Becoming a Good “Missions Church,” part 1

MissionsI presented a session at the Global Missions Conference in Arlington, Texas a couple of years ago on "Becoming a Good Missions Church." I've decided to post some of the material from that class here along with some new perspectives, because it's an issue churches continue to face. Many churches want to spend less on themselves and more on others, or they want to be more effective in how they do global missions with the money they have.

In the dozens of churches I've consulted with or served in ministry at, there have only been a couple I can recall that spent less than 10% of their annual budget on global mission efforts, including domestic church planting efforts and exclusive of benevolence spending. Some spent as high as 65%. That's an extremely high number in comparison with national norms–and a number that isn't healthy for reasons I'll describe in this series.

Percentage of budget does not an evangelistic church make. Think about your personal finances as an example: most of the money God provides us personally is spent on purchasing food, paying rent/mortgage payments, utilities, etc. That doesn't mean I'm more passionate about utilities than about the Kingdom. It just is what it is. Similarly, some churches think becoming a good "missions church" (a term well worth deconstructing) is basically devoting an ever-increasing portion of their budget to global evangelism. While that is a noble impulse, it isn't equivalent to becoming a strong "missions church." Here are just a few reasons why:

  • Many of the churches that spend high percentages of their budget on missions pay little attention or care to the works they support. This is also observable in relative congregational ambivalence toward global mission efforts.
  • Many "missions churches" support works for decades and develop a co-dependent relationship on the works they support. While the fellowship aspect of this model is a blessing. Overall, this way of doing missions weakens both the church and ministry they support.
  • Many so-called "missions churches" are relatively inept at local evangelism and subconsciously use missions as an "out-sourcing" of evangelism– which they understand is a clear Gospel mandate. While this is better than doing nothing…a church of 100 that spends 60% of it's budget overseas and didn't baptize a single person last year should pause and consider the purpose of it's own existence.

Tomorrow, we begin a new blog series on this subject–much of which can also be applied to benevolence spending as well.

Step 1 in becoming a good missions church is becoming a good church. To that we'll turn tomorrow.

Dr. Tim Spivey is Lead Planter of New Vintage Church in San Diego, California. He is the author of numerous articles and one book, "Jesus: The Powerful Servant." A sought after speaker for events, Tim also serves as Adjunct Professor of Religion at Pepperdine University. Tim serves as a church consultant, and his writings are featured on ChurchLeaders.com, Church Executive magazine, Faith Village, Sermon Central, and Giving Rocket.

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