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As Christians who have the orders to take the Gospel to every ethnic group on this planet, we might be well advised to understand some of the attitudes that we will encounter. As we encounter Muslim believers it would be wise to understand the Islamic doctrine of al-walāʾ wa-l-barāʾ. In a...

October 28, 2014 1 0 comments
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193 riders making up 40 teams joined together for an autumn day of cycling in a collective effort for poverty alleviation. Sarah Williams, one of the riders, reflected on her experience riding with Sea to Sea...

October 25, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Webinar Recording

This webinar will explore ways in which the church and its leaders can equip and encourage members to see God in their workplace and to live out their faith as Kingdom workers there.

October 15, 2014 0 0 comments
Blog

            Confusion seems to reign supreme as to the nature of jihad.  A Chicago bus ad showing friendship people of different races and religions reads  #MyJihad is to build friendships across the aisle." - What's yours?. This advertisement would suggest that jihad is largely 'striving for...

October 12, 2014 0 1 comments
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Learn more about the CRCNA's response to the Ebola virus and how you can help.

October 9, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Book or Booklet

God is doing something today in the Muslim world, and we in the North American church are only now becoming aware of it.

October 6, 2014 3 1 comments
Discussion Topic

On October 1st, Michael J. Kruger, President and Samuel C. Patterson Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, NC posted and article entitled "Social Justice and the Gospel: What is the Core Mission of the Church?" Here is the link:

...
October 2, 2014 0 0 comments
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The Lord gave me a beautiful picture of the “great cloud of witnesses” we are surrounded by as we “run with perseverance the race marked out for us”.

September 30, 2014 1 2 comments
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As Christians we want to stand firmly in our own faith, while we learn about others. That is part of being a good neighbor.

September 23, 2014 0 1 comments
Discussion Topic

             With noble intentions XYZ person or group of persons proposes to engage in friendly dialogue with a member or members of religion "Q." The stated objective is often to become "dialogue partners" in order to eliminate prejudices and to come to understand the other. It is also...

September 23, 2014 2 0 comments
Blog

What is World Renew's Free A Family Program?

September 18, 2014 0 0 comments
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People get missions and evangelism mixed up. To many Christians, missions is going to another country and evangelism is knocking on doors, stopping people in the streets...

September 16, 2014 3 6 comments
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How does World Renew work with partners around the world?

September 3, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Policy or Guidelines

Many pastors and churches would like to focus their missionary outreach by concentrating on fewer but deeper missionary support relationships, but currently have a larger number of superficial ones. How do you get from here to there?

September 2, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource

Fall is a great time for a missions emphasis event, learn how you can get involved!

August 26, 2014 0 0 comments
Blog

When we talk about Global Missions, obviously we are focusing on the work of the CRC around the world. However, many elements of global missions take place right here.

August 14, 2014 1 6 comments
Resource, Story or Testimony

A poem written in November of 1990 by Peter Kuperis who was working in Kapoeta, a major town in southern Sudan that came under the control of the SPLA, or Sudanese People’s Liberation Army.

August 6, 2014 1 0 comments
Resource, Conference or Event

Join us October 4, 2014 in the Grand Rapids Ride for Refuge bicycle ride!

July 31, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

Sharia is a guide for Muslims in the daily practice of their faith. So why does sharia law exist? What is its purpose? Is there anything similar in Christianity?

July 30, 2014 1 5 comments
Blog

Where is the line between trusting God even in uncertainty and recognizing when a situation is too dangerous to stay in?

July 22, 2014 1 1 comments
Blog

This summer we'll be hearing from a few missionaries on home service about their call to missions, what life is like as field staff, and their ministries around the globe.

July 16, 2014 1 0 comments
Blog

It’s easy for us to scoff at the Israelites when they pleaded with Samuel for a king and wonder how they couldn’t see how faithful God had been to them. But the Israelites weren’t the only ones who thought they needed a king.

July 9, 2014 1 4 comments
Blog

Learning to do short-term missions in a new way

July 2, 2014 1 0 comments
Resource, Video

Byron Borger of Hearts & Minds Books has given a rave review of the DVD series "For the Life of The World: Letters to the Exiles."

July 1, 2014 0 0 comments
Blog

Each summer World Renew and World Missions holds a training to prepare those who are heading off to volunteer with field staff around the world.

