Sunday, July 01, 2007

kiss the ass - addendum

My sincere apologies for offending, if not being clear. Admittedly, I am not the world’s greatest writer.

I want to state here that I never tried to make an absolute statement of “if you ask people for money, you are an ass kisser”. If this came across in the “ass” series, I apologize.

I DO intend to say that if you ask for money to do your mission, how do you do so? Do you try to sell your mission for maximum financial potential (ala manipulation tactics)?

And within asking this, I restate: is this a means, or THE means of the CEO providing for you? And are there other ways? Is playing “the game” of partnering and fund-raising a version of faith or not?

And secondly, I never meant to say “you are a puppet master if you give to missionaries”. If that’s how it originally came across, I am sorry.

I wanted to ask: if you are some sort of kingdom financier, what makes you give? Do you have expectations from the missionary? And if so, what are they?

I don’t care to beat a dead horse, but I had hoped to dialogue and discuss funding missions and such. So please leave comments here on these subjects.

If this mission-support subject is old, stay tuned. More reports from the fair mother city along with my observations of cursing in regards to religious people are coming shortly.


RCM- Steve said...
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RCM - Steve said...

Hey B

Thanks for the post. I did feel like I was being called an ass-kisser as this series progressed. I commented on the earlier posts but did not see any return comments.

I think we are all a bundle of experiences, pet peeves, talents, prejudices, hopes, and preferences. It is good to compare notes and see where we're similiar and where we are different. The focussing and refocussing is an important form of guidance. We are sharpened by one another.

What is anathema to me is ANYONE making universal claims as to a methodology or approach. I lived under a ministry that increasingly approached the world like this and I found it just plain untrue. The billions of God's people on this earth are diverse beyond imagination and I don't believe there is a "one approach covers all" in just about any area of ministry, evangelism, outreach, church life, missions, fund-raising, etc, etc. I rejoice in the diversity. I see more of God. I don't necessarily have to agree with everyone's methodology, and believe me, I don't. But I also believe in the AA slogan that says "live and let live". I'll try to stay open to differing approaches, see what I can glean, leave behind what I don't like, without judging others.

Anyway, thanks for clarifying that you weren't trying to make any widespread or universal statements. It helps.

The questions you posed in today's post are excellent and I want to comment some more on them individually, later. I do believe that some of the questions have already been addressed by some of your responders in this series, some good answers if we can take out the piss and vinegar that comes along with the comments.

Well, that's what I think, right or wrong. I really do love your posts, your writing, your ideas, and your wit! I think yours is one of the best blog sites I read. Please keep writing.


miller said...


thanks for easin' up on what seemed to be a sweeping generalization. i didn't really believe you meant it to be that but it still came across that way so i was confused about it...

thanks for clearing it up.

it is possible for there to be genuinely righteous partnerships in mission work. take, for example, the church you are so fond of in Salem that put on the God for people who hate church conference. they are obviously deeply involved in "mission" activity and yet that activity is funded (at least in part) by the gathering.

the partnerships you describe do exist! i think this is largely the reason Paul didn't ask for support... and yet he did not prescribe his behavior in general. additionally, he did receive support from people who loved him and were deeply supportive of his mission.

i personally drummed up support for my college experience. there is no way i could have made my masters degree without some help from people who believed in me. after that was over, i released every one of those supporters to do the things they needed to. most dropped out but some stayed because the continue to believe in our work. great! but i neither kiss their ass nor jump through hoops in a play to keep them on the support line.

however, as people who are partnering with me, i believe they need to know what it is they are supporting! so i do send out letters occasionally to let them know what God is doing in our lives and ministries.

the thing that your posts have done for me is this: they caused me to interrogate my own heart and the reality of these relationships. do i polish the apple? am i pointing out the bruises on it? if it isn't an apple do i include it in the bag?

i do believe in partnerships that allow for many different kinds of participation. some people are able to help in financial ways and are righteous in their intent!

just because we've experienced so much bullshit doesn't mean it's all bullshit... maybe its mostly bullshit but lets leave room for the real thing when it comes along.


miller said...

BTW, blogspot is from hell...

Agent B said...

Miller -

Thanks for your response. It's well taken.

However, I don't know if The Gathering is a well-rounded example of a mission that's supported well, or supported at all.

From the little I know and experienced...The Gathering has like 35 members, most of whom were very young (teen - 20's) people and probably were not huge income makers.

The Gathering was originally an outreach mission of The Foursquare denomination from So Cal. They supported them until they booted them out for Pastor Phil's closeness to the witch crowd.

At the same time The Gathering was getting the boot, they were also receiving a $84K grant from the foursquare folks to renovate the bank building they currently are housed in.

If I understand correctly, it's been a year or 2 since that all happened. They are currently out (or nearly out) of money. a body they are living out the faith thing with no solid support. I think hosting conferences is a new way they are experimenting with for monetary means, etc.

So basically, The Gathering's members are not "supporting" this mission. Random means and various donations do.

Should anyone be looking for a mission to support either regularly or one time only, I suggest The Gathering - 217 Essex St., Salem, MA, 01970.

...this message brought to you by Agent B...

miller said...

so what you're saying is that the gathering does nothing to financially support mission activity including the conference?

and thanks for such a well rounded response...

so much for conversation...


Agent B said...

No - I'm saying The Gathering isn't supported by "tithing" members.

And I don't think they are supported by partners either. At least, not yet.

Right now, they are on random faith gifts, I think.

Jenelle said...

