Ministers, Missionaries, Ministries and Missions And Money All Need Each Other
I am away from my usual place of ministry today visiting with some folks about an entirely different type of ministry. As can be expected, the topic of finances came up. This is a good ministry. It has been in existence for many years, and there are many people who have been touched by its services and the men and women who have served it.
And like virtually every other ministry or mission it is struggling for financial support.
Everyone needs money. Every ministry or mission needs money. Finances are one of the ugly truths of ministry. Jesus relied on people to assist his ministry. Paul certainly spent a fair amount of time discussing the collection of funds and their intended uses. He talks about receiving funds to help his ministry.
On the other hand, I firmly believe there is a lot of money available “on the sidelines” as our pundits like to say, that is waiting for a good mission, ministry, missionary or minister to explain how it could best be put to use. I see and hear a great amount of wailing and woeing about finances being tight and outgo exceeding income. For a large number of Americans that may be true. But, I go to Wal-Mart and I see an awful lot of new vehicles. I see shopping cart after shopping cart full of toys, electronics, and other very much non-essentials leaving the store. I see cases of beer and cartons of cigarettes being purchased with virtual abandon. Football stadiums and basketball arenas are full to overflowing. Movie theaters are doing just fine. Our politicians are raking in donations by the millions. Do not tell me that there is a shortage of finances out there.
What we have in the church today is a lack of connection between ministers, missionaries, missions and ministries with the available money. And, on the flip side, there are many who would like to support a viable work who are looking for a reputable destination. There are fewer and fewer men going into the ministry these days. Missionaries are leaving their fields of service. Much of this has to do with retirements, but some of it has to do with the frustrations of ministry.
Somehow, we have got to stop and reverse this vicious cycle. We need to create opportunities for young men and women to serve, and we need to open the flow of financial support to these men and women who are dedicating their lives to the service of Christ.
One very powerful slogan in a public service announcement a few years back said, “It should not hurt to be a child.” I could modify that to say, “It should not mean financial hardship to be a minister of Christ.” Some faiths require their leaders to take a vow of poverty. Other faiths simply impose poverty upon their ministers by proxy. Many young men (and women) who might otherwise consider a life of ministry or missions look at the financial hardship of their mentors and decide that business, law or medicine is a much more appealing career choice. At the same time there are men and women who have achieved success in their career field who would like to help a young minister or missionary, but they do not know where to turn. The are discouraged about giving to their local congregation because they never see their contributions used for expanding the kingdom. It is nickel and dime’d away for this and that, but there are rarely any results reported, and those that are, are very frequently disappointing.
I’m not sure I have an answer here, but I do see a real problem. I have been (actually, I still am) on the “minister” side of the coin (pardon the pun), but I have also been on the other side of the pew. I know the frustrations on both sides. One side complains about the other not giving, the other complains about the first side not sharing needs and results.
Brighter minds than mine will have to work on an equitable solution. But the problem is real and we need to fix it.
Let’s work on getting these 5 m’s together!