June 30, 2014 0 0 comments

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I would think that is wise and good that our mission board has a CMT (Crisis Management Team) to give direction to and make decisions for our missionaries in times of crisis.  It is often difficult to be objective in such times.  And certainly objectivity is necessary.  Within a given crisis situation, one can easily think that God will take care of me.  But the reality is that Christians are no safer than anyone else if they do not take intelligent steps to be safe.  If you think that, then just stop taking a life saving drug that your doctor has prescribed and see where that gets you.  The same applies to the safety of our missionaries in crisis situations.  God has given us wisdom and insight for a reason.  And we should trust the insurances our denomination provides, such as the CMT.  Blessings to our team.

Thanks for this insightful blog. It's so much easier to concern ourselves with the kingdoms of this world and of our own lives, which are visible all around us, than to be completely surrendered to the kingdom of God, which is often invisible. May the Lord give us eyes to see his kingdom, where he is working, and hearts to follow him as King.

Very interesting point, Bill. Money is without a doubt a "king" for us as Christians. Love that verse in Psalms! If only we could put it into practice. 

The Israelites were never good listeners and neither are we Christians. As a cynic and pessimist I use worst case examples. Consider Psalm 20:7-8: 

7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
    but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
8 They are brought to their knees and fall,
    but we rise up and stand firm.

No nation has ever tested this verse by putting it practice. This goes in spades for the nation which put "In God We Trust" on its money. If we were honest we would use "In Money We Trust" on our money. It might strengthen the US dollar.

Great article!

Thanks for your reflections, Abigail.  In a way, you answered your concluding questions about what has served as "king" in my life and culture in the four "No, God!" statements you gave earlier in the article.  I counted the word "I" ten times and the words "me" or "my" fourteen times in those four statements.  I have too often served the king of self, which is also the biggest "king" in our culture.

Hi Lou,

The exciting thing is that churches have mostly responded very well in the past year.  Instead of keeping their total dollar amount the same and shifting it around, many have boosted their support significantly.  One church decided to increase their support of a CRWM missionary from $1000/year to $1000/month, fully meeting his goal for this year.  Another missions committee member told me he was upset with the new model and asked the team, "What are we going to do about it?"  They decided to boost their mission support budget by $6000/year.  If we are to move boldly into the future in obedience to the Great Commission, we do need to think through priorities.

For many years I had heard about a Presbyterian denomination in southern Asia that funded missions through a handful of rice taken from the bag for family use and setting it aside for missions.  I met the mission director and asked, "Is it true that people in your denomination do this every day?"  He said, "No, we do it at every meal."  In their poverty, they are totally committed to exalting the name of Jesus and willing to sacrifice to advance His cause.  The challenge to us as wealthy North Americans is clear.

Hi Steve,

This is where I mentioned on the Twitter feed that I concluded we were talking past each other.  I hear you speaking to the need for the denomination to stimulate the desire to serve in missions through a clear commitment to the life-changing, essential character of the Gospel.  "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12).  We certainly do need to re-emphasize in our day of relativism and pluralism that the Bible makes all kinds of exclusive claims about Jesus.  This builds the desire to serve in Gospel proclamation at home and abroad.  

I was addressing the mechanism for getting those motivated people to their field of ministry, which hasn't been working very well for a quarter century.  These are exciting days on the deployment side because our change in support-raising paradigm means we can send more people, but all of us need to work at the stimulation side.  And, truth be told, many CRC people are serving in missions with a variety of other organizations who would have served with CRWM in the past.

 

 

Thank you for this, Steve.

There is greater depth to this than from what can be ascertained from a Twitter feed. I am glad that CRWM is able to use this model to free space for new missionaries as CRWM only sends missionaries as are able to be created. Your 'shrinking missions' fact is that of demand. This demand is not our want or desire to send missionaries-- of course we do, and the more the better. It's an issue of demand that is constrained by our ability to create the position.

My point of clarification, coming from someone who is say, younger. I think you were circling the camp with this sentence: "CRWM chose to keep sending sons and daughters of the Christian Reformed Church to serve God in missions." This is historically correct. I mentioned on social media that there is a vast contrast between missionaries then and missionaries now. The number of missionaries actively entering the field is an issue of supply. The CRC has not been doing the best job in this regard-- and this is an issue separate from financial status. This brings up orthodoxy-- strong conviction and belief. We are not raising up missionaries the way that we were because, in my opinion, we are feeding ourselves wishy-washy statements, unchallenging gospel truth, and lackadaisical doctrine. How are we to fulfill the Great Commission if nobody is telling me that we are to be salt and light to the earth? Or "because I belong to him, Christ... makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him."

We ought to be wise builders who build on rock-- Not foolish builders who build on sand. Those creedal truths are our rock-- and as Jesus said-- we must both hear and put into practice these words. That's how you'll raise up a generation of missionaries.

