In yesterday's post, I explored some of the reasons we resist fundraising for short term missions trips: fundraising feels uncomfortable, unnecessary and impossible. But digging beneath these reasons, we uncover - rather reasons to resist fundraising - reasons fundraising amplifies the impact of our trips.
Let's take them one-by-one ...
1) Fundraising feels uncomfortable ... but remember the people
Short term missions, by their very nature, put us in situations where we feel uncomfortable. We experience exhaustion, strange food, cultural dissonance and even ... let's say ... bathroom issues. And why do we do it?
Discomfort is a price we pay for incarnation, for connection. We want a real connection with the real people we are travelling to serve. And think about those people.
For many of the people we serve when we engage in short term missions, our temporary experience of discomfort, our suffering, is their daily life.
We resist asking for help and money even as we bring help and money. We're ashamed to be dependent, vulnerable ... how do we think the locals feel?
Fundraising helps you enter into their experience, grow in your understanding. And it may allow you to have a bigger impact. The extra money could be put to good use. Your experience may give you extra patience with the people you're serving, more insight into the Giver-Receiver dynamic.
2) Fundraising feels unnecessary ... but remember yourself
One of the people most helped by short term missions is the person who goes. I've been deeply shaped and challenged through my experiences in Costa Rica, New York City, DC and Bequia. My view of community, the church, God's mission, poverty ... these all reflect my experiences in short term missions.
Challenging our view of money is one factor in these trips. Our money ... so we're told ... is ours. No one else has a claim to it. Not the government. Not our neighbor. It's ours to give as we choose. This cultural story about money collapses when we engage in short term missions and we're brought face-to-face with people who don't have much but are still called "Blessed" by the Lord (for more on this, check out this post).
If you knew that God was going to remold your view of money, what better way to get the ball rolling than fundraising? Break the "what's mine is mine" line by asking someone to give generously to benefit someone else. Once you've asked someone else to give generously, you're more likely to give generously yourself. And if you're already giving generously, maybe asking someone else is your next, challenging step.
3) Fundraising feels impossible ... but remember the church
Short term missions without fundraising splits the church. There. I've said it. I hesitated to, but it's true. How can a church truly be united if 10% of the church has this powerful, formative experience and everyone else is left out?
Now, some might say that the rest of the church can pray. And they're right. But they won't. Jesus says that "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Mt. 6:21). And I would apply that passage in this way in this case: if you won't give money toward a trip, you won't really pray. And I mean "really pray." You may pray at a formal meeting or once when the team crosses your mind, but powerful intercessory prayer always follows some sort of investment.
The gifts may be small (some people don't have much to give), but if you want the whole church to be impacted by the trip, the church needs to invest in the trip financially (and here I mean each individual in amounts large or small, not the missions committee).
And when people have given, they're a part of the trip. They can look at that running water in the orphanage and know they helped make that happen. They can hear the stories and know they helped people go. They have a share. And it's beautiful! (In this way, God, who gives us everything we have, has a share in all our generosity)
I know these are controversial ideas and unusual applications ... incarnation, leverage, investment ... but they've helped me.
What do you think are good reasons to fundraise for short term missions?