Audio Transcript:

Welcome to Missions on Point, the Propempo perspective on church and missions. Welcome to episode 70 of Missions on Point. This is the second of four in a series on missions funding, dealing with some nitty gritty issues regarding missions funding. This particular episode we're going to talk about how do we determine the right amount to give? How do we determine the right amount to give to missions' ministries, to missionaries, to projects? How do we determine that? In the past, many independent churches in particular have been fond of trying to see how many missionaries they can support. I remember visiting one particular church in Alabama where they had a world map and there were so many pins around, and when I asked the pastor about that, he said their goal was to see if they could get a pin of support in every country of the world.

Now, at the onset, that seems kind of like a worthy goal, but when you think about it, you realize there is absolutely no way their congregation can have a serious ministerial partnership relationship with that many different kinds of ministries and missionaries around the world all at the same time. In Propempo, we strongly encourage churches to be more focused, particularly in relationship to the ministries and missionaries they support. In other words, if the church doesn't have a vital relationship and understanding, a connection with the missionary, both in communication but also in love and stewardship and shepherding, then they shouldn't be just spreading their money all over the place. It actually makes it more difficult for missions' ministries and missionaries to cultivate and sustain really small amounts of support from so many different sources. Just imagine the overhead cost of processing a whole slew of $25 a month commitments.

Now, I'm speaking specifically of churches. Obviously, the widows [inaudible 00:02:15] are very relevant and important, and significant in her stewardship because of her heart in giving, so in general, Propempo encourages churches to have a higher level of financial commitment along with a much greater depth of relationship and ownership of that field ministry on the mission field. As we consider the factors and metrics of how much to give to an individual missionary ministry or missions ministry on the field, I need to caution you to sort of step back and think about what is ideal versus what is real. In reality you start from where you are and that means that pretty much everything that you're doing now should be grandfathered or given a pass in terms of what changes you make immediately. However, as you define the ideal, you move in that direction through a natural process of negative attrition on one side and positive pressing toward that goal of what is ideal in your mission's giving.

I'm going to talk to you about three metrics. In some of our Propempo teaching and writings you'll see it as a graph with three axes, x, y, and Z axis. I'm going to define it here verbally as a scale of zero to five, so please follow along with me as I describe this and will apply it to giving. Three different metrics. One is relationship to the church, and what you're looking for is low numbers actually on the scale, zero means that the individual or the ministry arose out of the ministry of the church. The missionary grew up in the church or was raised in the church or had a long-term commitment to ministry in the church before they became a missionary. That homegrown individual or ministry is at the zero level, and then you add numbers on the scale for the farther away they get.

If they came into the church more recently and became well known and God called them into missions and that is verified by the church ministries and leadership, then they're close, but they're not homegrown. The next level would be people that are somehow related to the church through family connections or connections in ministries that you already support. Those would be like a level two on this scale of relationship to the church. Level three would be a little bit more distant. Level four or five would be people who are calling from some other state a long way away because they heard that you love missions, they want you to support them, but they have absolutely no connection or relationship to the church whatsoever. The basic principle we're going to recommend is that those that are closer to zero actually get more funding than those that are farther away.

It's not rocket science to figure out what your scale of zero to five is. The next metric is priority of ministry. Again, zero is the heart or the core of what we're looking for, and zero would probably be things like church planting and those things related to church planting. Bible translation, evangelism and discipleship specifically related to church planting. Leadership development for planted churches, that is indigenous pastoral leadership training and even the kind of bible and theological training for indigenous pastors to do more church planting. So it's all wired around the concept of expanding the church through church planting and all those things that are directly connected to it. That would be our zero point on the metric of priority of ministry. Number one would be things that are in support of that somehow. Number two and three, move farther and farther away. Support ministries like printing, publishing some youth camps, things like that might be number four.

And on the five level is the kinds of ministries that are really hard to connect directly to church planting. They may be community development type of things, but it's a strain unless they're directly connected with a church planting team to say that reforestation or arid climate agronomy or economic self-sufficiency programs are anything less than five that is high on the scale away from the priority of ministry unless they're consciously directly connected to church planning efforts. The third metric or axis is gospel impact. Now, on the one hand, you could talk about zero being unreached people, groups or places where the gospel has not yet gone in any recent generations, perhaps centuries.

