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.

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. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


“I just don’t really want to do the whole support raising thing and so I thought I could have some sort of business to provide all my support.” A college student told me while I was out recruiting. “I understand” I said as we continued the conversation.

As it turns out, that student is not alone as a main concern posed by potential missionary candidates has to do with raising support. Of course, the alternative is tent-making, which comes from Acts 18 where it talks about Paul making tents as a means of income so as to not be a burden on the churches. So is support raising wrong; is tent-making wrong? Of course, we all know that neither are wrong, but lets talk about the pros and cons of tent-making.

The motives behind the decision are important. We are on mission to make disciples and so in each situation, we must see if it better helps us make disciples. Tent-making can provide a great source of contacts as the missionary will interact each week with plenty of clients or other workers. This is a great way to make disciples! 

If the main reason for tent-making is to avoid support raising, you may not have that high of view of the ministry. I experientially understand the fears associated with raising money, but serving the Lord in a foreign country is a huge privilege of which one should not be ashamed. God provides and it is a sanctifying process to see the ways in which He does provide. 

If you do go the route of the tent-maker, you will most likely have less time for ministry. The route would probably look like two full time jobs. One day time job and one night and weekend job. That may be alright if you are single, but where does the land the wife and kids in your priorities? It will be tough to maintain an intact thriving family in this situation (and that all depends on the type of secular job you will have). 

Also, is there a temptation in your life to chase money? If so, you may struggle with money being the goal rather than the job being the means to the end. I heard about a doctor who was working in the hospital while at the same time ministering and he could either get paid or volunteer, but either way he would be doing the same thing. Get paid! Then use that money for ministry or to offset costs. There was another situation in which a pilot could use his plane to fly government officials and get paid. He was not already doing this, so there was a decision to be made on where the focus would be laid. If he just flew all the time, he may have influence and less money to raise, but what about the church he was planting? He would at least have to set boundaries time-wise as to how it would all work out. 

Years ago I watched a video about a Philippine pastor with a vision of sending out thousands of missionaries as workers! Awesome! They would go into different countries with different professions and be a witness wherever they went! That is a quick way to send a lot of missionaries! I have friends that are in closed countries working in the field of education. They are able to be witnesses to the nationals there and have a church. One term for them would be “kingdom professionals.”

There are many opportunities in missions today. Consider what is best for you, how your time can be managed, how affective you can be with a tent-making workload, and what your motives are. Do not be afraid to raise support, but do not be afraid to be creative as well. For some, tent-making would not give them time to devote to ministry; for others, it provides more ministry. Whatever you do, make disciples and give glory to God!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Worst Fear

There are many things to be scared about as a missionary, but my worst fear is family illness. Not to me, but a serious illness to my wife or kids. I feel like God allows trials quite often in the lives of missionaries as a way to sanctify them. 

Some of the missionaries who have influenced me the most have been through this. Sometimes they come home and teach; sometimes they take home office positions. Whatever they do, they are very valuable. 

Yet, in the missions world today, home office staff are often undervalued. I wish I could adequately explain how influential they are to missionaries on the field as well as new or potential missionaries. And still, it is much harder for a home office missionary to raise support. I have a friend in this situation working a part time job to help supplement the loss of support. 

While I understand the perspective of the churches in dropping “home missionaries,” a partnership model will be in tune with the missionary and know their heart of service. Usually the missionary has no choice in the matter. They would much rather be on the field, but health forces a different assignment that is not at all a step down. Actually, the home office missionaries are the leaders of the mission board. They are facilitating and leading the missionaries in their region and/or training others and giving tons of advice. They are very essential; yet churches sometimes drop them for this raise. 

Be a partner. Know and love your missionaries. Invest in their lives. If that worst fear happens in the life of your missionary, run along side them with words and acts of encouragement.  

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Partnership- It works both ways!

This past weekend in the missions conference we were in, one of the missionaries said partnership works both ways. The churches expect to hear from the missionaries, for very good reason! But what about the missionaries hearing from their churches? We would like to know what is going on as well. 