My heart aches for CRWM and for our overseas mission staff as they deal with funding issues.

I recently returned from India where I was witness to incredible church growth. K.P. Yohanan's Believers Church plants 17 churches per day across that nation.

I attended a ceremony for a class of Bible College graduates. These were 20-year-old young men, many of them having grown up in the slums of Mumbai and elsewhere, who were new Christians and who were determined to return to their slum neighborhoods to spread the gospel.  They went through a two-year Bible College training program with the express purpose of church planting.

Each one of those 20-year-olds said that they would plant churches and preach the gospel until they die ... realizing full well that they may only live three or four years before they will be killed for their faith.

My point is this: Is there a simpler, more-effective way to train young men and women ... something that doesn't require four years of college and then seminary training with an MDiv at its conclusion.

The demand is incredible in India -- and around the world. These graduates feel the 'urgency' to get out and spread the gospel. They 'ache' for the lost.

The Christian Reformed Church -- especially our pew-sitting parishioners -- don't see that urgency. Their focus is on the plight of our overseas missionaries and their families rather than on the thousands of 'lost' they may reach.

Last night I attended our church's congregational meeting where we are looking at a $3.5 million 'renovation' to our church building. It will make our comfortable pews more comfortable. We have numerous churches throughout our classis -- never mind our denomination -- who invest millions in their own comfort, building their own 'kingdom' rather than God's kingdom.

That $3.5 million could fund a new church plant in our city, providing $100,000 in salary and support for the next 35 years.

We as a denomination have lost the sense of urgency when it comes to spreading the gospel.

"The mission....has been delegated to His Church."  When spelled with a Capital "C" this gets fuzzy, but insofar as a lot of reformed folk understand "denomination," the Church has dodged and a lot of congregations duck when approached.  Used to the paradigm of a missionary having to have 12 to 14 churches supporting them at anywhere from $500 - $2000 each, what does a congregation that has perhaps four or five missionaries do to "up" their amount to the necessary level?  The obvious choice to some is "cut some entirely."

This is yes, a pattern of quarter of a century, as is the decrease in membership.  That is the trend that so concerns me; I don't see enthusiasm for mission in churches that are not successful in local evangelism either.  God help us....

Indeed, it's spam. When that happens, you can just hit 'flag for review' and it'll be removed for review.

The sites above are advertisements for something and appear to have nothing to doe with the issue under discussion.

Wendy also presented a webinar on this topic in 2012. You can view the webinar recording and download a resources document here at Nurturing Generous Spaciousness: A Response to Gay Christians in the Church.

A very interesting discussion. As we continue to use language of inclusion and reconciliation, too often that discourse revolves around people of color NOT having resources, knowledge or means to witness the Gospel globally. The 'root' of race-differences is NOT necessarily economic. Rather the secular conversations about 'reconciliation' get tangled in our Christian language use and unfortunately quoting of Scripture is used to argue for or against 'in-Christ' brother and sisterhood. Our imperative should be to LIVE the Gospel at all times and in all we seek to witness for the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Hi Donna,

As Wendy mentioned, the finances of World Missions and World Renew are very different.  World Renew does not receive Ministry Shares, so the 50% decline in their purchasing power has not affected World Renew.  Also, personnel costs represent a much greater percentage of World Missions' budget.  World Missions also does not receive government grants.  All of these factors make gaining support for missionaries a much more important issue for World Missions.

Community CRC Announcement: We are excited to announce that the Go and Tell evangelism seminar by Pastor Jim Halstead is now available for free at www.fortwaynecrc.com Go and Tell is an easy and practical way to equip you to become a fisher of men (Matthew 4:19) based on the Heidelberg Catechism. This seminar will provide you with the tools to “be active in sharing your faith” (Philemon 6) with others. The Go and Tell free resources (video, booklet, testimonials, etc…) have helped many to become equipped to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with others. For example, Karen thanked us after she took the Go and Tell seminar online, she wrote:

“Dear Pastor Jim, I want to thank you for sharing your website with me. I have listened to all sessions and have taken helpful notes! I have also fully investigated your website. You are certainly right when you told me you have the gift of evangelism. You have put together one of the most comprehensive, loving effective ways of evangelizing I have ever listened to. So many of the sources you have quoted from are wonderful but the way you brought them all together is a gift from God! My Bible study I attend has around 200 women and I cannot wait to take it to my leadership. Lastly, thank you for emphasizing not pushing a person into praying a prayer. I did the study of Follow Me this summer and I know that this can lead to false conversion. The F.I.R.E and L.A.W., the bridge and the Christian Wheel were very helpful. I am thankful for how you taught us to let the person pray their own prayer of repentance! I love letting the Holy Spirit do His work rather than me trying to mess up His work. Thank you and God Bless you. I look forward to putting into practice what I learned!”

