At first, the words were faint, harmlessly percolating in my mind, but a question soon formed and draped over my shoulders like a yoke, “Did I prepare him for this?”. Foot on brake, not yet ready to drive away, I gazed with yearning through my car window at the back of my oldest boy while his huge frame eagerly pranced through the quad to the entrance of his college dormitory. My wife, LeNair, knew my thoughts and reassured me as I watched Ryan disappear around the corner. Questions still echoed in my head, “Did I prepare him for this?”, “Did I do my part?” and, “Did I lead Ryan well and prepare him for what’s ahead?”.
As a leader at my ministry home, I feel that same twinge of loving concern when fledging ministers are ushered into the arena of full-time ministry. I ask, “Who prepared them for this?”, “Were they led well?”, and “Are they ready for what lies ahead?”
Though many segments of each ministry prospect’s story are unique and precious, certain beats of the narrative ring familiar. Boy or Girl meets Christ and fall in love. Now, willing to “forsake all” they decide to marry by unifying their life and future with the work of the Lord.
Typically, when new candidates, pregnant with possibility, start to “show” promising ministry potential they are promoted quickly from cordial introductions to whirlwind courtship to holy matrimony. Often these candidates are under the impression that training alone will fulfill their spiritual, emotional, social, and, of course, financial needs. Subsequently, if plans fail to turn out as expected, the training is condemned and even God’s ability to speak comes into question.
I’m no prophet, but as a trainer in the Ministry of Partnership Development (MPD), I can tell a lot about a fundraising candidate by looking at one thing: readiness, their personal state of preparation. Readiness not only tells me the initial strength of the candidate’s call but whether or not they’ve been cared for well enough to answer that call. As leaders, the ones that understand the challenges of this unique endeavor, it’s on us to examine the essential stores of commitment, attitude, skills, and beliefs, as well as other resources necessary for the journey toward long term, fully funded ministry.
A good friend once lamented as he witnessed multiple ministry “marriages” fail, “They’re sending their best ministers!”. “Yes,” I retorted, “but they’re not sending their best-prepared.” Many ministers start off well, but eventually end up wounded and separated from their call, questioning God’s faithfulness and their own judgment let alone their “marriage” to ministry because they simply weren’t ready.
Similar to a concerned parent or marriage counselor, we must look beyond the now, past the momentary class or training by peering intently through the looking glass of readiness at what constitutes a fully-funded lifestyle in our respective ministries. No matter how gifted candidates are spiritually, without readiness, the building block of longevity, their progress toward full funding could be stifled, stunted or even altogether stopped.
Three purposes for pre-training readiness.
– Pre-training readiness assesses for the long game. Readiness, provided with the aim of helping candidates enhance their relationship to MPD prior to training, will give them a greater chance of enjoying a stable, fully funded, long term ministry.
-Pre-training readiness sets aside the premature. Personally, I’d rather mobilize one missionary with the ability to raise enough funding for ten years of labor than ten missionaries with the ability to raise enough funding for only one. God’s not in such a rush, that the campus, community, or culture that’s waiting for engagement by God’s people can’t wait another week, month, or season for a fully funded laborer to arrive.
–Pre-training readiness aligns the candidate’s expectations, beliefs, values, and goals. Pre-training readiness as a standard is intended to help the candidate have serious conversations and evaluate the foundation from which to launch into the MPD lifestyle.
READINESS IS A GIFT.
The raised hand of availability pales in comparison to a lifted life of readiness. Whether you use internships, workshops, enhanced discipleship, assessments, evaluations, or interviews, make sure your candidates qualify for more than a class or training but can successfully demonstrate that they’re ready to engage the lifestyle of MPD. When done with an intent to prepare candidates for God-honoring, fully-funded ministry, a pre-training readiness process is well worth the time and effort.
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.