Sunday, May 19, 2013

Weekends Aren't Unlimited

We had another scheduling scramble this weekend. One of the churches in which we were supposed to speak called us up to say that Sunday wasn't a good day for us to come. They could make space for us next weekend. What did we think?

Thankfully my gracious husband fielded the call, because had I been the one on the line, I'm not sure I could have given them my thoughts as diplomatically as I can write them here. We had been on their calendar for over a month. We had set aside that Sunday for that church according to their specifications. I thought they should have honored that commitment.

Life is unpredictable, yes. Flexibility in ministry is vital, yes. Sundays should be about rest, reflection & worship, no question. However, support-based workers often have very little time in which to accomplish our fund raising. If we're working full-time while trying to expand our support network, Sundays are often our best days for connecting with potential sponsors.

I realize that churches receive hundreds - if not thousands - of requests every year, from all sorts of people/projects/programs seeking support. By all means, churches must be discerning about who they endorse with their time or finances. I am in no way suggesting that churches are obligated to accommodate every request which comes their way, but might I gently share some perspectives of a support-based worker with pastors, deacons & committee chairs as they consider such requests?
  • Please don't assume that it's "not worth our time" to come & speak to your church. God alone knows the hearts which are receptive to our cause. We don't view a crowd as who is or isn't willing to support us - we simply want to share about the work to which we've been called.
  • Sunday morning speaking engagements are like prime real estate - there is no surplus. Even if we only have five minutes with which to connect with your congregation, this time is priceless to us.
  • We are incredibly honored to be given the opportunity to speak in your church. On average, we receive only one invitation for every four contacts we make, so we don't take this day for granted.
  • We will GLADLY accept a Sunday night or Wednesday evening time slot, if you have one to offer. It's okay if the crowd isn't as big as Sunday mornings - it's about the opportunity, not the attendance.
  • For every 5 minutes that we're actually in front of a group, we've spent at least 2 hours in phone calls/e-mails, presentation assembly & prayer in preparation for this time. (Double or triple that if we had to travel to get to you...)
  • If you can give us more than 5-10 minutes, chances are you'll be blessed as much as we would be. There is SO MUCH we'd like to tell you about the place we are headed, and the work which we anticipate doing.
  • Please don't make this all about the money. Yes, we have to raise our support, yes, we're going to ask for your participation, but we also want to share with you about the work we are doing. We need your prayers even more than we need your pledges, so please don't tune out the 98% of our presentation that talks about our ministry.
  • We connected with you because you were our home church before we left for the field, or our pastor(s) from our childhood, or the pastor of one of our close family members, or a long-time friend, or someone who expressed a sincere interest in what we were doing. We didn't drive through town and pick your church at random.
  • The amount of time in which we have to meet our financial goals is limited. If we're among those who have been on a Stateside assignment, we might have a 6 month window (9-12 if we're exceptionally blessed.) If we're "home" for the summer, we've got about 4 weeks.
  • Once you have us on your calendar, and we have you on ours, we consider this Sunday booked. We won't leave every other weekend open in case you change your mind.
  • If you have scheduled us several weeks in advance, will you be kind to also let your congregation know that we'll be coming?
  • If it really does become absolutely necessary to cancel our visit, would you please try to give us more than a day's notice so we can try to line up something else for that weekend?
  • We cherish the relationships we have with you, and we sincerely appreciate all that you provide for us. 
Thankfully, God provided a last-minute engagement for our suddenly-vacant-Sunday, and we were warmly welcomed by the congregation. Did we receive several large support pledges as a result of our time? No. Were we obedient in sharing what God had placed on our hearts? Yes. Were we blessed by this opportunity? Absolutely.

We have 12 Sundays between now & our targeted departure date for Prague. The time will pass all too quickly. We're asking the Lord to continue to open doors for us.

No comments:

Post a Comment