, the podcast averages around 5,000 monthly downloads from ministry leaders across the globe.
Meanwhile, Exago continues to grow in its ability to serve ministry leaders, even beyond the partnership with SRS:
In a unique way, Exagos ability to equip ministry leaders to “survive and thrive,” allows the ministry to be indirectly active in everything from orphan care, fighting human trafficking, Bible translation, etc., because God allows us to equip the leaders championing those great works for the sake of the gospel!
Though God saw fit to use Marque and I as the ministry originators, it has never been - and will never be - about us. Exago has an incredible and growing team of partners and gifted staff, and we are excited to see what God is going to do in Act IV!
by: John Nolan
Too many ministry leaders have a spiritually sound but often half-baked "let go and let God” approach to their finances that causes personal and ministerial financial hardship. Could it be that even if you dislike math or accounting, God wants you to take personal responsibility for the finances He has put in front of you? We don't get into ministry for the money - but what does it look like to have a healthy financial plan? God calls us to be good stewards with the finances we have. But where to start?
“The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.”
Proverbs 21:5 (NIV)
Proverbs 21:5 hits the nail on the head. There are no shortcuts when it comes to stewarding your finances well. A diligent financial plan consists of three main ingredients: clear and achievable goals, monitoring your cash flow through budgeting, and a healthy relationship with money.
Clear and achievable goals are critical to your long-term success with your financial plan. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Setting small goals to give yourself consistent wins will encourage you on the path of financial freedom. Your first goal may be to save $1,000 as an emergency fund or pay off the first of three credit cards. Break these goals down into small milestones and celebrate when you’ve accomplished one.
A monthly budget is a powerful tool in monitoring your cash flow. It allows you to tell your money where to go. Sticking to a budget allows you to cut down on expenses and put that income toward savings and paying off debt. Looking at financial coaching services like Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University Course, individuals who take control of their finances through following their budgeting and planning model save an average of almost $400 in their first month. That’s $400 towards being debt-free, towards your savings, or towards your retirement. There are many high-quality free budgeting software tools that you can use to track your monthly budget – I would give Intuit’s “Mint” budgeting tool a try, or even Dave Ramsey’s course.
The final and most important key to a financial plan is ensuring that you have a healthy relationship with money. Everyone has a relationship with money; the question is whether or not it’s a healthy one. Our money relationship is established as children, in the home environment where we grew up. Many people’s relationship with money can be summed up with a feeling that there is never enough, or that it’s a limited resource that needs to be scavenged. Others may spend frivolously to reduce stress or feel that money has always and will continue to be there to spend freely. You may have a fearful relationship with money, where you hate looking at your bank account. These are unhealthy relationships with money that lead to your money controlling you.
A healthy relationship with money is a Kingdom money mindset, where you understand that your money isn’t actually yours. It’s God’s. Where you steward God’s money well, keep track of it, be generous with some of it, and save the rest toward your children’s legacy and your retirement. One of the keys to unlocking this understanding is tithing. By giving back to God what belongs to Him, we turn our promise of Stewardship into Action. This is the only way that I have found to actively change your relationship with money into that of a Kingdom money mindset. The amount to tithe is beyond the scope of this article, and I’ll leave that to you to bring to God. If you aren’t tithing, then start now with something, even if it’s $50 a month.
“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”
Matthew 25:21 (NIV)
By applying these principles that we discussed and living them, you will see a change in your finances. Make no mistake, you will have to put in the work. But in doing the work, you’re being faithful with what God has given you, which leads to Him blessing you with more. This may sound like a cliché to you, but it’s true. By being a good steward with God’s blessings, you will find that money comes in to your bank account, rather than out. You may even be pleasantly surprised by how much comes in. This is God responding to your stewardship. So, are you ready to start?
John Nolan is an accounting and finance specialist in the Bay Area, California. His passion is working with pastors and their staff to thrive financially and live out biblical principles of financial stewardship. In his free time, he enjoys hiking around the Bay Area.
1 Cruz, Rachel. “Money Mindset.” Ramseyplus, 2021, www.ramseyplus.com/learn/jump-start/money-mindset.
By Tonya Stanfield
The pandemic of 2020 forced the entire world to slow down. I’m a missionary in South Africa, and our hard lockdown was a 35-day, military-enforced command: STAY INSIDE. There were no walks, no outdoor exercise, and lots of unhappy dogs. After that, we were only allowed outside for exercise hours. Life ground to a halt for months. I gardened and listened to podcasts. My son learned to cook. My daughter led our daily workouts. We built (what we believe to be) the world’s largest blanket fort! I even created an interactive Good Friday service in our house.
