top of page

When and How to Stop Financially Supporting Missions Partners

No missions leader enjoys the part of their job where they let go of partnerships financially. Inevitably, if you want to be a strategic sending church and be great stewards of the funds of your church, you will need to let some partners go. This is never fun in the moment, but it is critical to moving from simply caring for missionaries to having a strategic vision as a church. This blog post will look at some considerations for letting go of partners.


If you’ve had the chance to read our previous blog posts, one of the exercises we’ve encouraged is to create a spreadsheet of your partners and categorize them in tiers of giving. Look for outliers and come up with general principles and giving ranges that will reflect what vision and strategy you are moving towards as a church. This exercise likely will lead to reducing or letting go of partners. How do you execute this process well?


Define Your Vision, Strategy, and Values

To begin, the vision, strategy, and values need to be clearly defined and approved by a leadership or elder team in your church. Go back to your vision and strategy and ask, “Does anything need tweaking?” “Are all the elders, leaders, and those involved with missions aware of our vision and strategy?” Take care of the tweaking and the communication pieces prior to reducing monthly gifts or letting go of partners. If they know and understand the vision, the plurality of leadership will help you make those tough decisions and will support you as these decisions are communicated to Sent Ones.

Inevitably, if you want to be a strategic sending church and be great stewards of the funds of your church, you will need to let some partners go.

Secondly, as you consider letting go or reducing gifts to partners, make sure you have a vision for where those funds will go. Do you have a vision for increasing your percentage to Sent Ones that fall in the first tier, or “Own” category? Are you saving for a particular project? Whatever the expense is, make sure you have a vision for it. Members will struggle when money is available and it is not given to someone in need. Our job as missions leaders is to steward finances to strategic opportunities, not simply to meet needs. Having a vision for those funds, though, is really important for modeling stewardship and vision to the church members.


Thirdly, you need to consider who is connected to those partners from your congregation. Have conversations with them. Likely, if you are cutting partners, you’re doing so because they are not very connected to your church. But inevitably there is someone that went on a short-term trip with that partner five years ago that cannot believe you’re no longer giving to them. Be courageous in your conversations. Some will be hard, but everyone respects clear communication more than decisions made in a vacuum.

To reduce giving to partners or to let partners go, begin by understanding how your changes will affect their overall budget.

And finally, you need to consider what percentage of their budget your giving provides. If it’s half or more, you may need to have a long-term strategy for tapering off your giving. Cutting 50 percent of their budget all at once would be too much for that partner to handle. If the number is 15 to 20 percent, you’ll still need to consider how you end your giving relationship with them, but it won’t be as severe. And, if you’re only giving 5 percent, discontinuing your giving will not be a large issue.


Evaluate the Effect

To reduce giving to partners or let partners go, begin by understanding how your changes will affect their overall budget. If your church is giving a high percentage, like 50 percent, you’ll probably want to give that partner a two-year window to find other supporters and start a plan of going from 50 percent to 40 to 30 and so on over the course of time. If your church is giving 15 to 20 percent, you can pretty easily drop that over six months to a year. If your church is only giving 5 percent, a few month's warning is sufficient.


When dropping or reducing partners, most churches give a timeline for their reduction in giving and various points at which giving will be reduced until the desired amount is reached. If the partner is being completely dropped at once, churches will often give three to six months of funding as a one-time gift to allow that person to seek other donors.


Dropping partners is never easy. Consider some of these steps to be grace-filled and kind to your partners while working towards continued growth in stewardship of your funding.

 

Mike Easton is the International Program Manager for Reliant Mission. Prior to that Mike was the Missions Pastor at Cornerstone Church in Ames, Iowa, for eight years, where he got to experience the ins and outs of being a sending church. He served on staff with Cornerstone 2006 to 2022 in varying roles–from college ministry to pastoral staff to being an overseas missionary sent from Cornerstone for two years. Mike is the Director of Content for the Upstream Collective. Mike, his wife, Emily, and their four kids continue to live in Ames, IA, and serve at Cornerstone.

2 Comments


We had to deal with a related issue, again, today. A number of people had been financially supporting a "free-lance" missionary through our non-profit corporation. To us this was good, because they met this missionary through Yvonne's ministry trips. When it began, there was good communication going. Yvonne visited her regularly in her restricted country. When she left that field (before getting kicked out), she went to a college in the States. But as time went on, less and less communication. The donors were asking us, "What's going on?" Because we could not get good answers from her, we encouraged them to send a final notice to her and say they were ending their financial support, since they weren't sure…

Like
Mike Easton
Mike Easton
Jul 28, 2021
Replying to

Thanks Neal. Glad that you guys are making the tough decisions for the sake of clarity of your vision.

Like
bottom of page