With my theological premises somewhat laid on the table, I want to move on to the first topic.
I have found it very useful in the last few years to think through things in conversation with those from my own and other traditions, and as I was considering mission in the ways described in my earlier post, I realised I have not thought at length or at depth about ideas relating to mission. Neither did I have a suitable missional vocabulary on which to call on in order to ‘bat the ideas around’ so to speak, and so I decided to enter into a conversation on the first subject in the series.
A conversation I am planning to hold here on my blog with people I am connected to personally or through blogs who write well or have significant experience in the area of missional thinking and practise.
Money is Important for lots of reasons
Specifically I wanted to ask about the subject of financial support, a subject which seems quite a brash, unconfortable and even ‘worldy’ area of missions to speak about, but in fact I think that it is an entirely central issue for a few reasons:
1) giving and within that giving financially is, I believe a significant value of Kingdom people, generosity is a principle that is continually demonstrated and pointed to in the New testament
2) Money is a huge part of our lives and even those in Ministry need it.
3) The directions our resources go, including but no exclusively financial, are moral acts, and therefore an act to be reviewed in light of the gospel and realities of seeing its power spread.
4)The way in which we direct our money for ‘missionaries’ has a knock on effect on how we concieve what it is to be a missionary and our sense of vocation in relation to that.
5) Because money is seen as a particularly un-spritual topic there is some confusion often associated with what is actually happening when we give our money, are we paying wages like an employer? or are we giving a gift like a friend?
The Plan and the Questions
am planning to post at least 1 a week, and after some of the responses
there will be a short Q and A post in light of their responses. I have
asked everyone the same 6 questions which are:
• In considering financial support for missionaries to what extent do you think it is important for both the supporter and supported to think about the support as theological endorsement?
• There is an increased awareness in Churches today that the mission field is also their local community, some are saying this is resulting in a drop in financial support being directed to International missions? To what extent do you think this is a good or bad change?
• Many are suggesting that the traditional conception of missionaries and those who ‘Go’ and are financially supported needs to be revised to a more self sustaining bi-vocational model akin to Paul’s tent making enterprise, Is this a realistic model in all contexts? What would be the grounds in your opinion for advocating an approach to missions which is based entirely on financial support?
• In your opinion what claim does a financial supporter have on a missionary, in terms of communication, accountability, and authority?
• Is there a particular individual, book or school of thought which has been formative for your understanding of ministry and it’s relationship to the things you have spoken about in your answers?
• What are the foundational concepts which effect the way in which you ‘raise’ financial support? Do you ask for financial needs directly? Or do you not make people aware of financial need and trust that God will provide?
I would love to hear from a wider audience on these subjects, if one or two of those questions jumped out at you, why not write some thoughts in the comments.