I also had time to take more notes of my inner life as well. There was nothing to distract me from emotions, desires, and fears that might have popped up for a moment and floated away otherwise. But, because the world slowed down, I not only noticed but had time to take these ‘noticings’ to God in prayer. I began to do so regularly throughout my day.
There’s a book called Three Mile an Hour God. I’ve honestly never read it. I just love the title! Three miles per hour is the average pace of a man - the average pace at which Jesus would have experienced the world. Outside of a few boat rides, he never went faster. I believe this book encourages us to engage our world and life at a similar pace as Jesus: a formative pace that encourages us to pause, notice, and reflect. A pace that develops eyes that actually see and ears attuned to listen.
Jesus often refers to the Kingdom of God as something small that grows (like the mustard tree- Mk. 4:30-32), or something you have to stay alert and searching for, like a lost coin (Luke 15:8-10). Whatever the parable, it’s clear we have to pay attention for us to find and grow the Kingdom in our own lives and this world. The slow pace of lockdown ceased to be something I was forced into and, rather, became an invitation to live life alert and awake to what I might have sped past before, both in my family and in myself.
After the hard lockdown lifted and the world figured out how to work on Zoom, I maintained my slow, increasingly intentional rhythms. Mornings in the Word. Afternoon coffees with the Prayer of Examen. Prayer walking with my dogs. Family dinners revolving around the Church Calendar. A rhythm of intentional slowness rooted itself in my life, and I saw the fruit: increased self-awareness; increased God-awareness; deeper connection.
John Ortberg once asked Dallas Willard: “How can I help the people at my church grow more?”
Dallas Willard replied: “You must arrange your life so you’re experiencing deep contentment, joy, and confidence in your everyday life with God. The main thing you bring the church is the person you become.”
What counterintuitive gift did this pandemic offer you?
Tonya Stanfield has been a missionary for 20 years. For the past 15, she's called South Africa home with her husband and 2 children. Her focus has encompassed counter-human trafficking, serving marginalized peoples, and training missionaries in justice, peacemaking, and spiritual formation.
By Aaron Babyar
You're a full-time vocational ministry worker, focusing on expanding God's Kingdom for his glory. However, as you have already discovered, God has made you human. You are not Jesus 2.0. What does that mean in relation to work? Most of us have already noticed that we need a full Sabbath day every week (away from all work responsibilities), and if we miss it, things begin to unravel in our lives. Perhaps not all at once, but there is a price to pay. By design, God has not just made us for work, but also for rest.
Consider your needs beyond just a weekly day or two off. Are you allowed, encouraged, or planning to take a vacation this year? Next year? Every year? And if so, are you using that time off? Do you struggle with feelings of guilt or the need to hide during times of relaxation?
Before looking at what's normalized in the world regarding vacation time, take a second to look at Jesus. If you do a deep dive into how Jesus spent his time, he was the master of retreat! Our Savior regularly pulled away from the crowds, often with his disciples or on his own. Though scripture never specifically uses the word vacation, much less Disneyland, it does suggest that busyness was not the most valuable aspect of Ministry for Jesus. Perhaps you don't have the same conviction, but many leaders have derived that it's a positive thing to disengage for short periods from all things formal Ministry related.
So what does that mean for church planters, missionaries, youth workers, etc.?
There are a lot of different opinions regarding vacation time for Ministry workers. Sometimes they aren’t very wise.
Rest and taking a planned break is about far more than scenery and location. Though these things are influencers, rest is primarily about restoring your soul. Connecting with your creator. Connecting with your family. Living life to its fullest! Ministry is work. You might love it, and God has likely called you to it, but that doesn't mean it will not drain you of physical, emotional, and spiritual energy reservoirs which need to be replenished beyond just having a solid prayer life.
You might enjoy doing a shallow dive into some of the cultural norms regarding paid vacation/holiday. There's quite a variety of approaches, but it is broadly safe to say that most people get anywhere from one week to one month of paid vacation/holiday every year. Additionally, most places in the world outside of the USA get another week or two of paid holidays. In many cases, those who are newer to their employment get less time off, but those in more established (or are in senior leadership) positions get more time.
