Missions Works! God chose to give us the Great Commission. He chose to use weak vessels to carry out the greatest task on earth and because He initiated the plan, it will be accomplished. The purpose of this blog is find ways in which we may be more efficient in this task. We would like to generate healthy conversation that will result in more results for our resources. While no article written here will perfect our missions methods, we pray that we can network together to more efficiently use our resources for the spread of the gospel. While there are many topics explored in this site, the top trends to raise our efficiency are listed both above and below to the right as links that can take you to an article explaining the why and how. Please, feel free to comment on articles and share this site within your network of Pastors/missionaries/friends.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Mixing business with missions

Some time ago a man I know bought a business. He wanted to be able to have a sustainable income that would allow him to go on more missions trips. Unfortunately the business did not take off and he ended up working two other jobs to pay off the debt. 

Business is risky and many Christians are not up to taking that risk with their missions dollars. We are in a system that almost all of the dollars given go straight to the missionary. And people are generous and there are a lot of dollars out there! But there is also a vast need around the world of more missionaries and plenty of missionaries wait 2-3 years in order to get to the field. Certainly this discourages others from going into missions as well. If money was not an issue would you take 2-3 years and go on mission? I imagine there are many people who would be more likely to pursuit it.

So the question is: Is it worth the risk of our missions dollars to use business for the sake of the kingdom?

Jesus tells the parable of the talents in the New Testament. He rebukes the third servant for hiding his one talent and applauds the other two servants who invested theirs’. Methinks that Jesus likes the idea of investing for the kingdom.  

How much investment have we done with our missions dollars? Wouldn’t it be great if we could multiply those dollars before they arrived to the missionary? Is there a way we could take the millions of dollars going into missions yearly and multiply the millions? 

I do not have any solid answers here, but I do know that God has given many people creative minds. The church has many businessman who could think through these things. I do have some ideas, but I do think there are better ones out there that a little prayer and meditation can bring out.

Pray about it. First pray that it is for God’s glory and not our own. Then pray boldly that God will show us a way to invest for His kingdom as well as provide for that investment! 

Monday, December 9, 2013

To ask or not to ask, that is the question

I do not know of any missionary who decided to be a missionary so that he could ask people to support him. It has always been in spite of having to ask for support. Some missionaries do well in raising support because they are good at asking. Others really struggle. In the past, missionaries mainly targeted churches, but lately there has been a shift to looking for individuals with which to partner. 

Praying his support in was made famous by Hudson Taylor. He would not even let the need be known, but taught the orphans and his family to just pray and allow God to supply the need. So far we have not had enough faith to follow this thinking. I have also heard a sermon on how Taylor’s family suffered because their health needs were not always met. 

I am not against asking. Most advice from books or conferences will tell you how to “make the ask.” They say not to be ashamed of it either, and rightly so; it is not like missionaries are trying to rob anyone. We are to go into partnership with others in reaching the world and because of that, we can ask boldly to be involved in what God is doing around the world. 

I have asked a couple people lately and it does not seem to go to well. I am sure it has to do with my asking abilities not being up to par. I have also had some conversations with others on this and being asked can seem awkward. It would seem that having the conviction that you are supposed to give to a certain person would be easier to give to rather than feeling you need to give because you were asked. Kind of like in church when the Pastor does his little giving lecture before the offering. You should not give because of the lecture or guilt; we give out of love and conviction. 

I have also providentially met partners out of nowhere. After sharing the ministry with them, they have felt led by God to give. This has been most encouraging as it confirms God’s calling on our lives. We know that God is with us and He is the One who is sending us to the field. We have made lists of potential supporters and yet it ultimately has come down to God touching hearts. 

We do give to missions as well. Actually, we have several missionaries who support us too. In our giving endeavors, we have given out of conviction that we should give to faith promise or certain missionaries and that has seemed the most rewarding.  

I would like to see some conversation on this one because our circumstance is different than other missionaries and other givers. What is your perspective? Do you like to be asked to give? 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Missionary Survey results

On November 6th I created a survey for missionaries to see their experience with support systems. We had 40 missionaries take the survey. The idea for doing the survey came out of a comment on the blog that made me wonder if I am lobbying for a different type of support system that missionaries do not even want. 

We had a wide variety of participants, many newer missionaries, but plenty of veteran missionaries. Some needed little support, like less than 3000 a month, but the rest spanned the spectrum up to 7500+ a month. There was a trend of people who needed less than 3000 dollars a month. They generally had just a couple supporting churches and it took them less than a year to raise their support. It seems like this crowd would be more shorter term missionaries, even though there is no way of telling since I did not think of that as a question.

