I welcome you back and thank you for joining me today for what should prove to be a very interesting episode.
If this is your first time joining us, I welcome you, but instead of encouraging you to listen to the rest of today’s episode, I’d like to direct you to almost any other episode we’ve published. You can scroll through your podcast directory, you can start back at the very beginning with episode 1, or you could go to TruthLoveParent.com and peruse the tons of parenting resources we have there.
Either way, if you’re new to the show, today’s episode likely won’t address any of your parenting questions because today’s episode is more along the lines of when your pastor steps into the pulpit and — either before or after his sermon — shares with you some deep struggles that are on his heart.
Now, if you’ve been with us for any amount of time, hopefully you will resonate with this episode. However, if you don’t know me that well, it may feel like visiting a friend’s church and their pastor — whom you don’t know — shares his deepest struggles, and maybe you feel a little out of place.
So, with that, let’s begin.
I started this podcast in 2016 because I believed what God’s Word has to say about marriage, family, and parenting is so desperately necessary in the world and church today.
At the time I was working for Victory Academy for Boys, and I made Truth.Love.Parent. work by devoting some of my off-hours to creating this material.
And by God’s grace our audience grew and a few of you even started sending money so that we could cover the cost of producing, publishing, and hosting the podcast.
Then in 2019 my family moved from Victory Academy, and I was met with a hard decision. Do I pursue employment somewhere else and — hopefully — continue Truth.Love.Parent. on the side, or do I dedicate myself full-time to TLP?
Well, in my decades of life and ministry I realized that the individual and his relationship with God is absolutely paramount. Any ministry I pursue must always minister to the individual.
But beyond that, as we look as Scripture, we see that the family is the next important unit above the individual. Before God created central government or organized religion, God created the family unit.
Though the church has a huge part to play in the maturity of the individual and the family, the family was intended by God to be more integral and seminal in the formation of the individual than either the government or the church. Putting either of those institutions in preeminence over the spiritual influence of the home has gotten our world to where it is now.
Therefore, I believe a ministry to individuals and their families is the most necessary work I could do. And whether I did that in the context of a local church ministry or a para-church organization, it didn’t really matter to me.
And so — after much prayer and counsel — my family came to the conclusion that the most Christ-honoring thing we could do would be to dedicate ourselves to the establishment and continued growth of Truth.Love.Parent.
So, in January of 2020 I announced that we would be formulating TLP as a non-profit and that I would immediately pour myself whole-heartedly into the ministry.
I have to admit that this time was one of the most exciting in my life. We were stepping out in complete faith in God to do something really awesome.
Of course, since our donors were only covering the basic expenses of the ministry, and since I didn’t have another job, my family moved in with my parents in Brevard, NC. They generously offered to work extra hours in order to allow me to focus my efforts on building up the ministry. I cannot over-express how amazing my parents have been. I cannot thank them enough.
So, with my parent’s generous practical support, in addition to the work I’d already been doing for the ministry, I did more work on the website, and I started preparing to travel around the US to speak and introduce TLP to a larger and larger audience.
Well, as you all know, 2020 changed everything.
But even though the world was locked down, I continued producing content and praying that the Lord would give me wisdom in the next steps I should take.
It was during that time that I started more online counseling than I had ever done before — you can surely imagine why. And that was nice because it brought in some additional finances for TLP . . . but — and I know this is the first time I’m mentioning this — but it didn’t bring in enough to provide me a paycheck.
That’s right. I made absolutely no money in 2020.
Now, you may be wondering how that’s even possible. How did we survive?
Well, I’ll tell you.
First, as I already mentioned, God used my parents in a huge way by providing us room and utilities. But we also had to rely on social services. My family signed up for medicaid, and 95% of the all of the food we consumed in 2020 came from local food pantries.
Later on we were also able to sign up for Food Stamps, which was also a huge blessing. EBT and food pantries have kept the Brewsters well-fed in 2021.
Now, since our family didn’t have any debts, the spending we had to do during 2020 (things like basic necessities and work on our vehicle) came out of our savings. And, yes, our savings has been chipped away to barely a shadow of what it once was.
Then came 2021.
Unfortunately, even though the world started to open up, I still didn’t really have any opportunities to travel. People and ministries just didn’t seem interested in hosting a special speaker. Some churches hadn’t even gotten back to their regular services, and — no doubt — the financial strains made people hesitant to give.
But in 20201 we finally received our official 501(c)(3) status, so I developed a board of directors, and we discussed the financial future of TLP and the Brewster family.
I’m very thankful for my board. They care very much about this ministry and my family, and they’re always trying to find the balance between caring for both.
