In times like these, we begin to realize how critical our foundations are. We all strive to value strong foundations all the time, but we all know that we struggle to put down strong foundations. It is often easy to build and grow and expand during the good times without giving detail to the first steps that are required. Really…who wants to waste time to read the instructions? Come hard times, we start to remember how important it is that we not let ourselves get too far ahead of what our foundations can endure. Indeed, foundations are critical.
One of the greatest challenges for churches and church leaders is determining what type of missions foundation might be holding up the missions ministry in their church. This particular article will deal with the financial foundation related to missions.
You have likely all been there: recipients of yet another letter or email requesting funding for someone who has been called to serve in missions and wondering whether this is another building block that should join the wall or wondering whether this will be the block that makes it all come crashing down. The (honest) thoughts and questions that come to mind when one of these requests is received typically include: How is this person connected to our church and the ministry of our church? Do we even know this person at all? Does that really matter? Is this person really going to do missions or are they serving stateside? Do we really have enough funds to support another worker? Should we ever turn down anyone who is needing to be sent to do missions? Doesn’t the Bible say that the workers are few? Shouldn’t we help anyone who is called? How many other churches has this worker approached? Does this worker really need our help? Do we even have enough funds to do ministry here in our town? And there are many, many more thoughts and questions that may come to your minds…
Here are a few suggestions or principles to guide you as you consider the financial foundation for your church’s missions ministry:
Develop the blueprints so that the foundation can be built.
It takes time to draw out a plan for a building, but there is no building that is properly done unless it has some blueprints to guide the process. The same is true for a missions ministry. It is very helpful to prayerfully draw up a policy that guides the financial decision-making process. This policy can serve as a guide, and yet, just like a blueprint can be adapted and changed, there should be space for the Holy Spirit to touch hearts if a change is needed. If your church could use someone to assist with this process, contact a church missions consultant who is skilled in leading this discussion and process.
Do consider the relationship and the role that the potential supported worker has to the church.
If the person requesting funds has no connection to the local church, perhaps this is not someone that the Lord will call the church to support. A financial transaction alone will not engage the church, but if the supported worker has a connection to the church, the financial piece is more of a capstone. Think of the relationship as the foundation and the financial support as the top of the tower, and this will be the proper order to build the foundation and keep the tower from falling. In addition to the worker’s relationship to the church, consider what role the person will be playing in missions. Sometimes churches don’t want to support those who are mobilizing others. In other words, sometimes churches and church leaders believe the only valued missionaries are those who are going to a foreign country. Guess what! They would never get there if it weren’t for stateside personnel and others who mobilize rather than go. At the same time, don’t support every mobilizer who comes along or you will face the possibility of not being able to support any who are called to GO. Keep a good balance on this.
3) Don’t be afraid to say “no” (or yes!).
The truth is that a church’s financial support to any potential missionary in need should be a matter of prayer and discernment. As mentioned above, a policy that is prayerfully considered can be a good way to establish a pattern that is intended to be followed. Don’t be afraid to say “No, I am sorry, we don’t feel led to support you at this time.” At the same time, don’t be quick to say no without truly considering whether God is wanting to grow your faith while you say “yes” to building the wall a little higher. Involve various people in the decision-making process, and watch God work through the prayers of His people. As you come together with others, watch God lead you to determine whether each request is one that should be honored or one that should be respectfully declined.
In the coming days, churches around the country and the world will be making hard decisions. The economy has been affected by this pandemic, and finances will be scarce. At the same time, this is all the more reason to consider the foundation for any financial missions decisions that will be made. Is it really time to scale back, or is it time to rearrange and refocus? Is it time to consider the foundation on which all decisions have been based? What kind of foundation has your church missions ministry established? Don’t let it come crashing down! Consider your foundation today! (And if you would like, contact a church missions consultant for free assistance in walking through your blueprints!)
Kirsten McClain serves in church missions mobilization for OMF. She has been serving churches and mission agencies for the last 20 years. She has a heart to see the church realize her potential in missions and is driven to be a mobilizer to this end. She lives in Georgia with her husband and three children, and she is ready to direct pastors to the various free resources that OMF uses to come alongside churches and individuals so that they can do missions well. [email protected]