We just came back from a trip to Edmonton to attend their Missions Fest. It’s a fairly large event, but what struck my attention was how sparsely attended it was. We went 4 or 5 years ago and there were many more people then. All the missionaries commented on it, as they were for a large portion of time standing around waiting for someone to come talk to them! Some thought that perhaps the wide availability of information on the internet meant less people interested in coming. I suppose that could explain part of it, as the agencies generally referred people to their websites anyways! But still, talking face to face with someone is different than reading a website, and seeing many organizations shoulder-to-shouler gives a much greater perspective. So I was surprised….
The Olympics are on in Vancouver and I don’t think that they’re having any problems finding people to attend that! And many more following it via tv or the internet. That doesn’t really surprise me; Canadians are on the whole very patriotic in my experience. Too bad more Canadian Christians aren’t interested in missions….
I’ve been thinking about this while reading the Canadian Oswald Smith’s “The Call to Missions.” He makes the very obvious point that Jesus commanded ALL his followers to fulfill the Great Commission, whether by going themselves or assisting someone else to go. In correlation to this he recommends churches spend 50% or less on themselves and give the rest to missions; individuals are encouraged to “give according to your income lest God make your income according to your giving!” (Peter Marshall) A pointed saying, considering average giving among Christians is something like 2% of income. While I don’t think believers are bound to the 10% of the Old Testament, giving less is certainly not Biblical either, Old or New! We are to give sacrificially, whatever that means to us, emulating the poor widow Jesus specifically pointed out as her mite was more pleasing to God than the rich man’s portion. Smith speaks of the Faith Pledge – a prayer to God to ask how much one should give in the next month/year, promising to God to give that as able, then praying diligently until that amount is in hand and given cheerfully. This is based directly on Paul’s teachings. As it is said, “you cannot out-give God.” Although we find the 10% tithe easy to work with in our budget, it does not mean that we’re done there – and I know we have much more to learn about giving! As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have been simply amazed at how we survived last year financially. And yet we did, praise God! Not many reading this are in the same financial situation we were, so how much more could you give?
Giving has been on my thoughts since we’re contemplating going into full-time ministry, where we will have to depend on the “charity” of others to survive (recognizing that primarily we will be dependent on God). If the Great Commission is really the job of all believers, and the fields are white only needing workers, should we have any problems finding support? I hope not – yet we have been told it will probably take 12-18 months to find enough people to support us. We have also been told that a church of our acquaintance is all “given out”, that their money for missionaries is gone supporting who they currently have. Hmmn. God must not have enough for them to give more. Right?