After six years in secondary teaching, I was invited to join our church leadership team in a training role, studying part-time with Union School of Theology part-time.
We worked out an annual budget of £32,500 (I have a wife and two children) and the church committed to raising £19k for us, encouraging us to seek external support for the rest.
We were amazed to see how God had provided numerous supportive contacts from different periods of our life: I approached old family friends from my home church, my own family members, people with whom we had served on summer camps, and friends from our previous church. For most, the letter was simply a formalisation of what we had spoken to them about in person already.
The internet was a great help in finding gospel-hearted trust funds, but even more valuable was the help of friends who had gone through the process before; many ministers and churches will be able to recommend trust funds to approach. I then used the charity commission website to work out what the trusts were keen to support, whether I fitted with that, and what size gifts they have made in the past; it is pointless asking for a vast sum from a small trust, since they won’t be able to help, even if they wanted to.
For both trusts and contacts, I gave full information about what exactly my new role would entail, what the training would include, what I was intending to do with this training long-term, and then what it would cost (with a fairly detailed budget); people will rightly want to know that their money is going to something bigger than your next three years and that it is being spent wisely too.
I also took the opportunity to address a few questions that I’d been asked as I thought about taking the step from school work into full-time ministry, including “Why leave your ministry in the workplace?” and “Why exchange a secure salary for reliance on the financial support of others?”, largely to show people that weren’t jumping into this without giving it great thought.