Monday, February 13, 2012

Its That Time Of Year: Being Hit Up For Money For "Missions"

If I want to go on vacation, should I ask for money from my church and people I hardly  talk to for months or even years? Should I expect them to finance my trip? Do I think I'm entitled?

I don't think so.

It takes planning ahead, budgeting and saving money, in order to pay for a trip.

Same with a mission trip.

I mean, you planned, went to the meetings, talked with your missions committee, pastor, parents (in some cases as with young people), friends, and yet you didn't take the time to PLAN and SAVE for this trip, and NOW you expect everyone else to chip in? Is that right? Is that ethical? Is that selfish?

In rethinking how the American churches does things, this is certainly one we should reconsider.

First of all Paul did not want to be a burden on the local church, so he had a job as a tent maker.

1Th 2:9  For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God.

Indeed he did get support from other churches at times. But let's remember, "need" was a real need back then. Today, how do we as Christians define a "need"? And Paul did real mission work.

Can we do better than the way we've been doing things in this modern age of "missions"? I think so.

Are you really called to the mission field?

One thing that might help is to see if you are really called  to be on the mission field even for short-term, is that you should be  evangelizing right here at home. Here in Southern California, there's never a shortage of local evangelism with a plethora of cultures. You don't have to spend thousands of dollars to share the Gospel of another culture.

Define what a mission is.

It should include evangelizing the lost with the Gospel. This is seen throughout Acts. Its not babysitting a "missionary" couple's kids so they can have a date night. Sorry, but that's not what missions is. And yes, I was at a church that actually did this. Talk about expensive babysitting! 

Going on sight-seeing tours is not a missions trip; that's called a vacation. And I'm not going to pay for your vacation even though you slap "to the glory of God" on to it. If you are going on a REAL missions trip, if your passion is for the lost, then spend your time and the money given to you for that sole purpose. Time is  of the essence especially if you are on a short-term trip. A conference is a conference for professing Christians (even pastors) and not a mission (otherwise think of the countless "missions" everyone goes on here in America annually). If a conference is canceled (which was the point in going to that country as a "mission"), then don't spend the money and go sight-seeing, instead go to the streets and preach the gospel! And yes, I know of few who have done this too when they went to Uganda.

Construction work is not necessarily a mission either. Be very careful about this. What is being built and why? Is this something that could employ the "native" people there? Wouldn't that actually be far less expensive and more helpful to those who need a job there? If construction is truly needed, when do you spend time evangelizing? A hammer in hand is  not proclaiming the Gospel. When is the Person and work of Jesus Christ proclaimed by you  if you go to help construct a building?

Plan Ahead.

If  a person wants to go on a missions trip, plan ahead. For the young person, take a Summer job and save that for your trip the following year. Work during the year to save money. Ask your parents for help. For the adults, same thing. PLAN AHEAD so you won't be a burden to your church or friends. They should be giving to their local churches anyway. The church directory is not a list to hit up people for money, especially if you are putting kids through a private college and both mom and dad work. Contacting people you don't even talk to and haven't seen for years, just to finance your trip---I'll be honest, it smacks of using others. That's how I feel anyway. Literally.  There's no investment in the relationship for years and years, then suddenly after a few FB exhanges, we're good to hit up for money when you make a good wage? Really? That's what I'm good for? Never mind ever talking about spiritual things, but boy I look like a possible money giver to you? Ouch.

Be Equipped: Do you know the Gospel?

What gospel will be preached, IF one is preached at all? Are those asking for money, equipped with the knowledge of the Gospel? I don't mean the "Jesus loves you and just ask Him into your heart" "gospel" which is NO gospel at all. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is offensive because it tells the sinner he IS a sinner, wicked before the holy God and must give an account. It declares the Lordship of the Lord, counting the cost, the wrath of God as well as the peace of God. God's love is not part of the Gospel proclamation, nor is one's will.

Last year we were happily surprised to find some friends of our's wrote us about their missions trip and they said they were not asking for any money, but rather for prayer. Wow! And that's how it should be. Perhaps that's the way to do it and if God leads some to give, they can give without being asked.

Have we as Christians fallen for the entitlement mentality? That we are entitled to having others pay our way to something we know we want to do months in advance? Why is it an automatic notion that the church will pay for your trip?

These are some things I think we need to consider, especially in this season of asking for summer missions money.


Christy said...

I know two women from my home church who are both missionaries. One has been led to China. She goes anywhere from 1 to 2 years at a time and then returns for anywhere from 6 months to 12 months to seek Christ's will if he wants her to return and while she's back she works full time as a teacher as well as on her parents working farm. Her greatest request is prayer for her, for those she works with that are Christians there, but have to be in secrets, as well as those unsaved. We have been able to support her with unending prayers as well as financially when we've felt called from the Lord.

The other one is a teacher and is a teacher to missionary kids. Before she left she did a huge amount of ultimately fund raising, she sold her house for nearly 3 times what she paid for it. While she's been in Africa she's gone on multiple vaccations to the various shores there when they've had breaks. She actually came here to Germany this summer, so she could go to language school in Switzerland (there's a school there that has a partnership with the missions she goes through), but while she was with us she traveled. She also gets paid through the missions she's gone through, since she's teaching. We pray for her, but will not support her financially, other than what we felt was her taking advantage of the weeks she spent with us, with us driving her all over Germany, feeding her, etc. It was hard to experience what felt was selfishness in that she felt others should just help her because she was doing something she saw as "noble"...when I don't think that's what God sees at all. He doesn't call us to be missionaries for us to be noble, but instead to be obedient.

God's Blessings

Denise said...


You understand my concern! Thank you for sharing the two totally different stories!