This thought has been rolling round in my mind for a few months now. If you’re reading this blog, chances are good that you or someone you know (i.e. me) are currently or have been in a full time ministry or volunteer position. And let me be clear, my definition of missionary right now is one who works full time or part time for a specific organization with a specific job title and projects to complete. I’m not talking about the “you’re a missionary at your day job” type.
For the first time in my post-university adult life, I find myself not in full time or part time ministry. And I feel (slightly) less uncomfortable saying this. If you are making any sort of money, a portion of it should be going to your church and to the mission field. (If you don’t go to church or consider yourself religious, please keep reading.) I differentiate the two because the actual amount of money given by American church members to missions through the church is shockingly low. According to a study at Empty Tomb, Inc., church members were giving less than 3% of their total income in 2007. Depending on the denomination of your church anywhere from 1%-11% of that 3% will actually go to missions. It’s probably safe to assume that our churches are seeing even less financial giving in the last 5 years since the study. So all that is to say, don’t count on your church to support all the missionaries.
I don’t know how many times in the last 7 years I have thought to myself, “How nice would it be to wake up in the morning, go to work, and know that I’m going to get paid a set amount in each paycheck?”
“What’s it like to not have to ask for money so I can have a salary?”
Or all sorts of battles with “What will people think of me buying a pair of $100 jeans? Or me having a huge diamond engagement ring (okay not huge, but not terribly modest either)? Or what about our new tv? Just because we’re missionaries.”
I think I’m getting off topic there; that’s another issue of how people (myself included) think missionaries should live, earning next to nothing, only buying clothes at Goodwill, never owning a new car, etc. According to the Apostle Paul, being in the field is just as legit of a job title as someone being a teacher or banker or lawyer.
Maybe you don’t even go to church and none of this applies to you. But I bet you’re affected by other nonprofit organizations that rely on individuals’ financial gifts just to function. The Red Cross, the YMCA, PBS, the ASPCA, and countless cancer research and support foundations. If you believe in it, prove it. You don’t have to go walk dogs, just visit their website and give.
All I simply want to say is, don’t forget your missionaries and volunteers. They need your prayers and financial support, no matter how large or small.
[I feel like I’m closing a speech.]