This is my summary of a widely accepted but seldom thought about belief held by a majority of pastors, especially those who lead small churches:
A local church can’t be meaningfully involved in what God is doing around the world until it grows to a certain size in attendance and resources.
But it isn’t just pastors that navigate in accordance with this unbiblical and culturally produced conviction that dishonors the God of the bible and provokes questions about His character.
A majority of the members of most local churches do too–including those that He has called to serve Him outside the borders of the United States.
Before I explain how I know this is true–especially for pre-field missionaries, an important dynamic generated almost immediately by the confirmation of their calling needs to be understood.
Put as simply as possible, when the missionary calling is substantiated, raising the financial support necessary to obey that calling rushes to the forefront of that future global servant’s mind and priorities.
I know this is true for two primary reasons.
First, because that’s what became my highest priority after God confirmed His calling for me and my family to become missionaries back in 1987.
Second, because I’ve been interacting with literally hundreds of missionaries on their journey to the field since God called us to return to life in America and serve in the current role He has designed for me to play in His global plans and purposes.
Almost without fail, when I get around to asking a pre-field missionary about where they’re at in their journey to departure, they begin by describing how things are going in their financial support raising efforts.
Just like I did when I was asked the same question those many moons ago.
If they limit their description to only the percentage of their projected budget that they’ve been able to raise thus far, I’ve learned to probe in a little deeper with some specific questions, like these:
Is the financial support you’ve already received or had committed to you primarily from individuals?
Is your home church committing to support you financially from church funds?
Do you have any other churches that have chosen to become financial partners with you?
The most common response to that final question is that they really do want to raise more support from churches.
But when I ask them which churches they are trying to connect with or what kind of churches they’re attempting to approach, the vast majority of them tell me the names of either very large or even mega-churches.
Their description of their support raising strategy reveals that they have unknowingly bought in to the same mindset I summarized above that influences so many small church pastors.
You see, it isn’t just small church pastors that need to re-think a few things about involvement in global missions, those He calls to be missionaries do too.