Sending the messenger

Mention missions and widely varying attitudes surface. Disagreements exist over strategies, the value of short-term missions and as I was recently reminded, even the degree to which a congregation should fund campaigners.

On a nondescript Sunday, I heard someone express the opinion that any one particular congregation might provide campaigners with some support, but it should avoid funding the lion’s share even if it has the resources. Why? “After all, the way campaigns work is each person must go around and raise their own support.”

If it had not been for a chance encounter with an opposing viewpoint on the same day, I might not have given that remark much thought. However, the contrast over generosity was too stark to ignore.

“Those who do mission work are often made to feel like beggars. Since their goal involves serving God’s kingdom, they should not be made to feel like beggars. The church should send them.”

Is an ardent fund raising experience necessary because of its winnowing effect and character building nature? If a congregation is capable, should they ensure that capable workers go because God’s purposes are being served?

To be sure, other factors can enter into the question of support. Our natural inclination may be to offer up some homespun wisdom. Nevertheless, if both the campaign and the campaigner are on target, might scripture offer ideas about the degree of generosity?

When Jesus sent out a large group of disciples, he built his instructions in part around the principle, “the worker is worth his wages” (Luke 10:7). Similarly, Paul recalled the principle, “Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages” in providing guidance to Timothy about how the church should treat elders who teach (1 Timothy 5:17).

Does this principle suggest that my prior framing of the question is misaligned? Is providing funds a matter of our generosity, and hence those raising support can be viewed as beggars? Or should our perception be that hard-working campaigners deserve and are worthy of receiving their necessary resources? In this latter case, it would be our privilege, perhaps even responsibility, to support them according to our ability.

I suspect the latter perspective is more biblical. That’s my point. What’s your’s?

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Barry Newton

Married to his wonderful wife Sofia and a former missionary in Brazil, Barry enjoys trying to express old truths in fresh ways. They are the parents of two young men.

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One thought on “Sending the messenger

  1. Amen to this message. Those who labor in the Kingdom should be supported. Having an individual being required to visit a multiplicity of congregations in order to raise sufficient support to do God’ work is to be short sighted. If a work is worthy of support and funds are available to establish that work, do it!

    Bob Abney

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