Welcome to Missions on Point, the Propempo perspective on church and missions.
This is episode 164 of Missions on Point. We're in a series around the general theme of the centrality of the local church and missions, and we've dealt with a lot of biblical support for that ministry philosophy. We've also talked in a shorter subseries about restoring missions in the local church. In this ending series, we're talking about local church-centered missions implemented by various stakeholders in the whole mission's enterprise. Today's episode is number 23 of the whole series, and it's specifically about the mission's donor. This is something that hardly anyone talks about, but we're going to talk about it today.
It's always dangerous to talk to people about how they spend or use or invest their money. However, most Christians know that the Bible talks a lot about money. Use of money is one of the major topics of Jesus's teaching. Where your treasure is, there your heart is also. Now, there are a lot of kinds of donors in the mission's enterprise. We teach our children to give to outreach and missions. We ourselves give either through our church or directly personally to a variety of ministry outreaches and missions causes. If you watch much television, there are a lot of appeals for things that seem to be missions because they're helping foreign kids and helping with restoration or catastrophe relief or famine relief or a lot of humanitarian purposes. And if you give once, you're probably going to have all kinds of ads and appeals appear to you in social media feeds and handheld devices as well.
I'll say at the beginning, it's a given that you're giving to world missions in some form or fashion through your local church. Maybe it's just through your general funds, maybe your church funds, missions, ministries in different ways. You may give designated funds or project funds, or you may give in such a way through your church that you know that the church is wisely looking at those opportunities and relationships and giving in a way that is consistent with the church's ministry focus.
Many people prefer to give directly to a missionary, and that's good. We're supported that way through churches and through individuals. We deeply appreciate the relationships that we've established with those people that support us over our decades of missions ministry. Their faithfulness and consistency has enabled us to pursue ministry around the world and here we are deeply grateful. One of the chief results we would love to see from this teaching is that donors actually have an inquiring heart and mind in a positive way to find out what are the best things to support, the best places to invest their kingdom dollars for the long-term results and for God's glory.
Let me walk you through some thoughts about this and the process of how to think about it in view of this big picture of the centrality of the local church, not just in missions but biblically in the whole New Testament ministry. First is take the biblical view. Take a biblical view of the gospel, realize what the gospel is and what it is not. It is not simply giving a cup of water in Jesus' name. The gospel is proclamation in its essence and it proclaims the facts of Jesus' life, his death on the cross, his resurrection and his ascension. The gospel message is woven throughout the scriptures. Now from the New Testament perspective, we see more clearly that this gospel message is how God brings people to saving faith, so make sure that the things that you are giving to are rooted in the gospel and gospel proclamation.
Secondly, take the biblical view with respect to the Great Commission. We've already talked about this a lot in the biblical support for the centrality of the local church and missions. The Great Commission in Matthew 28 and those other supporting passages together cannot be fulfilled apart from the planting of indigenous churches, which involves biblically qualified church leaders, regular teaching of all of God's word, and people worshiping together and observing the ordinances. It is not simply evangelism, it is not simply showing the Jesus film. It is not calling for decisions in and of itself. Making disciples does involve evangelism and ongoing discipleship kind of teaching and training, but the Great Commission cannot be fulfilled apart from the planting of local churches. Make sure that your giving is related to fulfilling the whole Great Commission, not just a little slice of it.
Take the biblical view with respect to the local church and understanding that the local church is actually the source of the missionaries that go out and you have a good definition of what a local church is. Local churches are not just gatherings of people reading God's word. Local churches have recognized qualified church leaders. Observe the ordinances, study all of God's word, not just the narrative portions in the gospels about the life of Christ, and fulfill the commands like all the one and others of the New Testament. For example, take the biblical view of missions both as the ends and the means. In other words, the local church that is sending and shepherding missionaries to do this gospel work cross-culturally also results in local churches among the target population or body or nation or people group.
The second major category is take the long view, invest in qualified people. Make sure that the kinds of missionaries that you are supporting through your giving are actually well qualified in every way to be that ambassador, that agent of the local church to take the gospel and plant churches in other cultures. Invest and be committed to long-term people. Missions is not just a short-term thing. The planting of sound, New Testament, local churches in foreign cultures is a long-term thing to make sure that the agency or the organization that you're supporting has people that are qualified to stay long-term for long-term results.
Invest in returns that don't crash. And by that, I mean ultimately is that there is a sense of indigeneity that the foreign worker, the American who's sent to be a missionary is building indigenous principles so that the local people raised up by the grace of God are beginning to take and actually do take responsibility and leadership in the ministries they're doing.
