Ministering to Supporters During COVID-19

Eric Reiber Director, New Life BCM, Penn State University

For those of us who support raise, this is an interesting time in regards to our support teams and networks. The issue has many complexities, along with the fact many of us are trying to learn a new way of ministering during the semester with our students away from the campus doing college online. I have seen live streams, Zoom meetings, and what I can only imagine as a crazy amount of texts.

I also understand that during this shut-down, many of you may be personally impacted by a reduction of support. Supporters may lose jobs and cannot give. Mission organizations may have reduced personnel to adequately process the funds or at least receive the checks in a timely manner for those supporters who do not give online. That may not be true, but in a bit of honesty, we just don’t know how all of this will play out. But I want to encourage you with Matthew 6:33, “But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.” The theme verse of many of the self-funded!

Though support raising is a year-round endeavor, for most self-funded personnel, much of our efforts focus around the summer and winter breaks. I believe this is not a time to wait to reconnect with our generous prayer and financial supporters. What will follow are four reasons to connect with our networks that have been so kind and generous to us.

The call to social distancing is impacting all of us!

I know we do college ministry because we are passionate about students. We also have seen how students have been impacted by the cancellation of in-person classes. However, we personally know also how our lives have changed. Nobody is living what they used to call their normal lives right now, and that includes your supporters. Daycares are closed. Church services are online. They are working from home, in an empty office, or furloughed. Everyone is dealing with this differently, but we do know HOW everyone is dealing with this. Change can cause stress, so give them a call and check-in.

David Worcester recently put a tweet out:

“Ministry leaders: It’s a great time to call all your people to check on them. Here’s a helpful flow.

Care – How are you doing?

Share – Tell them about what you are offering online.

Prayer – How can I pray for you?  Pray on the call.”

Reaching out now to care for your supporters will show that you care about them

I know our lives have been turned upside down. We are trying to figure out how to minister from afar to students. We want to finish strong! We want to see what opportunities there are in this new paradigm shift!

Many of our supporters want to see us doing that as well, but at the same time, their lives have also turned upside down. Our support team, whether they give financially or not, are very important to our ministries. Though they are behind the scenes, these prayer warriors and generous givers have been here for us over and over again. This is when we should also let them know we are here for them.

You can share about the ways you are still ministering

We know our ministries like the back of our hand! Don’t make the assumption that your supporters do as well. This is a time to continue to share what God is doing in your ministry. Share with them how students are being impacted by what is going on. By this point, they have probably been a part of worship online. This is an opportunity to pull back the curtain of how you see God using your ministry to continue the Great Commission.

Make sure your newsletter is going out during this time! Share what has happened this semester and the plans moving forward to continue the mission.

You can share ideas for how we all can still minister to our neighbors during this time

Each newsletter I write I have a section for equipping for my supporters. I will put strategies and a vision for discipleship or effective ways to connect to your neighbor. I normally put in something tied into what we are teaching our students. We have probably been challenging our students to stay connected and we can also cast this vision for our supporters.

If you’re like me, your support team comes from all over the country. This is a way to see the work of God expanded beyond our own campus! Also, this gives a glimpse to your supporters in your passion for ministry and for God’s Kingdom. Imagine all of your supporters continuing to effectively love and reach out to their neighbors just like your students!

In whatever way you choose to connect, please take into account that you do not know everything each person is going through. You may learn of someone losing their job and having to stop their giving for a period of time. Someone’s family member or neighbor may have gotten sick. Approach these conversations with prayer, empathy, and encouragement.

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