Modern Societies and Infrastructure
Modern societies require a huge amount of infrastructure. So much so that
it is often taken for granted. Many unseen aspects of a prosperous society
are absolutely essential to that prosperity. They include such things as
the electrical grid, roads, bridges, railroads, gas lines, water mains,
communication cables, towers and much more. Because much of this
infrastructure is hidden away, at least from the casual or untrained eye,
politicians often ignore the repairs to, and expansion of this very
One of the things I have appreciated about Israel is an amazing
commitment to infrastructure. The Galilee region is being developed
with many new roads that will allow expanded Jewish settlement. Our Prime
Minister has committed himself to a good road system and to railroads
connecting every significantly large town. Though it has taken a long
time, we hope in three years to have a fast rail link between Jerusalem
and Tel Aviv (30 minutes). All of this is essential to the economic
prosperity of Israel.
Ministries also have infrastructure. What is infrastructure for a
ministry? First of all, this is a capable staff. When I began our
ministry in Chicago, in a small congregation, Patty and I were the staff.
We did the newsletter together, used the old metal plate addressograph
machine, mimeo-machine and more. Does anyone remember those technologies?
In Washington, with a larger congregation and working as president of our
national union of congregations, we needed a quality
administrator-secretary. Two of those who filled this position were
outstanding. Sadly, one was extremely incompetent. In just one month of
incompetence, problems were created that took many months to solve. We
were in deep trouble for a season. What a lesson!
Tikkun International as a corporation came into existence as a service
organization to establish Eitan Shishkoff and Asher Intrater in Israel.
This was a new direction for us. I was not totally unfamiliar with some of
the aspects of it, since we did some degree of this management for the
Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations when I was the General Secretary
(1985-88). However, we now had a more consistent monthly newsletter to
send. We also chose the best mail management system we could find.
Being the pastor of Beth Messiah, leading a small network of congregations
and also working as the Director of Operations for Tikkun International was
crushing for me and inefficient. At that time, Ted Simon, the Messianic
Rabbi of El Shaddai Congregation in Frederick, Maryland came with a word of
warning concerning my health and the intensity of the burden. It was
imperative that I give the job of Director of Operations to someone else.
But how could I afford to hire such a person? The ministry was growing.
Other emissaries were joining us and moving to Israel, Russia and Ukraine.
Then the most unexpected thing happened. John Kelly, the leader of the
Antioch network of churches met with David C. Rudolph and I. John gave
David a prophetic word that he was to put his ministry (Gateways Beyond) on
hold and become my first Director of Operations with a very limited salary
package. David is a prophetic brother and does not thrive in
administration, but he gave himself to it. He was given a special grace to
do it well and oversaw a staff of four full and part time people! However,
I needed to learn one more lesson. That lesson was to fund an adequate
income for operations to keep an excellent staff with sufficient morale to
do the job with gusto. I needed more training.
We soon connected to a ministry called Calvary International in
Jacksonville, Florida. Calvary had great influence through planting
congregations in Russia, Ukraine and South America. These dear folks
under Daniel Williams and George Myers received us with open arms. They
offered to train our new emissaries for their friend-raising work and to
prepare them for the pressures of foreign service. George imparted his
wisdom to us concerning the necessary infrastructure to serve the
There are certain things that must be done to serve the emissaries well.
Their funds need to be managed with quality and integrity. (We were
already committed to quality audits.) The mail list of each emissary
needed to be tracked efficiently so that each emissary could be aware of,
and stay in touch with his supporters. Office equipment and technology
needed regular upgrading. In addition, mailings, receipting, communication
and office contact all required admin staff that could manage these tasks
Calvary International studied many ministries and found that doing the
work of operations cost on the average of 20% per emissary. Calvary
required 10% of funds from each emissary to perform these services.
George raised the other 10% for operations. He noted that business people
understood this and would give to it.
Tikkun now has its fourth Director of Operations since my days as this
role. Today, this role belongs to my son Benjamin. He is really bringing
us up to date through the best technology for mailing, web management and
so much more. His years in the business world were excellent preparation.
Our staff is flourishing under his leadership.
Don't Skimp on Operations
Since our time with George, many have written on the foundational
importance of quality infrastructure to enable all the emissaries and
ministry leaders to succeed. Recently, Tikkun was approved as a member of
the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. This wonderful
organization has published very good articles on the issues of operations.
They urge ministries not to skimp on infrastructure or operations. To do
so is to lose out on income growth for the ministry over the long haul.
Better Business Bureau accepts that 30% of income is reasonable for such
operations. For the last several years, we have done the work of
operations at 10% of income. This is amazing. Yet, we are stretched and
if overall funds decline in recessions, then we are on the edge. Somehow
God has always come through for us
The operations portfolio is the poor child of many ministries. It is
essential, but in the background. It is not charismatically exciting.
People want to give to support the evangelist, the planter, prophet or a
great teacher. Yet operations are so essential. I would like to see more
of a cushion. We have been spending reserves this year. We are not
alarmed or afraid. However, it would be a real blessing if some of our
donors would give some extra, just for operations. Such gifts serve all
the ministries and emissaries connected to Tikkun. It is a step of
ministry maturity to embrace operations in a deeper way!
If you are familiar with my monthly articles than you know this is a very
unusual article for me to write. My brothers on the Tikkun International
Board encouraged me to write you and inform you of our need, and I have
consented to do so. We are very grateful for all of your support, why not
consider a special extra gift just for operations.