I have had a couple of churches do this; one very faithfully and the other hit and miss. Of course, many churches do this indirectly through facebook. I can hear about their different activities by reading facebook. In fact, I just talked to someone who is going to be encouraging small groups to interact with some of their missionaries by writing them notes. I suggested using facebook (if both parties have it) to keep up with the missionaries and occasionally send words of news and encouragement. One of our churches has a church-missionary facebook group and often asks for prayer requests through that. Missionaries do not have to receive formal letters (although those can be nice), but whichever way in which we hear or see involvement is exciting. We want to hear how the church/individuals are doing and the different ministries happening (cause sometimes we steal your ideas...and you, in turn, can steal ours)! 

No, we do not need monthly emails, although that can be nice, but hearing from the churches is always a blessing. Some churches are content with sending money and that is it, but that is not partnership. How do you keep in contact with your missionaries? 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Guest Post: 10 Ways to Intentionally Partner with Missionaries

I met Sean Miller at a missions conference and he has continued to be a good friend serving around the world. Check out this post on partnering!

This is not a new topic to the mission’s discussion, and one that is easily agreed upon. I can make the case like many others have for creative ideas to bless missionaries, grow your church’s relationship with them, etc… but more often than not, various writings about this topic do not lead to action. Just as a heads-up, these 10 ideas are primarily geared toward a home church partnership. Missionaries simply aren’t that special for every partnering church to feel compelled to do all of these things! Missionaries are everyday people just like you, simply seeking the Kingdom’s growth in a different context and it is also their “job”. 

However, cross-cultural missions has its own unique challenges that a home church and partnering churches need to seek to help the missionary family overcome. There was a story once told about William Carey: “After hearing an account of the spiritual needs of India, the secretary of the meeting remarked: "There is a gold mine in India, but it seems almost as deep as the center of the earth. Who will venture to explore it?" "I will venture to go down," said Carey, "but remember that you must hold the ropes."

The local church must “hold the rope” for their missionaries as they serve cross-culturally. If you are reading this and are not a missionary’s “home church”, still look to apply some of these ideas to your other supported missionaries, perhaps albeit in a reduced fashion. If you are a home church to a missionary or missionaries, don’t feel pressure to apply all of these immediately! Start somewhere, and seek the Holy Spirit to reveal other ways to “hold the rope”.

*NOTE*…. none of the below has anything to do with regular support giving. 

10. You show grace
Missionaries are sinners, are not perfect and they should not be put on a pedestal. The missionary that says, “praise the Lord, brother/sister/pastor everything is great”, is more than likely being superficial in conversation. Go deeper. They will thank you for it, even if it is painful to talk about whatever current issue is going on. Except, in going deeper, show grace. There is spiritual, cultural, language, financial, personal, family, marital, health, material and everyday pressures that you in America do not understand unless you have lived as a cross-cultural missionary yourself. It may be easy for you to do different things you are supposed to do or follow advice given, but it is much harder for them. Show grace, it will go a long way. Don’t assume because a missionary is struggling in a particular area that it means they shouldn’t be on the field. The Lord may be refining them through the above pressures to equip them for further long-term ministry. 

9. You do crazy stuff for them
I know of a church missions team member that heard a missionary loved Starburst jelly beans, so they bought a case of 40 bags! 
Another missionary friend of mine knew there were no street names where he lived, so they made a legitimate road sign with his name on it! One of our churches knows we like Milo’s Sweet Tea, so they made sure they would have a couple gallons of it when we visited them on furlough.. Seemingly a trivial idea given to them lets the missionary know you are listening, even to the small comments.

8. You randomly call them
The missionary has time to call people. Any missionary that has no time to talk to people back home is too busy and doesn’t plan his/her schedule in a “non-burn out” healthy way. You make time for what is important to you, and you as an effective church partner need to make time for them if they are truly important to you. One of my missionary friends faithfully talks to his senior pastor every single week, talking and praying together. No agenda, no “trying to fix him/them”, just to pray with him and provide a safe place to talk about whatever is on his mind or heart with no fear of being criticized. This can happen easily and free in today’s modern era with VOIP home phone options, Skype, Facetime, etc… 

7. You plan a team of people to intentionally love on them
Effectively showing this kind of love doesn’t happen because you “want to” or “feel like it”. This takes careful, deliberate action by a member care team at your church. They can be a sub-committee of the local church missions committee or it can be a separate team by themselves. There needs to be people assigned to this, with not a lot of other things on their plate. They need the ability (and the resources allotted to them) to make it happen.