The stats showed a difference between the newer missionaries and veteran missionaries. The veteran missionaries had much more church support as opposed to individual support. Of the 9 veteran (16+ years on the field), all but one had more than 11 supporting churches, and only one had more than 45% of their support coming from individuals. All but two did their pre-field ministry in less than two years. They were almost even (5-4, preferring more supporting churches) on the question of whether to switch to a system of having 3-5 supporting churches as opposed to 15-20. 

The newer missionaries (less than 10 years on the field) were different in most aspects. Again, the ones that did not need as much money mostly took less than 1 year on pre-field, but the others took a little longer and in some cases, really long. Of the 24, eight took 1-2 years, four took 3-4 years and four took more than 5 years. It definitely seems like pre-field is taking longer now than it used to take. Half of the newer missionaries have more than 45% support coming from individuals and half have more than 11 churches and half have less than 10 churches. There was much desire for a different system of support as 19 said they would rather have a 3-5 church system as opposed to 5 who liked the system we have right now.

My eyes popped when I first put out the survey, because the first 10 respondents said they had no monthly accountability from churches. But it ended as 60% saying they were not held accountable each month. I kind of regret saying monthly and wish I would have put bi-monthly or quarterly, although it may not have changed the results. I had a question about how many churches really partner with the missionary in ministry, which could really vary on the missionary’s definition of partnership, but 18% said no churches do, and 28% said that 1-2 churches do. Of course Dave Southwell said he has lots of churches who do! But not every missionary can be as cool as him! It seemed to me though that the church/missionary relationship has plenty of room to grow closer. 

Overall, 2/3 of the participants said they would rather have a 3-5 church support system. 55% would be pleased with that change. 31% said they might be pleased with that change and 13% said they would not like it. Almost all thought it would take work. 

One of the respondents told me about his situation in which he needed a lot of supporting churches because of the work he is in with planting churches. It takes a lot of money to plant multiple churches and so he needs a large pool of resources. He really helped me understand that perspective (and made me wonder if my perspective will change as we start planting churches this next term). I do however believe that most missionaries believe they would benefit greatly by traveling less when they are home and having great partnerships with churches that exceeded the churches just sending money. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Independent or unorganized cooperation?

We independent Baptists pride ourselves in being independent. But are we really independent? When it comes to missions, I would argue that we are not. In missions we support missionaries for 25-300 dollars a month. Is that all the  money it takes to send them to the field? No, there are other churches and individuals that help them out as well. So in that sense, we are not independent, but rather have an unorganized cooperation. 

We cooperate with more churches to send our missionaries to the field. We just do not know who those churches are. What we really have is multiple consortiums. Each missionary family represents one consortium of churches working together to send that missionary family. 

Can we reverse our unorganized cooperation? It would be impossible to convince all us independents to revamp our whole missions system at one time, but we can start trends now that will make a difference over time. Here are a couple trends to start us off. 

First, organize and know your missionaries. Sometimes missionaries are off the field and you don’t even know it! Assign small groups to a missionary or a member of your mission team to concentrate on certain missionaries. If a prayer request arises or any other needs, those in your church can be one of the first to know. They can also send encouraging notes to the missionary.

Second, instead of finding new missionaries to support, consider raising your current missionary’s support. Not to say you never support a new missionary, because new missionaries are needed, but your missionaries are probably also looking for new support from somewhere. It can either come from a new church, which means more money and time spent going somewhere else, or it can come from you, which means less spreading out on the missionary’s part. 

Third, consider some type of consortium. A consortium is a group of churches that support the same missionaries. If one church is sending out a missionary, the other churches pledge to support that missionary in agreement that the sending church will support the other church’s missionaries. In the past, traditional consortiums have had varied success. Consortiums can be hard to maintain because of the imbalance in churches with sending missionaries. If church A sends out 2 missionaries and church B sends out 10 missionaries, church A may not have the capacity to support 10 missionaries, so church A gets mad because they are not fulfilling their agreement...

But what if you were creative in finding the benefits of the consortium and partnered with a couple other churches in your area to support some of the same missionaries? You might even do it already. Most pastors have pastor friends in the area; coordinate with them on supporting the same missionaries and then plan how you can take advantage of meeting with them at the same time. See if between a few area churches, you can take on a good percentage of that missionary’s support. 

The key to all this is time. To make these moves all at once would be nearly impossible, but start the trends that will make the difference over time.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


In an earlier post I mentioned the idea of missionaries doing internships in churches as a requirement for receiving the support of the church. Traditionally missionaries spend either one night, one weekend, or one week with a church before they receive support. While great times may be had during these meetings as well as meaningful relationships built, there is usually not too much depth to the relationships. 

The most important church relationship for the missionary should be with the sending church. A sending church should be a huge system of support for the missionary. Not just financially, but in relationship, accountability, and ministry training. A summer internship at my home church during college gave me insight into how the local church operated and helped with relationships between the Pastors and myself. 

