The Future Of Independent Baptist Missions: 10 Predictions

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Jim's picture

Mission boards have failed the local church:

  • ABWE and EBM are poster children for that failure. 
  • Re EBM ... huge financial mismanagement and intermingling of missionary funds with general funds. I'm actually surprised someone wasn't indicted. 
  • Re ABWE ... Where to start?! Too big ... unresponsive ... 
G. N. Barkman's picture

Our church has been following most of these "trends" for many, many years. 

Our congregation is excited about missions.  In 2012, 40% of our total spending went to missions and benevolence.  We do not have close ties with any mission board, but love our personal relationship with a good number of missionaries.  We began increasing support, and reducing total number of missionaries years ago.  We still support quite a few, but treasure a close relationship with a smaller number of those we support.  We look for new like-minded missionaries to support, but have no problem if we increase missionaries presently supported rather than add new missionaries when a missionary in our budget retires or discontinues missionary labors.  Fewer missionaries with more significant involvement is a plus for our church, as well as for the missionary. 

G. N. Barkman

Paul J. Scharf's picture

I appreciate Jeremy's ingenuity, but I have to quibble with some of his predictions.

Some of them (no. 2, 5, 6 & 7) are not very bold "predictions," and thus the concepts will likely continue to solidify into trends.

On the other hand, the premise behind no. 1, 3, 9 & 10 of the disappearance of mission board home offices is not likely to happen anytime soon – at least not in a world where missionaries continue to thrive.

"Larger churches will take care of their own missionaries": In the future, the majority of faithful churches will actually be smaller, not larger, and few if any will be able to handle this type of operation legitimately in light of expanding IRS regulations here at home and growing governmental regulations in general that will be imposed by all countries involved.

This idea is also incongruous with no. 4, 8 & 9.

Perhaps Jeremy desires for mission boards and/or their home offices to disappear; personally I am not among those cheering for it.

Church Ministries Representative for the Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry

Greg Linscott's picture

Jim observes the problems of large boards- and admittedly, there are concerns in those scenarios. The independent alternative has its potential downside, too, though.

I would have general agreement with what Paul Scharf observes above. The system we have has flaws- both for churches and missionaries. But agencies still have a role. Not every church can verify- and digital communication can make it very easy for a missionary to communicate only what he wants his supporters to see. Boards don't always catch everything (obviously), but working in a larger team effort can help filter things like personal and doctrinal variances- not to mention helping missionaries plan for the future better than many did in the past.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Dan Burrell's picture

I would add another one to Jeremy's list --

11.  More churches will work directly with National Pastors and National Leadership from foreign countries. 

When I was lead pastor, we began moving this direction and it allowed our mission funds to go further -- much further, it involved more of our people actually going to mission fields personally, there was more of a connection and it just made good sense.  Now, nearly 20 years later....80% of what I do with missions remains directly with my international friends who are native, national, familiar with the customs, fluid in the language, permanent residents and who live just like the culture.  I don't see it as either/or, but both/and -- but I will say it is becoming heavier tilted toward nationals for the above reasons and more.

Dan Burrell Cornelius, NC Visit my Blog "Whirled Views" @ www.danburrell.com

Steve Davis's picture

My two cents as a former cross-cultural missionary and never having been under a board.  I did my major DMin in missiology project at TEDS on independent Baptist mission agencies and missionaries almost 10 years ago. I was not greatly impressed by the boards I surveyed and, sad to say, detected that many missionaries were not well-prepared for cross-cultural ministry, had little experience or training before receiving their “call” that actually would prepare them for planting churches, and more often than not wound up as “missionary-pastors.”

Actually ABWE and BMM were at the top of my list at that time as far as agencies that seemed to have better requirement criteria for prospective missionaries, better on-field support (like actually verifying language acquisition) and better oversight. I was least impressed with agencies like BWM where the majority of directors had no cross-cultural experience and some no church planting experience at all.  It seemed like some boards were intent on replicating American IFBism overseas with little regard for what others were already doing in places and of course with virtually no cooperation with anyone else. Many of the churches I visited around the world were virtual clones of US churches with little chance of reproducing in foreign soil.

