Raising Partners is Like Cooked Spaghetti… doesn't always go as planned, but it's still good!

This was just one of the humorous but challenging insights from Myles Wilson, main speaker at both the Fund Development Leaders' Forum and MPD Network Forum held in Málaga, Spain at the end of April.

Ministry Partner Development (MPD) is the process of building up a group of interested co-labourers to fund and intercede for individual missionaries or projects. Instead of referring to "donors" or simply "supporters", our approach is to invite people to join us in realizing a God-given vision for ministry that shares the message of Christ and shows His love to people in various ways.

The participants at the Forums had the opportunity to examine the MPD process from various angles: How God views MPD, how a financial partner views MPD, how the national leadership team views MPD, how the ALT views MPD, and how we as staff view MPD. Though we staff often wish it looked like uncooked spaghetti, all in straight lines, God in His sovereign wisdom works at all different levels through MPD, mixing up the spaghetti, but never losing control.

Myles reminded us, “MPD is God’s children working together to ensure that the father’s resources are used in the best way possible to spread the knowledge of his glory.”

Each of the Forums had a slightly different emphasis:

  • The Fund Development Leaders Forum looked at the special challenges facing leaders in their own partner development and also at the national level. Policies which provide a good environment for healthy partner development were investigated. Horst Reiser introduced the “Shifting Gears” framework: After building a firm foundation in gear 1 (personal partner development), national ministries can shift to gear 2 (local teams raising funds for their ministries).
  • The MPD Network Forum focused on equipping coordinators, trainers, and staff in useful attitudes and skills. A wide range of workshops were offered on various topics ranging from communicating with partners to gaining new contacts, training and coaching others, using online tools, and planning and following through on the process.


Participants discovered that conferences ministry partner development can be fun! Ask your national director about the remote-controlled Lamborghinis, Oscars, and Horst Reiser dressed up like the professor in the movie “Back to the Future”. Ask your colleagues who attended the  Network Forum about choreographing a dance about core convictions, listening to an Antarctic explorer present his vision during a personal appointment in the year 1914, or about Leendert de Jong’s challenge to replace the "gray hairs".

But above all, ask those who participated in either or both of the forums about what God taught them. Here are a few of their comments:

“I had low expectations and didn’t really need another conference to attend. But I am going home with encouragement. My heart is set on the right direction, and I am going home with action steps.”

“I have attended a lot of conferences, but this was one of the best! It was useful, inspiring, encouraging, and it changed my perspective in positive ways.”

“I wasn’t in a mood to come, but God used these days to change my heart. My perspective and my mindset have changed.”

“The main point for me was to be reminded to listen to God and to obey Him. My heart was touched. I was reminded of times when I ignored God’s prompting. I need to be more sensitive to Him.”

An interview with new Agapé UK Staff Member Abby about her Forum experience...

Abby.Bick (1 von 1)
Abby is a new Agapé UK staff member who is currently building up her group of ministry partners. She is scheduled to join the team in Birmingham in June. The recent Fund Development and MPD Forums were her first exposure to a Europe-wide event and gave her a real taste of our organization and approach to fund development (her area of expertise).
Why did you decide to participate in the Fund Development Leaders’ Forum?
It was recommended by other UK staff. Although I don’t officially start with Agapé until June, when I do start I’ll have a focus on Fund Development so they thought it would be helpful. I had very little idea of what to expect. I did find the ‘Shifting Gears’ paper on the Agape Europe website which I read in advance but I could find no agenda.

Now, following the event – how do you feel? Was it worth investing your time to attend? It was definitely worth attending. I’ve had a lot of experience in various aspects of fund development but not in support raising so it was interesting to see the interplay between the two. It was also great to meet colleagues from across Europe.

What was the best part of that experience?  The best part was getting to spend time with the UK team and having space as a team to think about issues around fund development and MPD and the implications for the UK. It was great to have time within the programme to reflect as a team on how we might make changes or initiate new ideas and come up with positive and concrete actions. It was also get the chance to spend time with Dan and Dave from Cru and benefit from their experience.

How does the process of fundraising – either for the overall ministry, the local team or yourself as an individual staff member – impact your faith and your involvement in ministry?  A lot of people have quite a negative view of fundraising, either they think it’s boring or they think there’s something almost dirty about it. Over the years I’ve come to realise that it’s neither and that it’s fundamental to our faith. When we raise funds we do so to help fulfil the Great Commission so we shouldn’t be embarrassed but excited and enthusiastic. We’re called fulfil the Great Commission and to be sacrificial with all our resources whether that be time or money, and so by asking people to give to our work we’re helping them to be obedient and live out their faith. I’ve also benefited from seeing others being sacrificial in their giving which has challenged me to look at how I can be more sacrificial in the way I live and give.

Any else you'd like to share?  It was great to attend as a team and therefore be able to leave with a shared understanding and enthusiasm to address issues.



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