The Sower: Redefining the Ministry of Raising Kingdom Resources by Gary Hoag and Scott Rodin redefines the way of fundraising as, “the transformational ministry of raising Kingdom resources.” What I saw was my whole ministry redressed in light of fundraising.
As a Social Media Missionary, my work is investing seeds in other people’s lives. So I resonated with this book. When I teach people to rethink their missionary letters, I am basically echoing what Hoag and Rodin say:
“Pray for a deep sense of God’s love and grace that you might truly be God’s worker sowing life, hope, and joy in the lives of your colleagues, co-workers, supporters, friends, and family.”
One missionary they wrote about sent devotionals every week. His supporters looked forward to receiving those devotionals. A missionary letter doesn’t have to be a report, but it can encourage great stewardship, worship, and growth. It’s not how often you communicate, but how deep you sow those seeds into the lives God brings your way. The Sower: Redefining the Ministry of Raising Kingdom Resources can be summed up by three principles:
- Who Owns You?
- Seasons of Sowing
Who Owns You?
A few years ago our church went through a couple of layoffs. I held my breath and prayed each time, terrified at losing my job. If I lost my job, my husband and I looked at losing even our home, as the area we live in has a struggling economy. Hoag and Rodin convicted our possession of our jobs:
“If you believe you absolutely must have your job, that you cannot afford to lose your job, that you don’t know what you would do if you ever lost your job, then you are playing owner of that job. As you try to control it, it will put you in bondage. If you want to be free, then say to God, ‘Lord, you have me here for a time, when you are finished, move me on. I know you will prepare another place for me. In the meantime, I will live in freedom in my relationship with my job.’”
Fundraising is about living and growing in faith. I believe we should prepare, but my husband and I won’t live in bondage of our circumstances. Everything we have is because of God, and honoring Him through good stewardship of our time and the money He has entrusted us with is part of that relationship.
Investing time in loving my supporters, family, friends, and colleagues are a part of my ministry, but The Sower: Redefining the Ministry of Raising Kingdom Resources really highlights this as they take what is secular and makes it spiritual. I must keep my seed bag full by spending time with God and in His Word so I may find strength and joy every day in sowing those seeds into the lives around me. This can happen in many ways.
Timely emails or phone calls, in person visits, coffee or lunch together, prayer, and how I communicate with my supporters are illustrations of sowing seeds. In my life, I always try to have “wiggle room” in my tight schedule. Since I am on God’s time, I make my daily plans, but when God says I must spend a little extra time with someone, I obey. I have the NIV Stewardship Study Bible: Discover God’s Design for Life, the Environment, Finances, Generosity, and Eternity on my Amazon wish list. Stewardship is worship.
My husband waits til Sunday morning to sit down and make his tithing to our sending church electronically. It’s an act of worship for him. He likes to imitate the widow in Mark 12:42 by giving more than he did last year each week as it is growing his faith. I don’t know how we are making it from paycheck to paycheck, but somehow God provides in the lack. We manage to pay all our bills, get necessities, and when we have a need, God provides in most unexpected ways, like a new client or a bonus. Being good stewards though also means financial responsibility and accountability. Whatever God gives us, we must honor Him in how we use it.
Seasons of Sowing
The authors refer to their experiences as a farmer. They call this book the spiritual almanac. In this book they go through the four seasons of giving: summer, fall, spring, and winter. It encourages me to read through it knowing that, like farming, some seasons will stretch me; some will bring me great joy of an abundant harvest; and through it all, I must be faithful to do the plowing and seed sowing.
In social networking as in life, relationships take time. In some communities where missionaries live and work, that community must invite them in before those missionaries can share with them the Good News. People who receive missionary reports sometimes have unrealistic expectations of the work of a missionary.
Because it’s about relationships, you must sow the seeds into that person’s life through ardent and consistent prayer, communication, and face-to-face (or in my case, online community). They must trust you before they will share their deepest fears, loves, and allow themselves to be vulnerable with you. Like using a machete to cut down weeds in a field, you must work through the weeds that choke the person’s life from growth. A harvest in that community or in that person’s life could take years. Redemption is the work of the Holy Spirit, or as my former pastor used to say, “Salvation is a spiritual miracle.”
So I am taking the lessons to heart in this book by planning my communications out so I am sowing seeds into the lives of my friends, family, supporters, and colleagues. Enewsletters to look forward to are: devotionals, prayers, updates, and stories of what God is doing. But I also need your participation. Your stories, your experiences, your feedback, your wisdom, and your volunteerism help me serve God better. If you would like to partner with me in prayer, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I can add you to my newsletter.