Gospel impact there is going to be far greater and far more needed than where the gospel has existed for many, many years. It doesn't mean that de-Christianized nations don't need the gospel. They do in fact, but you have to evaluate and figure out how your scale is going to operate from zero being the heart, the core point in which there is no known gospel witness in that community, in that city, in that language group, versus number five where there is just plenty of gospel impact around through literature, through radio, television, through internet, in whatever way that people can find the gospel, discover the gospel, be confronted by the gospel.

So you can see if we use these three metric scales, zero to five, if a particular candidate or missionary or ministry hits zeros on all of those. That is they have the strongest relationship to the church. They grew up in the church, they matured developed in the church. The church knows them very well, and their priority of ministry is clearly focused on church planting and those immediate circle of ministries that are aimed at developing church planting and the gospel impact is to an unengaged or unreached people group with the gospel. That person should be getting more support than someone who is much higher in the total of these three scales. In fact, I dare say that if someone was on the four or five level in a couple of the three metrics, then probably they may not get any support at all. The understanding is that if someone grew up in your church, then the church leadership has a process of guiding and developing them so that they're choosing things that better match up with the heart of the three metrics.

You wouldn't allow someone that grew up in the church to choose some wild and crazy ministry that has high scores and practically zero impact in priority of ministry and gospel impact on the field. Part of the relationship package is this partnership in sharing in the decisions and direction of their ministry in such a way that it best matches up with the church's heart. Now it's crunch time to talk about how do we determine the right amount to give? Some churches, a few have decided that they want to support their missionaries that reach the best score on all of those metrics 100%. That is they guarantee that although the missionary may raise funds from outside from some other churches and relationships, that the church would guarantee that they're going to make up the rest of that support up to a hundred percent of their needs, even as that grows with inflation over time.

Let me tell you, that is fantastic, but it is also rare. Most churches can only afford a part of even their own missionary support and it's wise to commit to a goal of a certain percentage. Typically, the percentage that the home or sending church may give to a missionary arising out of their church would be something like 20, 25%, maybe 50%, and the higher you go the more sacrificial it is for the church. Other churches may use a scale of just a dollar amount, so churches from their own ministry may receive a thousand dollars, $2,000 a month, $3,000 a month, regardless of their specific dollar need on the field, and those that are not from their church receive something less or not on target in as many ways regarding priority of ministry and gospel impact, the type of ministry they have, so they receive lesser amounts then. Most churches today would start someone out as the first entry in their missionary budget, $200 to $300 a month as the minimum.

Obviously, it matters very much what the level of financial capability that the church has and how long they've been doing it. If a church has been doing missions a long time and is sort of in the groove with regard to missions funding, they may be able to give much more than a church who's just starting out, a church plant, or a church that's just beginning to really seriously consider their role in missions.

There is a previous generation of churches that used to think that 50% of all income to the church should be going toward missions. This is not what I recommend today, but there are two instances in which such a high goal might be achieved. One is in which a church is very affluent. They have a lot of deep pocketed members, and those members love missions and want to give a lot to missions, and all the needs of the church are met otherwise, and it's out of the excess of their giving that they're able to support as much as 50% of the total income of the church toward missions.

Another example is a church that may be an older church that has all of their infrastructure, that is their buildings and land, completely paid for. They don't have a large budget for staff and extra ministries, but they love missions, and so they're able to give much more as a percentage of their total income to missions than churches that are growing and have building funds and have a lot of other stuff to take care of. My personal recommendation is that the church aim for something like 25% of gross income apart from capital campaigns of buildings and other major capital type campaigns, 25% of gross income reserved for missions or given specifically toward missions. That is a very healthy amount to manage and for the congregation to understand what a big part missions is for them. Certainly, my recommendation for the lowest amount would start at 10%, which is generally considered to be a tithe.

In other words, 10% of all the church's gross income apart from capital campaign kind of things, 10% is given to ministry beyond the reach of their people and their walls. How do we determine what is the right amount to give? I think it depends largely on these three metrics, relationship to the church, priority of ministry and gospel impact. Thanks for joining us today on Missions on Point, the Propempo perspective on church and missions. I trust that you'll find more help and resources on the website, Please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry. Now to God be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus forever and ever. Amen.

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