Back From Bootcamp


I just returned from bootcamp—Support Raising Bootcamp, that is. I attended Via Generosity’s Support Raising Bootcamp in Austin, Texas, on Feb. 12 and 13.

This training is based around the compelling book by Steve Shadrach (not to be confused with Meshach or Abednego!) called The God Ask (Fayetteville, AR: Via Nations, 2023). I was familiar with both the book and the bootcamp, and had desired to attend for a while, but it was not until the Lord, in His providence, arranged for me to have a speaking opportunity in southeast Kansas over the prior weekend that I was convinced it was wise to make the trip at this particular time. After all, I would already be halfway there!

There were more than 40 of us who took this course together, and we came from a wide variety of ministries and mission boards, and are headed to many different destinations. I did not run into anyone who was even familiar with The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, which was a bit of a surprise to me. Our trainers’ backgrounds were with Cru and Fellowship of Christian Athletes, in addition to Via. The majority of the students in the group were men, but there were a good number of ladies, as well, and a handful of married couples. Ages varied from those right out of college to veterans who are advanced in their ministry careers.

Now, in just two days of meeting I certainly did not get to fellowship with everyone in attendance. But, as far as I learned, there was only one other man there with pastoral experience. In fact, one thing that I have found very interesting from the entire culture surrounding Via Generosity is that it seems that the norm or expectation may be that people will be going into ministry and missions from secular backgrounds, with university degrees. They may have some formal Biblical, theological or ministry training—or they may have none at all. I find this most interesting, and I wonder what it means for the future of missions, and for the future of our theological landscape. I also have to wonder, where are the graduates of our Bible colleges and seminaries? It has been posited that they are largely uninterested in ministry opportunities that involve support raising. Those are all issues for another column, on another day—but issues that I find fascinating, nonetheless.

But, back to bootcamp—let me explain the process. There is extensive preparation even before one attends. The foundation of it all is reading Shadrach’s book, The God Ask. Now, there are lots of great books and resources out there to help with raising support. But The God Ask is on a different level than anything else that I have encountered. I would describe it like this: Steve Shadrach is sort of the Dave Ramsey of support raising! His book will challenge your presuppositions and change your thinking about this whole area—and if you are a support raiser, it will shake your world. If you are willing to heed the message, it will get you up out of the easy chair and point you toward wearing out some shoe leather!

There is also coursework that is required before actually going to bootcamp, and it is quite rigorous. Students complete several units online utilizing the Pathwright learning management system. Directions state that it will take 12 to 24 hours (or more) to complete all the work, along with reading The God Ask. I would guess that I spent closer to 30 to 40 hours on the project. Truthfully, if you want to prepare all the material to the fullest degree—not just to check the boxes saying that you completed it, but for the greatest benefit of your personal ministry—you could easily spend 50 to 60 hours on it.

The bootcamp itself is not for the faint of heart. Over their two days together, students participate in many group or role-playing activities and give their support raising presentations three times to others in the class. They also make real phone calls to potential donors to schedule real appointments.

The program distinguishes itself especially in that students leave with a definitive action plan for the 30 days following bootcamp. Even more significantly, they have a specific and realistic strategy for raising their full support—or the additional amount of support they need beyond what they have already raised—within a limited amount of time. Students agree to allow this process to be overseen by an accountability partner who may be outside of their ministry organization.

Of course, the execution of the plan will still depend on the determination and hard work of the support raiser, as well as the guidelines provided by his or her ministry’s leadership. But for those who are highly motivated to complete the task, Via Generosity’s process provides a real structure for strenuous action. It also offers a number of tools for the job. Some have reported going back home and raising the entire amount of support they needed in extremely short periods of time.

But make no mistake about it—this approach is not about neat tricks, discovering unexpected wealth or manipulating unsuspecting people. It is about hard work … and The God Ask.

The God Ask has the potential to transform the support raiser—as well as the support giver. And that will be our subject in the next installment.


I never knew there was such a thing, but now that I think about it, makes sense. Seems promising.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.