To access the Go and Tell seminar online, go to www.fortwaynecrc.com and click on the Go and Tell tab. You will be able to access the Go and Tell videos, resources and testimonials. We pray that the Lord of the Harvest will use this material to raise up workers for the harvest field (Matthew 9:35-38).

Delighting in God,

Pastor Jim Halstead

www.fortwaynecrc.com

Church: 260-493-2398

There are a couple of thoughts I have after reading your post and the original that you referenced.

First, I don't agree with equating nonwhites with underprivileged. So that leaves us with two questions to answer as to why more ethnic minorities are not engaging with the denomination. #1, in our multiethnic congregations, is everyone given equal opportunity to join the short term missions teams? I would argue that yes, they are, because most of the churches I work with do fundraising as a congregation to support whoever wants to go, as long as they work on the fundraising too (make the pies, wash the cars, work at the dinners, etc.) #2, in our ethnic churches, are they uninterested in missions or just uninterested in going through our denomination? Is money really a factor? I tend to think not, because I have seen some incredible donations come through our ethnic churches after a disaster. So what is the real reason?

Setting aside the STM issue, let's talk about funding missions. This is actually something that affected World Renew's decision to move towards a country support approach rather than a missionary-centered approach. Many of our overseas staff are not from North America, or if they are, are not Christian Reformed. So they don't have their own church, Grandma and Grandpa's church, and their aunt and uncle's churches to get support. Nor do they have the social connections mentioned in the article you referenced. Yet, their stories are just as powerful, if not more so. One of our staff actually had someone come up to her after church and say, "this is the first time in my life I have heard an African woman talk about Africa." Of course, as the article mentioned, it is this pooling of resources that is possible in nonprofit organizations and denominations, not so much parachurch organizations. I suspect, though, that if the parachurch organizations were able to shift their fundraising strategies they could have a similar approach. 

There are two things that I suspect might be going on here, to use your terminology. One, there is a distinction between disaster response and community development. I believe that the staff who are working on long term community development are indeed missionaries, as they are working with churches and doing outreach. It is important to note that disaster response funds are NOT used for supporting long term development, which is what was described in this post. Secondly, depending on the country context, we avoid using the term missionary online (and sometimes avoid mentioning the country altogether). 

These two things would also make great blog posts as they deserve more in-depth discussion. 

I have a lot of respect for WR and am happily working closely with the international disaster response staff in Japan. I couldn't help but notice though the reference to supporting "missions" and "missionaries" in this article. It seems to me that WR has been very careful NOT to describe its work as missions or its staff as missionaries. So what is going on here? 

Yes! This is something that we had proposed for some of the new churches we were helping to plant in Cambodia, but there was little interest on the part of U.S. church planters. Of course this was some time ago, and perhaps it just wasn't promoted well. I would love to continue the conversation.

This is an excellent way to support missions! When I was a missionary on the field, I would have really appreciated a team emphasis by supporting churches rather than the pressure of being focused on as individual missionaries. It gives churches a much broader perspective of the work being done as well as the needs of the countries and their particular regions.  Would this strategy ever be considered as a means to support CRWM missionaries? 

Thanks for these insights, Wendy, as all of us who seek to support our CRC missionaries, both locally and globally, are searching for new paradigms to help the churches steward their resources well.  Your comment about local/global being a both/and solution made me wonder about a unique possibility:

What if a North American church plant was connected to a World Renew country due to similar characteristics?  For instance, there is a church planting/missional community in Denver that uses community gardening to connect with and disciple their neighbors. I'm sure there are places where World Renew is working with gardening in a community.  What if these were packaged together in a way that would be meaningful to both the ministries and the donors?

In this day of collaboration in the denomination Home Missions is looking for creative ways to partner with agencies like World Renew.  I wonder if this is one possibility?

There is a long history of working in the countries where we currently are. In 2009 we had to reduce the number of countries in which we worked because of budget considerations. It was a painful process, because we had to leave partners with whom we had been working for many years. In addition, we are always being asked to come into new countries. There are processes in place to help prioritize countries based on needs and opportunities. One of the considerations is whether or not there are other CRCNA agencies working there. The decisions are made by our codirectors, regional team leaders, and board.

