Monday, April 16th, 2012
This could be yours for the low, low price of $1, $5, $15, $30, or $100. Your choice.
Remember when I talked about Kickstarter being a possible avenue for raising support? Well, I’m proud to announce our very first Kickstarter project: a sequel to the “hit” game Hast Du Eier? Please check out the Kickstarter project and donate to make this “dream” a “reality”.
Of course this whole project comes as a part of a support raising push for Unterwegs. Our ministry works as a group, but all staff are individually financed. Shalynn and I have just dipped into the red in our funds, and we’re looking to get back into a good place financially, along with some other staff. Apparently, being in the red happens time to time for every ministry, but that doesn’t make it any less comfortable a squeeze to be in.
We’re looking for some other creative ways to get back on top as the summer semester starts here in Tübingen. Let’s see what doors open for us.
Wednesday, January 11th, 2012
One of these Christmas mascots speaks German as a first language. Can you tell which?
Support raising is a lot like going to a job interview that never ends – and in which the employer lives on a different continent and, for the most part, doesn’t ask questions. In order to gain the confidence of possible supporters – and to keep the confidence of current supporters – we constantly present our strong points and our successes.
Having success stories is incredibly legitimizing. Raising support before we left for the field – when our ministry in Tübingen was a goal, not a reality – was incredibly difficult. Ministry supporters are not like Venture Capitalists – their financial investment is one-way, and it often comes at a greater personal cost than it might to most wealthy investors. Naturally, they would want to support something that’s guaranteed to work – and the best guarantee that something works is if that something is already working.
David Damberger, a former member of Engineers Without Borders, gave some food for thought on the subject of sharing weaknesses and failures with supporters at a TED Talk last year. Robert Braden, the former team leader of England, once said in a supporter newsletter: “We share our hard times as well as our successes, so that people don’t get the impression that what we do is easy.” And to top if off, the Evangelical Church in Germany has chosen a verse from 2 Corinthians 12 as the Biblical focus for the year: My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.
Every ministry, like any organization, has weaknesses. Globalscope Germany is no exception. Language is definitely one of them. German is an old, inflexible language that doesn’t extend much grace to the learner. Even after 17+ years of practice, I’m still being schooled every day.
And yet we are called to work within exactly that weakness. It is our job to communicate incredibly deep thoughts and feelings in the one language (out of our possible two, or in Pam’s case, three) in which our communication is the weakest. It is an unusual irony – after repeated offers to our student leaders to speak to the group, almost all of them have refused. They would rather listen to us speak as we stumble over conjugation mistakes and repeatedly confuse dative and accusative. It’s the whale that swallows our Jonah, God’s reminder that it’s our work to do, at least as of now.
Still, the fact that Globalscope Germany has produced as many success stories as it has is proof of the sufficiency of the grace given us. The power present in our ministry cannot be accredited to our team of capable individuals and our mastery of the language – because we haven’t mastered the language. It is a testament to a strength that we rely on that comes from outside of us. I think that’s what Paul was getting at :)
Friday, August 19th, 2011
Funding for specific projects: support raising of the very near future.
It’s been a good month Stateside, considering. Currently, Shalynn and I calculate ourselves to be at 75% of our monthly support needs. That’s a good step from the 60% support we were at when we came back a month ago, and a far cry from the 40% support we were at when we left for Germany in January.
So how do we make the other 25% happen from the field?
We may be considering funding for specific projects, via Kickstarter. Say, for instance, we need to replace/improve some sound equipment at Unterwegs (two out of our three microphones are Radio Shack brand, after all). Instead of going directly into our slightly limited funds, we might create a Kickstarter project to buy the equipment through a sound project… Kickstarter helps us raise the money through patrons of the creative arts; we get our band to record some music on the new equipment; and our Kickstarter supporters at different levels get rewards, ranging from a hand-written “thank you” to an MP3 recording of us performing a song of their choosing.
If we’re clever about it, we can do these projects in such a way that our students get more involved and receive more ownership of Unterwegs. If we’re professional about it, we can get financial support from outside our network of current supporters – possibly even from people more interested in creative endeavors than in Christian ones. Kickstarter has an unusually good record of getting people to support weird projects – if we’re regular about it, we can offset part of that 25%.
Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011
The curse of building a ministry where none exists is that, oftentimes, it requires money from a budget where none exists.
Coming back to the United States and sharing the stories of Unterwegs and all that has happened over the last semester, perhaps the most common reaction we have received from people is surprise. Those familiar with missions would say of Europe that it may be the most difficult scene for a ministry of any type, and the fact that we have gone and have found a level of success impresses.
After being back in the States for two weeks to raise support, I can say with conviction that, as difficult a work such as ours in Germany may be, it does not approach the difficulty for us in raising support in the United States.
The topic of raising support and the difficulties associated with it are something often discussed by us campus ministers. Some go so far as to call it a curse. While I agree that there is fear in support raising that comes from fear of men, for us, the bigger fear in support raising comes from the fear of finding ourselves falling short of our call to be campus ministers.
When young Globalscope hopefuls sign on to go plant a ministry or support an existing ministry, the most important thing in a candidate is their conviction of being called to the work – because as soon as the support raising process starts and the people you were sure would support you say “no”, doubt sets in. Appointments get stood up. Phone messages and emails don’t get returned. Hand-written letters never get opened.
We feel called. We have repeatedly been confirmed in our call and our conviction, and not simply by words of affirmation from Americans, but by the lives we have been a part of changing in Germany. Would God prepare us and call us to such a work and have us do the work – only for us to come up short of the financial means to do it? That is the fear in support raising.
Two years into ministry, and the three year-old blog remains dedicated to the support raising side. We still have 40% to go.
Tuesday, July 26th, 2011
Can you name all the Unterwegs-ers?
Well, here we are, back Stateside. As I said at this year’s Globalscope Celebration – when all the Globalscopes come together and compare notes – our job as campus ministers is to be storytellers, twofold: once to tell our students the story of God working in their lives; twice to tell our supporters the stories of the students that hear the story.
August is set aside this year for the second part. We have been in Germany for six months on the graces of many people, including every single one of our teammates, who sacrificed part of their salaries to have us there. I doubt many other missionaries, Globalscope or otherwise, can claim that. It’s time to get back on the right track, and the right track is about $3,000 in monthly commitments away.
There was a time when I had to raise that money alone, and all I had to sell was the dream of one day having a ministry in Tübingen. This time, we are equipped with the stories of the best semester of ministry our very real, very much existing, two year-old ministry has seen.
Our first student gave her confession of faith. We have other students who stood up to record their testimonies of how Unterwegs has affected their lives. One of our students is coming to visit the States and wants to share what Unterwegs has meant to her.
August will rock.
Thursday, December 16th, 2010
Christmas is coming. Check your mailbox.
The Annual Christmas Card: like fruitcake and wassailing, it’s a golden tradition of a by-gone era. Back when picking out a Christmas tree involved a tramp through the woods with your ax on your shoulder. Back when a one-horse, open-sleigh ride was your primary mode of transport. Back when you didn’t shop for your Christmas presents online – you carved them by hand – your hand – while sitting next to the fire in your little house on the prairie. You know, Christmas cards.
It’s an opportunity to say “hello” and “season’s greetings” and “well, enough about you – here’s all about how I’m doing”. That’s why each year we squeeze in a clever message about how we’re doing on support raising. Two years ago it took the form of a postcard that read “Wishing You a Very Halfway There Christmas”. This year, it’s about the fact that we’re leaving for the field (underfunded) come January. We’re including a little Christmas treat in each card – a wedding photo and a shiny, new prayer card of both Shalynn and myself to replace that old, dusty one you have on your fridge.
Thanks to Shalynn’s meticulous record-keeping of addresses, we’re sending out about 400 cards. That dwarfs any previous notions I had up until this point regarding mailing for support raising. It may be a little old fashioned (and there may be better ways to raise support), but, heck, we’re suckers for old school holiday traditions.
Saturday, December 4th, 2010
Big news comes at Christmas.
Well, it’s a regular Christmas miracle… kind of. Our prayers to get to Germany in January have been answered in a big way: we are greenlit to fly to Stuttgart as soon as January 2 to begin our work as a married couple at Unterwegs; but here’s the rub: we are going severely underfunded.