Most missionaries, whenever possible, should partner with nationals and never be the lead pastor. Once you are it's hard to get out.

One more observation. I have grown weary of hearing from seminary grads who, although sensing a call to overseas ministry, and while within driving distance of urban areas with significant populations from the target countries, remained in suburban churches during their studies and rarely if ever ventured into cities to meet or minister to ethnic groups from countries they were targeting. Yes I’ve heard from men going to Spanish-speaking countries, to China, to you name it, and never had or exercised a burden for Hispanics or Asians while in school who were within reach. 

And a word of advice to pastors. Be sure that prospective missionaries engage in some language instruction or language acquisition training before they ship out. It’s no guarantee they will learn a language well enough to ever use it where people want to listen to them. But it might give some indication of the challenges they will face.

TylerR's picture

Editor

Good points. Appreciate it. 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Greg Linscott's picture

"Most missionaries, whenever possible, should partner with nationals and never be the lead pastor."

Steve,

Any thoughts on American churches supporting nationals in their home country?

 

Dan,

Thoughts on national missionaries coming to the US and hitting the deputation trail?

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Pastor Joe Roof's picture

Many of these things are already taking place.  For example, missionaries are telling me that up to half of their support is coming from individuals.  When it comes to boards, many of them are operating on lean budgets but red tape seems to be more of a problem.  Just last week, I received an email from a missionary from one Fundamental mission board accusing a missionary from another Fundamental mission board of being "liberal."  I am not sure I buy the point about support coming from more Southern Baptist Churches.  Many Southern Baptists give to their general fund and missionaries are supported through this.  Also, Southern Baptist Churches are facing decline.

 

 

Greg Linscott's picture

I would think that would be more of the regional perspective of the author- he is a Tennesee Temple grad ministering in the south. Perhaps his point could be stated more broadly that support bases will need to target churches other than IFB...

With individual support, I am curious- how many of those are individuals the missionary knew previously, versus new contacts made in churches on the deputation trail? If the latter is true, I would think that the deputation process continues to be crucial. It may also be a commentary on the state of churches in this country- I know of at least one situation involving a family (conservative, homeschool type) who left their IFB church for various disagreements over methods and philosophy, but continued to support some missionaries they had made acquaintance with there prior to their departure. If missionaries are to rely on individuals more than churches, it's not clear to me how they would go about establishing those contacts.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Steve Davis's picture

Greg Linscott wrote:

"Most missionaries, whenever possible, should partner with nationals and never be the lead pastor."

Steve,

Any thoughts on American churches supporting nationals in their home country?

 

Greg:

Support can come in different ways but generally speaking I don’t think it wise in most cases to support nationals with a salary. I’m sure it’s been done well in some places but in my experience it often leads to dependence on western churches and stifles the need for national churches to give to support ministry. Church planting and church multiplication cannot be sustained from outside. There may be times when limited support is given as is done in the US to help churches get off the ground. However, many nationals who are supported by American churches live way above the standard of those to whom they minister made possible by American $$ and often have little accountability for the funds. Money easily becomes power and influence. I’ve seen it too often in several countries. And how often have I seen nationals want to become “missionaries” to their people in order to raise funds in the US rather than pastor a church which can’t provide much salary or that requires bi-vocational ministry.

Like I said I’m sure it’s been done well but have rarely seen it. I know that you can often support several nationals for what it costs for one American missionary. So economically it might make sense at times but there are many dangers including a “call” to ministry in order to have steady foreign income. I remember when we were living in Eastern Europe a national pastor warned me that when people see Americans coming they often see “green.” And I remember well a national pastor who I knew come to the States to raise money. At one church he was given a new suit and shoes because he was dressed shabbily. Guess what clothes he wore to the next church? It wasn’t the new ones. I don’t want to give the impression that all nationals have no integrity or less integrity than Americans in ministry. But money can do strange things to us all. How many churches have I seen built in other countries that the nationals couldn’t afford to keep up once they were built (and often those churches were more elaborate than the churches would’ve been if not for foreign money)?

