Otherwise named: I need a theology of asking.
I’ve skinned down to probably the most serious issue I have with fundraising.
For MONEY, of all the unholy things
My troubling thoughts about this are shooting out in myriad directions like a water balloon with multiple holes, so let me try to rein it in.
I don’t want to delve into the system or drawbacks of the independent Baptist method of missionary funding. Basically, for the unacquainted, a missionary family raises their own support to fund their living and ministry in their field of service. They do this by visiting a myriad of other Baptist churches, and some of them start to support that missionary family until they have the necessary amount. That’s the short of it. Individuals may also support them.
And you know, no missionary system is ideal or perfect, so I’m not going to gripe about it. It just is what it is.
And here I am, standing in it. And I need to say, I have issues with asking. I don’t mean emotional, I-feel-uncomfortable, put-me-on-the-psychologist’s-couch type of issues. I mean I have spiritual, theological, deep issues with asking.
I need a theology of asking. I’m writing myself into this, I hope, though I don’t know to what end.
Asking. “Just do it,” my mom would say
I sometimes work as a doula; clients pay me for my services. However, I’m not really comfortable with this “contractual” image between churches and a missionary. Like, are churches paying us for the service of doing missions for them where they can’t? From one angle, you could say that. But I don’t think it’s the image God wants. It’s not a business, a buy/sell relationship.
Let’s look at it another way. Let’s say, Vitaliy and I are called to missions work, and we ask churches/people to help us fulfill our calling. … I don’t like that either. Because missions is a mutual calling to churches and missionaries—maybe better to say, the work of missions is a mutual calling, a group command. And missions—missionaries themselves— arise out of the Spirit’s work in and through the church. For example, God led me into missions through my church. If I weren’t a part of a church, how could I be a missionary? I couldn’t. (I’m sure someone argumentative could think of a way, though.)
So it’s not that “we have a dream,” a calling, a vision, and we want you to come and help us, come be a part. That’s too much emphasis on us and maybe tries to play on uniqueness and who can have the most tantalizing dream/vision/calling to offer.
More accurately, we all have the same dream, the same calling (to evangelize), and our family being devoted to this calling is like one branch shooting out of the group’s calling.
Asking is complicated.
- I don’t want to ask in a way that makes our relationship emphasize the contractual.
- I don’t want to ask in a way that emphasizes you supporting me and my calling, because it’s your calling too, generally, as a Christian, to do missions.
The biggest “ask” problem I have is this: asking like this (and I mean asking for support as a missionary family) is hard because I don’t see much example of it in the Bible. I’m not saying I think it’s sin; it’s just weird and awkward to be living one’s entire life from this position that’s never really pictured in the Bible. In the New Testament, asking of God for our needs is emphasized. Not asking of others. Not “offering” them the “opportunity” to be involved. So you see why it’s hard? On the one hand, I pore over my Bible, and I read over and over to ask of God.
I browsed the NT usages of ask, asked, asking, asks. And it was convicting to me how much I really need to be asking of God for fundraising. And He convicted me of my sins of distrust, disappointment, and discontent. Because how can I be rightly asking of God if I’m disappointed, distrustful, and discontent with Him? I can’t. And if He’s the One I’m to be asking of, then I need to be trusting and thankful towards Him. Otherwise, I’m not asking in the right way, and I’ve cut off myself from the very One I’m to be asking of.
So, this is where I’ve come so far.
The how, why, where of asking people . . . I’m still searching.