I still remember the first time I wrote support letters for a mission trip. I was a 14-year-old living in Dallas, Texas, preparing to go on my first short-term mission trip to southern Belize with my local church. Even as a teenager, support raising was humbling. Growing up in a middle-class family in the United States, the idea of asking extended family members and friends to give financially to my trip was uncomfortable and awkward.
Whether your church is sending you on short-term or mid-term trips to encourage and support long-term workers or you aspire to serve long-term vocationally on the mission field, we have an opportunity to invite others into the work that we are doing by asking them to support us.
Ask Your Church
Before going overseas, invite your church into the process (Acts 13). If you’re going on a short-term trip, consider meeting with a pastor before your trip to think through what the Bible says about evangelism and conversion. If you’re going on a mid-term or long-term trip, think about how you can invite your local church into the process as early as possible.
If you’re going on a mid-term or long-term trip, invite your local church into the process as early as possible.
Remember to ask your local church to help you discern your call, train you for overseas work, and send you to the nations. Consider how the local church can support you, not only financially, but provide you with training, care, and commissioning for the missions work that you aspire to do (Titus 3:13–14).
Before you ask someone to support our mission trip, take time to pray that the Lord would help you to grow in humility and dependence upon him. Pray that the Lord would give you faith to trust him to provide. Consider taking time to pray over each person that you will reach out to.
Continue to pray through who the Lord might lead you to reach out to. If you are going long-term, you will need to think more broadly about your sphere of influence. Who do you know? Who did you go to school or work with? Who are members in your church who may be able to support you? Do you have friends at your local gym or coffee shop that you could connect with?
As people come to mind, take time to pray for each of these people. Pray that you would not view your conversations with them transactionally, but take time to consider how you can invite them to partner with you in gospel ministry.
Pray that you would not view your conversations with them transactionally, but take time to consider how you can invite them to partner with you in gospel ministry.
Reach Out to Others for Support
While you are raising support, find ways to reach out to potential donors personally. Find time to call them on the phone, sit down for coffee, or go on a walk. Invite them specifically to partner with you through financial giving, prayer, and care. When you set aside time for a face-to-face meeting, you communicate your desire to focus on building a relationship with them. You are not simply asking them to give money but to join with you to reach the lost among the nations.
While sitting down in person with potential donors can be valuable, consider how you can communicate more broadly with others through a letter, email, or social media post. When you can, be clear about where you are going, how long you are going, why you are going, what you will be knowing, and what you need. Clarity on what you’re asking will communicate your integrity.
During this process, be careful to carefully consider the security concerns associated with your trip or program. If you are going to be working in an area hostile to the gospel, you may need to conceal the location of where you are going and avoid posting on social media. In each letter or social media post, be sure to invite potential donors to be involved with you in prayer and financial support.
Provide Updates to Supporters
As you receive support to go overseas, take time to write a note thanking each donor specifically and personally for their contribution. Whether they are supporting you financially or committing to join in prayer, find ways to send them updates throughout your trip, missionary training program, or ministry of what you are doing, how you are growing, and what you are learning.
As you send them stories of God’s work among the nations, provide them with specific prayer requests for you and your family. Invite them to the joys and the difficulties of life on the mission field. Remember that you are fostering a relationship with your supporters, not simply completing a financial transaction.