How are missionaries like tomatoes?

So says gardener Christine Berglund in her Forthright Magazine column today. writing about “fishers of men” in general:

Sometimes the word “support” is used synonymously with “money” when it comes to our church workers. In reality, they need much more than a paycheck, although let’s not neglect that!

And while we are on that subject, it’s a shame that the monetary support does not often continue past a few years, and then precious time is spent away from the work so that support can be raised, again.

She knows whereof she speaks, it would seem, describing the situation well. Perhaps the article will serve as one more reminder of the needs for the church of God can fill and the mission task it must take more seriously.

Money in ministry and missions: how does it fit in?

How does money fit in?

I’m not sure I catch all the author wants to say on this article, but I like the feel of it. I don’t know this site, so I can’t speak for other teachings. This tip confuses me:

Tip 1 – The ministry is to generate its own support. (Lk 8:1-3)

The passage in Luke refers to contributions that people made to support Jesus’ ministry. The tip sounds like a ministry should be self-supporting, so I’m a bit baffled by his meaning. Here’s what it might mean, and where I would amen:

  1. Don’t sit waiting for help to fall from the sky. God provides, but to those who seek.
  2. Don’t take money from the people you’re trying to convert. I’m grateful our brethren don’t ask for money in their TV and radio programs. See 3 John 7-8.
  3. Having said this, Paul accepted, yea, expected new converts and churches to take up the cause of preaching the gospel and its support. So he did receive money from new churches like Philippi. Maybe this is what the tip above means.

One of the best pieces of advice I received early on was to consider money last when it came to support, projects, or needs. Putting it up front will kill a dream. It very likely will focus on the means rather than the end.

What is your take on the link above?

Foreign aid a help or hindrance?

foreign missions supportIn one of his recent Impromptus, Jay Nordlinger, senior editor for National Review and one of my favorite non-religious writers, wrote,

I met a West African government official. I said to him, “I know that foreign aid has its pluses and minuses. But tell me: Is foreign aid more a help or more a hurt?” He fixed me with a look — kind of a mischievous one — and said, “Do you know the difference between AID and AIDS? The letter S.” Continue reading

When support is not forthcoming

self-support in missionsWhen the apostle Paul had help from congregations, he worked what we call full-time in preaching the gospel. When he didn’t, he put his hand to making tents to provide for his needs. See what happened in Corinth.

After this Paul departed from Athens and went to Corinth. There he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to depart from Rome. Paul approached them, and because he worked at the same trade, he stayed with them and worked with them (for they were tentmakers by trade). He addressed both Jews and Greeks in the synagogue every Sabbath, attempting to persuade them. Now when Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul became wholly absorbed with proclaiming the word, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ. Acts 18:1-5 NET

The text seems to indicate that when Silas and Timothy arrived, they may well have brought with them help from Philippi (see chaps. 1 and 4 of that letter). Then Paul “became wholly absorbed with proclaming the word.” That probably means he “devoted himself exclusively to preaching” (NIV) since he no longer needed to take time out to personally earn his living.

Paul went on his journey expecting to have to work with his hands while he preached. He never once thought that he couldn’t embark on a missionary tour nor that he’d have to return to Antioch because he didn’t have the funds. Continue reading