Six years ago I published a series of posts on my blog exploring the topic of How Support Raising Keeps Parachurch Ministries White. I had become aware of the systemic injustice in support raising that women and staff of color had long been affected by. I cared about the issue and in all of my white-maleness I dove wholeheartedly into searching for a solution.
I was on staff with a Latino ministry in Los Angeles at the time and approached my divisional director to ask permission to pursue the Doctor of Missiology (study of mission) program at Fuller Seminary. A Godly, Spiritual leader who has since sadly gone to be with the Lord, her words that day changed the course of my research.
I described the D.Miss. program to her, “Basically you pick a problem you can’t solve in ministry and you spend 4 years doing research on how to solve it. I’d like to find a solution to the problem of how support raising is keeping our ministries white.”
She smiled at me muy cariñosa, chuckled, and said something to the effect of:
“Eric, I’m glad you want to pursue this program. I’m wholeheartedly for it and want you to spend 40% of your ministry time on this. But the problem is not a lack of solutions. There are tons of solutions out there. My problem is that I can’t get any ministry leaders to try them. Would you research how we can become the kind of community that chooses into these types of solutions?
Her words would profoundly affect the next 3 years of doctoral research. I took her advice and shifted my focus towards examining how organizations can become the kinds of places that begin to pursue more just funding models.
The result of that research is my dissertation: Moving from ‘I’ to ‘We’: Pursuing More Just Funding Models in Mission. I spent three years reading everything I could find on support raising and justice. I interviewed dozens of ministers who were a part of teams who had made changes to the way they raised support. I took the insights I gathered and coached three more ministries in how they could pursue the future of support raising.
I analyzed the research and the amazing work these leaders had done and distilled them into a one page tool to help leaders who desire to pursue the future of support raising. I call it The Equitable Support Raising Canvas.
Equitable Support Raising Canvas
The Equitable Support Raising Canvas is a one page tool with 10 boxes that leaders can use as they plan for organizational change. Each box represents an area of focus they need to think about, and comes with questions to promote reflection and ideas on how to lead change in a way that is rooted in spirituality.
Over the following posts, I’ll expand more on each of the boxes, provide resources, and challenge you to explore how God might be calling you to lead in each of the areas. I truly believe the future of support raising is possible, and I pray my dissertation and the canvas help in some small way to help ministries take the next step towards that future.
If you are interested in learning more from my research, I encourage you to click the links above to download my dissertation and the canvas. But I also want to invite you to one of our two day conferences. In 2020 they are being held in Atlanta and Los Angeles.
The conferences are two days of unpacking the research, hearing from other practitioners, mourning the current reality, and dreaming together towards the future of support raising. You’ll be challenged, inspired, and leave equipped to facilitate change in your area of influence — whether that’s a local team or a national ministry.