Money in ministry and missions: how does it fit in?

How does money fit in?

I’m not sure I catch all the author wants to say on this article, but I like the feel of it. I don’t know this site, so I can’t speak for other teachings. This tip confuses me:

Tip 1 – The ministry is to generate its own support. (Lk 8:1-3)

The passage in Luke refers to contributions that people made to support Jesus’ ministry. The tip sounds like a ministry should be self-supporting, so I’m a bit baffled by his meaning. Here’s what it might mean, and where I would amen:

  1. Don’t sit waiting for help to fall from the sky. God provides, but to those who seek.
  2. Don’t take money from the people you’re trying to convert. I’m grateful our brethren don’t ask for money in their TV and radio programs. See 3 John 7-8.
  3. Having said this, Paul accepted, yea, expected new converts and churches to take up the cause of preaching the gospel and its support. So he did receive money from new churches like Philippi. Maybe this is what the tip above means.

One of the best pieces of advice I received early on was to consider money last when it came to support, projects, or needs. Putting it up front will kill a dream. It very likely will focus on the means rather than the end.

What is your take on the link above?

1933: Fifty missionary appeals in two months

Mac Ice posted a news note from a 1933 issue of Gospel Advocate about a brother Lewis Oldham speaking 50 times in two months on (his?) work in China.

Have any of us had such a hectic schedule as this? We come from a long line of missionaries who travel around making appeals. Does this make missions a peripheral activity in the brotherhood?

Avoid these traps in missionary fund-raising and reporting

Christian workers should avoid using these manipulative techniques for fund-raising and reporting. Churches should be aware that missions presentations may not tell the whole story. Watch out for these.

#1. Emergency appeal

“If you don’t help now,  the kingdom of God will go down the tubes.” You’ll never hear a missionary say those exact words, but sometimes the impression is left that if you don’t help now a particular effort, then all is lost. It’s manipulation to lay a guilt trip on the hearers to shell out the dough. You will hear people say, “Give now or this  opportunity will be lost forever!” Urgency is good, and we need more of it, but foretelling the bleak future is a risky business.

#2. Tear-jerking

You’ve seen the photos of the dirty, bare-foot, stomach-distended children, the emotional appeals, the heart-breaking stories, the pitiable cries for help from the dark corners of the world. There is suffering out there, much of it, but don’t believe all you’re told either.

#3. Pentecost success

If you really want to impress, show mass baptisms.

“The Underanians are converting by the hundreds every day! A kadzillion churches are being established every month! On our two-week trip (including three days of travel, two days of sight-seeing, and one day in bed sick as a dog) we baptized 4,732 souls whom we left to fend for themselves. We must send more help! Contribute today!”

Yeah, right. Go back next year and see how many of those are still faithful. There is that soul who hearing the gospel the first time will follow Jesus to the end. Many, however, require a process, often extended, in order to come to faith, one in which a friend accompanies them.

Some mission efforts, among them not a few short-term, are little more than a dip trip. Get ’em in the water and show the folks back home.

One suspects that mission reports and appeals tend to reflect the character of the work done on the field. By their PowerPoints you shall know them.

Book: The Spirituality of Fund-raising

This 40-page booklet by Henri J. M. Nouwen was once offered for free, back when I ordered it, but not now. I suppose they thought it more spiritual to charge an absurd $13.50 for it. I benefited from it, but probably wouldn’t pay that price for that few pages, especially considering that there’s only about 27 pages of actual text. OK, so it is a slick, full-color print job on every page.

If you don’t have a good handle on what I’d call the theology of fund-raising, it might be a good investment as you begin or seek to sustain your missionary task. I’ve heard a few brethren raising funds who desperately need to read it, but they probably think they have a handle on how to do it.

The booklet is the transcript of a speech Nouwen gave to a foundation. He has good words. If it provides you with a context for fund-raising, that might just justify the price since it could leverage your efforts.

Here’s a short quote from the booklet. Continue reading “Book: The Spirituality of Fund-raising”