Chris and Stef Coleman, two of the three teammates currently in the field, are moving back to the States for good six months earlier than originally planned. With the two of them gone, Beth, our remaining teammate in the field, needs extra bodies to handle the workload that, at one point, required five full-time staffers. We are those bodies.
And currently, those bodies fall significantly short of our financial needs. Wedding gifts have put us simply over the top for our Outgoing Budget, but we are currently only at 30% of our Monthly Budget.
SOOO… this Christmas Season, why not share the gift of an incredible Christian experience with students in Germany and support us monthly? We are willing, we are able, we are excited, and we will soon be a quorum of the team in the field (at least for a couple months).
In fact, file this post as Reason #20.
Wednesday, October 20th, 2010
Chocolate Coffee. It's not MJE. But it's alright.
Ever since the sudden demise of Mighty Joe Espresso, we’ve been looking for a new place to set up forward base for Support Raising, “an escape from the house, a sanctuary with an internet connection”. Today we have made steps towards completing that goal by buying a membership card at Chocolate Coffee on Shallowford. But let me be absolutely clear*, finding a replacement for MJE will be like mastering guitar, ending a war in the Middle East, or paying off student debt – you never ever get there, you just always get closer.
* “But let me be absolutely clear” quote is a registered trademark of President Obama.
And what are we doing at Support Raising HQ today? Why, fleshing out our presentation to EES. Our focus: the house. It truly is fantastic. Our campus house is the greatest thing since sliced bread, which is good, because sliced bread hasn’t really caught on in Europe so much.
The house is our center for much of our activity and all of our major events: Just Lunch, Cafe English, and Thursday Nights. More than that, students are finally, after much encouragement and telling and selling, coming to see the house as a sanctuary on campus. Unterwegs is a place where they can come to chill. There is always food. There is always a friend there, all day and even some nights. You can come to play games, to socialize, to drink coffee, or to sleep and do nothing. There’s no other public space anything like that in Tübingen – and nothing close that doesn’t require you to purchase something.
It’s hard to find something like that anywhere in Germany, actually. That’s probably why it has taken so long to convince students to use the house like we intended. But now Unterwegs is the place students come to be home in Tübingen.
Two of our students flew back from Semester Break and arrived at the Stuttgart Airport at 6:00. By 7:00, they were at Unterwegs. That’s awesome, and that’s worth supporting.
Please forgive the lack of updates for the next little while. I’m getting married.
Saturday, October 9th, 2010
The Globalscope Show goes to Greenville.
Even without my trusty 2003 Corolla S by my side (it’s in the shop, getting a new transmission from a German, appropriately), it’s difficult for me to stay in one location. This week, I’m in Spartanburg, Shalynn’s hometown.
If the indie coffee business is tough in Atlanta, it’s even tougher here in Sparkle City. Starbucks is all that remains after several years of a tough economic climate, punctuating the landscape of sprawl between Greenville and Moore.
Tomorrow we visit Shalynn’s home church. Here’s what we have coming up after that: a trip to Johnson City for the annual EES conference (where we will be presenting), a trip to Boston November 4 (I know, we’re getting married just a few days earlier, but we booked our honeymoon for November 13 and we need to get up there before the holiday season) and another trip to Toccoa in December. That might not sound like much, but throw in Thanksgiving, Christmas and, let’s say, a wedding and a honeymoon, and suddenly we’re pushing the envelope just fine, thanks.
Tuesday, October 5th, 2010
Cards from the children at Tuckerfirst for the students at Unterwegs.
Shalynn and I had the opportunity to talk to the childrens’ Sunday School class at Tuckerfirst this past weekend. Not sure how much we really got through to them – although we did teach them the German phrases for “good morning”, “good bye”, and “you are a child of God”…
I can talk to college students about almost anything in two languages, but set me in front of a five-year-old, and I’m about as useful as Marta is efficient. Seriously, it takes 90 minutes to get to Midtown from Tucker?
At any rate, the TFUMC kids made cards for the students at Unterwegs. One girl addressed her card “To The Germans”. One boy wrote a list of his favorite foods inside his card and placed a footnote on the bottom: “Mail to Germany”. Another card is made from magazine headlines that were cut out and pasted in like a ransom letter: “Thank God a miracle, A Great Miracle. Love, Alex.” Thanks, kids :)