Missions funding

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Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Should we fund missions?
How should we fund mission?


How much or what proportion should we fund missions, and do we divide up missions into home versus foreign, local versus far...etc?

If we put home and local missions in the same "pot" as foreign missions, how do we guard monies for those farthest from us (i.e. the unreached in Asia or remote regions that have heard the least)?

How should we NOT fund missions?

What are some good examples of the funding of the Great Commission?
What are some bad examples of funding the Great Commission?




How should individual missionaries raise monies?
How should individual missionaries not rasie monies?

Any good or bad examples?

Must we George Mueller it? How direct do you be about needs?


What's some practical advice for fund raising?

What are your thoughts about missionary deputation and missionaries travelling to church to church versus receiving a set wage from a denominational board?
 

Leslie

Puritan Board Junior
If the church stateside were healthy, they would be out recruiting people to go rather than having missionaries and candidates making the rounds to solicit support. It's a shame the way it is done but the reality is that it's necessary. Our neighbors spent about 50% of their time with accounting and communication with their supporters rather than in local ministry. My husband and I are self-supporting and it's a tremendous blessing. We can be honest in our letters, don't have to write when we don't feel like it, don't need approvals for a lot of things. The downside is that we spent many years in hard work to get to this point and that involved raising our kids stateside.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
If a church gives money to a missionary they should not therefore gain that measure of control over them (i.e. like stock). But I think they give money and then expect missionaries to answer to them for decisions when one needs to anser to one's local team and the appoval of one's sending body.
 

Leslie

Puritan Board Junior
I agree totally with local field control. People who are exclusively stateside dwellers, even those who travel to the field for a matter of weeks or months, have no idea of the cultural factors that enter into policy decisions. In my son's situation in Chad, even missionaries on the field cannot vote on policy until after they have learned Arabic--and that doesn't happen in a week.
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
I think Scripture gives two principles which really govern this matter. One is the principle applicable to all ministers, Galatians 6:6, 1 Timothy 5:18, 1 Corinthians 9:6-14.

Normally that funding comes from the congregation which is receiving the benefit of the ministry; but 3 John 6 suggests that there are situations where one congregation will support people who are going to work elsewhere, and of course we have the example of the Philippians sending support to Paul.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Should missionaries do deputation at many churches?

How do missionaries "advertize" "raise support" or get their needs known? What are good and bad ways? Any examples?

What do some of your churches' mission programs look like? How do you rasie funds? How do you get your churches to know your missionaries?
 

Leslie

Puritan Board Junior
There are problems with a wide support base, namely that the wider it is, the more it detracts from ministry. This is not my problem since we are mostly self-supporting. But our neighbors spend well over 50% of their time in counting nickels and dimes for the mission board plus doing all the supporter-correspondence.

Another problem is with people like me who don't have charm and people-skills. I get along fine in other cultures--people here see my white skin and are forgiving if I say or do something inappropriate. However, stateside it is different. There are a multitude of unspoken rules for dress, make-up, polite conversation, and all the rest. After being out of a culture for an extended period (for me 14 years), it's impossible to understand all the rules and comply. If I don't, people take offense and won't give. It's no problem for me, because I don't depend on them for food and transport. But for whole-life missionaries, it's a major problem.

The upside of a wide support base is that in the case of a church split or dissolution, the missionary is not left stranded, hungry, and thirsty.

I'm not sure how it would work, but perhaps for the missionary it would be good if each church would send one short-termer for perhaps 3 months, every 5 years, someone articulate and with good photography skills, to follow the missionary around and document what is going on. Then that person could be the official communicator for the missionary to that particular church. He (only) would receive newsletters and would understand what was written in context.
 

Leslie

Puritan Board Junior
Are my neighbors unusual spending over 50% of their time on support maintenance or is that kind of par for the course for missionaries. If it's not unusual, it seems that a major priority of the supporting churches should be to relieve them of such a burden--that is, if they want to be relieved of it. Some missionaries take every opportunity to return to a Western culture whereas others would be overjoyed to never have to go on furlough. The former don't last more than a term or two. The latter deserve to be relieved of the burden so they can concentrate on ministry.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
I spend about 10 hours per week in correspondence with supporters, usually late at night or over breakfast. I never cancel anything for this and during several periods of time I have simply wrote back and told people "Resend your questions..or lets talk some more in a week when I am able).


