Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Christian Fund Raising

Fund Raising, ( i.e. support raising & "friend raising"), is a challenging responsibility most missionaries face.

Most missionaries would prefer to invest their time and energy into the work that God has called them into. We would like to be like George Mueller who never sent out an appeal letter - he simply prayed and God miraculously provided. We also realize that sharing what we are doing can have many positive effects. It can bring increased awareness and involvement into our particular mission field. It can also garner the prayer of multitudes, which is the foundation of any truly spiritual work. Sharing our mission can inspire others to take up the torch and become missionaries themselves.
I can remember as a little boy hearing a missionary speak and it really touched my heart. That night when my parents put me to bed I said, "mom, dad, when I grow up I think I want to be a missionary." The next day the missionary spoke again and also showed pictures of natives running around with machetes and it really scared me. That night when I went to bed I said "mom, dad, I don't think I want to be a missionary - a guy can get hurt that way, I think I just want to be a pastor like dad." I ended up doing both - I was pastor of an urban church for about 18 years.
Anyway, a missionary sharing his mission can help open the eyes of people to see the great need of getting the gospel out to the lost. It can awaken their hearts and stir their spirit. Christ said to the disciples, "open up your eyes, the fields are ripe ready for harvest." Hearts can be stirred and challenged by a vision. A missionary sharing his ministry can inspire Christians who have been living in their Christian ghetto to open up their eyes. There is a big world outside the sphere of our Christian friends.
We, as missionaries, must foster and encourage others to a closer personal relationship with Christ. Out of a passionate relationship with Christ comes a desire to make Him known: a desire to share one's faith and to support mission efforts. Any witnessing or mission giving that comes from other motives will soon fade away. I received a wonderful book in the mail today from the EFCA. It is entitled, "Growing Giver's Hearts - Treating Fundraisng as Ministry", by Thomas H. Jeavons and Rebekah Burch Basinger. It is a great book both for missionaries and for donors. It explores the dynamic interplay between encouraging spiritual development of donors and raising essential resources.
While we share our mission, there are at least 6 pitfalls we as missionaries are tempted with and should avoid:
1. We must not manipulate others into giving. Using guilt or other motives to inspire someone to give is not right. Share what God has called us to do and let the Holy Spirit do the convicting.
2. We must not sell our ministry as being better than all other ministries. We must not have a scarcity mentality. God has enough resources for all that he has called into ministry. We must not look at our fellow missionaries as competitors. There is a wide variety of spiritual needs and there needs to be a wide variety of ministries to minister to these needs.
3. We must not promise anything we can not deliver and we should not twist the promises of God for our personal benefit. I've seen some ministers promise if you give money to their particular ministry that you would get 100 times that amount back, or that any prayer request you make would be answered. I've always wondered if they truly believed that why don't they give all their money (including their Mercedes and Lexus) to another Christian ministry and receive 100 times back what they gave. Why if they did that a couple times they'd have enough money to buy the private jets etc. that they need and wouldn't have to beg senior citizens to give $25 dollars.
Giving from a grateful heart is a personal expression of love to our wonderful savior - it is not a guaranteed slot machine. It is a way to participate in the mission of getting the GOOD NEWS to the lost and we will be rewarded. Jesus said, "Lay not up for yourself treasures upon the earth, where moth and rust corrupts, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, ... For where your treasure is, there will be your heart also." (Matthew 6: 19 -21) . Giving affects our heart - it is an act of faith of trusting in and operating in God's ways and not the fleshly, lustful ways of this world system. It is in this context that Christ says in verse 25 that, "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other ... You can not serve God and money."
I like what Paul said to his faithful supporters in Philippians 4: 14 - 20. "But it was right and commendable and noble of you to contribute for my needs ... I do seek and am eager for the fruit which increases to your credit...They (the offerings) are the fragrant odor of an offering and sacrifice which God welcomes and which He delights. And my God will liberally supply your every need according to His riches glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen. - Amplified Bible.
4. We must not exaggerate but portray the truth. There is a tremendous pressure put on missionaries to produce and to be judged by modern business standards of success. There is an emphasis on numbers and statistics. It is important for a mission organization to be transparent in its ministry efforts. It is also important for donors to use wisdom and the spirit's guidance while evaluating. Jeremiah was so "unsuccessful" for a while that not only were the people not heeding his message but they also put him in a pit.