So I would say that when/if nationals are supported to exercise caution, know the person, require accountability, and avoid dependence on outside funding to sustain ministry (although one time gifts might be used for projects). Don’t do for others what they can and should be doing for themselves. Seed money may often be more appropriate than ongoing giving. It’s easy for appreciation to become expectation and even entitlement. I’ll never forget one church mission trip to do construction in another country. One of the projects was painting seminary buildings WHILE STUDENTS WATCHED! I hate to sound cynical but I’ve seen so much abuse that comes from foreign money flowing into other countries. Genuine partnership with nationals is needed and it can’t be based on money.

Steve

p.s. I also find it ironic that many churches will support foreign national missionary/pastors for years on end but show little interest in supporting domestic church planters long-term who labor in economically challenging areas. There is often an expectation, not unreasonable in itself that domestic church planters at some point become bi-vocational but nationals are considered “missionaries’ with ongoing support. Missions then becomes a matter of geography. Anyone over there somewhere is a real missionary.

Jeff Straub's picture

Interesting predictions . . . but based on what? 5 years of senior pastoral experience? Hummmmmmm. 

Take bi-vocationalism . . . good idea for some, but bad for others and impossible for many.

Support from SBC churches? Well sure if you are a SBC missionary.

Partnering with nationals? Like no one has thought of this before. I wonder how much missiology our brother has read?

Interesting comments. I guess everyone is entitled to opinions. I am just not sure how constructive these are to the missions movement of today.

Jeff Straub

Jim's picture

Jeff Straub wrote:

Interesting predictions . . . but based on what? 5 years of senior pastoral experience? Hummmmmmm.

I appreciate Pastor Wallace. He's asking tough questions and taking a stab at some answers.

Now on novices: Where are the missions leaders who are leading in this area. It seems like their direction is  status quo, nothing's broken, more of the same! I don't think I've ever seen a white paper written by a leader of a mission board.

It doesn't take a seasoned pastor to know something is wrong with missions. As Dylan said "You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows"

In my view the Christian Day School movement has sucked the gas out of missions.

Now some weird computer predictions with my favorite: "There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home" (1977). And below ... a Wankel in the trunk.  

 

 

 

 

Dan Burrell's picture

You can't just lay this little gem on the sidewalk and not offer us some context for your conclusion: "In my view the Christian Day School movement has sucked the gas out of missions."  Can you please unpack that a bit?

Greg....could question...I'll come back when I've got more than a few secs and reply.

Dan

Dan Burrell Cornelius, NC Visit my Blog "Whirled Views" @ www.danburrell.com

Jim's picture

Dan Burrell wrote:

You can't just lay this little gem on the sidewalk and not offer us some context for your conclusion: "In my view the Christian Day School movement has sucked the gas out of missions."  Can you please unpack that a bit?

Answer: Follow the $$

  • The CDS movement is the new missions - training the next generation
  • CDS takes beaucoup resources (even if not done right!)
  • Anecdotally over 40 years (my lifetime as a Christian) the 'time to the field' (deputation time) has risen dramatically coinciding with the rise of the CDS movement
  • If you are in a Church with CDS dig deep into the budgets. The church will spend resources on plant (capital outlay) plus underwrite much of (if not all) of the utilities and maintenance. Compare and contrast that spending with the missions' budget.

 

T Howard's picture

My experience at a church which ran a CDS mirrors Jim's observations. The church wanted to make Christian education a priority for its members so it began subsidizing tuition for active church members. The problem is, the Christian education became more Christian than education and many of the non-members pulled their kids out because of the poor education their children received. This exodus led to the church having to pour more money into the school to keep it funded and to pay its teachers sub-minimum wages.

Jeff Straub's picture

Funny . . . Jim is a member of a church WITH a CDS. I don't think our CDS is "sucking the life" out of our missions program.