Should we desire to be free from "support meaintenance?"

An alternate perspective is this: If we are called to world missions than we are called to promote world missions. We minister to our target group and, as opportunities arise, we minister to the folks back home too.

US churches need to know what is going on. ALso vital friendships and regular correspondence is often the way God calls more missionaries or a way for Christians to be stimulated to pray for others across the globe.


So, a vigorous support maintenance is good for folks back home. It is also good for missionaries. There is a direct link to how much I write back home and how often I get care packaces, letters and pictures, prayers and other things from supporters. We get encouragement as well.

As much as possible to be maintained (and it does get VERY hard sometimes) support maintenance is little more than maintaining a close circle of friends back home. And, with email, an every-3-weeks short letter is very doable. Plus, if God is working then we are very glad to be reporting God's work.
 

DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
Pergy,

In my former denomination, we fully supported our missionaries through a budget of the denomination. Unfortunately, while it frees up the missionary from the burdens of fundraising, it leads to being disconnected from the people in the pew.

Major support from few donors is easier on the missionary. However, it runs the risk of death, retirement, or adverse finances resulting in a massive hit to the level of support. Putting one's eggs in many baskets may be more time consuming, but it develops a reduced risk profile as well as bringing more people into the intention cycle of praying for "their" missionary on a more regular basis. It also facilitates connection between the missionary and the work in the field during times back home to do deputation work.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Yes, I often hear of struggles by missionaries who are "50 dollar'd to death" by 40 supporting churches are so.... and I also hear about a few missionaries who are fully supported by one or maybe 2 churches.

I think a missionary would want to know more and fellowship more than just 2 churches. If God has called him to world missions, he would be glad to get the word out to more than just 1 or 2 churches. But, 40-50 churches who only give 50 USD per month and expect a visitation at every furlough is also hard to live with.

We have a list of 24 regular and pledged supporters from abut 15 churches and another 15 or so that occasionally write, send gifts or want to know more. This is manageable. Enough folks to gather many prayers and maybe new workers, but not too many. A base broad enough also so that death or loss of job won't send me packing back home to look for more funds. We have never lacked, though I seem to spend all extra that comes in on pressing needs.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Two stories:

---Had a missionary supported by TWO major churches. One church split and the missionary had to go home and labored VERY hard for a long time (had a ministry in the field suffering during this time) while he tried to start from scratch..i.e. almost no-one knew him and he had no network of support. 18 months lost to an unexpected and unplanned furlough.

---Had a missionary friend "50 dollared to death" by dozens of churches. One of the churches actually had the gall to demand a visit during furlough across 3 states or else they would be cut off. During the meeting he was grilled about his productivitiy "How many folks have been saved and baptized this last year...etc" This church gave a "speakers fee" to the missionary for the missionary's travel expenses that did not cover the gas money to go to this required meeting.





Note: I know some churches cannot afford more than 50 dollars and we are thankful for any bit. I do not want to step on any toes. I have many that give 50 dollars and this was a sacrifice for them becuase they were already maxed out giving to others. But when did this amount become the norm and does a local church really have the right to demand a visit during furloug. We are partners after all, in ministry and not hirelings.
 

Wannabee

Obi Wan Kenobi
It’s good to hear from a missionary perspective. As a small church, we can’t do nearly as much as we would like. Therefore, rather than spreading ourselves thin, we’ve chosen to support one missionary. He and his wife get 100/month from us. We do not require anything from him, other than to be kept abreast of how his ministry is going, prayer requests and that he stays involved in a local church ministry. The last point is because he’s in a training school for local pastors. Obviously that’s not relevant for church planters.

One thing we’ve stressed is the mutual aspect of the ministry; that we are partners and mutually accountable to one another. The missionary we support is considered a member of our church. Not only is he accountable to us, but we to him. If he strays from biblical truth we want to know, and will attempt to reconcile with him just as we would any member of our church. If we were to stray we would expect the same from him.

Too often churches are not careful enough when considering the support of missionaries. They do not develop a relationship. They are not truly “sending” the missionary, but rather supporting a work they think is viable based on associations, organizations or simply promises made. But, as stewards of God’s blessings, we are very active and careful in considering in what manner we give to Christ. Here are some statements/suggestions I made to a friend who’s entering the mission field.


