Friday, May 29, 2009

Fewer missionaries going due to lack of finances?

One of my favorite blogs to follow is Guy Muse, a church planter down in Ecuador that is always talking about reproducibility, dependency issues, and multiplying disciples. He is a missionary with the International Missions Board and has voiced his concerns regularly about the future of the southern baptist cooperative program. It seems that giving to the Lottie Moon offering and to the program in general has gone down in recent years and especially now that the country is in the midst of an economic crisis. Many have said that the future of some of the field missionaries might be in jeopardy at some point. I just received my newsletter from the IMB stating that "new appointments to the career, apprentice, associate, and journeyman programs also will be reduced, with only the most strategic assignments being filled". The Baptist are one of (if not the) top sending agency of missionaries in the world and to see them have to cut the number of people being sent on account of lack of funds is very disheartening.

Bill and Amy Stearns, who are some great missions mobilizers and recently came to speak at our school say that there are about 40,000 candidates ready to go out among the nations and that the biggest thing holding most of them back is debt and finances. A few stats from their website:

• It’s usually 7-10 years from a point of commitment to missions until actual deployment.
• 70% of North American missionaries must raise their own support. It now takes an average of 2-3 years for missionaries to raise support to go.
• Supporting missionaries is such a rare discipline in our churches today that even among those exploring mission service, only about 5% personally support a missionary!
• In the past few years, perhaps 40,000 North Americans have made a commitment to go. Yet, says missiologist Dr. Ralph Winter, “They will never make it to the field due to ignorance, indifference..., detachment, school debts, etc.”

I know I am biased, but I think missions giving (especially to the unreached) is maybe the best investment of kingdom resources for individuals and churches. I would love to see a higher percentage of our budgets going directly to reach those who have never heard. Any thoughts?

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