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21st Century Missions: Why Money Matters

June 18th, 2008 · 5 Comments

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 

I 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.

Tags: Christian Living · Church · Theology Thoughts

5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Laura Anne // Jun 18, 2008 at 10:49 pm

    There are several things you are writing and commenting on (plan to write and comment on?) that are relevant to where I am at just now, and the challenges I am faced with daily.

    I work for a Christian charity. It’s a local one, and they can’t afford to have me on full time, so I only work 25 hours a week for them. I could and have been offered the chance to do further research at university, or get a better paid more secure job. However I feel that I’m called to do what I do, and this is where God wants me to be right now.

    I could get a second part time job. It’s a constant struggle, because I don’t earn enough to live on. But in the spare time I have, I can be better involved with youth and worship ministry that I wouldn’t have the time or energy to commit to otherwise.

    Then, there is the battle of fundraising for the charity I work for. How do we do this as Christians? Do we ask directly for our financial and practical resource needs to the church? Do we just pray and hope that God prompts some generous person to dump a whole heap of money into our bank account to use for our cause?

    Then there are the ethics/morals/values if you will. For example, a lot of charities will seek grants from the Lottery Fund. Others will put links to online stores on their charity website so they get a percentage of any sales made from people who search for products via their webpage. Is it ok to gain money from someone’s gambling? Do we care about the products and where they’ve come from of the online store we share a little bit of profit with?

    Sorry, that’s a very long comment and probably raises more questions than gives any answers. But I really look forward to hearing some of your thoughts on this topic. I’m really glad to see you are being brave enough to bring it up in such a public domain!

  • 2 Liam // Jun 19, 2008 at 3:29 pm

    Thanks for your thoughts Laura, Interesting stuff.

  • 3 Money, Money, Money « Musings of a Koala // Jun 19, 2008 at 7:36 pm

    [...] June 19, 2008 by brunettekoala I’ve been really interested to read posts from some bloggers recently on money. Sarah recently wrote about ways in which her family have been trying to reduce what they spend. After inspiration from My Simpler Life blog. Liam is about to start a blog series looking at why money matters [...]

  • 4 21st Century Missions - Jamie Arpin Ricci | Byrnesys Blabberings // Jul 7, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    [...] urban ministry.  He blogs at http://www.missional.blog.com."So here are Jamie’s thoughts on the questions I asked, feel free to leave your own thoughts in the [...]

  • 5 21st Century Missions - John Gillespie | Byrnesys Blabberings // Aug 7, 2008 at 3:44 pm

    [...] from Jamie Arpin Ricci who gave what were for me, some really insightful answers in the question of Missions funding. Heres the second in the series from my good friend John Gillespie who interestingly enough, is [...]

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