Monday, November 5, 2012

Does The Progress of Your Mission Efforts Depend on Money Within An Organization?

I have been spending time this week reading, The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church: And the Causes That Hinder It, by Roland Allen, which was written in 1927. And though, it is over 85 years old, in many ways it speaks to issues in modern missions more than ever before. Specifically what I want to look at today and in my next post is the section included on the missionary organization.

Allen's whole premise for including this section in his book was to warn of the dangers that mission organizations can produce along with the serious difficulties it can cause both at home and abroad. The first major thing that he points out is that it makes all the progress depend upon money, which in result is the antithesis of spontaneous expansion.

Allen further points out that in a sense there have always been mission organizations, but the original he refers to as the simple necessary one, being the local church itself. It was only later and in to today that the more complicated large mission organizations came to be. Basically what he is pointing out is that there was no such thing as an organization that did missions for the early church, but the church itself was sufficient for such cause; obviously allowing for a spontaneous expansion of the church as we read in the New Testament.

Here Allen says, "If we compare our modern missionary work with the missionary work of the Early Church, this is what differentiates them: with us missions are the special work of a special organization; in the Early Church missions were not a special work and there was no special organization."

The key thing that Allen has pointed out that I want us all to get here, is that by allowing the progress to depend upon money, we are failing at be faithful to the Great Commission. Yes, I know and realize that our global church planting efforts take money, but we should not allow the progress to depend upon money. For example, each year there is a huge campaign that not enough is given to the work of international missions within the organization I currently operate under. It is often said, "If we don't give than how will these people in this place ever here." I understand that statement and believe that there is a proper time for it, but part of the shortfall of money could be that individual churches are no longer operating fully under the modern missions organization but rather going back to the simple necessary one of the local church.

Along with this issue, there are churches that in a sense sit by and watch the work not progress as their people are delayed waiting for a spot, once enough dollars have been given. But if the local church was operating as the missions organization, and I may argue should be, it would allow for them to funnel their money from within to those willing to go. In other words the work is still progressing apart from the large missions organization.

Now, before I get myself into too much trouble here, I want to be clear that I am not necessarily against the modern day missions organization. In fact I have friends that work and operate under at least ten different organizations. And they have and will continue to do great things for the advance of the Kingdom of God. But I will point out that as my family was being assessed for an International Church Planting role we were told, "You are not being sent by your local church, but you are being sent by this organization." I am afraid that is a commonly held attitude within many of these organizations that is not healthy or biblical. And to be clear, we corrected his thinking by responding, "We are sent by our local church as they are the ones that recognize our calling/gifting and they equipped us to be sent out." Truthfully I wanted to add that it is churches like ours that pay his paycheck to begin with but the Holy Spirit helped me to bite my tongue on that one.

I don't believe that modern day mission organizations are going away nor should they, but I would like to see the local church take the lead role in our missionary efforts as did the Early Church. It is time to quit outsourcing missions to the large organizations and raise up and send out from within the local body, even operating within an organization.


  1. A church that is active in building and sending its own missionaries, in the local community, region, and around the world, is a healthy and Biblical church. Without this aspect of a church's ministry the church would turn its God-given resources in on itself and implode. The mechanism for doing this is the idea that the goal of evangelism is to get people to join, or even just to come to, the church. The mentality is that the church is there to meet their felt needs with the hopes that they will pay their dues. The struggle at this point is between those who think the church should change everything to draw more people and those who think the church should do things the way it has done for hundreds of years. The changers what new people to come to church to be ministered to. The non-changers want the people already paying their fair share of the dues to be catered to with services as they have always been. The point that is missed is that the struggle needs to be to make the current members understand that having accepted the gospel and being God's children means that we need to take the gospel out where people have never heard and disciple them with it whether they end up joining your church or not.

    My comment went long, so I'll post the rest of it on my blog. I spell out stages of church destruction.

  2. I appreciate your godly insight on a church being a healthy church and staying a healthy church. Especially after reading your blog and looking at the stages that lead a church in a dying path. If a church is not actively engaged on mission by equipping and sending their people, there is a large aspect of health that is lost. This doesn't mean that they won't do some good things for the Kingdom, but not the fullest.

    I'm not sure if you have ever read the book by Allen that I refer to, but I highly recommend it along with some of his other work. As I said in the post, he speaks to missions today as if this were written for today.

    1. I just realized that I haven't been getting email notifications of comments on Blogger posts because I haven't been clicking on the link to do so. So if you've responded to any of my comments n the past, sorry if I haven't engaged more.

      I don't have Allen's book, but I'll look for it. Thanks.

  3. You can pick up the kindle version for .99 and make sure to check out his other books too, such as "Missionary Methods: St. Pauls or Ours."