Missionary Support Levels

Discussion in 'Missions / Witnessing / eVangelism' started by LarryN, Sep 19, 2003.

  1. LarryN

    LarryN
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    This is a question that I don't think has any "right" answer. I'm just looking for your thoughts.

    A while ago I had an acquaintance of mine ask me how many missionaries my church supports. I wasn't sure of the exact number, but I told him it's in the range of five or six dozen (probably 60 - 70). He seemed disappointed, and told me that his church (also Baptist) supports over 100.

    The implication was that since the church I belong to is considerably larger than his, that we should be supporting more missionaries. What he probably didn't know (which I do know), is that his church typically supports each missionary with $50 per month. My church, on the other hand, tends to support missionaries in the range of $1,000 - $1,500 per month. This level of support is common among the branch of Baptists my church is associated with.

    The idea of the larger support amounts is that just a handful of churches supporting any 1 missionary permits churches to have much closer relationships with that missionary; and it eases their travel needs when the missionary is home in the U.S.
    In contrast, I've spoken to missionaries who have felt the obligation to run themselves ragged (covering thousands of miles) trying to visit each of the dozens of churches which contribute to their support.

    Conclusion: Do you believe there are any advantages or disadvantages to smaller or larger support levels for missionaries?

    [ September 19, 2003, 10:44 AM: Message edited by: LarryN ]
     
  2. Squire Robertsson

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    My church is of the same mind as yours. A smaller number of missionaries on a larger amount of monetary support. Though about four times that number are supported via our prayer list. (We are an urban church with a Prophet's Chamber for missionaries visiting us and area churchs. If we make no other direct financial contribution to their ministry, we have saved them the cost of a motel room and meals out. Do you have any idea what a week in Motel 6 costs these days? :eek: )
     
  3. j_barner2000

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    we support our missionaries through the IMB and NAMB. It is 6 percent of our current budget.. as we have had some changes in our expenses, we intend to shift more into that catagory. We operate on a percentage basis for our whole budget.
     
  4. Roy1

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    It is easy to boast of the number of missionaries that each church supports, but you are right, the amount of support rather than the number of missionaries is more important.

    The more you support them the less time they spend on deputation, so they get to the field faster and can be more effective.

    Sad to say but the numbers game is more important to some than being effective in the community and the world.

    Keep on keeping on.

    Roy.
    [​IMG]
     
  5. RoK Missionary

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    As a missionary, I have a slightly different perspective. Numbers & money don't matter.

    Let me share a bit of my testimony. After spending 3 years here in South Korea as an English Teacher with a missionary's heart, God led me to persue full time ministry. The church I attended in the US agreed to support me full time and had sent 2 months of support. Then they had a major 3-way split, and none of the groups could continue to support me. One of the groups went their serperate ways. The church I also had decided to partner with here Korea, (each visa needs a Korean sponsor), had also begin having money troubles and could no longer keep me on staff.

    By God's grace another Korean church sponsor was found, but they could only provide my housing.
    I now raise my own support by tutoring students.

    When I told people of my plans, they asked "Can you make enough support by tutoring students?" to which I replied "I don't know, but God will provide" to which people replied (including one pastor) "I needed to be realistic."

    NEWSFLASH: "Trusting in God is being realistic"

    The point is, that God will take care of the money. It is prayers of other Christians that I covet most. Not ones the pray for you one time and never give you another thought (of course, any prayer is appreciated). I am talking about the ones that will comitt to praying for you on a regular basis. Finding people who are committed to pray for you is worth more than all the money in the world.

    My 2 cents worth (pun intended),
    God Bless You,

    Nicolas
     
  6. BoRay

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    My wife and I are missionaries to the Jewish people. We live in northern New England (Maine).
    We realize that we must trust God for our support. Right now, while we are on deputation ,our "problem" is trying to get meetings. We are at the far end of the country.
    We really need to get into churches and share our burden for the Jewish people. God knows where the money is to be found! Anybody need a missionary? Romans 1:16 Ray and Linda
     
  7. Dr. Bob

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    It is TRAGIC for missionaries to get a couple $$ from 100 churches. When they come home for furlough, they spend it running ragged to report to all churches.

    Why not 20 churches for $100-200 a month? Then the first six months of fulough can be rest and visit relatives, etc. THEN a church a week and spend time with people. Let them get to know you.
     
  8. BoRay

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    My wife and I have been to about 48 churches in the last year and a half for meetings. To this dates we have 5 churches that support us for $100 or less! If were able to get more support we could travel more away from home. As it is now we can only travel on weekends. This does limit how far we can go for meetings. I have vacation time from my "regular job". That does allow for us to get down the road a little more. We really need to increase our dollar support level before we can move to metro BOSTON to reach the Jewish
    population of more than 225,000!!! Please pray!
    Praise the Lord, He's worthy!! We still love what God has called us to do for HIM.
     
