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Ah, support raising. We are about to embark on the journey of raising financial support, although the system we are part of allows the process to be fairly smooth and relaxed (and quite short). To be honest, I’m looking forward to seeing how it all works out, since it’s a totally new way of approaching support raising for me.

Recently, I attended a seminar about the development of relationships with supporting churches. During the talk, the main speaker contrasted our mission agency’s system of raising support with a typical “American” support system.

In the first system, a missionary is fully responsible for asking churches and individuals to support them. In the second, the missionaries work hand in hand with their mission agency (which works closely with the churches within the entire denomination) to raise support together as a team. The following chart illustrates some of the differences:

Support system chart

Three things strike me about the chart. First, there is no possibility of the
missionary not being sent to the field due to a “failure” to raise enough funds. With my former agency, I had a two-year time limit to raise the necessary funds. While I am thankful I was able to do it in relatively “short” time (about ten or eleven months), I often wondered if there were people who were not able to raise the funds. Second, I noticed that the length of raising support is much shorter: about six months as opposed to one or two years. Third, the burden placed on missionaries to raise funds is greatly relieved since the process is seen as a team effort.

As someone who has worked in the individual support raising system, I found the comparison in methods to be extremely thought-provoking. Our missions director was never directly critical of American mission agencies but made it very clear that we are steering away from what is perceived to be an overly individualistic model.  I had never consciously considered that the “American” system of support raising is reflective of our highly individualistic culture. Germans are also individualistic, but I am finding that they are taken aback (and shocked) at the way American mission agencies carry out support raising. Frankly, I’ve never known another way of doing things and find the German way to be quite refreshing.

Here are my two cents about this topic: As the value of the dollar continues to stay low to the Japanese Yen, American mission agencies ought to rethink their existing systems of support raising. Also, in light of the tragedy in Tohoku, the need for missionaries to be on the field ASAP and not one or two years from now is more important than ever. I find that the current “individualistic” support raising process may prevent many from pursuing a call to Japan. I wonder if more people would come to Japan if American agencies were to adopt a less individualistic system.  If anyone reading this has any thoughts to share, please send an email or a comment our way.

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