As for the overlap question, I made a similar list a few years ago although it is now out of date. However, every country has an annual plan that includes a section on how they will work with the other CRCNA agencies that are in the country. I personally am more familiar with how CRWM and World Renew work together and less so with BTGMI. Perhaps that would make a good topic for a future Network post!

I hope that answers your questions, if not let me know and I will be happy to go into further detail.

Wendy,

This is very good summary. I especially like point 3 (the focus on a country as a whole). Apart from a specific calamity (to which WR has always responded very well) I wonder if WR should focus more sharply on fewer countries with great needs.  The Canadian government has such a list of 20 countries.

About a year ago I made a list of all the countries where the CRCNA was active (WM.WR.BTGMI). There were 49. Canada's list included 20 countries of which only 5 did not have a CRCNA presence. The overlap/or not, amoung the 3 ministries of the CRCNA was interesting.  Could you make a comment on that?

I think Bob Lupton's book, Toxic Charity, along with When Helping Hurts, from the Chalmer's Center, make very strong cases and compelling arguments for the need to change how we as Christians--at least in the U.S.--have engaged and continue to engage in the work of serving or helping others. Both also show that this change is needed not only because what and how we have engaged in helping or serving has not helped; it's also needed because all too often we have caused more harm than good to those we thought we were helping. What I appreciate about both of these books is that they also provide ideas and suggestions for changing how we help that benefits, improve and transform lives, relationships, and communities in ways that I think advance and more closely reflect God's reign. 

Shannon,

I think that short-term mission (STM) that are planned and executed by the church should be seen as a "personal development" opportunity that is provided to people. If so, we could maybe should have a church/denominational fund that are used to fund ALL short-term mission trips and ALL people would have to apply to receive the funding (think of it as a leadership development program or what have you). This is what you're getting at with the "savings group" idea I believe. But the reason I think everyone should apply for the same pool of money, rather than having some people be able to "buy" their way in, is that it creates a leveled entry platform for STMs and does not place an unfair burden on the ecnomoically disadvantages to have to fill out the "scholarship form." Now given the segregated nature of our churches, I think the question of who decides which people get to go should be a second important consideration, but that can be step #2. 

All this to say I think that the model of being able to buy your way into STMs is going to perpetuate a lack of representation for ethnic minorities. We need to come up with a redistribution model that people can buy into. 

Kyle 

 

 

Hi Harry,  Actually, every congregation in the Christian Reformed Church received a report last September detailing the situation of the career missionaries they currently support.  It had figures on the individualized budget, support received in 12-13 and the goal amount for 13-14.  Many of our missionaries already have 15-23 churches supporting them.  We are really hoping that most missionaries will not have to take on additional relationships with congregations.  It would be better if current churches were able to evaluate their giving patterns and some (at least) would be able to increase their financial support.  If you, or others do not know what happened to your congregation's letter, please email me at svanzanen@crcna.org and we will get another copy to you.  Steve

Steve your comments about the options for CRWM might include sending a list of all missionaries by country to all churches with a cost for each country.  Then ask churches to commit to sponsoring missionaries in those countries with a certain amount.  The process might need to be formalized so that the commitments made can be met. But it would certainly involve the churches. At the CRWM you would need a template to help churches decide why they can or would support certain countries.

This is a very high level idea that would need lots of work.

When my wife and I felt called to missionary service in 1996 I went to my denominational agency, CRWM.  The staff tried to interest me in work happening in the Philippines, but our sense of call was to Eastern Europe, where communism had recently been dethroned.  It seemed clear to us that God was at work in a remarkable way in that part of the world at that moment in history.  CRWM had work in Eastern Europe, but in 1996, there were no positions available.  The financial struggles of World Missions had already begun a few years before that and new positions were hard to come by. 

So, following the advice of a recruiter for World Missions we discovered another agency which enabled us to follow God's call.  Because that parachurch agency does not have the blessing of Ministry Shares, we were asked to raise 115% of our actual costs.  The extra covered the supervision and support which the agency provided us.  We approached churches and individuals who knew us and explained that we believed God had called us to this work and prepared us to serve Him in that setting.  By God's Grace and through the generosity of many, our support network came together quickly. 

There were many blessings in this process.  We reconnected with old friends.  People showed amazing generosity.  They got in touch with the work of God in Eastern Europe in a deeper way as they prayed for us, which certainly is the lifeline of any missionary.  As we visited with churches on home service they were encouraged to see that God was at work even in the Old World.

