Finding the funding
Let’s be honest, every mission worker needs money, and frequently lots of it. Often we fail to appreciate that it’s not because they have an extravagant lifestyle, but because of their many expenses like intercontinental flights, renting a suitable home in an expensive city, and paying school fees so that their children can get a reasonable education. I was once part of a church where we gave a single mission worker in Hong Kong almost as much as our pastor who had two children and a mortgage. This caused a lot of church members to be significantly disgruntled, but 95% of this man’s support went on renting his single room in a shared flat – because rent is so high in Hong Kong.
Mission workers who are part of an agency will probably have to raise more than those who are independent. This is to cover the overheads the agency incurs in management, training, language learning and other expenses. The amount that is added to a mission worker’s anticipated personal financial needs is often so significant that it stops people serving with them. They choose to go independently because it’s cheaper. But they still end up having to pay for many of the services, like language study, and if they decide not to, they often realise too late what they’re missing out on. I frequently see the difference between people who’ve had good orientation, member care and debriefing from an agency, and those who’ve simply tried to muddle through by themselves. So although the cost of going with an agency may be higher, it’s not necessarily more expensive. Feel free to discuss this with agencies. Ask what the money is spent on, and what they are doing to drive down homeside costs.
Most churches will give to mission workers out of their annual budget commitments. Often they set aside a specific portion of their income to support mission workers, and review it each year. They simply view this as a church expense. But where do you get this money from? You can encourage your church members to contribute extra towards this fund on a monthly basis, or by taking up special offerings occasionally. Some churches encourage people to collect their small change or to have sponsored events. It works best if people feel that they have a personal commitment to their mission worker rather than the money just coming out of central funds.
It is often impractical for the financial support of mission workers to fall on just one church, so a group of associated churches can get together to contribute. We have seen this working well. Agencies can also make introductions so that churches that have traditionally supported the agency can be linked in with individuals for sponsorship.
And we should not forget the role of prayer in raising the funding. Whoever God calls, God equips, and this applies not only to the ‘spiritual’ things but also to the finances. Learning to trust in God’s provision is an important lesson for potential mission workers, and the church can stand with them on this, organising prayer meetings and making sure that regular intercessions are made.
Myles Wilson’s book Funding the Family Business is an excellent guide for mission workers
Stewardship also run occasional day workshops training mission workers in raising their funding