A good solid introductory letter. Who are you? Who is your sending church? What organization are you associated with, if any? What are goals? (Short term, long term, generic). What is your specific ministry? (local church, training, etc.) This, along with a CD including a sermon (or a few sermons in MP3), perhaps a couple of position papers and any other info on it would be helpful.

Philosophical statements might be good too. For example: "My passion is to be instrumental in the equipping men for the ministry both in the church and home settings. It's not enough that men learn to "rightly divide the Word of God" for their preaching and teaching. If they're not ministering God's Word to their wives and children then they're not qualified for pastoral ministry; "For if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?""

Doctrinal considerations would be helpful. But here's something that's key. Please understand my heart in this. I am absolutely not interested in paying someone to minister God's Word, anywhere, period. A missionary is never a hireling. He's never an employee. He's an integral part of the ministry of our local church. As such, there is a good and necessary mutual accountability. If "our missionary" is in need, and he will be, then we need to be willing to do what it takes to help meet that need (not to be confused with desires). When he falters or struggles (and he will), he needs to feel free to come to us for help, prayer, advice or just someone to share his burden with. That means good communication. That means honesty. Obviously some churches desire to simply pay a missionary, get letters, see pictures and feel good about what they're doing for the kingdom. As a missionary I'd accept their support; knowing that they were not actual partners in ministry, but rather uninvolved supporters. But our perspective is that missionaries supported by Cornerstone are, in fact, representatives of our church. The missionary's ministry is our ministry. We are accountable to God for both how our missionaries minister and how we minister to our missionaries.

All of this must be visible in the communication. Are we seen as partners in ministry, or just as somebody sending a pay check? If it's the latter, then there are plenty of others out there who share our vision. But if the missionary is looking for people to actually become a part of their lives, then praise God as we strive together for the kingdom.

There's a good little book with bad theology called "Friend Raisers." A lady who served many years as a missionary wrote it. In her years (about 30 if I remember right) she only lost supporters through death. Because she kept them as intimate and an integrated part of her ministry they didn't want to stop supporting her. But I would strongly advise that you pick up this book and read the principles (ignoring some of the theological problems).

Be honest before God. Don't fall into the practice of putting veneer over ugly wood. Lay your heart bare for the glory of God to sear your soul. It hurts, but it's refreshing and healing at the same time.​
And here are some excerpts from a letter I sent to our missionary when we joined Cornerstone. I read as much as I could about their work before writing (past letters, web site and asking questions of church members). Also, please note my desire to be sensitive to his time. It took him about a month to get back with me.

(Introduction: A brief introduction of our family)
I have been trying to familiarize myself with your ministry there. Though familiar with (ministry) and some of what goes on there, my understanding is limited. At your convenience, I would appreciate it if you could fill me in with more detail. I do understand TMAI and the goal of the training institutes, so you won’t need to educate me on that front. Rest assured that the vision is shared. I would be more interested in what you are doing personally, your goals, vision, personal interaction with various ministry opportunities (both in and outside the training), how you’re serving in the local church, etc. Part of the vision that I hope to cast for Cornerstone is to raise up ministers of God’s Word. This may mean missionaries, vocational elders or lay leaders in the church. At this point you are the only extension of that.

I’d also like to share some of my personal philosophy in regard to missions. First, we don’t pay missionaries. We invest in lives. You, as a missionary of Cornerstone, are a ministry of our church. We consider you a member, along with all the privileges and responsibilities that such a relationship entails. The financial and spiritual investment we make is in your spiritual and physical wellbeing as well as in the lives of all you come into contact with. You are our arm in India, so to speak. If you have a need, we need to know. If you are hurting, we are hurting. When you rejoice, we rejoice. We don’t just want pictures and to know how great things are going. Our desire is for a dynamic relationship in which we know we can trust and count on one another through thick and thin.

I suppose that’s not what you hear from most churches. From my experience, most churches simply want to send the money, receive pictures and hear about the great things that are happening with their “investment.” But I know that ministry is fraught with mountains and valleys, steep crevices as well as deep pools of cool water. Please keep us informed so that we can pray with you, grow with you, cry with you and rejoice with you as God does His mighty work in your lives, and through you.

