Donna's Blog

Supporting Ministries in the Local Church

Posted by donnadawson on November 29, 2011 at 3:55 PM

I am among the few who are very blessed with a church that understands the importance of a writing ministry. I have been the recipient of a congregationally supported book launch and CD launch. I have church leadership and members alike who constantly ask how my ministry is going and who offer to pray. It is because they know that what I am doing is not meant to be simply a career—or a way of offering my opinions to a broader audience. They have recognized that God has called me to write and to sing and they are doing all they can to encourage that ministry. I am grateful to God for this church family because they value what I do and wish to be part of it in the ways in which they can.

 

As I stated—I am one of the few. It is a sad commentary in a world where the written word has the power to change the human mind and heart—where so often the contents of any given book are embraced as truth without question. Even when it is a lie. My church family recognizes that God has called me to write about his truths—to wrap them in stories just like Jesus did—to offer to a hurting humanity comfort for their pain.

 

There are many like me. Christians called to write God’s message of hope for the hopeless. They are placed in the denominations across the globe and they write in spite of the many challenges they face. What challenges? you may ask. Aren’t you authors just rolling in the dough? Aren’t you celebrities? I hear these questions asked often and I laugh.

 

No. Authors are not celebrities—especially Christian authors. They are missionaries striving to reach lost souls. And money? Hah! Authors are perennially in debt in spite of the illusion that they are making a killing on the sales of their books. Approximately 90 percent of all books published in any given year sell less than 100 copies. Of the remaining ten percent, eight percent sell between 1,000 and 5,000 copies. Only a mere two percent can make a living as an author. Why is that? Well, there are many reasons.

 

A prophet is without honour in his own home town. Jesus said it when his community refused to believe he was the Messiah. Nothing has changed since then. The very people who should support Christian authors are often the ones who undermine their ministry of words. Neighbours and friends, business associates, fellow church congregants—even ministers and board members.

 

As I said, I have been blessed to have a church family, friends and neighbours and a community that all support my ministry. As I have polled the Christian writing community, however, I have discovered how pathetic the support is for most authors.

 

I recently had a conversation with a fellow contributor to a new Canadian anthology. I was told how disappointed this contributor was by the lack of support she received from her church and community when launching the book.

 

“My family has supported a local business for years and when the business owner came into the store where we launched the book, he expressed his congratulations and then went and bought a birdhouse. What would it have cost him to buy a book and give it away as a Christmas present? It’s only $20.00.”

 

I know exactly what she is saying. Too often I have had Christians come to my book table and say, “Oh! Lovely! A Christian author—and local at that! Keep up the good work. I’m going to wait until I can get it for free in the church library.” And then they walk away without even considering buying a book for themselves or for a friend who may not know Christ.

 

Then there is the occasional person who lifts my spirits immensely by buying a book and stating, “I understand what you are doing and I want to help. If I like it, I’ll certainly get another one to give to a friend.” They get the point. And may God pour a thousand blessings on them for the gift of encouragement they share with those of us called to write!

 

I’ve had others say that their church won’t even host a book launch. It’s selling. Plain and simple. Perhaps if the leadership viewed it as covering the costs of a missionary work so that the author can give books to non-believers, they might reconsider. I have done just that many times because of my church’s support—given novels to teens and adults alike that just couldn’t afford them but were curious about the message.

 

I’ve had my own personal experiences that weren’t exactly uplifting too. In the past I have been told that I couldn’t sell books in a church because it wasn’t really a ministry—that it was a business. Really? So telling stories about Jesus isn’t a ministry? And we shouldn’t be paid in the church for that? I guess that means that all ministers should relinquish their pay cheques if that is the case because that is exactly what they are doing. We just do it in writing.

 

Perhaps this post comes across as a rant. Perhaps some of you may consider it as self-serving. I can’t do anything about that other than to say that—yes—it is a bit of a rant—but not for me. It is a rant on behalf of the many authors who don’t have a wonderful church backing them in their ministry as I do. And yes—it is self-serving. I recognized that in order to continue my own ministry I need to sell books—but I also need prayer support and encouragement. I get all of that—but so many authors don’t. Most authors truly are prophets without honour.

