Is missionary deputation a good thing or just all bad. Many are trying to figure out what to do. It takes a missionary from 2 to 4 years average to raise their support. They must travel thousands of miles and make hours of phone calls.
I usually say that they need to make thousands of calls to talk to over 1,000 pastors to get a meeting in 300 churches and then have 100 churches take them on for support.
It is doable. It will work but it takes lots of work. There is a great deal of friction caused between the pastors and the missionaries. Missionaries feel upappreciated and unwanted. They feel like the “red headed, step child of our churches and ministries!”
Pastors do not like being bothered. They hate getting calls on their cell phone. They are called for meetings several times every week. They do not have enough money to take on all the missionaries. They, I believe, want to do all that they can but simply do not see how.
The church or congregation is bothered because missions has lost its fire and excitement. It seems now that the mission’s conference is all about money. Many of them are already giving and if missions is just about raising money then they are not interested.
So what can we do to change how we get missionaries to the field?
1.Some denominations have a fund raising method of their own.
They provide the missionary with all he needs as a salary. So that once accepted the missionary can be deployed rapidly.
The strength is the quickness of getting the missionary to the field. It means that the denomination must have a strong set of filters in place to be sure and select the right missionary.
For the churches the weakness is that the members do not get to see the missionary. The church gives a percentage of the offering, budget line item or even if they give an extra missionary offering they never or rarely see a missionary. I grew up under this system.
The weakness for the missionary is that he is an employee. He will go where he is told and do what he is told. That can be good but limiting. He will build buildings, make purchases, etc according to dictates from the head office. The strong missionary that is accomplishing a lot will be limited by this.
2.Others do “friend raising” and get their money through their friends instead of churches.
The strength is that they can talk to their friends quickly and not have to talk to strangers.
The weakness is that they may not have that many friends. Also it is quite awkward to talk to your friends asking for money.
3.So what can we do?
We can set up fellowships or denominations that will take up offerings from the churches. We can then set up a bureaucracy that can administrate the money and determine who gets to be a missionary where.
The weakness here is that independent Baptists simply do not want to be in a denomination. That is why they left where they were before.
4.A church could take on the total support of its missionary.
That would be great if they could. But then all would be limited to how the church budget does.
Also the pastor and church might not understand the realities of the field. They might not know what is needed and that will cause real friction and frustration.
5.There are advocates of “tent making missionaries!”
Those that would have a business or work full time would have much less energy to do the ministry. Just like the pastor who must work 50 hours and then prepare messages, make visits, pray, disciple, and train leaders.
I knew of a group of churches in New York that took on the complete support of their missionary nearly 30 years ago.It was a group of 12 churches. Later they ended up needing to get additional support due to financial pressures on those churches. Their goal was that the missionary would spend at least one month with each church and really get to know them before going to the field.
Someone has to have another idea. I would love to hear it.
The following is taken from C. Gordon Olson and Don Fanning, What in the World Is God Doing?: The Essentials of Global Missions, Seventh Edition, Expanded, Revised, & Updated. (Lynchburg, VA: Global Gospel Publishers, 2013. I thought that it might be an opinion from another source that might interest you!
The hang-up of ‘deputation’
Does deputation ministry really mean going around begging for money? Nobody likes to be a beggar because it’s demeaning! These days many mission agencies are referring to deputation as ‘pre-field ministry,’ but this only changes the image, not the reality. What is the reality?
Many denominations have a unified denominational budget which makes ‘raising one’s support’ unnecessary. But most missionaries under evangelical mission agencies, whether denominational or interdenominational, have to ‘raise their own support’ before they can depart for the field. Some missions stress non-solicitation of funds after the example of Hudson Taylor, so as to avoid ‘begging.’ The emphasis is upon asking God to touch His people to give toward the missionary’s needs. A prospective missionary should cast a vision of what can be and should be done. It is an opportunity to catalyze the church in a team effort to make a difference.
Perhaps a better perspective from which to view deputation is that of giving God’s people an opportunity to get involved in worldwide missions by giving. But there are many other benefits of pre-field ministry. Not only do appointees learn lessons of prayer and trusting God for supply, but also appointees have opportunity to ‘sell’ missions, sometimes in churches that have little missionary vision. They can encourage churches to be more missionary-minded and may also recruit other missionaries.
One classic example of this was the ministry of millionaire Bill Borden of Yale 1909, who did not need support for himself, but recruited many other missionaries before he left for Egypt. The most important aspect of deputation is recruiting prayer supporters to stand behind the missionary while on the field. This is an essential for effective ministry.
Local churches are and should be the foundation of prayer and financial support for missionaries, even though a significant amount comes from individuals directly. Both denominational and interdenominational missions have struggled with the problem arising from a missionary having thirty or more supporting churches, some of which are “nickel and diming it.” Recently consortiums of ten or less churches are being formed to eliminate this problem. The missionary’s home church takes on a substantial portion of the support (typically 30%) and others make up the balance. A major purpose is to shorten the length of pre-field ministry for the missionary and to keep supporting churches in one local area.
When church members commit to becoming missionaries, it should become a church project to get support and get them to the field. The home church could greatly facilitate the raising of support if they were willing to get involved. A personal recommendation from the pastor to His Pastors’ Association members could open a number of doors. The church could encourage small home groups, Sunday School classes, and individuals to meet with candidates to hear their vision and passion for God’s will to decide what part to play.
One of the challenges for new missionaries is getting sufficient exposure to share their vision and proposed ministry. A volunteer committee could be formed to make hundreds of phone calls to area and regional churches to promote the missionary’s candidacy. What if the local church took more responsibility for getting their candidates on the mission field? What would this say to others who might be interested in becoming missionaries? Local churches must become more creative and involved in getting their candidates out to the field. In doing so, they can share with other churches a model of what a missions-minded local church really is.