On a more personal note; I also know that all is not clean and pretty for missionaries. You have spiritual struggles, you have relational struggles and then there are political pressures, whether from supporting churches, GMI, training institute, the local church or the local country. I also know that some churches pull their support when they catch wind of such struggles. For instance, one dear friend recently had a church pull their support when they found out he was engaged in a struggle with some locals over Calvinism. Since not all parties were on board they no longer supported him. You have my personal pledge to stand with you through various trials and struggles. I expect them. I ask, in return, that you keep me informed as you are able.

Furthermore, just as you are accountable to us as a representative of our ministry here, we too are accountable to you. We recognize that there are many churches that support you, and that you can’t visit them all. And, we know that we aren’t the most affluent church that’s supporting you. But we do desire that you give us as much attention as prudence will allow, both in personal visits and in challenging us to be more biblical and Christ-like in all we do. It has also come to my attention that you may be visiting soon. We pray that God will bring you to us safely and look forward to the visit.

Financially, as I have mentioned (and as you probably know), we are challenged. The people here have stretched themselves in order to support us. We’re doing what we can to live on what they’ve provided so that we can give our full attention to the work of ministering to this precious flock. Please rest assured that we will also do all we can to make sure that you continue receiving your current support from Cornerstone, if not more. With the financial challenges in our country I’m sure your support takes a hit from time to time. And with the falling dollar you take a hit even if all support continues without interruption. It is our desire to support you as long as you minister God’s Word. And we also recognize that this does not end simply because you have to leave India. As God provides we will support you until you no longer desire or need our support (moral failure or apostasy being understood as valid reasons as well – yet even here restoration would be pursued first). And we recognize that this may include your retirement years.

I hope you are encouraged by the position I take in regard to missions, and specifically the missionaries we support. It is my prayer that this vision will permeate our church, and that you will be an integral part not only of that vision, but of living out the vision to its fullest.

May God be glorified as His grace continues to work through the power of Christ in our lives.​
We recently found out that they plan on visiting this October, and blessed to be able to send his wife to a ladies conference with the ladies of our church. It’s a small way that we can minister to them while they’re here.


While the vision isn’t perfect, it does stress the need for us to strive together for the glory of God.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Wannabee: Amen to your post!

A further note: when it came to raising support, my pastor actually did the phone calls and my recommendation and the tracking down of "leads" was done all in the beginning by my home church.

Upon ordination, my church drafted an official letter basically stating that all was official and now was the time to support me and I immediatley received 40% of my support through no effort of my own.

When a local church cannot afford all of a missionary's support they can do amazing work for the missionary who, at the beginning, is often an unknown. If he sends out masses of letters, they all go in the trash (spam and bulk mail has ruined this apporach for missioanries) and even over the phone, most churches don't want to be bothered by a stranger looking for support. Therefore, the local church "campaigning" on behalf of the missionary works wonders. It did in my case.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Wannabee: If a missionary is thus a member of your church, can he also be a member of his home church. What is the theology behind church membership if the member is 1,000 miles away and is also a member of other churches as well? How does that all work? ANd if a missionary is an ordained elder-qualified man, what roles does he play if then a member and he returns to furlough at your home church? Does he take on leadership roles or is treated as a guest?
 

Wannabee

Obi Wan Kenobi
These are good questions.
He has all the rights and privileges of a member, specifically as it relates to mutual accountaibility and ministerial support. Obviously, we don't discipline him for failing to show up on Sundays. We don't have him on our "membership rolls" either. Perhaps he's an honorary member. Regardless, because of the dynamic of the relationship, we treat him and his wife as members. I hope that's specific enough for you.
He is welcomed as a visiting member of our church and welcomed to teach, if he desires to. We do not compel him to preach/teach, but let it be known that we desire it; and request he share some of what God's doing, what he's learning, etc., with congregation, as time allows.
 

Leslie

Puritan Board Junior
Another important approach to support should be kept in mind by those who are still in college. My son wanted to be a missionary from high school. In a secular college he let his desire be known within the Christian student community, that he was aiming that way. He was a computer science major. After college he kept in touch with his college friends as he pursued theology and linguistics. When he was ready to go he had a ready-made support base: Within 6 weeks he had 100% support for language school. The down side of this is that his support is scattered over the entire continental states and into Canada. However, the number of supporters is manageable and their support, based on years of friendship, is quite stable.
 
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