Later, when we shifted from that other agency to CRWM and the support goal was lower, that was nice.  We were grateful for the role of Ministry Shares in reducing the challenge.  I understand the deep attachment that people have to our historic method of missionary finance.  However, with a 50% decline in the purchasing power of the Ministry Share dollars actually received by World Missions some hard choices need to be made. 

It seems that there are three basic options.  First, continually shrink the size of CRWM's mission force.  This is what we have been doing and don't want to do anymore.  Second, renew the Ministry Share system by having Synod request and churches give a continually growing amount of general gifts to World Missions that are not connected to a particular person.  Given the trends in our churches and the track record of the last quarter century, that doesn't seem very likely.  Or, third, recognize that our world and our denomination have changed and we will need to adapt to that change.  The higher missionary support goals are part of an overall effort to raise support for World Missions that includes direct mail appeals, connections to major donors, grant requests to foundations and work with those considering estate planning.  All of these efforts are necessary.

With Missionary Support Teams, The Veenstra Missionary Support Fund, assistance from staff and other resources, we believe that this change will result in the renewal of the CRC's mission effort, and that there really is no other realistic option.  No method of missionary finance is more important than the mission itself.

Wendy

 

Thanks for the reply. I will get the book.

Bill

As an agency, we also need to emphasize that partnership in the gospel is not limited to financial partnership, but also includes prayer and service.  In fact, CRWM has increased its number of volunteer missionaries over the last few years by more than 100%!  God is good.

 

Thank you for your comments, Steve.  I agree, North American churches are developing more of a missional focus, however I do not believe that a missional focus in North America should occur to the detriment of missions in and with the majority world.  If anything this should spur us onto a view of our role in global missions (local, regional, cross-cultural, and worldwide).  I pray that is what will happen as God's people are reawakened to prioritize Jesus' great commission from Matthew 28:18-20 and Mark 16:15.

Thank you Case.  We are not sure what will happen at this point either.  The impetus is on us to make this thing work.   We need to remember that we are all in this together and work to see God's kingdom advance as we each play our particular part in the one mission of God.  Again we very much appreciate you and pray God's blessing on you, your family, and the ministry to which He has called you.   Thanks again for your partnership in the gospel over many years.  

Bill,

You raise a lot of interesting points. I can't speak to how CRWM finances its missionaries as I am not familiar with the inner workings, but I'm not sure what you meant by "The financial condition of CRWM and CRWRC must be at least five years old." World Renew (formerly CRWRC) finances its missionaries very differently from CRWM, particularly because we do not receive ministry shares. Our staffing levels were reduced in 2009 but are increasing as donations permit.

As for your comment about whether the money being spent is effective, and why you might have experienced negative outcomes as a result of trying to help your neighbor, I suggest you read the book When Helping Hurts. It will explain why handouts often hurt instead of help. And makes a case for integrated word and deed ministries. There is also a webinar in the archives.

Thank you Joe for your comments I am encouraged that a board member is aware of the importance of people (churches) praying for us. For missions at home and overseas prayer is our lifeline! My understanding concerning teams to help us bring our stories is:  that is the function of the board and North American staff. I am also encouraged that I finally see an understanding of the problem I quote " I think what it does is sound the alarm to let the church know that its decisions regarding paying ministry shares, working to adopt missionaries to support, etc. have consequences.  I believe that if the need is properly communicated, as well as the vision for what God is doing in the world, the church can meet the need.  The resources are there, we just need to reconnect the church to the work being done.  We believe the 90% model will work best to re-establish that connection".  Joe, I am not convinced however that overseas missionaries should be the point of the spear in that endeavor. Blessings.

Could it be that part of the "problem" is that churches in North America are discovering that being missional means more than supporting missionaries in other countries? Conservative as well as liberal writers such as Michael Horton (The Gospel Commission), Alan Hirsch (Untamed), Lance Ford (The Missional Quest) and others have been reminding us that The Great Mandate is not just for countries far away, but also for our communities right around us. While we all appreciate and support the hard work of our overseas missionaries, we should be truthful and admit that it is easy to have the attitude of I've supported financially and even prayerfully so I've done my part to fulfill Christ's mandate for the church. I grew up in a missionary family and I married into a missionary family so trust me, I am aware of the difficulties faced by missionary families. I believe that while churches still desire to support our missionaries, we are also realizing that we need to be missionaries right here. As an example, for years our church supported 4 missionaries. Then we decided to support 3 missionaries and set aside the remaining 25% to support our members involved in mission causes. Since we made this change, a number of our members have experienced the joy of being a missionary.