And I thank the Lord that most of the donors we had up until that point still gave faithfully from month to month in 2020 and 2021, but most times we added a new TLP Friend, inevitably another would stop giving. So, our donations stayed basically the same for those two years.
Despite all of that, though, the board decided that I needed to receive some kind of paycheck. So, about half way through 2021 I received my first paycheck.
I hadn’t made a dime for a year and a half, so my new salary of $500 a month was a huge blessing.
Now, again, please do not get me wrong. I was and am extremely thankful for that $500 a month. That — coupled with the child tax credits and so on — greatly reduced the amount of money we had to pull from our savings each month.
But, as you can imagine, it’s practically impossible to support a family of four on $500 a month without a lot of social services and the huge sacrifice of family.
And then July of 2021 hit.
July was a very difficult month. Though it was one of the first months I received a paycheck, it was also the month that my whole family tangled with what appeared to be a COVID variant.
I say a “variant” only because my family had already had COVID previously, and viruses are always morphing, and this one was very different from the first.
This particular experience — for me — weighed extra heavy on the emotional strain.
There were days that I didn’t want to get out of bed.
There were days that I wondered what on earth I was even doing.
I was tempted to doubt God’s goodness.
I was tempted to be angry that I was sacrificing everything and wasn’t even seeing the tiniest fruit of the labor.
And — of course — all of these were the lies of the flesh.
And so, day in and day out for weeks, I prayed and read the Bible and self-counseled and continued to drag my mind to the realities of Who God is and what He’s doing in this world and in my life.
I had to remind myself that no situation will work out for my good if I don’t love Him and work according to His purpose. And that good will not be ease in this life, it will be my conformity to the image of Christ.
I reminded myself that I needed to count this trial as all joy because God wanted to use it to mature my faith.
Now, as a side note, before I continue, I will say that — having experienced all that emotional struggle — I can completely understand why so many people committed suicide during the lockdowns,
I’m not saying that I contemplated suicide, but I was painfully aware of how hard I had to work to keep my eyes on Christ. So when I imagined an unbeliever who was sick, quarantined from everyone who’s important to them, losing their freedoms, losing friends and family, losing their jobs, and — on top of that — having their emotions messed with, I can completely understand why they would be discouraged, depressed, anxious, and even suicidal.
But praise God that I had the hope of Christ that supported me through that difficult time.
And that time wasn’t just difficult because we were sick with an emotion-rocking virus. It was also during that time that our family suffered a milieu of personal tragedies that are too numerous to go into right now.
So, in light of all of those experiences, I have been driven to my knees and continue to this day to do some very real soul-searching.
It’s true that TLP’s current situation is not sustainable.
I cannot continue to depend on my parents into the foreseeable future. And a monthly paycheck of $500 is also not a sustainable way to provide for a family.
Therefore, something has to change.
I’m not saying when it has to change. I’m not sure that I have that answer yet, but I do know that something will have to change.
Here’s how I see it: either TLP will have to receive more money on a consistent basis, or I will have to get a full-time job so that I can provide for my family.
And — depending on what that job is — I may or may not be able to continue with TLP.
Now, I want you to know that even saying that breaks my heart. I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t believe in it 100%, but I want to glorify God in all things, and I know I can’t glorify Him if I’m not caring for the physical and spiritual needs of my family.
I’m preparing for our final Board Meeting of the year where I have to present them the budget for 2022.
As of today we did not make budget for 2021, so 2022’s budget is definitely going to be smaller.
Therefore, I’m trying to imagine what I can do to turn that around.
So here’s my current plan to — Lord willing — create a more sustainable reality.
1. I’m taking a break from the podcast for — at least — one season.
I really don’t like doing that, I was really looking forward to our 21st season, but it takes so much time to research and create that free content, I think that time may have a better use.
I do plan to repackage and publish 12 previous episodes during that time. It’s very easy to do that, and so the weekly content will still be going out, and I pray that whether you’ve heard the material or not, it will be a timely blessing for you.
2. I plan to apply myself to creating parenting content that we can sell.
Now, let me clarify this point.
First, I would love if all of TLP’s content could be free. If we received enough donations, I would totally give away all of our biblical parenting resources for free. I would write books and create videos and the like with no thought to a price tag. But the donations have to be there in order to run the ministry that way.
I will also say that I believe that the format I just described would be best — God’s people donating so that TeamTLP and I can continue to create resources with no pay-barrier, open and available to everyone who wants it . . . that is a fantastic option.
Second, I recognize that creating paid resources is not a quick fix. Producing quality biblical parenting resources takes time, effort, and money. That means that — up front — this plan will only incur more costs and will not necessarily make any money until much later.