 

Consider this: If the church doesn’t support the local Christian author, who will? The atheist? Or perhaps the New Age guru? If the local Christian author doesn’t get the support he or she needs they will cease to write. Then where will the resources be when you wish to reach your neighbour or friend for Christ?

 

This is a ministry and we are all part of it—authors and readers alike. Christian authors write what God leads them to write. Readers support the authors through prayer, encouragement and, yes, purchase—and then share, with those around them, those books they have purchased.

 

This Christmas, as you consider what to buy as a gift, think of the Christian author in your church or community. Pray for them. Encourage them to keep writing—even though the bills are piling up for them and the local book store won’t keep their book in stock. And buy a book from them for a gift for someone you know. Perhaps what they write really was meant for the loved one you have been praying for all those years.

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2 Comments

Reply Chad
9:29 AM on March 17, 2012 
I just happened to come across this article while searching for "why won't churches support ministries". And I must say, it's the complete and utter truth. I started a ministry last Aug with a couple of partners (Dare to be Identified). We expected a lot of excitement and enthusiasm from our church, family, and friends. Sadly, none of it came. Our church has barely acknowledge our ministry, has not mentioned it at a service, has not made any posting or announcements, has not inquired to us about how we are doing, has not asked what they could do to help, and frankly, they haven't even seemed to have grasped the message of our ministry. Our biggest support has been from the family of one of my partners who are not even Christian. These people don't really understand the message, yet they are excited and willing to help in any way they can.

And it doesn't stop there. I have pastors in my family...and their only response was a very indifferent "Oh, that's neat". We've even been trying to use our ministry to help youth groups with fundraising, donating percentage of proceeds for every bracelet the kids sell...yet nearly every church we've contacted wasn't interested. We can't understand why they can't see the ministry and message of the Gospel behind our product.

So while our ministry may not be a book, I think this is a common problem with churches toward all type of ministries. It almost seems as if they view other ministries as competition. If it's not to support the church directly, they want to pretend it doesn't exist. A very, very sad state of mind, and one that I think breaks God's heart.

I can't imagine that disheartening and discouraging other ministries is pleasing to God. You certainly are lucky to have a church that so actively supports you.
Reply Donna Fawcett
9:41 AM on March 19, 2012 
Chad says...
I just happened to come across this article while searching for "why won't churches support ministries". And I must say, it's the complete and utter truth. I started a ministry last Aug with a couple of partners (Dare to be Identified). We expected a lot of excitement and enthusiasm from our church, family, and friends. Sadly, none of it came. Our church has barely acknowledge our ministry, has not mentioned it at a service, has not made any posting or announcements, has not inquired to us about how we are doing, has not asked what they could do to help, and frankly, they haven't even seemed to have grasped the message of our ministry. Our biggest support has been from the family of one of my partners who are not even Christian. These people don't really understand the message, yet they are excited and willing to help in any way they can.

And it doesn't stop there. I have pastors in my family...and their only response was a very indifferent "Oh, that's neat". We've even been trying to use our ministry to help youth groups with fundraising, donating percentage of proceeds for every bracelet the kids sell...yet nearly every church we've contacted wasn't interested. We can't understand why they can't see the ministry and message of the Gospel behind our product.

So while our ministry may not be a book, I think this is a common problem with churches toward all type of ministries. It almost seems as if they view other ministries as competition. If it's not to support the church directly, they want to pretend it doesn't exist. A very, very sad state of mind, and one that I think breaks God's heart.

I can't imagine that disheartening and discouraging other ministries is pleasing to God. You certainly are lucky to have a church that so actively supports you.


Chad, I hate to say it but you are right. I am in a minority these days. I think the biggest problem comes from our losing our first love as happened in the early churches. We have gotten so busy doing church that we have lost the excitement of sharing Christ's truth. It is sad that great ministries of outreach tend to be pushed to the wayside. I began watching The Truth Project and have found it very eye opening in explaining why our churches are failing to encourage their members. You might want to look for it via a search engine and look into it. And pray! I have found that praying for my church has had an impact. Pray that God's truth will become the main focus. Your ministry--if centered around God's truth--will become a priority then because the church will be seeking to further His truth in the community. Blessings and thanks for commenting.