The issue of cutting missionary support has caused many a sleepless night. Many churches have made significant sacrifices to keep their missionary commitments on par even when finances for the church at large and the local staff may have fallen considerably. While this is admirable, there are times when the church needs to cut back on their missionaries support.
Usually the financial crunch is not so unexpected that the possibility of cutbacks should be a surprise. So, it shouldn’t be a surprise to your missionaries either. Well before decisions about cuts have to be made, your missions team should inform your missionaries about the potential for impending cuts and asking them to pray for God supply and wisdom in your stewardship.
The same principles applied to decisions about the amount of support for a missionary’s original support can be used as criteria to help you decide when and how much to trim your missions support budget. Some churches use a flat percentage cut across the board. Other churches use the opportunity to trim missionaries whose ministries fall along the edges of priorities and relationships before moving the scalpel closer. Some churches feel compelled, whatever the motivation, to try to make up support that has been cut as soon as possible, as financial income allows.
Remember that, unless your people are under a denominationally subsidized system, financial support in the modern missionary era is entirely “by faith”. Missionaries do not have a guaranteed entitlement. Their dependence upon the Lord is a positive and real experience. So, your church doesn’t need to feel guilty when economic downturn pinches your missions giving. Good communication and gracious tapering off, rather than precipitous drops, go a long way toward reducing the pain of loss. Generally speaking, it is easier for a missionary to raise support while on the home side than it is from the field.
On a rare occasion, after you have informed your missionary family about potential cuts, you may hear back from one of them volunteering to receive less. There are missionaries out there who have more than enough and are willing to share the financial crunch rather than see others, who may need it more, suffer. Again, we underline that a strong, loving shepherding relationship and good communication facilitate this level of fellowship in ministry.