The Brewing Crisis

It seems like hardly a week goes by that I don't hear from or about some missionary or evangelist losing a big part of their financial support.

This is the natural outcome of a declining economy, an increasingly despotic government, and joblessness among church members.

The fundamental, independent Baptist movement has done well in the last few years as far as numbers of churches and numbers of converts are concerned.  Yes, their is vast room for improvement and vast areas of unreached populations within the United States, but the independent Baptists are one of the few groups that have actually grown by soulwinning over the last decade.  Many groups, including the most prominent Baptist denomination, have reported growth, but examination shows that the growth has been predominantly a result of church membership transfers and "sheep stealing."

 

That's not how a church is supposed to grow.  A healthy church is going out into the world and getting people, not dragging people out of other churches.  Independent Baptists have done well in that respect.

However, when it comes to sending and supporting missionaries, we have not done so well.  Particularly now that the economy is declining and there isn't as much money to go around, churches and individuals are cutting back what they are giving to missionaries and evangelists -- often with no warning.

This creates a crisis for the missionary who went out based upon the support we promised.

It is understandable that giving would decline as the nation's economy declines.  But, it creates a problem for the men and women who go out in our name and based on our promise of support.

There are solutions, but I don't see these solutions being widely adopted.

1. One solution is to require our missionaries to leave their field every 2-3 years and spend 12-18 months raising support, or for some missionaries to be recalled home entirely.  In my opinion, this is undesirable (and a poor use of the funds that they do have), but it is the default option if we choose to do nothing.

2. A better option would be for churches to increase their giving to make up for the lost support.  This may mean delaying building projects and empire-building projects in the short term.  We will need to closely examine building projects to determine if they are really necessary right now.  How many missionaries could be supported by the cost of that new building?  How many missionaries will have to come off the field because funds will be diverted to a building project?  These are tough questions which only the local church can answer -- only can the local church judge the sacrifices involved.  But, to ignore this option means defaulting to option #1 above.

3. A third option, which goes hand-in-hand with #2, is for individuals to give more sacrificially.  That might mean putting off that car purchase, or purchasing a smaller car instead.  Maybe it means cutting back on that vacation.  Maybe it means eating out less.  Maybe it means getting clothing at the thrift shop instead of the department store.  Maybe it's time to sell the boat.  Maybe the home remodeling project can be put off.  Only the individual can be an accurate judge of what sacrifices they can make to keep missionaries on the field.

These three options are long-term solutions to the problem.  In the short term, what else can we do to keep missions alive?

There are foreign missionaries, evangelists, and "home missions" missionaries who are enduring great hardship right now because of decreased (and continually-declining) support.  They are having to make those tough decisions right now.  What can we do to help?

Did you get a tax refund? How about sending part of it to a missionary as a surprise gift?

Did you get an inheritance?  How about investing part of it in worthy ministries?

Looking to protect your assets in a volatile world?  How about protecting some of them by "sending them ahead" via investing in some mission work?  Nobody can take away that investment.

Can you afford another $10/week from your income as an additional gift? Send it off to a missionary to help make up for support they have lost.

How about taking up a special missionary offering once a month?  God will show you who to send it to.

You may have other ideas that God lays on your heart, but the important thing is to act, and soon.

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