As I have spoken to people over the last two months about my financial support needs for full-time ministry, several of them said they really didn’t understand how my financial support actually worked. So instead, of trying to explain to each person the specific details, I thought I would put those details here, and that can allow me to insure that I give each person all the details while only giving an overview when we are together.

     Most people are pretty clear on how a pastor gets paid by a church. The person candidates at the church; a leadership group makes a recommendation to call the person to be the pastor; and the church gets behind the new pastor by giving their tithes and offerings to the church. The church then pays the pastor a salary with normal benefits on a monthly basis – the same amount every month (with potential increases over the years) as long as the pastor serves the church.

     This is NOT now most missionaries and other full-time Christian workers are supported.

     Most missionaries are completely dependent on the designated gifts of others (both individuals and churches) to meet their monthly needs. By designated gifts, I mean that the gift is given in the name of the missionary into an account for that missionary. When someone gives a financial gift to the “general fund” of a Christian organization, that gift does not go a missionary. (Occasionally, a missionary may receive a portion of this general fund money in an emergency situation, but it does not go to help the regular monthly needs of a missionary.)

     So, missionaries and full-time Christian workers usually must raise all the financial support they need to fulfill the mission God has given them. That means we need to raise a salary (what we need to live on – housing, utilities, food, transportation, all the things that you normally pay for as well), and our benefits (we need to pay 100% of the costs for life and health insurance, worker’s compensation, social security, etc. [many of these are at least partially paid for by employers but missionaries need to pay for these in full] ), and many Christian workers have another budget for ministry expenses (covering the costs of transportation, fees for meetings/conferences, meals on the road which are often covered by employers).

     The average monthly financial support gift varies with every ministry, but I’ve experienced the average to be about $60. Every gift is important, no matter the size, but monthly gifts are what missionaries count on to make it through every month. Annual or one-time gifts help us meet special needs, and can also fill in gaps.

     By “gaps” I mean times when people do not give, even when they have pledged monthly support. The average monthly supporter gives 10 out of 12 months. There can be a variety of reasons for this. Sometimes it’s as simple as a donor misplaced the contribution slip and envelope that they get from the mission headquarters. Most missionaries experience a drop in support every February and in the summer months. That’s because people often hold back a month’s support when they are trying to pay off Christmas bills or go on vacation. And that’s why some missionaries will ask you to consider giving through an automatic process (by credit card or an electronic fund transfer from a bank account) – it means our monthly support check is a little more stable.

     In addition to each missionary’s personal support needs, the funds that you donate have a portion that is deducted for the mission organization that the missionary works through. This administrative fee (or whatever terms the organization uses) covers the cost of work done at the headquarters in support of the missionary. An example would be the staff and equipment that is used to process support checks and electronic payments going to the missionary. These are usually not covered by the “general fund” so the missionary is “charged” for those services. The Navigators administrative fee is 11% (the average fee is around 15%). That means if the missionary needs $3,000 in monthly personal support, he needs to raise $3,375.

     I hope that helps you understand my support needs a little better. There may still be questions that you have, and I’ll try to answer them as best as I can.

     For a few years, I have had a ministry budget of $1,500 a month. This covers all the meals that I buy for the guys I meet with (or the spaghetti we eat on Sunday night fellowship times), the gas, oil and insurance for my car, materials that I use, travel costs when I am going to see ministry alumni or attending a conference, and more.

     You probably already know that I am actively raising full-time salary and benefits support. It will be in two phases: immediately, I need to raise $2,250 in monthly support, and by fall 2013 I will need to raise an additional $1,000 in monthly personal support. There will probably be times when I have a special need, and I will communicate that to everyone when it happens.

     If you would like to begin to support me, you can click this link to go directly to a secure web page for The Navigators:  (If you’re concerned about using the Tiny URL link, you can go to and search for me by my last name).

     Send any comments or questions you may have to me at bruce.stopher{insert the at sign here} (I don’t put my full email address here to prevent junk mailers from finding it!)

About discipling4life

I'm a firm believer in helping other men grow in their walks with Christ, not just for a year or two, but for as long as we're all alive. I'm a registered nurse by training, and serve on staff with The Navigators Nav20s Mission in San Antonio, Texas.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s