  9. Deacon

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    My church supports about 10 missionaries, many of them are home grown. We cover their expenses up to 30% and if you include personal support offered by members, it's more like 50%.

    Most of our misisonaries have only 5 to 8 supporting churches rather than the 100's you mention.

    This allows them to return to our church for extended periods of time for the edification of our members (and the missionary) rather than running ragged trying to visit a hundred churches. Many times we offer them a home to live in while they are here too (a home-base; a home-away-from-home). Most missionaries are well known and prayerfully supported by our members.

    The down side of this method is when one supporting church drops their support, there is a major drop in giving.

    Rob
     
  10. Mission Man

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    I dont believe that there are any disadvantages. I mean your giving and hes giving
     
  11. Ulsterman

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    It is equally tragic that fledgling churches are left up to a year without their pastor. Try asking home church pastors who are ministering to established congregations to leave their flock for a year or so. Also, the word "furlough" means rest. The missionary who is run ragged cannot be said to be resting. So this system fails both missions and the missionary.
     
  12. Anthro

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    You are right that there are in some ways no "right" or "wrong" answers to some of your questions. It really depends much upon God's calling to your church as far as the method for supporting missionaries and the call of the given missionaries for receiving their support.

    I think it can be better in some ways for some missionaries to receive the BULK of their support form two or three major sources. I have been this type of missionary before, and also have been a tentmaker where I receive funding from just an overseas employer. It can be a lot easier on some families, for sure. There is less stress, so long as the churches are long-standing and stable, that is.

    On the other hand, missionaries who must travel about to 8 to 15 or so churches do a great work, because they are raising awareness of missions in measure unlike those who receive their support from fewer or just a few or even one source. I have been this type of missionary too. Such missionaries not only raise support, but they are often the primary recruiters of new missionaries in the process. This can be crucial. I have greatly enjoyed this role before. Some missionaries do not. Too, from a pastoral perspective, having a missionary speaker every other month or so just tends to keep missions foremost in the minds of the saints, where the yearly mission conference can be just another of so many things.

    One idea is to diversify. Support one-half or one-third or so of some missionaries' budgets, and support 15% or so of others, keeping in mind that piddly dollar levels should be avoided. A missionary should have to travel to NO MORE THAN 15 or so churches for their total support (and in their missionary recruiting efforts--same thing), unless they specifically choose to and feel they ought to for the sake of recruiting others.

    Bob Griffin wrote, "It is TRAGIC for missionaries to get a couple $$ from 100 churches. When they come home for furlough, they spend it running ragged to report to all churches." I have personally refused to be a missionary under such terms. God did not mind. I did tentmaking instead.

    My own personal feeling is that upwards of 50% to 70% of a church's income should go toward overseas missions. Radical?

    Make it a goal and see what God will do. Our God is a missionary God, and missions is where His heart and most intensive activity lies.

    P.S. Neal Pirolo's book Serving as Senders should be in every Pastor's library.

    [ December 16, 2003, 12:02 AM: Message edited by: Anthro ]
     
  13. Pastor Larry

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    I also think more money for less missionaries is a better way. That way when they are home on furlough, they can spend time actually ministering in the chruches that support them rather than running in for a single meeting and moving on to the next church. It also helps with accountability and protection of the gospel. If a missionary goes off into immorality or heresy, withdrawing your substantial support puts a serious hurt on his ability to continue ministering. Taking away $50 a month won't hurt. Taking away $1000 will.

    However, I wonder about the traditional 4 years on teh field/1 year of furlough structure. It seems strange to me. What other occupation do you know of that works in a similar fashion??? Can you imagine a pastor of a state based church taking a whole year off every 4 years??? No congregation here would stand for it. Why do we do it to other, smaller congregations who are in serious need of a pastor??

    Most workers in America, including pastors, get 2 to 4 weeks vacation a year. Most missionaries take about the same on their fields and then still get a year off every fifth year. I realize that the "year off" is a lot of work, but I really don't think it helps them or their ministry.

    I would propose that every other year, a missionary come home for 3 to 4 weeks to visit his supporting churches and family. Then go back. That way, there is a continuity of leadership and a chance to keep right on ministering in their field.
     
  14. aefting

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    I think this is a good idea, too. Do the various mission boards out there insist on the year-long furlough every 4-5 years or can the missionary basically do it any way he wishes?