5. We must not cry "crisis" with every communication. Several years ago I evaluated my quarterly newsletter. I noticed an emphasis on the various crises we were facing. I realized partly through the post traumatic stress of going through about 100 murders of people I knew and various dangerous and high pressure situations - the majority of my newsletter was focusing on all these terrible things and the various crises we were facing: How we didn't have enough money to provide activities for poor children while some local drug dealers were spending $5,000 a pop for activities for the area youth. Very little space was given to the souls that were being saved and to the kids who were making the right choices in life. I've tried to make the adjustment.
Everything is a matter of perspective. I have been raising support as a missionary (http://christcares.org) for 20 years. It has been especially difficult the past couple of years. It looks like adding Internet Evangelism as major component of our ministry is causing concern with many of our key supporting churches. Either God will raise up new supporters soon or it looks like I will need to find a secular job in order to provide for my wife and two girls. I do believe the best investment of my time is in full time ministry for my savior.
I am praying that God will touch hearts of individuals and churches to partner with our ministry. It is my prayer that this strategic ministry would get my full time efforts and that we would be able to develop a mighty team of Christians sharing their faith online (while still continuing some strategic urban ministry).
I want to do God's will whatever that may be. I have sacrificially ministered to the poor all my adult life and now I am excited about adding another strategic endeavor for the kingdom. I have a B.S. in Pastoral Theology and a Masters in Ministry. I believe I have valuable experience, knowledge, and gifts that can be used for God's glory but I need to be willing to follow HIM whatever the cost.
I also realize that in the whole scheme of things that my desire to raise funds is not a crisis. Those Christians who live in places like Sudan, Indonesia, etc. who are being persecuted and even killed for their faith - they are in crisis. The majoirty of the citizens of the world who make less than $50 a month - they are in crisis. The majority of the world who have never heard a clear presentation of the gospel - they are in crisis. Although it is not a crisis I would deeply appreciate your prayers.
6) We must ask God to keep our motives pure. Christ said in Matthew 6 that when we do our good deeds not to "sound the trumpets" to be seen and praised by man. We should do them in secret unto the Father who sees in secret. There is great pressure to grab the camera and printing press to proclaim to our supporters the good deeds being done. Prayer for wisdom is needed to find the right balance between the important need for donors to see what is happening and also the need to not take personal credit for the good works being done. When ministering to the poor there is also another issue that is hard to describe but it is sometimes demeaning to a person to photograph them while they are in the depths of poverty and depression.
We need to share past victories and yet not put ourselves on a pedestal. At the age of 13 I began to aggressively share my faith in poor gang filled communities. God has worked many miracles and has changed many lives.
We started a church in a government housing project living room without any outside support. One of our first pulpits was a chitlin bucket with a towel over it - yet our mighty God blessed in powerful ways. Some years later God provided us with a facility with a replacement value of over a million dollars. We got this building for only $25,000 - it included a full court gymnasium, large auditorium, kitchen, dinining hall, and about 16 classrooms and offices. They (the Midwest Baptist Conference) gave us a no interest loan and allowed us to make monthly payments of whatever we could afford.
It is important for donors to know that for over 30 years I've been faithfully sharing the GOOD NEWS to the poor. It is also important as I share the highlights of the past 30 years that I don't give the impression that there hasn't been any "lowlights" that I'd rather not share. As a missionary we can build our identity around our calling.
For myself personally, I got to the point where I saw myself as a very strong and brave individual. I went through a difficult burnout stage where the LORD pointed out to me that in reality I was weak and fearful. Yet praise be to God, in our weakness HE can become our strength and refuge. In our weakness we become strong as we give GOD the glory due him. "Through God we shall do valiantly." As missionaries, we must openly share that we too are frail and have moments of despair or panic. I believe some are intimidated from pursuing Christian work because the Christian leaders they know are not transparent and they feel they wouldn't be able to measure up to this awesome piety.
Next week I will be sharing the exciting vision of internetminister.org and various ways you can team up with us and support this strategic ministry. In preparation for this I thought it would be good for me to prayerfully evaluate how to make such an appeal and also put it in print - maybe it could be a help to some of my fellow missionaries.
God bless you all - Scott Reese - web evangelist & internet minister. Internet evangelism, internet ministry, christian blogging, missions, ministry opportunities are all terms that will help people find this article.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Bridge sites - internet evangelism