I love the USA, despite all of its challenges. However, one of its problematic ethos regards a ceaseless work ethic that sometimes overwhelms a sober approach to rest. Unfortunately, this seeps into vocational Ministry jobs as well. If you were to do a minimal amount of research on your own, you might see that a lot of paid time off goes unused, despite evidence that people are happier, healthier, and more effective at their jobs when they do use all of their time off. It's certainly a conundrum. And when Ministry workers burn-out, they are more likely to quit or fail… sometimes sadly and/or spectacularly.
Although our ministry is important, rest is vital for our well-being, especially in the eyes of God. It may be difficult to slow down due to expectations and work drive. In order to truly serve God to the best of our abilities, though, there are times when we need to step back and replenish our energy for both his and our benefit.
Questions to ponder:
Task: For more reading regarding your need to rest/refill, check out Leading On Empty
By Dawn Stanford
Ever since I first gave my heart to God at five years old, I’ve been on a journey with Him. Even at that young age, I knew God was with me, and I talked to Him regularly. At age 13, I remember hearing about Lottie Moon, the female missionary to China. That was the first time in my life that I felt a strong stirring to live a life of ministry. During my college years, I took off a semester to attend a Discipleship Training School with YWAM for 6 months. Honestly, I thought that I would go off to be an overseas missionary for the rest of my life. That did not happen. God led me back to finish college and embark on my professional life. Through this, I realized that living a life abandoned to Christ and following Him all my days included my professional life, whether I was in vocational ministry, the business world, a stay-at-home mom, a waitress, or whatever and wherever He called me to serve.
My life mission is to share my faith in Jesus with others and equip them to faithfully and joyfully live their God-given calling as a child of God in His Kingdom. I’ve been able to live that out in a variety of ways. Some of that has been in vocational ministry, but for 19 years of my professional life, it was in the business world. During those years, I specifically asked the Lord to show me how I could minister to the people He brought into my circle of influence. He is the one who empowered me to minister in those places. “Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” Ephesians 3:20 NLT
Where has God placed you? Are you trusting Him to empower you? As a woman, I am so thankful for the many examples in scripture of God-driven women in a season of time that was male-dominated, from Sarah, Esther, and Deborah in the Old Testament to Mary, Pricilla, and Lydia in the New Testament. Jesus turned things upside down in His day where the celebrated were healthy and wealthy Jewish men, but Jesus actively developed relationships with ALL… the sick and the well, the rich and the poor, the Jew and the Gentile, the male and the female! This was a radical shift for women to be acknowledged and invited to join God in ministry. One of my favorite New Testament true stories is in John 7 when Jesus interacts with the woman at the well. The empowering words He speaks to her are life-transforming! John 7:38 says, “Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” Jesus was speaking about the Holy Spirit that would be given to ALL who believe. Women were not left out of this. Women are empowered by the Holy Spirit to use the gifts they have been given for God’s glory.
Ask God to open your eyes to see the opportunities of ministry that are in front of you daily in this season of your life. Then walk in obedience with confidence in God to faithfully take action in that calling. Also, if you sense a stirring from the Lord calling you into something different, have an open heart and mind for Him to move in a way you may have never expected. Always remember that JESUS is our focus. He is the one who does the ministering through willing servants. “We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.” 2 Corinthians 4:7 NLT We are the vessels He chooses to use for His Glory. Join me in seeking ministry opportunities wherever God leads your feet every day and being empowered by Him to shine His light.
Dawn Stanford is a lover of JESUS, people, coffee, coconut, and NAPS! Extroverted, joyful, and driven. She has been married to her Mr. Wonderful, Rodney for almost 27 years, they have two daughters Rebecca (21) and Rachel Joy (18), and two cats Milo & Pablo. Dawn lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
She grew up in a military family and considers herself a “denominational mutt”. Over
the past 25 plus years, Dawn has had a variety of professional experience in the areas of
ministry, recruiting, sales and leadership development.
Dawn has a B.S. in Psychology from John Brown University, is Life Coach Certified, and is currently finishing up a master’s program in Christian Spiritual Formation & Leadership through Friends University.
After 19 years in the business world, God brought Dawn back to vocational ministry in 2020 as the Community & Women’s Pastor at New Heights Church in Fayetteville, AR. Dawn’s passion and mission is to equip others to faithfully & joyfully live their God-given calling.
By Jenn Fortner
Remember Snapchat? Yeah, me neither. What’s the point of TikTok? You could probably ask your 9-year-old. Who is MrBeast? Well, he’s rich… I only know enough to tell you that. I get it, guys. Even if you are a techy millennial with a Tumblr (is that old now?), it’s hard to keep up with all of the changes on the internet. And to know how to best utilize it for support raising – well that’s something in and of itself. That being said, here are 5 important tips that I hope will expand your knowledge on how to use social media for support raising.