6. You seek to understand them
Try to understand your missionaries. If they send a newsletter (print or email), read it and make notes to bring up in your next phone call/email with them.  Intentionally follow them on Facebook or other social media. This means once a week or before a phone call, read what they have posted and make mention of it. Learn their likes and dislikes; find their hobbies and what makes them “tick”. Find out about their culture, struggles with the local people, and what is “not” in the newsletter about daily life. For example, questions like: “What is the grocery store like?” “Are there family things to do where you live?” “What are fun things that happen?” “What is the ministry like?” “What do you do on a daily basis?”

5. You visit them
Put it in the mission’s budget to have a member of your church visit them and spend a couple days with them. Some missionaries live in business and vacation “high traffic” areas. Make sure if people in your congregation goes to that country or near that country the missions team asks them to stop by and visit a nearby missionary. In this visit they could bring needed items or even just simply have a quick meal with them. Have a staff member or pastor or missions committee visit them at least once a term. This one-on-one visit should be separate from any short-term ministry team visits.

4. You personally give to them above and beyond regular support
Unless a missionary comes from a wealthy family, they are most likely broke. Only recently have missionary organizations been providing financial stewardship education, and it is usually limited. Pay for them to go through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University or pay for them to go through the Crown Financial Ministries MoneyLife program. If they make comments on social media or in a newsletter about a personal need, pay attention to it. They more than likely have thought through it, prayed about it and debated whether or not to even share about it. After evaluation of how best to help, intentionally try to meet the need. Most missionaries have minimal salaries, often times have high costs of living, and some may have debt they are trying to eliminate. As a general rule, if they come to share at your church, they are spending money (personal, ministry finances or both) to get there. It is very helpful to give them personal money/cash specifically for them. They probably have private needs they aren’t sharing.

3. You care about and love on their kids
Third culture kids have much adjustment in their lives. Make sure when they are on furlough they can do fun things, not just get dragged from ministry meeting to missions conference. If their kids just want time with their parents, make it happen. If the kids want to go to Chuck-E-Cheese, take them. While they are on the field, ask what the kids like and cannot get where they are. A few young girls at AWANA from my church growing up sent our 4-year-old daughter some Disney princess magnets, in a package just for her! Our daughter was very excited by the gift and it meant a huge amount to us as her parents! MK’s love to get mail just for them, even if it is just a few stickers thrown in with their parents’ mail.

2. You care about their marriage
A missionary’s marriage is one of the highest places the enemy attacks but it is also one of the most “assumed all is well” things a local church partner thinks. Just because a missionary is cleared for service and the ministry is growing does not mean all is well at home. Are pastor’s sometimes jerks to their wives? Guess what? A missionary does the same thing. Do pastors and pastor’s wives have to intentionally work on their marriage? Missionaries have to as well. Except as stated above, they also have other cross-cultural pressures of being on the field, in addition to normal life’s struggles and stresses. Send them marriage books, have older couples lovingly mentor them and provide a “safe” place for counsel, send them a personal gift to go on a nice date, and ask them if they are having regular date nights. Have the church give them an overnight get-away on the field or back in the USA when they are on furlough. On a practical level, make sure when they are staying with people on furlough that the couple has “alone” time, if you know what I mean. That probably is being sacrificed if they are going from place to place, living out of suitcases and the family is staying in one bedroom. Ask how your church can help build up and lift up their marriage.

1. You faithfully pray for them and tell them that you are faithfully praying for them
Most importantly, pray for them. Pray faithfully and often for them. Keep current prayer requests on bulletin boards and prayer sheets. Make sure that if your bulletin has “Our Missionaries” on it, ensure their names are included! Tell them that you are praying for them. Send them a quick email when you have them as the “missionary of the week”. Write them and have others write them a note simply saying “I prayed for you today”. Prayer truly moves mountains in the ministry, and knowing that there is a truly partnering prayer team behind them does wonders for the missionary spiritually. There is nothing worse than hearing a church say “yeah we are praying for you!” when in reality it is just to sound spiritual. Never think you have told the missionary enough that you are praying for them. They are easily forgetful with all that happens in a day, week or month. They need faithful prayer.

