Maybe you have noticed that giving to Missions can create problems.

  • The people who have received the most help are [often] the most dissatisfied and resentful.
  • When the native director visits the churches he leads, they pressure him for money from the Americans.
  • A church established on the field for fifty years thinks the mission should pay for their new roof because the building belongs to the mission.
  • Nationals think the only way to get ahead financially is to befriend the missionaries.

What a contrast to Jesus’ directions for missionaries (Luke 10:1-9).

Jesus could have given them everything they needed, and money to meet the needs of others. He could have given them the power to multiply bread and fish for themselves and the people they preached to. They could have provided food in every village they visited. Instead, He sent them with no money. The disciples went as Jesus directed, and their needs were provided (Luke 22:35).

Because they preached the gospel first, they attracted people who were interested in the gospel. Because they had needs, they attracted people who wanted to help. They had the best people for the beginning of a church.

What if they had gone into the villages with everything they needed, and with things to give to the people? They would have gathered people who came to get something. The ministry would continue only by continuing to give things away. They would not have help to do the work unless they paid for it. They would not have the group of people that make a good beginning for a church.

Most churches start the right way.

Worldwide, in all times, most churches have started as small groups in homes. Church buildings did not exist for the first two hundred years, yet Christianity spread rapidly. In some large cities, thousands of people were in the church fellowship, yet they met in groups in homes.

Paul’s priority was to establish churches and appoint pastors everywhere. The pastor in each place was a person who already lived there.

A pastor usually starts his ministry without financial support. He helps the missionary or begins preaching the gospel without a missionary because he has a desire in his heart to help. He begins to show gifts and abilities for the ministry. He does it not for pay but because of desire.

The group should see that they need to help support the pastor so he can give his time to ministry. The support may not be complete at first, but can grow gradually.

You Should Give to develop long-term strength:

1. Don’t give recklessly.

On your visit to the field you gave money to the friendly cleaning lady, bought shoes for a little boy on the street, and tipped your driver double. To you the reason was Christian compassion, but they think it’s because you are white and rich, and you just made the job of the next missionary harder. You created a sense of entitlement and expectation.

2. Pastoral support.

Support missionaries, and only temporarily those national pastors who go as missionaries to brand new villages, towns or regions.   Because the mission supports Pastor Pierre, his congregation [may never do so]. Instead a mission should support temporary missionaries who install a pastor that is locally supported from the beginning.

3. Teach tithe as the foundation of Christian finances.

If they are not doing what they can, they don’t understand ministry finances. Help from the outside may make things worse instead of better.

4. Establish permanent assets rather than routine, long-distance support.

Spend money for [one time] projects that will help the church be stronger financially, and not for monthly salaries or operating expenses that make the church dependent.

5. Don’t start ministries without a plan for local support.

Don’t start things that will forever depend on outside support. Establish ministries or enterprises that can belong to a local church and be locally maintained. For example, a school should be the ministry of a local church.

Any ministry effort that is unlikely to ever be locally financed should be something short-term that accomplishes a purpose quickly without creating dependence (examples: conventions and seminars). In some cases, a ministry training program can be operated by foreign missionaries and then be either dissolved or led by nationals.

6. Empower local church leadership rather than bypassing it.

Don’t go distribute shoes, or food, or candy, or whatever else you think they need. Let the local pastor do it as part of his ministry. Follow the same rule for ongoing programs. When outsiders or higher ranking leaders give help directly to the needy, those in the local ministry look ineffective.

 7 Help committed people.

A man sent his sons to help a neighbor build, but gave these instructions. “If he stops working, you stop. When he quits for the day, you quit.” Don’t build something for people who don’t care enough to do what they can.

8. Invest in sustainable economic change.

Rather than asking why people lack food, find out why some people have food. Instead of fighting the causes of poverty, replicate the causes of prosperity.

9. Build local responsibility rather than destroying it.

If there is hope for a culture of long-term poverty, it is because of the image of God in man, guided and empowered by the Spirit of God to accept the divine mission of human life on earth to creatively and decisively shape his world.  In other words, hope depends on people taking responsibility.

Give in a way that maximizes local responsibility. Don’t give in a way which destroys their last hope.