Are there weak churches? Yes! Are there weak missionaries? Yes! Are there sorry CDSs? Plenty of them!

Are there "big and bulky" mission agencies? Who? Mission agencies I know are lean and careful with the Lord's money.

Sure EBM failed . . . should we look with suspicion of all boards?

Sure ABWE 30 yrs ago failed and even 10 yrs ago and maybe even . . . we live in a sin-cursed world. So let's just throw the baby out with the bath water!

How about someone putting forth a serious alternative that will get the job done. It's easy to carp. It's much harder to craft a positive solution.

We are broken so everything we do with be broken! Solutions please nopt carping.

Jeff Straub

Greg Linscott's picture

Wallace's observations are pretty anecdotal as presented- there may be some substance behind things, but he doesn't cite anything to demonstrate that. As presented, it is opinion (and not radically different than some of the things I hear talking to other pastors, to be frank). There are some things to consider in what he says, but the perspective is not especially radical or helpful in offering solutions. It makes some predictions based on a perceived trend. And some things he talks about, like support by individuals, sound good at first, but when you start to think about it, become quite muddled. Who are these individuals? People the missionaries knew before (like family or classmates)? How many of them are new contacts made in churches on the deputation trail, and if so, how exactly is that going to "change" the way we do missions? Are people going to commit to supporting monthly someone who solicits a donation via Facebook?

As far as the Christian School movement- that movement has lost a lot of steam (at least in IFB circles) compared to the 1980s. There are some churches that have them, true- and they are large expenses. At the same time, many of them depend on tuition from people other than church members for a portion of what they do- and, if the churches didn't have them, a great percentage would either have to send them elsewhere and pay, or reduce income and homeschool (therefore reducing what they potentially contributed financially to the church). I don't know as if that is a major factor one way or another as far as national trends go- certainly no more significant than rising fuel prices, fluctuating currencies, and so on.

Another factor that doesn't get talked about much are health insurance and retirement expenses. Individual American missionary expenses are more significant than they were a generation or two ago because of those things. Most mission boards require those things of their missionaries, which is probably a good thing. At the same time, missionaries of an earlier age went out without some of those things (I know, because we continue to support some who are retirement age and didn't save). Like I said, its a good thing to require, but in a way, it's not easy when missionaries come looking for support and the pastors they are contacting for meetings are bi-vocational, or on government healthcare programs, and can't afford to contribute to retirement programs like the ones raising missions support can. We support missionaries, for example, who have come back to the US from South America with family every year for several years to pursue doctoral studies. That's an admirable thing, but I know of a fellow pastor here going through the same program who pastors a church, leads another Bible study with a group in a different town, and works at the local grain elevator to pay the bills and keep food on the table.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Jay's picture

We're trying to resurrect our Missions Committee (Pastor was doing it all himself) and this thread has given me a lot to chew on.  My church is hoping to add a new missionary this year, and I can tell you flat out that if we were supporting a school, there would be no money at all for a new missionary.   It might also put the fiscal position of the church in a bad spot if we couldn't at least break even.  

We had a good sized surplus in the missions budget last year due to the return of one missionary from the field, and by the time we gave COLAs and Inflation adjustments that surplus was something like fifty dollars.  That was something that I'd never run into before and was glad that we were in an position to do so, even though we had initially planned on adding a new missionary to replace the one we lost.  

I would lean far more towards supporting one individual missionary directly right now (or partnering with a couple of churches) than I would to pay a missions board directly.  Unfortunately, the odds of that happening in my lifetime are essentially nil.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Jim's picture

Jeff Straub wrote:

Funny . . . Jim is a member of a church WITH a CDS. I don't think our CDS is "sucking the life" out of our missions program.

Re:

  • "Jim is a member of a church WITH a CDS." Response .... yes ... I joined 4th 8 or 9 years ago. I don't believe this is any kind of startling news ... it's on my S/I member profile
  • "I don't think our CDS is "sucking the life" out of our missions program." Response. I did not say that did I?!

