The Banner published an article sharing the point of view of some World Missions missionaries who objected to the new goal of raising 90 percent of our support by 2020. I offer a different perspective here because my wife and I, and many others, are on board with the new paradigm.
Many decades ago, the denomination supported World Missions missionaries almost exclusively. They did so through ministry shares in a time when the cost of doing ministry was lower. Now the cost of doing ministry is much higher, and ministry shares giving has long been declining. People prefer to give their money to support concrete needs. The idea of a general budget is hard for many to visualize or get excited about. These are things to lament.
At the same time, many of our churches use part of their missions budgets to support missionaries from other missions and send mission teams overseas. These are things to rejoice about. Still, they affect our mission adversely. World Missions needs to adapt to this new reality, and the 90 percent paradigm is part of that adaptation.
A bit of context: my wife and I served with an interdenominational mission in the 1990s. We raised 100 percent of our support plus travel and ministry expenses. The administrative staff of that mission organization, though they were wonderful people, could offer us nowhere near the help we get from the staff of World Missions. Our salary and benefits were minimal during that time, whereas now they are on a level comparable to those who work in the U.S. For that organization, the administrative cost was 12 percent, whereas with World Missions it is 8 percent.
We were told not to view raising support as an interruption of what we do but as a part of what we do, ministering to people back home and inviting new people to take part in what the Lord is doing in our ministries. The missionaries quoted in the Banner article don’t seem to see it in that way.
Some voices are grumbling, resisting change, and criticizing the home office without knowing what goes on there. Others are even portraying the situation as adversarial: World Missions versus missionaries. But I would “show you a more excellent way”—that is, love.
If we who are at the forefront of the foreign missions efforts of the Christian Reformed Church are willing to connect more intimately with people back home, our enthusiasm, global perspective, and authenticity will help inspire and strengthen them. Then we will discover the Lord moving people to go to bat for us. The support will come in.
To God be the glory.
About the Author
Dave Gifford is an ordained minister in the CRC and a missionary with World Missions. He and his wife, Blanca, have served in Mexico City for the last nine years. The Giffords' website is www.giffmex.org.