Missionary Programs – the past.
In previous times, missionary work used to be one of the key activities of the Christian church. Today, it is an optional extra.
Missionaries once traveled from their home country to the target country to preach the Gospel to all and sundry. Over time, these heady ideals became too hard to maintain: so performing charitable good works superseded preaching the Gospel; which in turn have been replaced by “cultural exchanges”.
Critics ascribe such bowdlerisation of missionary activity to various causes. Some charge that church missionary budgets are misappropriated to pay pocket-money to pastors’ brats for overseas backpacking holidays to perform “friendship evangelism” at church expense. Others contend that charitable works – digging wells, mending roofs, and etcetera – have nothing at all to do per se with spreading the Gospel and therefore should not be missionary-funded. Other critics point out that today’s cities contain multiple ghettoes of unreached ethnicities (immigrant-suburbs of Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Chinese, Indians…): so why waste money sending missionaries overseas when they could instead simply bus themselves into the next suburb?
Missionary Programs – the present.
Criticisms – such as those above – must be dismissed out of hand if a church is to establish a well-funded Missionary Program. Unpleasant facts must be reshaped, redefined, and selectively ignored for a church missionary program to garner funding.
In such a climate, the following suggestions are offered as tried and tested strategies for inspiring church attendees to willingly pour their hard-earned savings into your church missionary fund:
- Missionary as Marketing. Label everything “Missionary” to attract donations. Don’t worry about “misapplying” the label to activities that have nothing to do with spreading the gospel: instead, introduce the concept of “Missionary Support” (see below).
- Missionary = Missionary Support. To circumvent the contentious problem of identifying which activities spread the Gospel and which do not: adopt and generously construe the label “missionary support”. Categorising an activity as “missionary support” gives churches the flexibility to fund literally anything out of missionary funds. As long as churches consistently repeat that some given activity “supports missionaries”, church attendees will continue consenting to part from their cash.
- Report plentiful activity. All donors want to see value for money: so provide regular reports showing how busy church-funded “missionaries” are. List activity after activity: omitting all incriminating details. When the eventual question of “How fruitful is all this activity?” emerges: deflect embarrassing investigations by citing “Spiritual Progress” (see below).
- Spiritual progress. “The Material has nothing in common with the Spiritual.” These and similar mantras must be repeated endlessly to counter any donor expectations of measurable results. Endlessly reassure donors of the boundless “Spiritual Progress” of your “missionary” activities.
- Church expenses. The missionary fund cash-cow is now ready for milking! Churches must deduct: administration feeds, handling feeds, paperwork fees, transfer fees… – the list is limited only by your collective imagination.