The past few months, I’ve been spending much of my time sending letters, postcards, and texts, making phone calls, and having meetings with people to share the story of how God called me to full-time prayer ministry at The Prayer Room DFW and the vision of 24/7 prayer. I’ve been inviting people to partner with my financially, since as a missionary I won’t have any kind of outside job. I’ve learned a lot through this process, and I’d like to share some of these insights with you, for the sake of encouragement and understanding.
1. People are excited about 24/7 prayer!
When intercessory missionaries approach partnership development, our primary fear is often that our calling won’t be seen as legitimate. However, to my recollection, every single person I’ve talked to has been enthralled by the concept of night and day prayer and worship. I’ve heard in many meetings, “That’s so beautiful and powerful; I’m so glad there are people doing that.” Hearts come alive to imagine Jesus being exalted without ceasing. This is astounding because even ten years ago, intercession as a missional focus was met with much more skepticism than it is today. God is stirring the hearts of His church to pray and worship as we never have before. This is not a Kansas City thing or any other group’s self-made “thing.” GOD is raising up a praying, singing generation.
2. Relationship trumps money every time.
I’ve never walked away from a meeting feeling like I wasted my time, even if the person didn’t commit to partner with me. My goal is simply to build relationship, share the vision, and extend the invitation. I want us to both walk away encouraged, reenvisioned, and more in love with Jesus. That to me is a WIN.
3. Financial partnership strengthens relationship.
A good friend of mine is raising partnership to embark on a mission trip with The World Race. Early this year, she sent me a letter, invited me to coffee, and shared her heart with me. I gave as I felt led, and since then I’ve enjoyed reading her updates, exchanging letters with her, and praying for her journey– because, in addition to the fact that I love her as a friend, I’m invested now in her ministry. I’m part of what she will go on to do. Spiritually speaking, I receive a portion of her reward. I LOVELOVELOVE it when my friends who are on a tight budget still carve out a little corner of their budget for me, because they have committed to join me in the journey. They’re not necessarily called to vocational ministry in the house of prayer, but they are choosing to be an active, ongoing partner with me in what God is doing. This is why I use the term partner rather than supporter or donor — we’re all in this together, and it shows when we stand hand in hand, make our dreams— um, I mean, God strengthens church unity through financial partnership in ministry.
4. Jesus is inviting His church into His story.
I really believe that GOD is the one raising up 24/7 prayer and worship across the globe, that there will be a swelling song of worship arising that will climax in Jesus’ return to the planet. This is HIS story. I believe He wants to invite believers to join Him in that story. It’s nice when old friends support me because they like me, but it’s not about me and my little thing. It’s about the glory of JESUS filling the earth. This is His story. I’m just an ambassador. He’s the one who’s inviting people into it. This takes so much of the pressure off of me to “convince” people to partner. Like Paul said, it’s not about wise and persuasive words, but the Spirit’s power. (1 Corinthians 2:3-5) I’ve spoken to people who have told me that from the moment they first read my letter, they felt the Holy Spirit speaking to them. This is mostly on Jesus, not me.
5. Persistent follow-up is actually appreciated.
I know, it feels weird to leave voicemails and texts for days, but when I’ve finally gotten a hold of those people they’ve been so glad I didn’t give up. These are good people who love Jesus and love me– they’re not mad. They respect what I’m doing and are quite willing to get together when they’re free.
6. Partnership development often becomes ministry.
I frequently end partnership meetings by praying for the person I’m meeting with, especially if they’ve shared a prayer request. I want to keep track of that prayer request and keep lifting it up. I want these people to feel blessed and cared for by talking with me, whether or not God is asking them to partner with me. Partnership is a two way street; I want to bless them as much as they’re blessing me.
7. It’s about faithful stewardship.
This is one of the most freeing things I’ve learned about partnership: Each of us as believers has a stewardship from God. (Matthew 25:14-30) We each have different things He’s entrusted us with — ministry calling, relationships, money, etc. I need to be a faithful steward of my calling to ministry, which includes partnership development. (I wouldn’t be a very faithful servant if I just sat on my butt and waited for a silver parachute full of cash to drop down from the sky!) Similarly, the friends I’m reaching out to have a stewardship of their finances, and part of that includes sowing into the Kingdom. When I ask someone to partner with me, I’m just asking if our stewardships might overlap.
8. God provides unexpectedly.
Sometimes, the person I’ve ruled out as a potential partner will be the very person who will approach ME and ask how to give. Sometimes, the meeting I go into with low expectations will turn into a lengthy heart-to-heart with prayer and monthly partnership on top of that. Sometimes, a friend of a friend will unexpectedly write me a $1000 check. WHAT?? God provides in very unexpected ways. It’s an adventure partnering with Him to knock on every door to testify of His story and discover if He has a partnership waiting there for me.
9. Jesus is worthy of the struggle!
Partnership development isn’t easy. It can be overwhelming, intimidating, and discouraging. But Jesus is worth the battle. He is worthy of 24/7 adoration. He is worthy of me being free to respond fully to His calling without hindrance. He is worthy of the awkwardness. He is worthy of this introvert making dozens of phone calls a week. He is worthy of every hour spent writing postcards, because this is all going towards fulfilling the dream in His heart: “From the ends of the earth we hear songs of praise, of glory to the Righteous One.” (Isaiah 24:16)
He is faithful. He is a generous Father. Every single time He has called me somewhere, He has provided the means to make it happen. He WILL provide yet again, and He will draw His children into deeper relationship with Himself and each other along the way.
I hope reading this has been encouraging to those who are seeking to develop partnerships for missions and to those who may be called to partner with a missionary. Nearly everything I know about partnership development comes from an IHOPU class taught by Rob Parker, and his book, “The Fully Funded Missionary“. Check him out at PartnershipDevelopment.org. If you’d like to hear more about my story and the vision for 24/7 prayer, feel free to email me at email@example.com or check out the My Story and Partner With Me pages on this blog.
And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.