The formula I presented may or may not be encouraging depending on how you look at it. In this post I want to present some ideas on how to beat the formula.
How to Beat the Formula
A missionary can beat this formula if he has: (1) high take on rate, (2) gets into more churches quicker, or (3) has a higher support amount per church.
How Can Pastors Help Change the Formula
Pastors and churches can help change the formula by changing the way they currently support missionaries. This takes investing time, work (research), and money into your missions program but hopefully would result in a more practical and efficient way to support missions. What are ways that you can change the way you do missions to help beat this formula?
One idea to help change this formula is: supporting less missionaries for higher amounts.
Having a high amount of missionaries usually means that a church invest little into each missionary. The mindset behind this is to send a little everywhere instead of a lot to a few places. I understand this mindset in wanting to do something in as many places as possible, but I don’t think it is the best. It becomes a problem when we dilute our finances so thin that it barely makes a difference in the budget of a missionary. Therefore, I would adopt the idea that says, “support less for more.”
Start Making Practical Changes
We can’t just ask churches to drop missionaries to raise the support levels for others, but they can have a plan to start increasing support. I would suggest the following:
- The new normal support level should be $100.
- Churches should start increasing support as they have it available.
- Increase in $25 increments ($50 – $75 – $100).
- Increments should be made per missionary and not spread out over everyone. If you have 5 missionaries you support at $50 each and you have $25 more available, pick one to increase to $75 instead of giving everyone $5 more.
Note: These are just opinions.
Deputation is a great way to get a salary because there is a built-in safety net: your income comes from multiple churches. This is helpful because if one group of churches is hurting financially and another group of churches is flourishing, they often balance themselves out.
I have had a church drop my support since being on the field because they closed their doors. If they were giving me all my support, I would have been in major trouble. But since I have multiple churches supporting me, it was only a matter of time until a church increased their support and covered the loss.
Also, missionary budgets can be high, especially if you are going to live in Japan, and one church is not able to give the missionary all his salary. This network of support breaks up the financial responsibility between several churches and allows all to have a mission work in the foreign field.
The downside to this kind of support is you have so many churches supporting you that you don’t have a close relationship with most of them. And often times you can’t. (Some churches and missionaries only want a “working relationship” and that’s it, and that is okay.)
So with this being said, here is what I would suggest as a good balance and ratio between “safety-net factor” and “close-relationship factor”:
- Churches should support for $300-$500 per missionary family.
A missionary raising $5,000 would only need 17 supporting churches at $300. This would enable him to have a relationship with each church and they could get to know him better. (If he lost one or two churches while on the field, yes that would be $300-$600, but technically he would only need one or two churches to take him on for support to make up for the loss. This idea works best when the majority of churches are willingly to support at this amount.)
- Split your support budget in half. Example: $50,000 a year / 2
- Less for More: $25,000 = Support 4 missionaries for $500 and have a closer relationship with them.
- More for Less: $25,000 = Support 20 missionaries for $100 and have a normal relationship with them.
I think this is a natural balance between the two options. If may feel like you have to be “selective” in this option, but I think this already happens in many churches and think it is okay. The same way a home church feels closer to their missionary and desire to support him for more. Think about it, which missionaries does your church feel close to? Why?
What other ideas do you have?