Thank you to the Van Wyks (my wife's family served CRWM in Nigeria for many years) and to the many others who have sacrificed much in listening to God's call. I pray that, as a denomination, we can continue to have a strong presence of missionaries around the world. I also pray that, as local congregations, we will also be willing to sacrifice and to listen to God's call to be missionaries right in our own communities.

PastorCase I understand your objection, and I believe the analogy certainly falls apart if we think that CRWM missionaries are dependent on the good graces of the agency to continue in their kingdom work.  Nothing could be farther from the truth!  I think it is important for us to realize that missions is not now nor has it ever been the work of a few apart from the body of Christ.  In fact, the support of churches (prayer, financial, emotional, spiritual, etc.) is of utmost importance and remains the gold standard even in the new support model.  Please allow me to explain.

Our hope is that more churches would join in helping our missionaries raise the support they need.  We see how it is difficult for missionaries to focus on both fundraising and ministry.  Therefore, we encourage missionaries to develop teams in North America (members from supporting churches, etc.) who can assist in telling the stories and raising support.  In no way should the 90% model be seen as the agency abandoning its missionaries.  If that happens, then shame on us (agency and church)!  I think what it does is sound the alarm to let the church know that its decisions regarding paying ministry shares, working to adopt missionaries to support, etc. have consequences.  I believe that if the need is properly communicated, as well as the vision for what God is doing in the world, the church can meet the need.  The resources are there, we just need to reconnect the church to the work being done.  We believe the 90% model will work best to re-establish that connection.  

As for the question about North American staff raising their own support, I am sure you can see how that might be difficult.  The stories they tell will not likely be as compelling as the work of frontline missionaries.  So please continue to share your stories, and we will do our best to share them as well, so that God might be glorified, the church of Jesus Christ edified, and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Thank you again for your good kingdom work!  We really appreciate you.

The comparison of Downton Abbey and CRWM raises many serious questions. As an example: Is Lord Grantham’s benevolence to the widows occupying farms that are not efficiently worked a comparison of “the benevolent role of the World Missions Board towards its missionaries? If so I find that offensive and I might add inaccurate.

We have worked for World Missions off and on since 1973 and are presently working for World Missions in Nigeria. For many years we have raised money for World Missions.  For 20 years, after 2-½ years of service in the field we spent the next 6 mo. in the US travelling from western Washington State to eastern Washington to southern Ontario, to all over Mich. to visit 18 supporting churches. What a time that was! We told them what God is doing through them and us working together; we continued to ask for support and for prayer! I am convinced that if churches support us financially but do not pray it is ineffective, prayer is our lifeline. I told all my churches that support us and still do so today that we cannot do this work without their support and prayers. That seems to be no longer important to the Board since the burden of support has been removed from the church and laid on missionary families. We have always raised money and it was always a blessing to visit our churches. However there is now a new standard, it is called raise 90% or else. Apparently only the missionary’s jobs are on the line.  If the Board is really serious about this change, let them apply this 90% standard to all of its employees.

 

I think there is a more urgent question that arises out of this comparison; it is out of balance and one sided. If missionary attitudes are compared to the traditional and old ways of Downtown Abby then let’s also compare Lord Grantham and his family to World Missions. Since I have watched that program they have continued to hire staff even as they faced bankruptcy. They have not made one change in scaling back their lifestyle to alleviate the financial problem. Although busy all the time no money is brought in by them, except by inheritance that contributes to the running of the Abby.  Has the office staff been reduced along with the radical reduction of missionaries? I do not mean to be unkind nor do we lack Christian Charity as the leadership of the Mission Board have suggested but if you make comparisons lets not be one sided.  After all that why would World Missions be compared to the corperate asperations of Downton Abby in the first place?  Is it because World Missions is slowly moving away from expecting our many churches to support Missions as our Lord has mandated? I believe the new 90% corperate gold standard moves us in that direction.

 

What I think is tragic in this whole new fund raising scheme is that the standard has  changed, 90% or else is a corporate standard. The standard of good missionary work by conveying the Good News to the people around us, good language learning skills, loving the people we work with, enduring separation from our kids during the school year and separation from family and friends in the home country are standards that no longer will keep us working for World Missions when the gold standard is not met. If you want to know the standard of Jesus, log onto heavenhigh.org  I pray World Missions will move forward to that standard.

Thanks for the timely analogy, Steve.  I do not watch "Downton Abbey" but I can clearly see the parallel in your example.  CRWM has been a blessing for many years, and we pray God will use CRWM to continue to bless others and be blessed by others well into the future.  