A 25-50% support rate for sending churches would allow for more involvement and intimacy with their sending church. Then if they did a couple other 3 month internships at other churches with an understanding of receiving a higher amount of support, there would be more stability for the missionary, as well as more intimacy with the churches. We were just in a 5 day conference in which we got to know several families by meals and hanging out. I can just imagine the friendship development if we would have had a couple more months.  

I heard a Pastor say that if they support us for 25% of our support, they would like 25% of our time on furlough. I thought that would be great. One of my friends on furlough has an office at his sending church and is able to participate in all the Pastor’s meetings. One of the major aspects of furlough that I do not enjoy is the lack of involvement in a single local church. We do not have time to be involved in weekly ministries. 

If missionaries could do a 6 month internship at their home church where the church was committed to 25-50% of their support, then 3-4 three month internships in other churches who were committed to 10% of their support, they could be to the field in a year and a half with a significant amount of strong prayer support. I know that does not add up to 100%, but with those close of relationships with the churches, along with close family and friends there will inevitably be support for them on an individual basis. (Half of our support comes from individuals). 

The transition to this type of support system would not happen overnight. It would take dozens of years, but the implementation and results of these types of partnerships will be well worth the effort.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Cooperative Program for independents?

What if there was a Cooperative program for faith missions (basically meaning independent baptist missionaries)? I know that goes against being independent, but independent in the Christian circles does not sound too biblical anyway. I know, I know, it can be good in some ways, but with missions, is being independent a good thing? It may have once been, but with the demands a missionary faces today, I do not believe it is the best.

With southern baptists, at this point, they have such a broad base that it comes from all the donations of many churches. Something independent baptists are too independent to have. So how would a Cooperative program with independent missions work?  Glad you asked, cause I have a few ideas, that would all seem impossible. That is right. Think about how many missionaries are out there to support. There is plenty, which means it would take plenty to fully support them. So the Cooperative program would not be able to start fully supporting each missionary. But it could start by supporting some missionaries for some and then continue to grow as it gains credibility.

The Cooperative program would probably start out small and it would have to be a business making money, not just depending on donations. There would have to be people with business minds to run it and be successful. There would be prayer. There would be investment. There would be work. It could start with one business, but continue on to many more. In the book the Circle Maker, they have a coffee house called Ebeneezer that now gives six figures yearly to missions. What if we started a chain of businesses whose profits went completely to missions? There could be restaurants or coffee houses, stores or garage sales, car lots or shoe lots. I do not know what God will use in this, but I know He can use anything.

In middle school my Pastor gave the whole congregation one dollar each and preached about the parable of talents. Many of us did not just hide the talent so that we could give it back; we invested it. I bought jolly ranchers and sold them for 5 cents each. I do not remember how much money I gave back after a month or two, but I am pretty sure it was around 20 dollars. Many others had been even more creative and lucrative. I believe investing is biblical, but in our missions giving, we look at the giving as an investment for the kingdom of God. And that is right; but what about actually investing our money before it reaches the missionary.

What if we could put it into a business that will give back two-fold, three-fold or more? I know that investing can be risky, but that is what the servant with the one talent thought and the master labeled him a fool.

In 2009 I introduced a real estate idea on my personal blog and it did not seem too popular. I am back at it again wanting to introduce it. So look for that next. But if that is not the idea that God will use, what else is out there? Do you have any ideas? I think investment is a worthy idea that will not have a huge initial impact, but can be very profitable in the long run.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Circle Maker

My mom gave me a book to read called the Circle Maker by Mark Batterson, Pastor of National Community Church in Washington DC. The book is about praying circles like Elijah did on Mount Carmel, the persistent widow in Jesus’ parable, Hannah for a baby, and so many others in the Bible. We need to pray that way for God’s will and for the dreams that He gives us. 

This book has encouraged me to pray circles around several dreams that I have. Three of them have to do with missions. 

#1- Church Planting in the Brazilian Outback. What an incredible opportunity to plant churches in a place where they have few churches. Check out the video that tells about the opportunity. I am praying that God will start a church planting movement there, which is something only He can do. 

#2- Our missions system will continue to change to a partnership model where churches are actively involved in their missionary’s ministry. 

#3- For years now I have dreamed of a fund that will decrease the needed support for missionaries. One thought is to use the skills and abilities in the church to fix up and rent out houses with the funds benefiting missions. I actually have a huge document describing all the ideas in it and a brief two page business plan should anyone be interested. At some point I will post it to the blog. 

What are your dreams that you are praying through? How persistent are your prayers. Mark Batterson writes about walking around his prayer requests just as the Israelites walked around Jericho. It took persistence and faith. We must work in prayer to see God’s hand move in miraculous ways and remember that He wants to answer those prayers as the loving Father who loves to give gifts.