Looking back at my personal history of starting new things versus finishing those same things, I am absolutely convinced it is part of our innate human nature to receive greater enjoyment from the excitement of birthing new things. Whether it’s the “honeymoon” phase of a marriage, the exhilaration of a baby being born, or the nervous energy that accompanies starting a new job—we can probably all relate to the unbridled optimism of starting something new.
The same holds true of the birth of an organization: when God gives a clear vision to a leader or group of leaders to launch a ministry or an organization, sights are set high, the atmosphere is abuzz with excitement, creativity is flowing, energy seems to be boundless, and imagination exudes from everyone involved.
Then, something happens…something that is completely unintentional, mostly unexpected, but almost universally experienced. Organizational drift begins to set in over time, which may result in a “just get-by” mentality from organizational leaders, having to cut back on projects that are really producing, or a waning desire to take new ground.
These signs in a sending organization point to a drift from vision-driven to budget-driven, and the need for nothing short of an organizational resurrection.
“Culture Eats Strategy”
Peter Drucker, known as the “Founder of Modern Management” said decades ago, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”
If you are experiencing unhealth in the MPD of your ministry or organization, a closer examination will likely reveal that the issue really is cultural in nature—and it’s worse than you first thought. You may begin to notice that exceptions to the rule have become the new organizational norms, leadership is disconnected from the financial struggles of recently on-boarded staff, consistent underperformance in this area has become simply acceptable, and Great Commission workers have become silently discouraged—all of which has resulted in called and anointed support raisers leaving the organization disillusioned and demotivated.
Looking for a solution, you will likely find policies to support the financial health of your organization are either nonexistent, not clearly stated, or not enforced. Resources designated to advance this area of ministry have not been allocated, and biblical paradigms of support raising (asking individuals) are not globally-adopted. Sadly, you may come to realize Ministry Partnership Development is an area of your organization that is simply not championed.
Raising the Dead
Hudson Taylor, founder of the China Inland Mission, over a century ago weighed in on just such a seemingly insurmountable situation:
“There are three stages to every great work of God; first it is impossible, then it is difficult, then it is done.”
Whether it is literally “raising the dead” or breathing new life into an organization or ministry, resurrection truly is God’s work. Trust the Life-giver as you approach this seemingly insurmountable situation. Recreating culture requires rooting out deep-seated issues and takes patience and a multi-faceted approach.
Where Do We Start?
Just like any illness, the right diagnosis precedes the right treatment plan. Regardless of your level of leadership in your ministry or organization, you could be the catalyst God uses to bring healing to this area that has “flatlined.” Think about it–you are the one who is clearly identifying the problem and seeking steps to begin addressing the issues.
Here are a few to consider:
Start at the “top”—enlist Executive Leadership.
A few years ago, I was the Student Government Sponsor for our college-prep Christian school. I attended a conference that advocated the idea of essentially infusing biblical leadership into all aspects of student life and curriculum. I was completely sold on this idea, and it really seemed perfect for our particular school culture. Unfortunately, I was the only member of our school leadership who attended this conference. I tried and tried to implement a few of the suggested changes; however, because this would require sweeping changes in the school calendar and curriculum, the “Student Leadership Initiative” met only marginal success.
Have a “key conversation” with organizational leaders and decision makers in this area. To be sure, the Executive Team is already aware that a serious problem exists. However, they may not have the tools or experience themselves to address the issue with their current knowledge base. Get as many members of your Executive Team as possible to the Support Raising Leaders Conference—it makes all the difference.
Listen to your team.
The breakdown of MPD culture affects not just the organization as a whole, but the individuals who make up the organization: sons, daughters, fathers, mothers… real people, brothers and sisters in Christ, who are underfunded and suffering because of it. Listening fosters relationship, and paves the way for buy-in as big changes are made. A great way for SRS Network Members to hear from the organization would be to utilize the SRS organizational audit tool called the Support Raising Survey.
Listen to God.
Too often, even though we “know better,” prayer may be unintentionally neglected. The spiritual vitality of the organization both affects and is affected by this critical area of its culture. It may be time for an organization-wide emphasis on prayer, specifically targeting these issues.
Take initiative to lead the planning process.
Oftentimes, the one with the plan (not just the one who presents the problem) is the real leader in a situation. God uses different leaders within an organization to take the helm of new initiatives at different times. Could you be used as a catalyst to bring life by presenting a “Fully-Funded Deployment Initiative” plan?
Culture is the way it is in your organization because people are the way they are. It takes courage because shifts may “ruffle feathers” and upset the status quo. However, If the status quo is “dead,” organizational “resurrection” can only happen through radical, courageous action (obedience). It will take courage to change antiquated systems, to risk putting finances and efforts into new ways of approaching MPD, and to demand a higher-level of performance from veterans.
Don’t Keep Silent
2 Kings 7 records the historical account of lepers who visited an abandoned Aramean camp. These lepers didn’t even have to fight, but simply walked in and plundered—this was a supernatural provision, and they were enjoying the benefits. However, they realized that this supply of plenty was not only for them: “We are not doing right. This day is a day of good news, but we are keeping silent …” (2 Kings 7:8).
If you have been blessed personally by the biblical principles of support raising, why not help others experience the abundance of resources God supplies when we ask? Maybe it’s time for you to initiate just such an organization-wide “resurrection”!
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.