 

Jeff Straub's picture

I am regularly hearing that missionaries are now raising 5-8k monthly! That is 60-96k per annum. It will naturally take longer to raise this kind of money. If you are going to minister on some fields, this is what it will take, like it or not. This is an area where financial stewardship is essential--for churches and missionaries.

 

Some/much support will come through individuals. I wonder if this would be necessary if individuals supported their local assemblies biblically? What's the rule of thumb? 20% of the church members carry 80% of the church's financial burden. Churches cannot do more because many Christians decide to make these decisions for themselves. I have no problem with a Christian who supports a missionary over and above what is given through the church. But I wonder how many people are simply bypassing their churches and doing the Lord's work on their own terms? I support my son directly to his "big bulky" mission, but this is in addition to what we have regularly given to our church. And we do not subtract from our church offering to give to my kids. It's additional giving.

This all might be an argument FOR tent-making. AGREED, but tent-making is only useful in some countries. Plus, every hour one makes tents is a potential hour lost doing ministry. Granted that some tents can be ministry oriented . . . (I once worked for a pastor who sold Filter Queen vacuums to do ministry calling!)

 

My son is in Africa training nationals. No time to sell coffee, vacuums, or make tents. So he needed to raise support.

 

Jeff Straub

Steve Davis's picture

Joel Shaffer wrote:

Bi-vocational church planting is a topic that is beginning to generate a lot of attention as the future of church planting.  For instance, this article on 9 marks has generated a lot of discussion http://www.9marks.org/journal/math-doesnt-work-why-future-church-planting-bi-vocational

 

Joel:

The article you linked to is a great read and I think it captures the trend for church planting especially in urban areas where either people move in and out more quickly, where there is no strong core group to begin with which is usually the case, and  where there are great economic challenges.

We have two church plants in two very different areas of Philadelphia. The West Philly church is in an area called University City, a very nice area near Univ. of Penn and other institutions. People come for graduate work, research projects, etc. but few stay long. No one with us now was with us 3 years ago when we launched. Economically it is a dynamic area. But students rarely can give much in way of offerings, and it takes time for new believers to be taught and then to practice biblical giving. Although with all the transitions we regularly run 70-80 in attendance, near capacity for where we meet, it will take time and people committed to staying in the city for the church to become self-supporting. We rent from an Episcopal Church for afternoon services and pay $1500 a month. We do not have access at other times except for special occasions. After 3 years we have yet to find a suitable building to buy or to rent for Sunday morning services. There is of course no land to buy. So you settle in, do the work of the ministry, and trust God.

The second more recent church plant in North Philly was a replant which came with a building, parsonage, etc. and all the expenses of maintaining an old building. That neighborhood has more economic challenges, higher unemployment, more serious crime, dirty streets, and many people stay because they can't move out. That church also runs 70-80 but is more stable in some ways since people tend to stay longer. However for the church to be able to support a pastor full time is not likely in the near future.

For my part I am bi-vocational but do receive a stipend from the church for housing. My wife has two part-time jobs. I kid her that if she finds a third job I can cut back on my hours in the prison. She doesn't think it's funny Smile We have one lead pastor, at this time over both churches, with 5 elders including myself. The churches provide about 50% of the support needed for the two churches. God raised up some faithful individuals who give generously to the ministry. We have one or two EFCA churches that provide some support, and one church in Brooklyn that sends support, a church plant itself. My brother John and I moved into the city in 2009 expecting to work. Thankfully he has been supported full time for the past three years and has been able to give himself to the ministry of the word and to others. We also have several interns from different seminaries some for whom we provide a small stipend and look for God to use these men in urban ministry.

So for prospective urban church planters I would say. Be prepared to work. Acquire some skills that make you marketable. You may have a hard time finding decent job if all your degrees are in theology. Understand that your wife might need to work as well. Thirty years ago we planted a church in Philadelphia with a core group that became self-supporting within a year. The times were different then. It was rare then and rarer now.

Blessings,

Steve Davis

p.s. We are always looking for men to come into the city and plant churches with us.