Sean Miller currently serves as a missionary with Child Evangelism Fellowship in St. Kitts and Nevis in the Caribbean with his wife Mandi and daughter Maddy. If you want to find out more about their life and ministry, visit www.amomentwiththemillers.com

Monday, September 23, 2013


A great buzz word for the missionary church relationship is “partnership.” I love that churches are looking at it that way, because that is what the relationship is! How does this pan out in churches? If you want to be partners, you want to get to know who that partner is, but how does that functionally play out? Here are a few cases of what some churches are doing. Feel free to input what your church does.

FCBC is a smaller church (150 or so) with a big heart for missions. Last year they gave around 41,000 dollars to missions and their commitments after this year’s conference jumped to 48,000. In this year’s Wednesday through Sunday missions conference they had four missionary families represented; three of whom were already supported by the church and one other they are now taking on. The Pastor is looking to raise the current missionary’s support given by the church from 50 to 100 dollars a month. According to him, with the amount of missionaries that leave the field (unfortunately); this is a possibility. Yet, they still are looking to gain new missionaries as well! The Pastor also is praying for someone to be sent out of their church. 

This new missionary they took on will be working with a couple the church already supports. It is great to see the church invest with multiple families into a specific field they really want to see reached.  

I appreciate this Pastor’s heart for missions. He works an extra job and his wife works. Many pastors in that situation would probably put more emphasis on being paid as the full time Pastor, but this Pastor’s heart for missions is so big that he places the emphasis on the church giving more to faith promise. 

Calvary Baptist Church used to have a longer missions conference, but like so many churches, they have shortened it up due to the busy schedules of its members. However, in order to get to know their missionaries better they will have a cookout on a Saturday night with informal questions to the missionaries. They want it more laid back so people are more apt to really get to know the missionaries. The missionaries will teach different Sunday schools and then have a few minutes in the main service to show their presentation. At night there will be a banquet as a time to get to know the missionaries even more. 

Heritage and Cornerstone both do missions months. Each Sunday they have a different missionary in to present their work. This seems to be popular amongst churches today. 

Many other churches have missionaries in for an evening service and decide to take them on either by church vote, missions committee vote, or the Pastor deciding. 

I think it would be neat to go to a church on a Wednesday, take a couple days for final organization of a Saturday soccer tournament outreach (or some other outreach) in which I helped organize and speak at... and then speak at the church on Sunday. Doing ministry together is always a blast and a good way to get to know people.

One missionary did an internship with a church with an agreement that they would support them for a larger chunk of their support. Love. Love. Love. In case you did not catch that. I loved that idea. Why? Because the church can really get to know a missionary better when he is there for 2-6 months. The missionary does not have to constantly be on the road (and potentially raise his support in a year, or year and a half, while still being in a stable environment for that time). Then the church will really feel the heartbeat of the missionary and both will be better able to serve one another (sounds like a Biblical principle). What if home churches supported for 25-50 percent, then the missionaries did two other internships where the church supported them for 10 percent each. (Then the rest could be made up by individuals). The missionary could have 3-4 supporting churches (wouldn’t be so burdensome during furlough) and they could really get to know those 3-4 churches which would then provide much more powerful prayer support.

This writing has caused other internship ideas to float around my head, so be looking for another post on it! For now, how does partnering work in your church? Do you have any ideas for it?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Independence Day

The last couple days have been independence days for countries in Central America. Mexico's was yesterday. On Sunday I went to a Spanish Church celebration. Iglesia Bautista de Chattanooga now meets at Maranatha Baptist Church in the afternoons at 2 o'clock. They are sharing the building and on Sunday they fellowshipped together. Each nation represented had a table (tables) of food. (I was invited to take Brazilian food and Sarah cooked me up some beans and rice and farofa).

The service went well and then we ate afterwards. The Americans from the church there thought it was great! They tried food from all different nations and were thrilled to see what was available. They were able to get a perspective on the various cultures represented with which they are sharing their church. Often we do not see that side of the foreign families who enter this diverse country.

Have you gotten to known any foreign families in your community? Have you tried?

Monday, September 16, 2013

Inward Focus versus Outward Focus

We were having a dinner time conversation the other day about church’s inward focus today. What is the functional purpose of the church today? Where do they put their money, time and effort? The day we had that conversation, I had actually been looking at church budgets trying to figure out how much money usually goes to missions in churches. One average amount that I came upon said that 7% of the budget is spent on outward ministries. 

