I had a conversation this week with an individual who enthusiastically promoted their personal mission organization. Although I wasn’t much interested, I listened politely but moved on to other subjects as soon as possible. Curious, I did some checking and found that there was indeed such an organization that recently registered as a corporation in my state but with no financial statements on file. Impressive.
Whatever happened to the simple fact that believers were always on mission everywhere and that groups of believers, churches, gathered together to do God’s work? What would a church be like where the members all had their own autonomous mission orgainzation going but no one was much interested in pooling their gifts, talents, skills, and resources to cooperate on a mission that God led the group to accomplish?
And what would a denomination or convention of thousands of churches be like if every church had their own mission plan and offered only tepid support for cooperative missions as a whole?
I’m not much interested in a boutique mission organization that exists to fulfill the mission strategy, or fantasy, of any individual. The work may be good. The delivery of mission efforts may be sincere and somewhat benefical but if an overall strategy is lacking in that only the tiniest fraction of the unsaved world is given attention, then no thanks. Sure, I understand the thinking that maybe God is at work in all of these and that He is directing the minds and hearts of His people in such a way that all these fragmented efforts coalesce into a Grand Strategy to do His work in the world.
Unfortunately, the evidence is overwhelming against that conclusion.
Individual, boutique missions is a product of American affluence and culture. We’ve got money. We like to be in control of spending it in ways that make us feel good. Look around and you find that it seems these mission projects that your friends are so passionate about are all within easy reach, a cheap airplane ticket, and in open countries. Often they are in desirable destinations, that is, places where folks used to Western standards would like to go.
Thank God that Southern Baptists have a global missions strategy carried out by our largest organization, the International Mission Board, that attempts to address the needs of people far beyond a cheap plane ticket and a nice place to go. I’ll put what I can into IMB and not dilute my giving by trying to help some of the numberless tiny, wasteful, non-strategic, boutique missions organizations.
Thank God that our North American Mission Board has broad strategy objectives. You may not agree with the approach but it beats by light years the strategy of doling out funds to our pals and colleagues to do some nifty botique mission project.
Some honest questions for the personal, boutique mission organizations:
- Am I spending more on travel expense than on actual missions to my target group?
- Is the salary and administrative expenses greater than missions expenditures?
- In the long haul is what I am doing helpful or harmful to recipients?
- Who benefits the most? Participants or recipients?
- Are more pressing needs being ignored while I do my own thing?
- Am I ignoring avenues to participate in projects that have a broad strategy to do what makes me feel good?
IMB has ways for churches to help in a strategic way. Ask Dave Miller and Bart Barber how. They do it.
Is the future of church missions to be that we all get us up a non-profit, try and raise money to do our own thing under the banner of missions…and while we contratulate ourselves on our personal missions interests in places where churches, Bibles, and Christian witness is abundant, most of the world goes to hell without hearing the Gospel even one time?
God forbid and no thanks, I’m not interested in giving to your personal mission organization.