Consider the facts...

  • The World-Wide-Web has grown to an astounding 1 billion users!
  • Most of these 1 billion users are seeking for spiritual answers yet have not had a clear presentation of the GOOD NEWS - in spite of our weakness, faliures, and sin, God still loves us and has provided a way of salvation.
  • There are millions of "Christian" websites, yet the vast majority are designed for those who ARE Christians.
  • How do we get the gospel to these millions?
  • 1) Design websites for those who are seeking spiritual answers (see http://godinfo.info) .
  • 2) Create bridge sites to provide opportunities to build relationships with the "lost" and to share the GOOD NEWS with them. More info on this can be found at: http://internetministry.info .
  • These web evangelism strategies do not absolve us from our responsibility of sharing our faith with our neighbors, co-workers, and through our church's outreach programs. Web evangelism is an exciting additional for us to witness. I believe the local church must stay central in all evangelistic efforts. It is important for converts to immediately be connected with a solid Bible-believing church. I also believe that local churches should now add Internet Missionaries as an important part of their mission strategy for the 21st century.
http://BridgeSites.org is under construction and we need your help.

Please take a look...

We need volunteers to help develop these sites and others... we will team you up with other Christians with similar interests. We soon will be listing specific ways you can help. For now we are creating a list of those who are interested in helping in some capacity. We would also appreciate your prayers that God will meet our financial needs for these efforts.

We are also creating a database of good bridgesites that are already developed... if you are aware of any please post them as comments or email me : Scott Reese , Scott@internetminister.org .

Nearly 1 billion people use search engines to surf the net. They search for their interests and we want to create quality sites that they will find. If you have not done so yet, please read my post on the synergy of combined passions.

Some of the sites we will be developing include:




www.yaofans.org (World's most popular athlete)

and many more listed at http://bridgesite.org

Some of you have expressed interest in our International Web Ministry Strategy . I would appreciate your prayers, this week we are speaking with several key people for this project.

May the Lord bless you as you serve our wonderful savior...

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Blog Ministry - Blog Evangelism - Christian Blogs

There is a new resource for those interested in learning more about evangelistic Christian Blogging. The material was provided by Tony Whittaker and his Web-Evangelism guide. You may find it at http://blogministry.org . Blog evangelism, blog ministry are important strategies of getting the gospel out.

Working as a team can be a lot easier and more effective than doing one by yourself. We would like to train you and team you up with some like-minded Christians. Most blogs are geared for Christians - we want to have some geared to the general public to serve as "Bridge Sites". As examples, we will be developing "myspaceblog.org" and www.googleearthblog.org .

This can be fun because you will choose topics that fascinate you and that you enjoy. It is also fun to be a part of a team and to make friends with people who have the same interests and or spiritual passions. Sharing your faith does not have to be a drudgery done only out of spiritual obligation - Sharing your faith can be exciting and fun - It can bring purpose to your life as we were created to fellowship with God and to do his will. Sharing our faith is the greatest cause in the world!

Many of us were blessed of God to grow up learning about God. Do you realize only a very small percentage of the world can say that? Christ said that "unto whom much is given, much is required." How can we keep the GOOD NEWS to ourselves? If we really could understand how good God has been to us - we'd be like Isaiah - we'd have a fire burning in our soul. We'd have a hard time keeping our mouth (or typing fingers) shut - out of gratitude we should have a desire to make Christ known to the uttermost parts or the world!

Right now there is someone out there who needs the Lord. You can have the awesome privilege of being the one God uses to share the GOOD NEWS.

If you know of other resources for Christian Blogging please post them in the "comments".

Also I have just begun work on www.internetminister.org . This is a site to encourage and empower YOU to share your faith. There is a special emphasis on developing evangelistic bridge web sites.

You will also find a list of the sites we are in process of developing. We need help - VOLUNTEERS, imput, prayers, and financial donations to our 501c3 non-profit : Reconciliation Resource Ministries. (Info at www.Christcares.org) Paypal link to the right...

Scott Reese

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

"Myspace" & Paul

What would the Apostle Paul think of the virtual world of "Myspace"?

First for those over 30 - a little myspace Q & A?
What is myspace.com?
An online social networking meeting / hang out place. Members have their own webspace to post pictures, write blogs, listen to music, communicate with friends, meet new people, find out what's cool etc. More info HERE.
Is "myspace" a real place?
"For those who didn't grow up with the Internet, it might seem strange to think of a mere website as an actual place. But for people like Edstrom and Michael Edwards, a high school senior from San Diego who can't remember when there was no Internet, cyberspace is a real place, even if the entry gates come in the form of a PC.
And at least these days, one's MySpace page is not just a home in that place, it's actually who they are online."
A thanks to Frank Johnson of strategicdigitaloutreach.com for pointing out this article.
How many people hang out there?
over 47 million! And growing rapidly.
How rapidly?
on average over 100 new people sign up every minute,
6666 an hour;
160,000 a day;
5 million a month!
who are these people?
Mostly teens and young adults although other age groups are starting to increase.
How much time are teens spending hanging out there?
According to Bussinessweek.com the typical American teen hangs out there for nearly an hour and a half a day.