I appreciate your curt tone, because it's for effect, and it's to make us think. I've raised tens of thousands of dollars to do mission overseas, and haven't so much felt like an ass-kisser in the process, but have felt like the Accuser always told me I was supposed to embody one, post-cheque. For every thank you note or newsletter I failed to write, I felt horrible. And that was the part that was most awful.

I think you ask us good questions. I wasn't offended at all. I laughed aloud and thought some, too.

I give and receive to Kingdom work largely on the basis of relationship. It's a community thing, in my mind. But then, God has provided for me through strangers many a time, too, and that always blows my mind and helps me trust Him more. I like Him cause He's crafty and Good.

Agent B said...

Nelly - thanks for taking this series for the way I originally meant it. But, I fear I was too harsh anyway...

I give and receive to Kingdom work largely on the basis of relationship. It's a community thing, in my mind

So you give/receive to/from people you have a face-to-face friendships with? Makes sense.

How close are these relationships? Best friends? Drinkin' buddies? Or mild acquaintances? All the above?

But then, God has provided for me through strangers many a time, too, and that always blows my mind and helps me trust Him more.

Do you have any perfect-timing provision stories to share? Thanks.

Rob (with one B) said...

I am on staff for an organization with which I must raise my own support in order to recieve a pay check. And I definately would consider myself and ass-kisser. This is because I am generally what the scholars call and ASSHOLE. In order to ask people to pay me to hang out with high school students, I must put on my nice costume. The way I keep my mind and heart undisturbed by this is by approaching fund-raising the same way I approach the ministry I've been called to. It's about relationships. If I don't have a relationship with a person who I am asking for money from, that is step 1. The other thing, is that I do everything I can to ensure that there are no expectations tied to the money that people give.

A group of businessmen approached us one time wanting to give us some support we needed to work in the community. This came after a bit of a tiff at the local high school between parents and teachers who posted up pro-homosexual posters in their classrooms. If one can't see through that, then that person is an idiot. We declined their offer.

I do hate the fact that I am in a position where I have to get paid by the ministry I work with. I can only get paid a certain amount so I only raise that much. Beyone that, contributions I bring in are directed toward work with the students...this I believe is what Paul (the guy from the bible) did. Paul did raise support, only not for himself. He raised it for communities and "churches". I figure, that as long as people are giving out of a genuine will to spread the word and don't expect any tangible or immediate results, then I am more than willing to use their money.

I'm not really sure if I answered anything you asked.

Agent B said...

Rob (the future visitor to the fair mother city)-

Thanks for being honest about ass-kissing. And "nice-costume"...I like that. I've worn that many times before myself.

And you, like Jenelle, create relationships with funders. So out of curiosity, I ask you the same questions: How close are these relationships? Best friends? Drinkin' buddies? Or mild acquaintances? All the above?

You say: "I do everything I can to ensure that there are no expectations tied to the money that people give." How do you do this? Give examples if possible.

If you turned down a group of businessmen who wanted to steer your gig around to their liking...I'd say you definitely are NOT an ass-kisser. At least not in that situation.

Thanks for the Paul examples. Miller gave me some paul examples ecently. I should probably pay more attention to him now. I use to read him as a last resort.

Thanks for replying.

Rob (with one B) said...

Family give a good portion, so obviously the relationships there are strong. The other bigger donors are people who watched me grow up: old youth pastors and friends parents who I've kept in touch with.

More recently in an attempt to fund a new sub-sections of our ministry, i've written letters to businesses who might be interested in the endeavor. I had numerous friends read over it to avoid any language that is manipulative...all I wanted was a basic statement of why we do what we do. I think I succeeded in that. I also then have called them up or gone into their office personally to introduce myself and give them a chance to pick my brain.

As far as ensuring that there aren't any expectations to what I do with their money...a few donors are parents of kids I work with. I feel like I protect myself from expectations by my actions. I treat their kids no differently than I treat other kids. They also feel more inclined to give me their opinion of what I should and should not do. I preceed to give them my opinion (whether in agreement or not) on whatever subject and tell them my plan. I had a mom once who wanted to buy whatever game supplies we needed but she really wanted to see a bible study set up that her kid to go to. I told her my thoughts on middle school bible studies, and she never gave us assistance. That was pretty funny.

That's about the best I can do for you.

g13 said...

i love rob and jenelle. in my little game, honesty wins you a lot of points.

as for the gathering, they are supported by a number of tithing members - of which i am now truly one - but the money given by said supporters is not enough to meet the ministry's financial needs. so if you want to give to the gathering, please join the members of the body in doing so. just be sure that you write "jeff gentry, pimp ministry" in the subject line of the check.

and thanks.

Jenelle said...

Agent B, you asked...

So you give/receive to/from people you have a face-to-face friendships with? Makes sense.

How close are these relationships? Best friends? Drinkin' buddies? Or mild acquaintances? All the above?

These relationships range from close friends to mild acquaintances and everything in between. It comes down to whether people know and trust me, and my ability to communicate with them why I need the dough.

I look at the whole support-raising process as an opportunity to build honesty and friendships. I want people to read my newsletters and giggle, sometimes. I want them to know me. And I want them to know the CEO. I hate newsletters that are a bore, so I sort of work hard to make them quirky and funny, while still communicating real stuff about what God is doing in places people don't see very often.

Then you asked,

Do you have any perfect-timing provision stories to share?

Why yes, I do. More than I can fit here. Perhaps I'll make an effort to blog about them this week. Thanks for reminding me. They are especially fun stories.

I think the CEO would like us to be better storytellers.