Five Essential Anchors for MPD

This article was originally published for Support Raising Solutions by Ellis Goldstein.

My father was a ship fitter at the US’s first Naval Shipyard, that included everything for the fabrication and repairs for our country’s fleet of ships. At its height during World War II, 40,000 people worked there. During that time they built 53 ships and repaired 574. While I never got to see the complexity of what my father did at work, I did see his creativity and his amazing abilities at home. He could make or fix anything. He could visualize, draw what he envisioned and then craft it. Later in life he left the Navy Yard, went into business as a carpenter and applied his skills to fabricating things out of wood. I love saying my father was a Jewish carpenter!

Building a battleship is complicated–improperly assembling the steel components can have huge consequences. During WWII, millions of lives were at stake. Huge errors were not only a cost overrun, it could result in life or death.

Just as not properly assembling the steel components of a ship have dire consequences, so does not building and fitting MPD into the right place in your organization.

1. Build the Spiritual Nature of MPD Deep into Your Organization’s DNA

Jesus does not separate the Great Commission from the goal of his disciples to be funded for the mission. From the beginning He made it a point to train the disciples to trust God to provide for them (Luke 8:1-4–provision for Jesus and the disciples, Matthew 10:1-15–sending of the 12 and Luke 10:1-7–sending of the 72). Jesus understood that trusting God for His provision was more about the disciples’ relationship with God than it was about the provision.

Paul taught how his raising of funds was fundamentally important for the giver. In his message to his ministry partners, the Philippians, Paul says in 4:10-14 that he rejoiced in the Lord that they renewed their concern for him. He was grateful for their giving, but more than that, he knew how important it was in their relationship with God that they gave. As a mentor taught me, “the giver needs to give far more than any need or person needs to receive.”

For an organization that depends upon its workers to raise their support, it is essential for the spiritual health of its workers, that their leadership place a high priority upon the spiritual nature of raising support for its workers.

2. Build Capacity

As the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard ramped up its capacity to build and repair ships for WWII, we also need to be in a war time mode as we build MPD capacity for our organizations. Some years ago, I spent a half day with the aviation students from Moody teaching them about raising support. I asked a young woman about her plans following graduation. After she told me about which mission agency she was going with, I asked her what type of MPD training they would give her. Her answer should not have surprised me, “None.” They expected her to go it alone without training to raise her support. How could something so important to the spiritual survival of their missionaries and for the mission, be treated so lightly?

Cru’s missionary staff raises 80% of Cru’s funding. That could not happen without a focus to build the capacity to train the staff in MPD.

To build MPD capacity, these key elements are vital for your organization to grow:

  • There must be a resolute commitment to training your staff members in MPD.
  • Develop your own training or become a member of the SRS network and use their training.
  • Make a commitment that every staff member without exception must be trained in how to raise support.
  • Build a team of highly skilled MPD coaches. Create ongoing training for your coaches.
  • Coaches must live on support. Those who don’t raise support (or raised support in the past) are not in the best position to coach supported staff. It would be akin to someone who says, “I’ve read about heart surgery. I can operate on you.” Not a good idea.
  • MPD leaders must cast a vision within their organization that the MPD mission is for each staff member to mobilize a team of ministry partners to be involved in the Great Commission through their prayers and generosity. 
  • Fully funded staff members, committed to the fulfillment of the Great Commission must be MPD leaders’ North Star.  

There is the temptation to say we cannot afford to take missionaries off of the field to be MPD coaches. That is a false dichotomy. It isn’t an either/or argument. Building your team of MPD coaches will ensure your ability to grow your mission force. We have full time and part-time (split between the field and coaching) coaches. A number of mothers, who actively raise support, are some of our best coaches. If MPD is critical to the mission, then building a team of MPD trainers and coaches is essential for the mission to succeed.

3. Build Trust

A ministry’s leadership must be able to trust those who lead MPD. An MPD leader cannot demand his/her position in the ministry. It must be earned. Which was why my first priority as Cru’s first National MPD Director was to forge relationships and trust with our ministry leaders because serious relational damage had previously occurred.  

4. Build a Track Record

In 1981 Jim, our Area Director for New England, asked me to leave my ministry at Brown University to help our staff to become fully funded. Many of them struggled with their support. As Jim led us to refuse to allow the stony spiritual ground in New England to keep us from gaining ground for the kingdom, I refused to allow unbelief in God’s ability to provide. Little by little the staff grew in their ability to raise their support. That success laid a foundation for when I was asked to become the national MPD director.

From those early years, we continued to build a track record of success in MPD and Cru leadership took notice.

5. Build MPD’s Fit into Your organization

As your organization grows, so does the challenge of where MPD fits into the organizational structure. Does it fit under operations, advancement, staff development, donation services, financial administration or mobilization? It does have touch points with each of these.

In 1981 Cru had very few MPD coaches and a poor MPD organizational structure where the coaches’ jobs included financial administration and operations and had a weak reporting relationship to the National Administrator. 

Cru’s Campus Ministry made a game changing paradigm shift in its organizational structure in the 90’s where MPD would report through Leadership Development/Human Resources. MPD is more than mastering the skills needed to raise money, it also involves the spiritual, emotional and personal development of the missionary. We think we found the sweet spot for where MPD fits in a missions organization.

As you build your MPD coaching capacity, make fully funded staff members, committed to the fulfillment of the Great Commission your North Star.

This article is submitted by Jessica Wood of Support Raising Solutions.  Support Raising Solutions is a Missio Nexus member.  Member organizations can provide content to the Missio Nexus website. See how by clicking here.

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