What would Paul's response be to this?
Let's observe and learn from his trip to Athens
(A.D. 50?) Acts 17:16 - 17
Go to www.myspace.com , use their search bar and type in your hometown. Then browse through the profiles. You will be shocked at what you see and read. I can't describe it, pagan, is the first word that comes to mind. You need to see it for yourself - most church going adults have no idea where today's youth are. There is a strong peer pressure to list partying and drinking as one of your favorites activities. As you browse, soon you'll see the faces of kids from your church. More than likely, many of their profiles will be quite similar to the others you've seen. I guess they haven't realized that parents can also use the Web.
May we see the world as God sees it. May our heart be touched with feelings and emotions. We have so many goals and plans for our lives, but what about having a passion to make a difference?
Paul did not gather a little group of Christians together to swap stories and to preach sermons about how bad the heathen were. Often our Sunday morning sermons are filled with ranting and raving about how evil the heathen are. By the end of the service everyone is ready to pray like the pharisee, "I thank you God, I'm not like those heathen. I'm glad that I pray to you and give money to you - thank you God". Then we go home for the week and make sure that we don't spend any time with those heathens. GOD DOES NOT WANT US TO JUDGE THE LOST, HE WANTS US TO LOVE THEM. Maybe a better idea is to use that time to train, encourage, and inspire the church/congregation to do the work of the ministry throughout the week...
We must go where the people are. Today's "marketplace" and "Mars Hill Meeting places" must include places like myspace.com.
It amazes me how most church attenders can see the need to hire a full time Youth Director to minister to 50 - 75 teens. (I agree your own kids must be the priority.) Then, they just can't wrap their brain around the concept or need for there to be FULL TIME Internet Ministers to reach out to the MILLIONS of teens who daily spend hours on the Internet. It is obvious that most churches can not support a full time Internet Minister. Yet I ask, "why is so hard for Internet Ministry to be a small part of their mission budget???" A church will raise money to send someone to an inner city park to talk with some teens and to try to share the gospel with a few. Why can't the church catch a vision to send a missionary to "myspace.com", to strategically share the gospel at the world's largest teenage hangout place?
"So he reasoned and argued...In the marketplace day after day with any who chanced to be there." Acts 17:17 Amplified Bible
It may seem like a chance meeting, but God knows who is searching and will set up divine appointments for all those who are willing to share their faith. Remember it's just our job to share.

Going "live" in April of 2006 - please pray for (& help?) these efforts.

In April of 2006 www.InternetMinister.org will be a place where you can get training on how to share your faith online. We will also be providing practical opportunities to share your faith. We are in the process on lining up volunteers who would like to help us with this. Please drop me a note or sign up for our newsletter if you are interested. Right now you can go to http://internetministry.info to get valuable tips.
Paul's message was never watered down or compromised. Paul did find ways to connect with his audience. He found ways to relate with them and their unique culture. As an Urban Missionary I interact with many different cultures. It is important when we share our faith we take into consideration the culture we are entering into. We must think through what are the clear Biblical absolutes and what are our personal preferences.
As an example, for many years I have been preaching at a Chinese church and also African- American Urban Churches. It is easy for those who are really emotional and expressive in their worship style to judge those who are not as unspiritual - "their faith does not even touch their soul, God has been soooo good to me, I can't help but to shout." Their goal in ministering must focus on sharing the GOOD NEWS, not trying to get the other group to worship the way they like it.
On the contrary, those who are deeply contemplative may judge the expressive ones as being too emotional - in need of superficial cheerleading. Just because something is true for ourself (I'm not talking about God's absolute truth) does not mean it's true for others.
Effective ministry takes place when we, with God's help, shed our cultural biases and personal preferences and share the GOOD NEWS in the context of the culture we are ministering to.
I heard a minister teach that you were compromising (bad to him) if you used an overhead projector to sing songs instead of a hymnal. On the other extreme I went to a large church that was doing a great job sharing their faith in a way that the youth could enjoy and relate to. Yet I was personally offended that they used a video clip that included adult humor as part of their efforts to connect with the "seekers". We can deeply connect with people in the context of their culture without lowering any God given standard of holiness.
Paul started his conversation by finding something he could compliment them on and by discussing something that they were fascinated with. (vs.22)
This blog is about to become a book so I better close for now.
One bit of good news, I read on the Appianway blog that:
68% of teens say religion is important to them and 92% say they want a better connection with God.
Wow this sounds like Athens - ripe for revival... now what do you think?
Acts 17:32-34 ...(when they heard of the resurrection of the dead),
some scoffed,
but others said, "We will hear you again about this matter"...
and some joined themselves to him and believed...
Lets keep praying to the Lord of the Harvest...
Scott Reese Web Evangelist, Internet Minister. Other words for the search engines: Internet Ministry, Web Evangelism, Internet evangelism, Christian websites, ministry opportunities.
Also want to say thanks to adaptivepath.com for an article on their site that was helpful for this blog.