I’ve been commenting on an article by Shane Bennett that appeared several years ago in Missions Catalyst.
In his two-part post on Top Ten Myths about Missions , Bennett explained:
I want to understand how the average Lou and Sue, sitting in the pew, think about missions stuff. … From what I’ve seen there are some serious misconceptions floating around in our churches, at least some of our churches. We could call these collective assumptions, beliefs that simply don’t reflect reality, “myths.”
If you want to read all ten myths now, check out the article online. You can see my other articles on this topic by choosing God:World under “Categories” on the right-hand column of my blog page.
Myth #4 – It’s All about Money
I raise support to fund my work and family. Maybe you raise support too. It’s been a part of the missions process for a long time.
Unfortunately, we seem to have given the impression that supporting missions is mostly about money. Mainly by saying things like this: “You, Lou and Sue in the pew, should give me your money, in smallish but regular doses.”
Since most missions efforts (at least as we approach them now) require money, how do we do what needs to be done and dispel this myth at the same time? One option is to only allow half of us to raise support. (Hmmm, which line do you want to be in?) Lately I’ve taken to challenging people to think in huge ways about how God might give them funds to pass on to missions efforts. “Imagine in 15 years you have the capacity to write a check for $12 million to endow a mission agency…” Other times I just breeze right over the money question. I’ll say, “Anyone can give money. What about your skills? What about your life?”
As someone who finds raising support very challenging, I can relate closely to Bennett’s comments here. Yes, Pete and I are on support. We have been since 1994. On the other hand, our support level has never risen above about 30%. We survive mainly on larger, one-time donations, along with income that Pete generates from ministry consulting. Often, there isn’t enough to cover the paychecks we should be receiving.
I keep wondering if there isn’t a better way to fund missions. Not that I don’t trust God to provide. He has never let us down. But the idea of missionaries appearing to beg for funding makes everyone uncomfortable.
I’ve written several posts lately (including Friday’s) about the balance between giving money and giving ourselves. Both are important. As Bennett points out, missions takes money. That money has to come from somewhere. God has blessed the church—especially the American church—and we need to be good stewards and pass that blessing along to where it will do the most good.
On the other hand, giving money doesn’t free us from the responsibility to “go into all the world and make disciples.” Whether our role is here providing logistical support, or there on the front lines, we’re all called to play a part.
How do you think full-time missionaries and other ministry personnel should be funded? Is the present system working?
Besides writing a check, what skills and other resources can you bring to the table?