We Don’t Have Enough Money To Take on Missionaries!
From: Volume 50, Number 8, September – 2004 Issue of the Baptist Testimony
Maynard H. Belt
MARBC State Representative
The World Factbook tells us, as of July, 2004, that we have a world population of approximately 6.4 billion souls, 28.2% of which are 14 years and under, 64.5% of which are 64 and under, and 7.2% 65 years of age and over. The estimated birth rate is 20.24 births per 1,000 population while the death rate is 8.86 per 1,000 population. Nearly one out of four over age 15 cannot read or write. The major religions are Christian 32.79% (consisting of Roman Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox, and Anglicans); Muslims 19.6%’ Hindus 13.31%; Buddhists 5.88%; Sikhs 0.38%; Jews 0.24%; other religions 12.83%; non-religious 12.53% and atheists 2.44%.
When Jesus said in Matthew 9:37, “The fields are white unto harvest,” that was for our day also. There is no question the need is still there to present the gospel of Christ, yet there are thousands of languages with no Scriptures in their mother tongue. My, how it breaks my heart when I hear churches say that “we don’t have enough money to take on missionaries.” I know this may sound spiritual, but if it is God’s work, and the people in the church are truly born-again believers, there will always be enough money to do what God wants us to do, and having missionaries proclaim His Word to the uttermost parts of the World is what He wants us to do – it is part of His plan!
I began my first full time pastorate when I was 24 years of age. I was not there too long before I noticed that the missionary line in the budget was almost nil. Yet, there was money coming in every month and expended to several missionaries. When I inquired, the response was, “We do not have enough money in the general fund to take on missionaries, so individuals in the church support who they want and give it through the church.” It was not long before those monies, and more, were funneled into the budget of the church, and the church began supporting missionaries, not just individuals.
There are various ways in which a local body may support missions. Some do it through a given percentage of their annual church budget. Some have a separate budget for missions apart from the general budget. Still others, and this is my preference, follow a faith promise program for giving.
Regardless which plan you use, it needs to be increased on an annual basis, trusting that God will bring in that which is needed to not only sustain the church’s present missionary support, but also allow for increases as well as new support. Three of the churches I pastored were involved in the faith promise precept of giving to missions. Every year missionary giving increased and the general fund did also. The first year one of the churches implemented this program, missionary giving increased nearly 50% over the previous year. That was an exciting adventure. They really had to do something for nearly half of their supported missionaries were members of the church, and during the six years I was there five more units were commissioned. We either had to quit “praying the Lord of the Harvest to send out laborers into His harvest,” or start trusting God by faith to provide for their needs.
If your church wants to be one that makes financial giving to missions a priority, then people need to be made aware of two things: missions is the church’s Scriptural mandate, and financing missions is part of that mandate! Scripture calls us to live with a stewardship mentality (Matt. 6:19-21). The church needs to ask, “Where are we now in our missions giving, and where do we need to go?” A follow-up question to ask is, “What things can we do to increase interest in missions and in missions giving?”
Let me suggest just a few ways in which your church can become more missions-minded, and hopefully dismiss the myth that we don’t have enough money to take on new missionaries. First, create an interest among your people for missions: establish a well-written missions policy; have a functioning missions committee; have a monthly missionary emphasis (highlight a different field each month) with at least one service, maybe two, given specifically over to missions thus giving missionary exposure to the church family 12-24 times a year; print the missionary letters for your church to read; partner with a sister mission church either in the USA or overseas and interact with them on a regular basis; highlight missionary books in the church library; conduct teaching seminars/electives on missions; encourage annual mission trips for teens and adults; plan an annual missions conference including a Bible teacher along with furloughing missionaries; make MK’s (missionary kids) a priority; dedicate a section of the Sunday bulletin to a specific missionary family and their needs; have a special section on your church website listing your supported missionaries and their e-mail addresses; establish a church missions bulletin board and picture gallery of where your missionaries serve; pray specifically for a missionary in each of your church services; request videos from your missionaries of their work on the field; conduct telephone calls to your missionaries during service times, while flashing a picture of them on a screen.
Second, may I suggest a few ways in which to assist and help missionaries in a financial way: trust God and increase the missionary budget each year either through percentage increases, faith promise or separate missionary budget for specific missionary giving; include the children and youth in missionary giving, especially for projects, through coin folders, missionary banks, etc.; receive an annual missionary offering (Thanksgiving, Easter, Christmas) to assist with missionary needs/projects over and above your regular support; use your fifth Sunday offerings for missions; have your men’s/ladies groups do a missionary equipment project (computer, power point projector, vehicle); give “love offerings” to visiting missionaries; provide pre-paid phone cards for furloughing missionaries; just give, give, give and watch God take care of both the missionary and the home church that cares. It’s our mandate and that is not a myth!