Mark Vowels, CGO Director
This continues our series on things that could change missions in 2018.
It takes money to do missionary work. It takes money to get to the field, stay on the field, work on the field, and return from the field. This is true for both short-term missions and career missions.
Since the dawn of the so-called modern missionary era in the time of William Carey, most missionary activity takes place because donors voluntarily offer money to send missionaries. Prior to this epoch of missionary history, a great deal of missionary effort was funded by the labors of the missionaries themselves as they used their skills to work on their fields of service.
In our day, the financing of missions is undergoing a potentially-dramatic shift which could threaten the status quo and change the way we send missionaries to their field of ministry. Before thinking of what is causing this shift and what the ramifications may be, let’s pause to ask – what is the biblical pattern for financing missionary outreach?
As we look to the New Testament, we see three sources of missionary financing.
The stark reality that confronts many people today who are trying to raise money to go to the mission field is that it is increasingly difficult to secure adequate funds in a reasonable period of time. Average times for completing missionary deputation seem to grow longer and longer. Most churches are giving everything they can and a decade or more of slow economic growth means that most church missionary budgets have not expanded in recent years.
In addition to economic factors, there are some sociological factors that are presently affecting missionary financing.
Much more could be written about the changes which are taking place in the world of missionary finance. Any attempt to prognosticate the future will at best prove to be only partially correct. In my estimation, the key issue during periods of methodological transition is to carefully examine whether the status quo is biblically necessary and whether the new approach is biblically permissible. We should not promote change for its own sake, but neither should we resist change simply because it’s not the way we have always done things. Always is always a temporary concept! I’m hopeful that great things will come from the shifts that are currently underway.
The CGO Blog
Written by the CGO staff, with guest posts from students and other faculty/staff at BJU to provide thought leadership for missions in a new millennium.