Steve Davis's picture

Jeff Straub wrote:

This all might be an argument FOR tent-making. AGREED, but tent-making is only useful in some countries. Plus, every hour one makes tents is a potential hour lost doing ministry. Granted that some tents can be ministry oriented . . . (I once worked for a pastor who sold Filter Queen vacuums to do ministry calling!)

 

 

I mostly agree with Jeff on this. There are many places where as an American, unless you work for a multi-national company and get transferred to another country, it will be extremely difficult to be a tent maker. Exceptions are in places where you can't go as a traditional missionary and need to go in as an English teacher or do some kind of social work.

 

However I do not think that "every hour one makes tents is a potential hour lost doing ministry" and Jeff grants the possibility of ministry oriented tent making. I'd prefer to say that all tent making is potentially also ministry oriented. These  are not lost hours and some of the best hours spent in ministry might just be working alongside someone else on the job that you will never meet otherwise. And many "ministry" hours might be lost when spent in pursuits not particularly related to ministry.

 

rogercarlson's picture

As a pastor who is tri-vocational, I agree that work can actually be complimentary to ministry.  That is really true for me now, but it was even true for me when I worked at the hotel.  It is humbling, but rewarding.

Roger Carlson, Pastor
Berean Baptist Church

Jeff Straub's picture

I must be getting old! If Steve agrees with me!

Of course one can be bi,tri, quadri-vocational and have effective ministry--at least at times. But one cannot counsel or study or prepare for Sunday while one is serving coffee or making tents. Many years ago I worked as an EMT in northern Alberta. It was an excellent way to get into the community in a non-pastoral way. I visited every bar in town picking up people injured in brawls. I could occasionally witness to my ambulance riders. Emphasis on "occasionally." It's awkward trying to turn pages in your Bible while doing CPR. Bi-vocational has its limitations. For this reason Paul suggested that it was not only good but I think preferred to "live of the Gospel."

Frankly, I know bi-vocational men that are not good at either vocation because they do not put enough time in either. My good friend Steve is bi-vocational, by choice to plant a church in the inner city. And he has some interesting opportunities . . . in jail.

Not for naught did Paul admonish men to not be entangled with the affairs of this life. Bi-vocationalism is an option but not always a good one and many men who start off that way long to devote their full attention to The Lord's work and many a congregation after hearing a rather weak Sunday sermon wish their pastor had more time for ministry.

Jeff Straub

T Howard's picture

As a future bi-vocational church planter (Lord willing), I am thankful that I won't have to spend 3-4 years driving all over the US raising support by begging for $25 a month from pastors / churches who won't support me if my wife wears pants, we listen to Steve Green, or I take my son to see The Hobbit. That model of ministry needs jettisoned ASAP, whether in missions or church planting.

I definitely like the idea of missionaries receiving most of their support from their sending church plus a few others versus hitting up 200+ churches for $25 / month. Also, as a bi-vocational church planter working with other bi-vocational team members, we will need minimal start up support and should be able to self-fund much of the regular ministry expenses of the church plant. This removes one of the major hurdles involved in church planting.

TylerR's picture

Editor

I must echo what I have heard others say - why don't more families support their own missionary? My family recently started supporting an apologetics ministry and a missionary family on deputation to Peru, this is in addition to regular missions giving at church.

I honestly never considered it until my wife asked about it. We have extra income and we really appreciated a family who had visited church a while back. Why not give money as individuals, rather than just to the church exclusively? Perhaps it's a case of, "Well, we've never done it that way before . . ."

