How to Raise a Support Partnership Team

The Welcome Trend
People of all ages are following a vision for ministry and are spending their savings, vacations, and sometimes more, to meet critical needs outside the church. The ministries that spark these visions vary widely: from the inner city to overseas. Some require special skills, some can be done in a few weeks, others could take a lifetime. The ministries differ, and so do the workers. But they all have one thing in common—the workers need prayer and financial support from those who stay home.

Frequently someone, from grandchildren to fellow missionaries, asks me for ideas on how to raise the support team they need. Here’s what I say:

The Advice
“The same God who prepared you to get involved in this ministry has also prepared people to support you through prayer and gifts. Ask God to lead you to meet these prepared people. Then be ready to share your vision with them.”

Friend RaisingThe Simple Outline
A simple outline and one clear, plain story to paint a picture can cast a strong vision. I usually advise the worker to simply answer the following questions and illustrate with a little story:

  1. Need: What is the deepest need wherever it is that you are going to work?
  2. Vision: What makes you the perfect person to help meet this need?
  3. Obstacles: What are the obstacles that stand in your way of meeting the need?
  4. Action: What do you want your audience or friend to do?

Here’s an effective three-minute example that can be adapted to any support-raising scenario:

The Need
Country X has very few Christians and almost none of the women can read, write, or do simple arithmetic. Some of those that can read, run small businesses from their homes. Their families prosper in comparison to the families of women who are illiterate.
(I heard of Lita, mother of four who tried to run a small store from her home. The business failed within a month because the merchants who sold her the goods cheated her, she couldn’t read the simple instructions that came with the items she sold, and she had no way of keeping records except in her head.)
There is a deep need, therefore, for a teaching ministry among illiterate women, coupled, of course, with friendship evangelism through God’s Word.

The Vision
I am an experienced schoolteacher and, through an outreach ministry of my home church, have worked for years with immigrant women who needed to learn English. I loved coaching and teaching them, and have led many women to Jesus. As a schoolteacher, I enjoyed a good salary and pleasant working conditions. My life was great, but as I prayed, I felt I could do more to advance God’s Kingdom if I worked in an area of greater need. So I quit my job, sold my furniture, gave up my apartment lease, and am now ready to leave. I will be working under the direction of mission agency X which will keep me accountable, orient me to the local culture, and guide me as I improve my language skills.

The Obstacles
Satan opposes Christ’s Kingdom and is certain to counterattack. Just as David had thirty mighty fighting men as his close friends, so I need thirty men, women and children in my prayer protection team to pray for me daily, informed by my regular emailed updates.
I also need $X to cover travel, as well as financial partners who will commit to sending enough money each month to cover my personal and ministry expenses, which will be about $X.
I long to go right now and help hundreds of women like Lita learn the skills she needs to provide for her family. Unfortunately, neither the prayer protection team nor the financial partnerships are yet complete. These are the only obstacles to my going.

The Action
Please consider joining me in this critical, Kingdom-building ministry by becoming part of my prayer protection team, or one of my financial partners, or both.
(In the rack in front of you is a small envelope, please take it out and look at it now. Please check the appropriate boxes on the envelope, fill in your contact information and drop it into the offering plate. Or, better yet, hand it to me some time later.)
I’m ready to answer any questions you may have.

The Adaptation
A simple three-minute speech like this covers everything a potential partner needs to know. The example was in the setting of a speech to a group, but can, of course, be used in a one-on-one conversation as well.
By dropping the story about Lita and the references to the envelope, (both in parentheses) the whole presentation is just over two minutes long. It is what writer’s call an “elevator pitch” where the writer presents the idea for an article to an editor while riding in an elevator.

You may not need this advice personally, but you may know someone who does. Feel free to forward it to them.