‘The God Ask’


Read Part 1.

In this short series, I am sharing some of the things that I learned at Via Generosity’s Support Raising Bootcamp, which I attended earlier this month near Austin, TX. The training is centered around the book called The God Ask by Steve Shadrach (Fayetteville, AR: Via Nations, 2023).

But “The God Ask” is not only the title of the book. It is also the genius of the philosophy fleshed out in both the book and the bootcamp. The concept is simple, and is expressed in a diagram of a triangle (see The God Ask, p. 28). At the top of the illustration is God. At the bottom left corner is the support raiser, who is entreating God to supply his needs and guide him to individuals that God is preparing to use to meet those needs. At the bottom right corner is the prospective donor, who should be inquiring of God how he can best “lay up … treasures in heaven” (Matt. 6:20).

If each of these human participants is properly motivated and prepared, the next step should be easy. It is the horizontal “God Ask” from the support raiser to the one he is asking to give, seeking to know if that person would be interested in having a part in this particular ministry.

Of course, anyone who has ever attempted to raise funds for anything—in particular, their own ministry—knows that this final “God Ask” is really the most difficult part of any such conversation. I personally have no problem asking pastors for opportunities to speak in their churches. It’s not even that hard to stand at the pulpit and ask a whole congregation for its financial support. Asking an individual for their personal support, however, is something completely different. Making a ministry presentation is lots of fun—right up until that point. Then it is extremely tempting just to omit “The God Ask.”

I appreciate how the culture around Via Generosity and The God Ask is filled with references to terms like partnering and investment. These are concepts that emphasize the dignity of this relationship in ministry. As our bootcamp trainers often stressed, the support raiser is not begging, and the person offering support is not merely donating. This transaction is primarily spiritual, not purely financial. The two parties are truly forming a valued, trusting relationship in service to Christ.

So, if the person across the table is the kind of Christian I would want to partner with, and if we have both made the critical “God Ask” first, each in our respective ways, then that last step should be natural indeed. I am simply asking if they believe that God is directing them to entrust a portion of their resources to our ministry for the sake of eternal gain. If the answer is yes, we rejoice together! And, if the answer is no, we can rejoice in that as well. God may truly be directing them to give financially elsewhere—but He may still appoint them to focus on praying for our ministry.

When I meditate on this—as other support raisers have taught me—it should really be humbling that anyone would give toward my ministry at all. If someone is taking their hard-earned dollars and putting them into my account, I better be thankful, and I ought to work as hard as I can to be effective as their partner in ministry.

Yes, Via Generosity teaches techniques that will make the support raiser more adept at presenting “The God Ask,” and offers tools to facilitate communication. But those things must always be subservient to the foundational elements of “The God Ask.” It is indeed central to the entire process.

I need to be continually making that “God Ask”—praying for the Lord’s guidance to point me to just the right people to talk to and then, after explaining “The God Ask” to them, boldly inviting them to join me in a vital partnership in ministry.

An illustration came to me as I was thinking about all that I had learned at Support Raising Bootcamp. Imagine that you had a significant financial need—far beyond your ability to pay—for a life-and-death situation. That’s the bad news.

But the good news is that you have a wealthy friend who has already provided for your entire need. Being quite ingenious, however, and desiring for you to play an active part in acquiring the necessary funds, your friend has chosen to distribute the money through a network of people who are expecting your request. If you ask, they will give it to you—but only if you ask!

Consider what your role would really be in this scenario. There would be no need to manipulate or plead with anyone to give you the money. Either they have it, and will gladly give it to you if you simply ask, or they do not.

But you also must not be presumptuous and assume that those who are hanging on to the money will shortly be sending it to you. No—you have to humbly ask. And, if you don’t, “You do not have because you do not ask” (James 4:2).

In a similar way, I trust that God has already determined how He will support my ministry, and I know that He is capable of moving in the hearts of those people that He will use to provide that support. But I still have to ask.

So, why should anyone give to my ministry, or any ministry, for that matter? And what is accomplished when they do? I’ll deal with those questions next time, as we conclude this series.


I wonder if maybe personal vs. church would be more and less accountable but in different ways. That is, an individual who is partnering probably pays more attention to what’s happening in the ministry than the average church member who’s congregation is supporting that ministry.

On the other hand, the church is going to have a statement of faith, probably some ‘qualifying ministries’ language in their constitution/bylaws, and maybe a spelled out process for evaluating and continuing/discontinuing support. …none of which most supporting individuals have, I would think.

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.

Churches are in a better position to evaluate various aspects of ministry that individuals may find difficult. One example is financial accountability. Our church has a decades-long practice of requesting precise financial information annually from the missionaries we support, usually supplied by the Missions Agency. (or Board). Some organizations are better equipped to provide this than others, but we have dropped a couple of missionaries over the years if we were unable to obtain the information we requested. I've never known an individual to do this, have you?

G. N. Barkman

My church supports numerous missionaries (collectively). Many within the church also support missionaries one-to-one (individually).

A third option (which appears to be much less common) is that we also have certain sub-groups within the church who support specific missionaries. For example, several ABFs (Adult Bible Fellowships) and Small Groups support specific missionaries on their sub-group level.

So there’s at least one other mid-range possibility between the “All” (whole church) or “One” (individual) options.

I’m all for creativity within biblical limits. I’m curious, though: how are subgroups within a church held accountable by the church as a whole? I’m sure large churches with a lot of subgroups have methods for doing that, but I’ve never really observed how it works.

Or maybe I have sort of. I recall one church or other I was member of having a ladies’ group or men’s group that took on special missionary projects from time to time. So they were doing something similar I guess, though in a more short term way. I think those projects were overseen by a deacon led committee or something along those lines. Probably the pastor got a veto opportunity.

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.