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.
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.
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Monday, October 14, 2013
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
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
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?