Ultimately, you want those indigenous leaders and ministries to reproduce themselves. What does that mean? You need to ask some questions about indigeneity and reproducibility. Are the ministries that you're supporting actually seeing that happen out on the field? Or contrastingly, are the missionaries still there 20, 25, 30, 40 years later and they are totally running the institutions or the mechanisms of ministry and the nationals that they've been serving all these years are still in the lower echelons of whatever service is being done on the field?
Take the long view by investing in the long view of God's glory. As we see God's glory as the overarching theme of scripture, it unfolds over a long period of time from creation to now and on into the future, the glorification of the church. Again, by contrast, this means that you're not interested in instant results. You're taking the long view of God's glory.
Lastly, invest in relationships. Become personally acquainted with the key players that are involved in the investment of your funds for the kingdom. Know them by name. You perhaps don't want them to know you by name. That's okay, but you need to find out what relationships you're investing in and pray as well as give that they would stay on track spiritually, that ultimately God will give them great spiritual fruit because of your investment.
Now, here's a few thoughts about what wise Biblical giving is not and what wise Biblical giving is. Wise Biblical giving for spiritual results is not, number one, a beauty pageant. I've literally heard of this in major donor conferences that basically ministries are proposing all kinds of ministry vision projects and goals and it functions like a beauty pageant. The one that is the most beautiful gets more money.
Secondly, it's not a competition or a means of self-interest or recognition. Just because God has blessed you with great resources to be able to give for kingdom ministry doesn't mean that you're giving to be recognized in a special way for that. It is a stewardship, not a competition. Thirdly, wise Biblical giving for spiritual results is not getting the best bang for the buck. It sounds almost contradictory to American culture and business culture to not think about getting the best bang for the buck. And I would submit to you if a mission agency or a Christian organization comes to you with a best bang for the buck argument, that immediately disqualifies them. We are not looking for the cheapest way to get the best statistics on paper. We're talking about spiritual results often that is that long view, that long haul idea. It takes a lot of work to have true lasting results. If you're looking for quick flash in the pan, best bang for the buck kind of results, it will not last.
Fourthly, it is not piling on the greatest claims or trends or fads. You're going to hear a lot of things about, "This methodology is working the best around the world. This thing is the latest, greatest thing. This is where lots of other donors are investing millions of dollars to get the job done around the world." And I'm telling you, I've been in missions long enough to know that those claims don't last. They don't survive the test of time. Wise Biblical giving for spiritual results is not a decision based on marketing claims or coercion. If anyone comes to you seeking to raise funds and they are coercing you to give, "You must give. You ought to be involved in this. I don't see how you could not be giving," those kinds of terms of coercion are a red flag. Don't go there.
Here's the other side of the coin, wise Biblical giving for spiritual results is doctrinally sound. Make sure that the organization or ministry or project that you're supporting through your generous giving is doctrinally sound. Make sure that it'll still be there tomorrow. Make sure that the organization understands the difference between what is the gospel and what just claims to be the gospel. It needs to have a strong doctrinal foundation.
Secondly, it needs to be ecclesiological centered and sound and sustainable. What does that mean? It means that it has to have the local church in view. That's what we're about in this whole study. If the local church is not involved in the sending and the shepherding and the end result of the ministry, then it is shortsighted at best. Every mission's ministry, no matter how diverse, ought to be consciously and in intentionally engaged toward the goal of seeing indigenous national churches planted in their project area, in their people group, in that nation or state that they're going to.
Lastly, wise Biblical giving for spiritual results is affirmed by the track record of integrity in every way, the integrity of the organization, the integrity of the leaders of the organization, the integrity of the doers of the ministry, the integrity of the people on the field, even the integrity of those kinds of people that are supporting this thing. If you happen to be in the room with a presentation of a ministry or a project that seems appealing in so many ways and you look around the room and there are people known to you to be scallywags or the ministry itself has a tainted reputation, you need to back away slowly and leave the room.
Little footnote to that is in recent years, it's been proven that an organization membership in the Evangelical Council of Financial Accountability does not guarantee their integrity or any part of a track record of having sound ministry. Donors, you have a responsibility under God for your stewardship of your giving. It means that you need to be asking questions. Do the kinds of ministries and projects that you support actually align with what you know about scripture? Is the local church at the center of it in both ends? Do you have reliable people of integrity who are doing it for the long haul? Is it in line doctrinally with the gospel and the Great Commission and what you know about strong biblical ministry?
By God's grace, you'll prayerfully listen to this podcast and seek to adjust your giving to be more in alignment with what the scripture says is what God is about in our day and time before Jesus comes. Please let others know about this podcast and if you want to contact me or communicate in any way, use this email, email@example.com.
Thanks for joining us today on Missions on Point. We trust that you'll find more help and resources on our websites at propempo.com and missioserve.org. We are so thankful for those who support us, enabling us to produce this podcast. Now, to God be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus forever and ever. Amen.
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