The Final Month: Day Seventeen

Posted: July 18, 2012 in The Final Month

I realize that in the last seven or so weeks, I’ve not exactly been the clearest in terms of what this whole “support” thing is, so I’d like to flesh out some thoughts and shed some light on what it means for me to be raising support, looking for support, etc. I’m doing this now because there’s been an increase in interest and this will allow me to answer questions that are coming from multiple sources. I hope you find this informative.

Support-raising is the process by which I am building a network of churches, businesses, organizations, and individuals who will commit to sending monthly support on a regular basis to be dispersed to me as a salary through Life Journey Church in its formative years. This is necessary as a church planter so that I can support my family and pay the bills while establishing the plant. As a missionary/planter, my optimal goal would be to arrive in Crozet, Virginia knowing that my next couple years of planting/pastoring are going to be funded through this support network. Later down the road this plant may be capable of paying my salary, but as Life Journey Church has not yet been launched, LJC is not currently in the position to support the salaries of myself and Walt, the other planter/elder.

All of the support from my network will be going to me, as opposed to being split between Walt and me. As Walt has been in position for this past year doing all of the pre-launch legwork, his network is in place and responsible for his funding. Though we certainly welcome single-time gifts and periodic donations, ideally we’re seeking commitment on a monthly basis. The reason for this is simple- it will give me a realistic idea of where I’m at in terms of income/out-go. The secondary reason is that it greatly simplifies the support process. Let me explain that a bit…

All of the monthly support that comes my way will be given directly to Life Journey Church- we do this to keep all of the finances above the table, as well as for tax deduction purposes. There’s an additional level, though, as LJC in turn submits all income/offering to our accounting agency within the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia. Let’s say for example that my entire support network has committed to a total of $500 per month. As these checks come into LJC and then submitted by us to CMS prior to the 10th of each month, CMS (our accounting agency) will write me a check for $250 on the 15th of the month, as well as an identical check on the 30th. Therefore we need to know as soon as possible my total monthly support. Obviously there is some fluxuation as some people have committed to 12 months, some to 24, etc. etc. Some individuals have committed to twenty dollars a month, others up to four hundred! Donations not of a monthly variety can be sent straight to me, or through LJC for tax purposes.

Though I’m not an expert at the whole fundraising aspect of church planting, I would have to say I’ve been fairly unaggressive in my endeavors at raising support. Though obviously a little more proactive when dealing with churches as a whole, I’ve been more or less passive when dealing with individuals. There are several reasons for this. For starters, though there is a genuine need for more funding, I most definitely do not want to pressure anyone into any sort of commitment that they do not feel led by God to make. As Paul told the Corinthians, God loves a cheerful giver. I have full confidence that as the Holy Spirit moves, individuals will feel connected to the vision of Life Journey Church and feel compelled to help. I’ve already seen this, and it’s a beautiful thing. I would much rather have 80% support from excited and cheerful supporters than 100% from people who feel as though their arms were twisted.

Along those same lines, I’ve been passive for concern that “coerced” support will invariably lead to a decrease of giving to the supporters’ own home church. What I would hate to happen is to gain a supporter whose attitude becomes “well, I feel obligated to help Richard, and the only way I’m doing that is by redirecting my offering from my home church over to him instead.” For obvious reasons, this isn’t a very desirable course of action. Though I’m convinced that where and how you give is between you and God, I do know that no giving should be done because one feels forced.

So then the question becomes this- what happens if August 1st rolls around and support is still at 53%? Well, thankfully things are progressing quite positively with the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia. If they give me approval at our August 22nd meeting, their monthly contribution will bump me up to around 64%. So even if no other friends, churches, or organizations hop onboard, 64% is much, much better for me than 1%. I will continue to try building my network even after the move, and if it looks as though the funding is not going to improve, I will divert my energy into looking for a second job. Part-time, preferably. Full-time, if need be. Thankfully my military experience and graduate degrees will open up some doors. Lest you think that I’m simply trying to build a nice bank account without having to work for it, do know that even at 100% support I’ll be living under a much tighter budget than I currently do. I didn’t decide to pursue this venue because it was a “promotion.” It was never about becoming a pastor…it’s been able being able to pastor.

So that’s where I’m at. Am I looking for more churches and individuals to make a one to three-year commitment to Life Journey Church? Absolutely. Is the need real? You bet. Will the kingdom of God fail if you don’t give? Of course not. So if this is something that interests you, pray about it. If you have more questions, feel free to ask. Above all, pray for God’s will to be done and His glory maximized! Tomorrow, Lord willing, I will flesh out the vision and strategy of Life Journey Church- pray I make time to do this. Additionally, I would love for you to begin praying over the moving sale we’re having this week. God truly blessed our last venture and we’d love to see a repeat blessing!

 

Soli Deo Gloria

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Comments
  1. […] And so that’s the extremely simplified version. Now and continuing after our launch, we will be meeting weekly as a church family and we’ll be meeting during the week in our community groups. Walt and I are sharing the leadership together as friends, brothers in Christ, and elders who have been equipped and called by God to birth this vision of a community of Christ-followers dedicated to spreading the fame of God. Please, please continue to pray for us not only this week but faithfully up to and beyond our launch. Without the powerful moving of the Holy Spirit, we’re simply spinning our wheels. And if you’d like to invest personally into this vision, we’d certainly love to add you to our support network! […]

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