“God’s work done God’s way will not lack supply.” – Dr. A. R. Bernard
I confess. I struggle with believing this.
Not the overarching idea of it. I believe in Jehovah Jireh after all, the God who provides. I preach from the same Bible prosperity preachers espouse, and encourage myself in Jesus’ assurance that our heavenly Father won’t give us a stone when we ask for bread.
Still, I struggle to reconcile all that with the realities of “lack” on children and youth in my New York, where one in three kids live in poverty. Poor children confront disadvantages, for no choice of their own, that conspire against them everyday and too often perpetuate a vicious cycle of lack for generations.
God’s Work. Loving poor children and youth in Jesus’ name seems from any reasonable understanding of Luke 4, Matthew 25, and 2,000 Biblical references to the poor to be at the center of God’s work — especially when they’re orphaned or fatherless or immigrants or otherwise marginalized, as so many urban children and youth are. Why then do the ministries that serve them chronically lack supply?
God’s Way. The flip answer is that the Church (big C) isn’t engaging God’s work in “God’s way.” Collectively, the Western Church stewards our resources in ways that prioritize programs over people, buildings over mission, institutions over communities, consumption over investment, and events over relationships.
A more nuanced answer shares responsibility. As a group, whether because of age or inexperience or lifestyle preferences, youth workers can be a financially undisciplined lot. (“What’s a budget?” “Keep a receipt?” “Savings don’t just happen at altar calls?”) And for those of us on the front lines working with poor children and families, we often expend all our time and energy on direct services rather than empowering others, including people of means, to join us on mission.
God’s Supply? In 25 years of urban youth ministry, I’ve met very few “fully funded” urban youth ministers. More typically, we’re self-funded if we’re funded at all, meaning our day jobs subsidize any out-of-pocket youth ministry expenses. Most “full-time” urban youth workers draw our primary income from outside our churches, through para-church groups, community non-profits, recreation centers, or schools. Vocational inner city, church-based youth pastors are especially scarce, and often they work for large or mega-ministries that require them to juggle non-youth ministry tasks to justify their salaries. Since 2008, the apparent lack has even affected suburban youth ministries, where salaries and hours are being slashed. (See Group magazine’s 2012 Salary Survey.)
Another Perspective. This week, a friend referred me to the “Eight Full-Funding Essentials (That We Too Easily Neglect)” ministry fundraising workshop by the development gurus at Navigators and Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ). The title alone peaked my interest. Cru practically invented this model of support raising, and have funded tens of thousands of full-time missionaries using it for decades. Many suburban campus and para-church youth ministries like Young Life and others have thrived using it for decades.
Does the method they describe translate for urban youth ministry? What do you think? Listen for yourself, download the slides, and share any thoughts in the comments below.
Eight Full-Funding Essentials (That We Too Easily Neglect)
Presented by Scott Morton, The Navigators, and Ellis Goldstein, Campus Crusade for Christ, International [Via]
January 27, 2011
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