1. Have a Social Media Presence, and Start with Facebook Many people start by asking if having a social media presence for their ministry matters. Is having a presence really that beneficial?
The short answer: Yes, it matters.
Like it or not, we spend around 15% of our waking lives on social media at a clip of about 2.5 hours per day. (All of those cute cat videos add up!) If you want to get information out and communicate with your team effectively (and you do, I promise), you should be utilizing social media and thinking through which app (or apps) will help you communicate with the bulk of your growing partnership team.
Where to Start
If you are looking where to start utilizing social media, look no further than social media’s giant behemoth: Facebook! Love it or hate it, Facebook is the most used social media platform in the world. Therefore, if you do not have a Facebook presence dedicated to your ministry, you are probably missing a great opportunity to regularly communicate with your partnership team.
What Type of Community Should I Create on Facebook?
Many people ask what type of community they should set up on Facebook. Most of the time, the answer to that depends on what level of security you need. If you don’t know, consider connecting with your ministry’s leadership and critically thinking through this question before proceeding. If you need tight security, I suggest creating a “Private Group”, and then making sure that the privacy settings are changed to “Hidden”. Don’t skip this step! By hiding your privacy settings on Facebook, your group is unsearchable to outsiders – which is important.
If you are only mildly worried about security, you may still want to use a Private Group and make it “hidden”. And lastly, if you aren’t concerned with security or privacy, and you’ve carefully considered ramifications, go for the Public setting. There are some marketing advantages in allowing your Facebook Group to be completely visible if your security isn’t compromised by doing so. Also for people who aren’t concerned about security, there is the option to set up a Page instead of a Group. Though there are pros and cons on both sides of Group vs. Page, my personal preference is to set up a Group instead of a Page for partnership development purposes.
How To Add People To Your Facebook Group
When setting up a Group on Facebook my advice is not to add everyone you’ve known since the 4th grade to it all at once. Take the slow burn approach – as you add people to your partnership team, also add them to your Group. By doing it this way you build buy-in and potentially increase interaction within the group. If you blanket-add them along with 3,000 of your closest friends before talking with them personally, they will likely have no idea what you are doing, get a little annoyed at notifications, and not know what the group is for (or for that matter that they are even in it).
2. Using Other Social Media Platforms Such as Instagram or TikTok
Should you create a TikTok or Instagram (IG) dedicated to ministry?
The answer to this one relies on your capacity. If you have the bandwidth to maintain another platform with excellence, go for it. Instagram, TikTok, and Youtube are currently some of the most widely used apps (with Facebook towering over them at #1) in the world. Consider adding these to your social media strategy if:
If you feel like you’ll be stretching yourself too thin to maintain another social media platform – skip it altogether and focus on maintaining your Facebook Group and regular newsletters with excellence.
3. Content for Social Media and FrequencyFor content creation, here are some content ideas:
If you are stuck on what to post on social media, try doing some research. Are there other workers in your organization utilizing social media and doing it well? Consider following their ministry accounts and paying attention to what they are posting. What is their engagement with each post? What did they post that you could recreate?
As far as frequency of posting on your Facebook ministry Group / Page, my suggestion is once or twice a week. Any more than that and Group members may feel spammed with notifications, any less and they may forget about you.
4. Social Media DON’TS
5. Social Media Does Not Replace Face to Face
I hope these 5 tips help you in utilizing social media for your ministry! Warning — some of this may have all changed within 6 months if you’re reading this a bit after my posting. Ha!
Jenn Fortner is a seasoned support raising coach with over 10 years of experience. Currently Jenn serves Eurasia Assembly of God World Missionaries and provides guided training and coaching to over 100 missionaries. As a young adult Jenn began to raise her own funds for ministry assignments and quickly realized a heart for not only ministry, but for the people who served as her financial and spiritual team throughout years of ministry. Jenn began a journey of coaching others called to ministry to develop a relational approach to raising their funds, and has professionally coached over 400 missionaries throughout their journey of fundraising. Jenn is the author of Financial Partnership Development: Fundraising Made Relational and www.jennfortner.com, a blog dedicated to support raising challenges. Jenn lives in Springfield Missouri with her husband Zach and their two children, Sloane (4 years old) and Merrick (3).
Jamie Suel from the Center for Mission Mobilization shares on multiple episodes on the MOST IMPORTANT aspects of support raising on this "Spiritually Healthy" series.
