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.

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.