Missionary appointees have a problem with the support raising process. I get that. It feels unnatural, even demeaning. “Missionary life will not feel unnatural or demeaning,” said no one! Missionary life is unnatural. It can often be humbling, if not downright humiliating. But I digress …
So many missionaries mistakenly, unconsciously sometimes, adopt what they think is the George Mueller practice of not telling anyone their specific financial needs. They are mistaking George Meuller. They are embracing principles that George Mueller himself discouraged anyone else from taking. I respect Mueller for who he was and his principles. However, I do not appreciate a Muellerianism based on wrong assumptions.
George Mueller is a legitimate Christian hero. He was Plymouth Brethren, which is part of my own background. He was primarily a teaching Elder in his own assembly and the leader and spokesperson for the orphanage ministry at Bristol.
My problem is how people glorify his individual personal position on finances which, by his own admission, was adopted due to his problem with money. Also, people (and biographers!) put him into the category of “missionary” which he was not. People don’t realize that GM specifically discouraged people from adopting his “ask God only” and “don’t give any specific details of financial needs” principles.
They also don’t take into account that Mueller was a brilliant communicator. He published the list of every donor and every donation, with specific amounts, in the local newspaper. He produced, for his time, a glitzy annual report publication, detailing God’s answers to prayer, plans for more buildings (without specific financial details), and donor records. He was masterful at communicating God’s answers to prayer in such a way that listeners wanted to be part of that.
He was also a Christian leader of his own culture and era. In this time and in his circles, it was considered poor form to freely initiate financial information and needs. Government regulations about “non-profit charities” were very different than America today. It was ungallant to disclose financial concerns in a public way, breaking a sense of propriety. In his day, NOT telling those details was in more keeping with the British culture and even sub-culture among Christians and PB Assemblies of his day.
So, I say:
- don’t adopt his specific personalized principles of non-disclosure
- do adopt his great and regular communication methods
- don’t lock yourself in to NEVER sharing financial details
- do pay attention to your local Christian culture and era, e.g. – churches and Christians today expect more details and information in order to make an informed decision about support
p.s. – Support raising (i.e – “deputation,” “partnership development,” “fundraising”) has been the primary means through which faith missionaries have been supporting for over 200 years. One could make the case for 2000 years. Jesus has financial supporters. Paul & his team had financial supporters. If you’re one of those faith supported missionaries, support raising is not a necessary evil. Rather, it is a vital, sine qua non of your ongoing ministry for the rest of your missionary life. Get over your feelings and misgivings. Be appropriate, be biblical, but do your part to raise your support. May God bless you with all the support you need!