Missionaries should certainly be attached to a local church, but individuals don't have to give exclusively to that end through the local church.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Dan Burrell's picture

Greg... I've actually done a little of that over the years...bringing a national leader over to help me raise sponsorships for national pastors and our church actually supported some national pastors directly.  I've found that many people like supporting a national individually because they are more closely connected to them and then the two families are knit together.  But our church missions budget has supported nationals as well.  I've tended to focus on countries where the average wage is around $1 a day.  For example, the little group I helped start 12 years ago in Cuba now sponsors 42 church planters.  During that time, I've helped raise and distributed another $100,000 in ministry support items ranging from bicycles to Kindles filled with theology books to arranging training conferences to clothing to housing in some cases.  Right now, our pastors receive about $30 cuc per month or about $35 USD equivalent.  We are also now working on helping the pastors develop micro-businesses for their families which will allow them to become self-supporting during the long-haul.  We've got some pretty cool things going on in that department right now.  I just returned from a trip to Cuba Friday evening, so it's fresh on my mind.  But truly, we support 40 pastors who are on the ground working, living among the people, already have a community network and understand the language for LESS than it would cost for one American missionary to go (if the field was even open) and there's a high likelihood that the American missionary will take a one-year furlough (something I find unnecessary in this day and age) after four years and an over 50% chance that he/she won't be taking two furloughs as they will have left the field by then.  I wouldn't be opposed to having nationals raise support here and frankly, I encourage folks to support organizations like Worldvision and Gospelink which assist nationals in getting sponsors in the States.

As for the CDS's draining available funds for missions, I'm sorry....I'm not buying that and I'm not seeing any sort of substantive or empirical evidence to support such a claim.  I've got 30 years of experience DEEP in the CDS world.  As someone noted above, fewer and fewer Independent Baptist churches have Christian schools.  I pastored two churches with Christian Schools and neither received "subsidies" from the church other than some shared space and frankly, the school helped the church as much as the church helped the school.  I've consulted for numerous Christian day schools and church owned day schools and have never seen a church that did not support missionaries around the globe, nor did I see one that designated missions money to the day school.  Many schools with which I've worked actually support missions and missionaries through fund-raisers, class sponsorships/support and also, we had a regular trickle of young people who went to the mission field from our Christian schools -- both on short terms and as vocational missionaries.

I think we all should take a fresh look at bi-vocationalism.  I've been bi-vocational my entire ministry and I've been the lead pastor at two large churches and the executive pastor at two other large ministries.  I didn't "have" to be bi-vocational, I have chosen to be, so I'm not in the class of character of those who are tentmakers are bi-vocational in order to be in ministry.  I have HUGE respect for them.  Work is honorable and being in the community is always an opportunity for ministry -- so I think we should honor those who are bi-vocational so that they can be about the work of ministry. 

One things for sure....the times are changing and they are changing rapidly.  I think we will be gaining momentum toward many changes in missions and ministry.  Ministry will likely be more of a sacrifice for Americans in particular in the future.  We need to be prepared and we'll need to see if our actions match our words as it becomes more difficult.

Great conversation!

Dan Burrell Cornelius, NC Visit my Blog "Whirled Views" @ www.danburrell.com

Anne Sokol's picture

OK, I think about every single point was pretty much true for us, as missionaries Smile

we do have one SBC supporting us--they have extra income and support several independent missionaries.

we are supported by about 7 churches and maybe 15 people. We don't have "enough" support--but God makes it enough.

I have started supporting us by working as an english teacher and doula and childbirth teacher. The birth work is mainly done for wealthy internationals living here. I have small kids, so i'm not sure I could ever work to the point of gaining the rest of the income funds we'd lke to have for ministry, but we'll see what happens.

About supporting nationals--Vitaliy, my husband, is a national. I want to give another perspective. Nationals can do way more than foreigners, although they can't do everything that a foreign missionary might could do.

About churches becoming dependent on foreign funds--this can be very complicated in that, our church, for example, supports ourselves every ministry the church has--awana, feeding the homeless, teens, youth, singles, women, SS, rent--which is a big bulk. They give Vitaliy about 100 dollars/month which covers some gas. I think our church offerings are around 1000 dollars/month--our personal rent for our family alone is 700--and that's a cheap very-ukrainian apartment.

i divided up our yrly income from last year by 12, and our income averages to be about 2400/month. we can live on that if we are thrifty, and don't visit the States often, but we don't have much for ministry. So that's what I use my work for and we try to raise more as we can.

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