Listen to it right here.
I’m currently in South Africa on behalf of Exago, serving missionary workers and leaders. Some I have known for many years, and others are new to me. We are interacting about a large variety of topics related to spreading the gospel, including some of what what practical mobilization does and might look in some unique to SA contexts.
This team continues to do food parcels as some people being serve have absolutely nothing. They are refugees from Zimbabwe, which has 40 years of an incredible amount of murder corruption and destitution. They cross the border seeking a better life, but even then once they are here, it’s tough. For example, these people had a shack...but it recently burned down in an area with 70% unemployment and near 40% HIV positive.
Notably, one lady has had life particularly hard as she is an albino with carcinoma. She just recently just got out of hospital. The lady in red is known as mama Edith. She is a devout believer who helps make sure people get food and also hear about the gospel - and that God loves and cares for them. This is so much more than just “charity” work.
By Aaron Babyar
The following article is in partnership with SRS and was originally published via supportraisingsolutions.org.
“Hey (potential ministry partner), I am excited about my new role with XYZ ministry! I’d love to get together with you soon to share my vision, budget goals, and how God is using this ministry to change lives. Could we maybe grab coffee next Thursday morning?”
You hit send on your well-crafted text and wait for their reply.
Although texting seems to be a preferred method of communication these days, the majority of successful support raisers I have spoken with tend to avoid using texts to set appointments because of a high failure rate. There are a number of reasons for this, including a reality that some people might see the word “finances” or “budget” and quickly dismiss your appointment request without ever replying. When trying to secure an appointment, it is more personal and interactive to do so verbally, whether over the phone or face-to-face. Filling your appointment calendar by shooting out some texts certainly sounds appealing, but unfortunately text messaging in this stage of support raising often doesn’t work so well. You could literally communicate this very message to someone verbally and likely get a better response than sending a text message using the exact same words!
A helpful exercise might be to think of all forms of communication as tools in your toolbox. Not every tool is going to be the best instrument for every job. For instance, it’s unlikely you will ever need a sledgehammer when repairing your computer (though you might feel like you want to use one sometimes)! But if you want to break up concrete, you will want that sledgehammer and not a rubber mallet. When trying to set up an initial appointment, texting seems to act like a sledgehammer being used on the wrong job; however, that doesn’t mean you should never use that tool. Here are at least 3 other occasions when texting might be the right tool for the job.
1. Setting up an “appointment request phone call”
I’ve had times when people simply don’t answer their phone or return calls despite two or three attempts at calling. Maybe I even left a short voicemail or two in which I didn’t mention money, but they still aren’t replying. At this point, my new go-to method is to send a short text like this: “Hey John, this is Aaron Babyar. Sorry I keep missing you. Is there a better time to talk later today? Or perhaps is now a good time to talk?” Some people respond by calling me immediately. Many others eventually reply, which jump starts further communication. Note that I ended my simple text with a question or two. That might be partially why some are compelled to finally respond.
2. Confirming the appointment
I like to send a statement message 12-24 hours before a planned get together. For instance, “Jeff, I’m looking forward to seeing you tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. at Kennedy Coffee.” This serves to help them remember our commitment to meet, and if perchance they have also scheduled something else during that time and accidentally forgotten about me, it also allows them time to rearrange their calendar. Meanwhile, it saves me from drinking coffee all alone, again, because I forgot to confirm…again!
3. Post-invitation follow up confirmation
When someone gives a “maybe” answer to potentially join my team, I’m careful to set a follow-up expectation during the meeting by saying something like, “Great. Sounds like we agree that we can follow up this Saturday. I will be praying for God to lead you and your husband as you process this potential partnership in the gospel.” Meanwhile I want to be praying for them, and I always send a recent newsletter as they are hopefully moving towards making a clearer decision.
Increasingly though, I have begun to send a text the day before our follow-up that looks something like this, “Sarah, thanks again for prayerfully considering joining my support team. We had discussed clarifying your decision by tomorrow. Let’s plan to touch base in the early afternoon.” I’ve had a variety of replies to statements like this: from people who have already decided “no” who text me their decision on the spot, to people who ask if we can wait one more day, to people who have already decided “yes” that respond, “Great. We are in for $150 a month. Talk to you tomorrow, and maybe you can tell us how to set that up.”
Sometimes, sending a text message is the perfect tool for the job. Be sure to know when to use it, when not to, and when to search through your toolbox for a different form of communication.