A sad thing commonly happens in ministry... Many missionary/church organizations begin with sincere motives. But this is gradually replaced by an emphasis on maintaining and improving the prestige of the organization: A theme emerges among many Christian and missionary groups. They often start off with good motives. They start off with a sincere desire to get money to where it is needed - into the hands of poor evangelists and believers. They are willing to remain small and to prioritize sending the funds to the field, even at expense to themselves. They exist for the purpose of those on the field. As time goes on, this group gains an established name. More and more needs are found at home. The home office must also live and function, and better tools will help them to function more effectively. A better office would, indeed, help. Maybe a whoile building is needed. Or a bigger and newer building. This requires diversion of some funds to the rear instead of the frontlines of missions. In many cases the heads get used to the funds rolling through and begin to think of other uses for those funds. The staff probably need a vacation retreat at least once a year. Maybe the org therefore, needs a vacation property. This shift in thinking is usually gradual. The stated priority in the written literature still remains the same - they exist to support poor evangelists and believers overseas. But the actual use of funds more and more begins to reflect a priority on caring for those back home or at the admin level. A new home office is needed, a bigger home and bigger salaries for those in charge, nice properties (they are investments, after all), a retirement home maybe or vacation property (for retreats, of course). The name and prestige and assets of the organization become greater and greater, and yet the amount sent to frontline believers who still suffer is decreased. And of course, every human organization eats up admin costs. But the desire to keep things "lean" disappears after awhile. The org becomes bloated and indulges itself. I will give 3 examples: (1) Voice of the Martyrs: Originally founded to support poor and persecuted Christians in poor regions, donors were surprised to find over 30 million used to build a large new building in Oklahoma, and funds were used to handle a sex abuse case in Africa instead of supporting persecuted believers: "Below is Voice of the Martyrs USA's new headquarters, still in Bartlesville, custom-built for $28 million taken from general donations. God's money collected for the world's poorest and most persecuted members of the Body of Christ was used by those who collected it to build a gleaming $28,000,000 office building for Americans." http://www.billionbibles.com/voice-of-the-martyrs.html https://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=14889 (2) NAMB (The North American Mission Board): The focus of NAMB is on North American church-planting and not poor believers overseas, but we see the same dynamic at work. We see less and less money going towards the actual work of the ministry and more and more funds going towards the leaders and teh admin and its assets and properties. This website explores the poor stewardship of tithes sent to NAMB: http://www.reformnambnow.org/misuse-of-funds "It has been reported that actual NAMB guidelines mandate a reserve fund in the neighborhood of $70 Million. Instead, reserves have swollen to $223 Million. Assets are up to $423 million, and investments are up $77 million from 2010. Even taking into account NAMB's astronomical spending on church plants, it seems that a lower percentage of the funds NAMB receives is making it out to the field. In their 2017 report NAMB stated that, "NAMB is providing 89 missionary residences scattered among the Send Cities to enable planters to settle into their assignment for the first six to twenty-four months of their ministry..." In actuality although houses had been purchased in Send Cities, empty land and homes purchased not in or near Send Cities. In fact some of the homes purchased were luxury homes like the $415,000 condo purchased in Alpharetta, Georgia or the $475,000 home purchased in Tucson, Arizona that is listed below." (2) Gospel for Asia: Gospel for Asia is the 3rd example. "K.P. Yohannan, the influential international evangelical pastor behind Believers Church, has over the last 38 years grown his Texas-based non-profit “Gospel for Asia” (GFA) into the second-largest mission organization in the U.S. Now, a single lawsuit alleging fraud and misuse of hundreds of millions in donations could bring the whole thing crumbling down. According to a federal class action lawsuit filed on Monday in Arkansas, Yohannan and others in his organization allegedly took offerings from tens of thousands of faithful under the guise of feeding and housing the world’s most impoverished people. But instead, the lawsuit claims, they used the gifts to build an empire that includes homes, sports teams, private investing, and a sprawling $20 million headquarters in Wills Point, Texas. GFA’s mission, according to its website, is “to share the Good News of Jesus with those who have never heard his name.” They “train and send national missionaries to reach out into areas where the Good News of Jesus Christ has not yet been heard.” Specifically, they aim to convert those who live in what evangelicals know as the “10/40 Window”—10 degrees to 40 degrees north of the equator—where mostly poor Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists live." https://www.thedailybeast.com/did-this-preacher-rob-from-the-poor-to-give-to-himself?ref=scroll SUMMARY: Good intentions abound in the beginning and priority is placed on the frontlines. But over time, "mission creep" happens. As funds come in on a regular basis and donors are taken for granted, less and less is spent in the stated and advertized purposes on the frontlines and more and more is used to pad the nest of those in the rear or the home office. While adverts still shows pics of the frontlines needs and poor believers, in reality those poor believers are staying poor while the mission execs get more than modest salaries. For these reasons I support only individual missionaries that I know. But the same thing also happens to us. Individual missionaries require many funds that are used on the family and not on the field. For this reason, it is useful to divide the income of missionaries into a set private salary that is reasonable and for the rest to go towards a field/ministry fund to be used on ministry projects. Personal information in my life that lead to me studying this topic: This study came about because of personal reasons. I am sent as a missionary to a remote tribe. But I am sick at present and must stay in another country which possesses better medical care. I've seen a great shift in how much I can directly spend on ministry towards tribals and how much I must use personally for medical care and housing while I recover. I used to be able to use the majority of my funding on the tribe, but now I am finding that I must use more of my personal funds for hospital bills. While I have not yet bought a vacation home or a BMW, this year has shown me how easily priorities and budgets can shift as long-term missionaries or organizations focus less on the field of ministry and more on themselves and their own maintenance or upkeep. Any thoughts?