Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wednesday Topic?

Oops! I thought I had something scheduled for yesterday, but--as you can see--I didn't. I'm sorry about that. Can we just start the discussion today, and then carry on as usual?

Here is one from a reader who is not yet on the mission field, but who is probably headed in that direction. She asks: "We would of course have to raise financial support for part/most of our living expenses. If most of your income is from supporters, how do you decide about spending some of that money on 'wants' or gifts, especially for your kids at Christmas, birthday, etc?"

(If you have a “Tuesday Topic” question, please email it to me at Provide your blog address if you would like to be linked to, or specify if you would like to remain anonymous. Thanks!)


  1. You will most likely have to use some of your personal salary(living expenses) for Christmas gifts and birthday gifts. Most supporters understand that you need to feed and clothe your family, and even to use some of that money for gifts for your family. It's the vacations and retreats to popular locations that we have found that some supporters do not understand.

  2. I have long struggled with this. I find that I put more pressure on myself than any of our supporters do. Everyone that I have talked to expects us to be able to give each other Christmas presents, birthday, etc. We are also invited to a huge number of birthday parties for friends of our kids. Those are the gifts I struggle with how much to spend on. I usually try to stock up while we're on furlough. I say trust the Spirit to lead you. We've spent different amounts different years based on what our kids need. The gift budget evens out in the end.

  3. Like Karen said, our supporters are understanding of our expenses for needs/wants. We've found we do need to be careful about at least talking about our holidays to seemingly "exotic" destinations. Living in Europe, going to Spain (for example) is the equivalent of going to Florida in the US... but some of our supporters don't understand that. At the same time, they also understand that we need a break from our ministry work at times.

  4. Yes, this is something I think everyone struggles with at first. For us, we've really thought through and studied this. And here's the thing, your supporters aren't giving you money. Wait?! What?!! Yeah, your supporters are giving to God. And then, here's the thing, God is giving you what you need for your life! So, you don't have to be looking over your shoulder. It's between you and the Lord. And He is such a good Father, who loves to give His children good gifts! God wants you to take care of your family, to love on them, to give your kids presents and the whole family needs breaks (yes, take those vacations!! You will need them! And they are important!And just like God told us to take a sabbath because He knows we need a break, we need longer times to recup and get ready for the next season of ministry. And like Chrysti said, for us going to the beach in Costa Rica is like going to Lake Michigan for a long weekend in the summer. The cost is the same, there just happens to be palm trees and howler monkeys!) The fact that you are asking this question tells me you are conscientious of spending too much, so I really don't think you need to worry about being extreme. Just do what you would always do, look for deals when you can, and be reasonable.
    Something I don't want my kids to learn from me is stinginess. We don't serve a stingy God by any means!! And I don't want them to see in me that because I was scared to give them gifts.
    In our experience, many of our supporters have been encouraging for us to take breaks, to give our kids the gifts we want to give them, to spend a little more on some special imported food once in a while. They understand that the whole family needs to be in a good place in order to do the work that God has called us to here.

    If you are interested in this more, there is a great book called Funding Your Ministry (here's the Amazon link The author does a good job at helping you work through the theology of support raising (he has a Bible study you work through) and then there are tons!!! of practical tips for the actually support raising process. We have learned a lot and feel like it's a really great approach to fund raising.

    Boy, that was a book!! Hope that helps some! And if you want to chat more, please feel free to get a hold of me. My email is on our blog under the contact page

  5. ditto what Liz says. we've had both positive and negative experiences with churches in this realm. however, for us, at least, our funds are divided into ministry funds, salary, travel, education, etc. we figure if we are using our salary for our family vacation, we really don't have to "agree" with our supporters; if they have a problem or concern that somehow we are violating a Biblical principle in the dispensing of funds and they can biblically confront us on that, we are happy to give them an answer. Something tells me that most who would engage in this sort of "micromanagement" of their missos probably wouldn't appreciate the same sort of examination of their spending habits. No one stands, looking over their shoulder as to how they spend their personal salary - be it pedicures, starbucks coffee, or cruises... Yes, we are accountable to them - but they are also accountable to us: as we are sent as their representatives, on their behalf, are they giving in accordance to God's Word so that our needs are met. A time of rest or of celebration of a family member? A date night with a spouse? Are those needs? I imagine they would say they are important for their own personal families.

    That said, where we live, we don't get to go for vacations - it is too expensive to get away from here. We spend 4 years on the field - all we get are staycations. So we do try and travel somewhere going home.

    We believe we are to be accountable (i.e. able to give a reason for how and why we use those funds) to our churches for how we spend our money - but that doesn't mean they dictate to us what we can and cannot do any more than we can dictate to a church how it should budget its monies.

  6. I love what Liz said! This is such a great topic for discussion, something we all deal with. I try to be wise with my money (by necessity!!!) but I don't want to have a poverty mentality.

    We don't give our kids lots of gifts, but each year at Christmas and for their birthdays we try to get them something nice. My son has an expensive cell phone that he bought last Christmas with our money, his money, and grandparents' gift money. My daughter has 4 or 5 American girl dolls we've bought her through the years. Honestly, I don't feel all that comfortable buying a $100 doll, but she has spent HUNDREDS OF HOURS playing, fixing hair, etc. That is priceless.

    I don't want my kids to later resent the fact that we were in ministry and to feel like they grew up "poor." At the same time, they are aware of our limitations (fewer clothes and gadgets than their affluent cousins have) and seem to be content.

    I think donors can understand those issues.

  7. We treat our support as our income--and budget/save accordingly for all our expenses--ministry and personal (which would include a vacation, gifts, school books, although a vacation would include gifted money saved from Christmas or whatever, just like anyone would save for).

    The support is sent to us for our living, and we spend it before the Lord--as carefully as we would if my husband worked at a paycheck-job--knowing Who we really answer to.

    Joy in Nepal