    Andy
     
  15. Anthro

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    This is a wonderment typically only posed by those who have, for just two instances, not lived in a hut in deep Papua New Guinea, or been a missionary physician on call 25 hrs a day each day in Zimbabwe, each for 4-5 year stints.

    The more salient wonderment is why congregations and leaders fail to see such things with their heart-eyes and propose or nod agreement to things like, "that every other year, a missionary come home for 3 to 4 weeks to visit his supporting churches and family. Then go back."

    However, for missionaries laboring in well-developed areas, for instance, Paris, France, or Venice, Italy, there may be some justification for adjustment to furlough policies.

    The idea is to try to take all factors like these into consideration, and disperse an equality of burden among all those ministering, both foreign and domestic.

    [ December 16, 2003, 10:57 PM: Message edited by: Anthro ]
     
  16. Pastor Larry

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    This is a wonderment typically only posed by those who have, for just two instances, not lived in a hut in deep Papua New Guinea, or been a missionary physician on call 25 hrs a day each day in Zimbabwe, each for 4-5 year stints.

    The more salient wonderment is why congregations and leaders fail to see such things with their heart-eyes and propose or nod agreement to things like, "that every other year, a missionary come home for 3 to 4 weeks to visit his supporting churches and family. Then go back." </font>[/QUOTE]
    I am not sure why you are antagonistic towards me. It is misplaced. My suggestion is actually been well received some missionaries who recognize the problems in the traditional system. It may not work for everyone. But how good is it for a church, four years old with new converts (assuming that the church started right off the bat) to lose its most mature Christian for a year?? That cannot be good for the church. As I said, I can assure you that no church in teh states would permit such a thing for their pastor.

    I know a missionary right now in a rather undeveloped part of Africa who comes home every two years for a few weeks. It serves a great benefit for both him and his family. And it helps the church, becuase he can train the leaders and help them prepare messages for the few weeks he is gone, thus ensuring that proper teachign is taking place. There is no way to help prepare and check messages for an entire year.

    And having been on the mission field for an extended period of time and having been a pastor in the states, I can assure you that we work equally hard in both places. There are many pastors here who work those kinds of hours.

    I would think in an underdeveloped area, my approach would make much more sense, since it would not deprive the church of leaders and in the case of a medical doctor, the people of medicine. Is it really wise to spend 4-5 years as a doctor and then just leave for a year, leaving patients and needs behind for that long a period of time?? Plus, when you have spent much time developing a discipleship relationship with someone, how good is it to abandon that relationship for a whole year?? It seems like there should be a better way.

    In years past, when a trip home might take 2 to 3 weeks on a boat, this may have been a good idea. But now, you can get home from anywhere in the world in less than 24 hours. With all the rethinking about ministry going on, this seems like a good area for some rethinking.

    This I agree with.
     
  17. Anthro

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    Perhps the missionaries who received it well were inclined to it because of their particular ministering contexts. I, for one, do not receive it well as a proscription for all, but as you agreed to, advocate for a more or less equality of burden among all those ministering (not to mention among all of the saints). I do not know where you were a missionary, but I am sure you agree that some fields are considerably less stressful than others.

    Also, the model is in the last verse of Acts where Paul spent a full year in a rented house, where he received others into his home, rather than having a gruelling travelling ministry.

    Missionary physicians do not up and leave, very rarely anyways. They fill their position with one or several short-termers before leaving for furlough.

    But I think that if you agree in principle and in some practical application to an equality of burden principle--I think there is no better starting point into this matter.
     
  18. BoRay

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    Missions support. It seems that it ought to be so simple. We have been called by GOD to GO to the Jewish people and reach them for HIS glory. "A very hard people to reach" we have been told. We had no thoughts that this would be simple. Our thoughts, why so hard to get (some)of God's poeple to support missions? And to think, these are the people that God calls His own. If we could get "some" support from all the churches that we have been to, we would be well on our way to reaching the jewish people in metro BOSTON. How much money do we spend weekly on junk food. Coffee, Coke, donuts, chips etc? It all adds up !!

    May God bless us as we seek to serve Him.

    Brother Ray
     
  19. Hardsheller

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    When Conversations like these come up, I thank God I am a Southern Baptist.

    We are not perfect and there's a lot of improvement we could make in Missionary/Church relationships but at least we don't have to worry about the money.

    My church supports all Southern Baptist Missionaries through the Cooperative Program and then we supplement a Southern Baptist Missionary to the Philippines with a monthly love offering. The missionary uses that money to fund ministry that his IMB budget does not cover and gives us an accounting of his expenditures. He was with us last Sunday and presented his work over the last year.
     

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