This may sound strange, but the reality of it hit me recently.
For the whole of our married lives…almost 25 years…we have worked with or for churches. For 17 years of those years, Liz and I have been in ministry roles that have required us to raise financial support to provide for our family and do the work we’ve been doing.
If you’re not familiar with this, it basically means that a number of people make a monthly financial commitment to the various ministries that we have been involved with.
A quick history.
During our first 8 years of marriage we were working as campus pastors in Albany and Ithaca, NY. While in Albany we worked other jobs as well. I worked for 5 years in a grocery store, and Liz worked as a general music teacher among other things. When we moved to Ithaca, lived on support for the first 10 years.
And although we did this for 15 years, we didn’t have much of a clue what we were doing as far as raising financial support. We didn’t have a lot of coaching, or encouragement (although the family member who told Liz to “kick me out of the house and make me get a real job,” was an extreme example.) More importantly, we didn’t have a good theology of support raising.
In 1999, we shifted our focus from campus ministry at Cornell to planting a church in Ithaca. And for the first five years many of the people who supported us while we were doing campus ministry continued to support us while we got the local church up and off the ground.
After a few years, the church began to supplement our income a bit, and around 2004, we contacted all of our supporters to thank them, and let them know we no longer needed to raise monthly support as the church was paying us full-time.
So for the first time in 14 years of marriage we had a ‘normal’ income. In my head, I was never going to have to do support raising again. Thank God!
Of course, 8 years later we found ourselves heading to Dublin, Ireland and once again raising support.
While we were convinced that this was what God was calling us to do, I was not excited about support raising again. (Dreading would probably be the best way to describe it.) But here we are. We’re three years in to this latest round of support raising and thankfully we have had, 1) better coaching, 2) better resources (specifically two great books), and most importantly 3) a better theology of support raising…thanks in large part to those two books.
Recently while I was out on a run, I realised that there are aspects to living on ministry support that I actually love (no, really). But at the same time, there are things about it, that I don’t enjoy much at all.
So I thought about writing two blog posts. One about what I love, and one about what I don’t love about support raising. But as I got into it, it quickly grew beyond a reasonable length. What I decided to do over the next few weeks is share what we have experienced as good…and not so good when it comes to living on ministry support.
The first one will be up next week.