100% Self-Supporting: More Freedom?

“Looking for more freedom in your BAM life?”

“I am just so tired of having to report back to my home churches!” is what I heard from a BAM person a while back. He was feeling like he needed to perform for his churches and gain their support by producing numbers. Do churches really expect that? Where was he getting those expectations?

In reality, most of our churches do NOT want to us to perform. They want us to be faithful and obedient to God’s calling in our lives.

But there is something in our hearts that longs for a little freedom! Is this a good thing?

When we look at the model of 100% self-supporting, there is obviously more freedom! The question we need to ask is:

“Is more freedom better in a BAM person’s life?”

Freedom is a good thing! We encourage the oppressed to fight for freedom, however, there is one thing that I have noticed.

Freedom without accountability is not healthy.

A Slippery Slope

I have been involved in running a BAM business for the past 20 years. Our business has grown to the point that it now produces enough income that we can live off of it. A few years ago, we made the choice to move to a 100% self-supported model.

I love the self-supported model but I don’t think it is for everyone. There are some pros & cons to this model.

When some people consider the idea of leaving their organization and going 100% self-supported, there is a sense of freedom. It can be quite appealing! They think they will no longer have to report to anyone. They will not need to spend their summer breaks speaking to churches. They will not feel the pressure of having to produce “results.”

If you follow this line of thinking too far, you begin to get into dangerous territory.

Playing a part

Firstly, there are a number of people who feel they are living their lives vicariously through you. They faithfully give each month to support your missionary life. They commit to praying for you. They believe in what you do and want to be apart of it.

Through their giving, they get to play a role in your ministry.

Although they themselves are not called to go overseas, they have been called to send others. Should we take that blessing away from them?

If you decide to move off of financial support make sure you keep your prayer support. It is vital to communicate to your support team that you still need them involved in your lives. Just because you don’t need their money, does not mean you don’t need their prayers. If you continue to send out prayer updates and communicate with your partners, I believe they will continue to be behind you 100%.

We all need a compass

Secondly, with more freedom comes less accountability. As you head out on your own, you need to ask yourself these questions. Are there people still speaking into your life to make sure you have not lost your way? Are you still focusing on the “main thing?” Are you still part of a local church that has “sent you out?”

We all need accountability in our lives to keep us pointed in the right direction.

Do you have an “accountability compass?”

This was important for our family, so we have intentionally chosen to remain connected to an organization & our sending churches. We are NOT employed by them but we have asked them to hold us accountable on the church planting side of things.

Whether it is a mission agency or your home church, it is vital to have “overseers” in your life. We all need people in our lives to challenge us & make sure we have not gone off of course.

Giving the challenge

Thirdly, your churches need to be challenged and inspired to answer the “Great Commission.” When you refuse to share what God is doing in the world, you take away an opportunity for someone else to be called. Taking the gospel to the nations will always be part of the church’s mandate. What a great privilege to be able to challenge the church to complete the task.

If you choose to go off of financial support, make a commitment with your churches to still share and speak when you return to your home country. We have found that our churches are more than happy for us to share what God is doing…even if they don’t send us money.

Is money really the issue?

The reality of the fact is that money is not the key issue here. The main issue is that you NEED to remember 4 things:

Never lose your focus of why you are called.
Continue to be part of a sending church and challenge them to reach the lost.
Make sure that you have accountability in your life to keep you on course.
Keep people praying and engaged in what you are doing

If you can figure out how to do these 4 things while being 100% self-supported, then it could be the perfect model for you.

Make sure you have clearly thought through all of the issues before choosing your tentmaking model, like:

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