And third, there is obviously no guarantee that after the resources are created that any of them will sell enough to keep Truth.Love.Parent. in the black.
So, please understand that I believe that — at this moment — some of the only things I can do are give attention to creating more resources. If there’s no money coming in, we can sell them, but if the donations are flowing, we can give them away for free.
Either way, content creation is going to be important.
I want to write a book, finish the “God’s Cure for Family Strife” material, and also create online workshops, classes, and the like.
So, I’m going to take a break from the podcast for a bit, and I’m going to invest that energy into creating other content. But I also think there’s a third thing I need to be doing.
3. I need to figure out what I should be doing in order to have more speaking opportunities.
Speaking is a wonderful way to introduce more people to the ministry, hopefully make some money through speaker’s fees and honorariums, but also — more importantly — minister to more people face to face. I would speak in camps and churches and schools and in people’s home for free because helping families is what I do.
So, for now, after much prayer and contemplation and seeking counsel, I believe that’s what I have to do in order to give Truth.Love.Parent. the best chance of survival. I don’t know of anything I else can do to help. If you have advice, please let me know.
Right now, 1 in 3 non-profits are failing, and I’d like to avoid that.
Listen, I don’t want to bail on Truth.Love.Parent. I want it to grow. I don’t want to throw up my hands and say that this two year experiment has failed and I need to get another job.
I understand the reality and importance of growing pains, and I completely recognize the fact that God has sustained my family through humanely impossible circumstances up until now, but I need to seriously count the cost before I take this experiment too far and start failing my God and my family.
So, that’s my experience, and that’s my plan.
I don’t necessarily like it, but it’s what I believe the Lord wants my to do.
Now, you may be wondering if there’s anything you can do.
Well, to put it plainly, our biggest need right now is financial support. We have the funds to host a website and maintain the status quo of the podcast. But we don’t have the resources to grow the ministry, multiply our biblical parenting resources, hire more qualified people, and — this is one is personal for me — even support my family.
Yes, I obviously covet your prayers and encouraging words and counsel. Please, bring it on. I would love to have all of that.
But I believe we need more than that right now. We need money, plain and simple.
So, Giving Tuesday is here. It’s a great time for you to give a tax-deductible donation.
Whether it’s a lot or a little, anything and everything will help. Here are some examples:
You can give a one-time gift of any amount.
You can sign up to give monthly. This too can be any amount. Right now, you may have seen our #1of100 promotion. We’re looking for at least 100 families to dedicate to give $20 or more a month. Perhaps you will decide to be 1 of our 100.
So, you can give a one-time gift, or you can give a reoccurring gift, but you can also choose how your money is used.
Giving to the General Fund will cover basic expenses and a percentage of that will be also be used for my salary.
But we also have a Director’s Fund. I am so blessed by The Director’s Fund because all of the donations go directly to my family. And these funds are in addition to my salary. Right now we have one wonderful family who gives monthly to the Director’s Fund.
Then there’s the Counselee Scholarship fund which helps to lower the paywall for at-risk, low-income families seeking counseling.
And then there are two other funds.
One is the Truth.Love.Conferences. Fund that offsets the cost of holding a conference. If a church or school or other organization would love to have me come and speak, but they can’t cover all of the costs, monies donated to this fund will help make it possible.
And lastly, we have the First Impressions Fund.
This one is a temporary fund, and it’s really important because it fills a time-sensitive need. As I have the opportunity to present the ministry in churches and conferences and the like, I will need materials to hand out and it would be very helpful if I had a quality display.
And I really would like to start exhibiting more and more in 2022.
Giving to the First Impressions Fund is so that we can create a professional display and accompanying resources to put our best foot forward when meeting new people.
So, whether it’s a one time or monthly gift to the General Fund, Director’s Fund, Scholarship, Conference or Display Funds, anything and everything you can do will be a significant blessing.
So, that’s it.
That’s an overview of the easy, the hard, and the humanely impossible experiences I have had over the past two years trying to get Truth.Love.Parent. on its feet.
As I said earlier, I covet your prayers and wisdom, but I also want to ask you to strongly and prayerfully consider if the Lord would be glorified by you giving financially to Truth.Love.Parent.
To learn more about how to become a TLP Friend, one of our donors, I encourage you to visit TruthLoveParent.com/donate. There will also be a link in the description of today’s episode that will take you there.
And I thank you for everything you have done and will do to bless this ministry and the families we serve.
It’s been an honor, and — Lord willing — I look forward to continue serving you and your family for many years to come.
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