As leaders of churches, we receive so many requests that demand our time, energy, and resources, especially when it comes to church funds. No matter the reason, programs, missions, etc., giving funds are generally in high demand and short supply. These decisions tend to fall on you as a church leader – decisions that are scrutinized by the elders, congregants, and ultimately the Lord. Therefore, as we make decisions, we have to work with our staff and committees to determine the criteria for allocating funds. That will guide our decisions about where we give our money, especially money toward missions. Church leaders must make the best decisions for using church funds and how to make the most of generous mission giving.
Here are some starting points to consider when setting the criteria for giving to missions in your church.
Is our giving to missions consistent with our church’s passion?
Church leaders work long and hard to hear from the Lord regarding the vision and mission of their congregation. We must assume part of that vision and mission is outreach to our neighbors and the world. We, as Christians, are mandated to go into all the world.
What will that commitment to international missions look like? It should be consistent with everything God has called your church to be. Does your church have a heart for refugees in the United States? Look for ways to minister to refugees in other countries. Does your church seek to mentor and disciple future church leaders? There are many churches and organizations around the world that need the same leadership development programs. Does your church have a thriving children’s ministry? Seek out children in need and at-risk internationally who would benefit from your partnership. Follow your church’s passion and give accordingly.
Will our giving to missions create dependency?
When faced with an opportunity to give to international missions, church leaders must consider the ramifications of their continued giving. Many of us have heard of the book “When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor…and Yourself” by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert. The book discusses why poverty is not always a lack of material resources. Its purpose is to make us aware of the situations at hand. Now that we are aware, we try to avoid involving our churches in ways that will be destructive or distracting to our brothers and sisters worldwide.
Beware, however, of the pendulum swing that says all giving leads to dependency. There is a delineated difference between dependency and equipping for sustainability. Nations need to be equipped. They need training and seed money. They need a financial jump-start to get them going while they are moving in their own way toward sustainability. Yes, sustainability is the ultimate goal. However, what does sustainability look like, and what form does it take for our international partners? Sustainability must happen in culturally relevant ways and on culturally relevant timetables.
Does our giving to missions build up the members of our home congregation?
As church leaders, we are tasked with making disciples in our congregations. Therefore, our giving to missions is another conduit to bring our people into closer fellowship with the Lord. When we carefully allocate our mission money according to our church’s passion and with good stewardship and sustainability in mind, it helps our church members begin to have an outward focus. Presenting the needs and how we can become a strategic partner locally or globally opens people’s eyes to the great need around them. Proving how God will provide for those in our mission’s budget will also show those sitting in the church services how God will provide for them and their own family’s needs.
Faith is built; perspectives are broadened. We can draw the focus away from being exclusively inward and broaden our horizons. As a church body, we learn about and love those we partner with overseas. Choose the ministries through whom generous giving will build up our congregations and then give consistently and with wholehearted devotion.
One last caution.
In our giving to local and global missions, church leaders must find a way to balance their desire for stewardship and accountability with the need of indigenous, growing churches to establish themselves and move toward autonomy. North American tax regulations, philanthropy norms, and horror stories of gifted monies spent unwisely create cynicism. This produces a strong desire for command and control over funds donated to worthy causes. Instead of letting those skeptical thoughts overwhelm our decisions, let’s commit to being good stewards by waiting on the Lord for his direction.
Then, we should give with open hands and open hearts, trusting that the one to whom we’ve been called to give is God’s choice and will handle the funding responsibly. Yes, there is a risk in adopting this attitude. However, it is a risk worth taking as millions of souls worldwide rely on us to partner with them to bring God’s Kingdom to earth today. Want to be sure your mission trips are making an impact? ACS Technologies has a tool that can help you manage the details so you can focus on the true purpose of the mission. Go Method tracks individuals’ fundraising efforts, tracks their documents and ensures they are submitted and completed within the deadlines. Try a free trial of Go Method today.
Cal joined the ACST team in 2004 and is currently the Market Strategy Manager serving denominational ministry partners. He received a degree in Secondary Education at Southeastern Bible College before pursuing graduate work at the University of Alabama in Birmingham. He has served on various local nonprofit organizations, including The King’s Academy, a Christian school in Florence, SC., and R.E.A.C.H., an educational resource group based in Florence.