In our conversation we talked about elaborate buildings, gyms, and perks that come with churches. It seems that having the right facilities is of utmost importance for churches. Of course, seeker friendly churches were made popular about a decade ago, to which many responded; “we will continue preaching the Bible, the truth, and not soften our message,” yet it has effected our practice in striving to have the best facilities and programs. And these are not bad things! We want to attract people to church and not have run down facilities; but do we go overboard? I have heard (or seen on a plaque), “this building was built under Pastor so and so,” as if his success was shown by a building being built. “He led us through this capital campaign.” So is that was success in ministry boils down to, a building campaign? I understand that a building is often the result of more members, but when we look back to show where success stories come from, shouldn’t they be from making disciples. “I was taught about true discipleship by Pastor so and so.” “Three of our elders were saved and discipled under that Pastor.”

Now back to the percentage of outward ministry. I think about the first church. Their building maintenance costs were, hmm, I don’t think they had buildings. Does that mean buildings are bad? No. But it does make you think. How did the Pastors in the first church know they were successful? Did they get a promotion to a bigger, higher-paying church and then say they were called of God to go there? I guess the Bible did not put that part in. The Bible does say Pastors are worthy of honor though and I don’t negate treating Pastors well. But I read somewhere, and this may not be true, that the average Pastor was making 83-113,000 a year. Is that right? I read of another Pastor whose housing allowance was 2100 a month (maybe they lived in New York City). Pastors deserve a lot, they put up with a lot and I don’t want to take away from them; I just want to think about where our focus is. 

When you update your church furnishings and your buildings, think about your motives. What does the decision boil down to? 
We need to do this to reach more people. Awesome. 
If we build now, I will be able to invite more lost people. Great.
We will be so much more comfortable if we have this. Really?

I do not think I need to argue about the riches that come from having an outward focus. We all claim to have one, but how does that functionally work out when it comes to your money, time and efforts? 

One young man wrote a blog on having a goal of a 50% missions budget and most churches said that is impossible for them. Only with some bigger churches or unusual circumstances did that seem even feasible. But what do you think it should be? What is possible for your church?

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Less for More with graph

Some people argue that churches should provide full support for their missionaries. That would be cool. But I know it is not realistic for most churches. Plus, many churches are not sending churches to any missionaries and they need to support missionaries. I think that a huge percentage for any missionary receiving support from one church would be 50%. Our church has done up to 25% and that has been wonderful. 

There is no doubt in my mind that moving to a less for more strategy in churches will save money; maybe not as apparent on the church’s end, but on the missionary cost, which ultimately saves the church’s money. The big saver has to do with time spent on pre-field ministry. With less churches to visit, the missionary would save thousands each month he is on the field and not at home. He would also save hundreds on gasoline and car costs. In addition, the mailings it takes to gather speaking opportunities is tremendous and would save much time and money. The church would save budgeted money when they are not paying out honorariums, travel and boarding costs for 6-10 visiting missionaries each year. 

With this system, I believe the missionary attrition rate would be lowered, thus saving the churches money as well. Having 4-5 strong partnership churches (with an emphasis on a very strong supporting church), the missionary can better receive counsel through the hard times that almost always happen in fitting into a different culture. It costs over a hundred thousand dollars to send a missionary to the field for a couple years, so obviously, any missionary attrition avoided saves much money. 

So how should we support missionaries? I suggest shooting for a long term goal (maybe 15-20 years down the road) of having under 10 missionaries, hopefully 4-5. It really depends on your church size and capability of supporting missionaries. I have made a little graph of different support amounts where you can see the differences in numbers and budgets and give you an idea of where you can maximize your partnerships. The side by side columns go together as a sending church partnership plus a non-sending partnership. Probably no church will fit exactly into any one of these exact amounts and partnerships, but it does give you an idea of around how many partnerships you could have and at what level of commitment. 

Yearly Missions budget of
Monthly amount of support


3000 month

Yearly amount














I also doubt that any church can go immediately into this amount of a partnership (unless you are a brand new church), but they can be goals to shoot for over much time. Missionary support in churches constantly changes as missionaries leave the field for various reasons and as hopefully the budget goes up (as you as a church are missionaries reaching your communities). Use this money to work towards your goals.  

What do you think? Is this an attainable goal? Is your church already working towards something similar? What does it look like? What are your doubts about moving to a system like this?