Ken, the new way of fundraising has been called the "90%" model.  It was discussed in a recent article in the Banner.  It will eventually require all missionaries to raise 90% of their actual costs of doing ministry on the field.  The actual costs will differ from the average cost per missionary numbers, which CRWM has used for many years when missionaries were asked to raise 60% of the average cost.   Also, with respect to your second question, we agree.  It is time that career missionaries take on a new role.  However, as our number of partnerships increase in the world, it is also increases the number of opportunities to serve in the world.  I am sure you can imagine that 55 missionaries limits the means and locations in which we are able to meaningfully engage.  Since CRWM values sharing the gospel with those who have not heard it, we are seeing more and more opportunities to share the gospel creatively with Muslim people groups around the world.  The missionaries may not all come from "the West" as you suggest, but as we partner in ministry with other brothers and sisters from the majority world they too will need financial partnership in order for us to see the kingdom continue to advance in our time.  

Great questions! 

I support the concept that OUR missionaries should be 100% supported by Synod. At the least, "A deal's a deal." If a missionary is not doing his part, fire him for cause. If the missionary is doing his part . . . how is Synod's unilaterially changing contracts in mid stream different than companies that are scrapping pension plans for senior employees? 

The financial condition of CRWM and CRWRC must be at least five years old. So how many new missionaries have been put on the payroll in the last 3 years? Just curious. CRC's strong point is theology. Our weak point is business management.

At least half of most every church budget goes to making the members feel good and/or to increase  the take aka membership. In 60 years of church going, I only know of one congregation - NOT Reformed - that gave 50% of their budget to missionaries and have heard they have gone main stream. I am sure that every one of you knows of a local congregation that is not paying its Synodical membership dues - call them what you want - because the congregation is paying for, even borrowing for, a cosmetic or building expansion building project. 

Recently read that there are 5 billion people in the world who live on $2/day or less. If every Christian in the US and Canada sold everything they owned and gave it to CRWM and other charity organizations, would there be enough to help those 5 billion people temporarially live on $3/day?

I remember in the 1950's hearing commercials for "Save The Children" and such. These are BIG national charities. If these charities were successful one might expect that by now there should be enough "saved" children who are thankful enough to make the charities self-propagating. Same with "Habitat." Apparently saving bodies is not more successful than the last 2,000 years of saving souls.

Not saying that we should not help people where and when we can if the Holy Spirit leads us to help a specific missionary or other person.  Personally, at least half the time I have tried to personally help one of my neighbors, their situation got worse. Does the Bible "say" anything about "sending good money after bad?"

 

Your forum cynic,

bill

 

Granted - a smaller mission force is not what we want - neither is a model where missionaries have to be salesmen better than the staff in GR, attempting to raise ministry shares! Financing local missionaries in foreign countries is another model, having staff in GR paid on the same basis as missionaries - raise your own funds - then come to work - is another model to use.  A shrinking money pot is what all of us have to face - why use the services of front line staff - the ones that actually bring the WORD to others - to raise money may not be the solution everyone is looking for. Missionaries can now shop around for the best deal, since many missionary organizations use the same model. Since there is only so much CRC based money around, who can prove more money will flow into CRC related organizations using this model? 

Are we merely competing for the same pot among ourselves?

Steve, I too have not seen the program but your comparison is interesting. The issue of CRWM is an issue for the CRCNA . We need to look at the whole and just not at each piece. The pillars (some would call them silos) are no longer the supporting the whole structure or mission. And I believe the foundations of the pillars need reform as well. 

I believe were are internalizing the process of the review and might be better served if we looked outside the religious establishment for some options. Just an idea.

Posting on behalf of John Rustenburg:

Very well stated with the harsh realities of our affluent times....and that is a very sad reality, namely, we are not a "poor denomination", but I believe that the emphasis on where even Christians spend their incomes is largely on self ,and kingdom causes no longer or seldom have priority as they might have been in previous times.

Regretfully we seldom hear from our pulpits the Bible standards for spending: that Christ's kingdom work must come first.When I see the wealth among God's people (homes,vehicles,earthly possesions, vacations with global emphasis, sports,eating out, and the list could go on.) When will we again hear the warnings of Deut. 6 & 8 that God gave to His people before they became wealthy in the promised land as well as the clarion observation of our Saviour in Revelation to the Ephesian church: "you've lost your first love".

   John

Hi Ken,  In other settings the word has gone out (not with complete accuracy!) that CRWM career missionaries will need to broaden and deepen their support networks.  Until now CRWM has relied heavily on Ministry Share to make budgets work.  The point of the analogy is that this reliance hasn't worked well in recent decades and other sources of revenue are essential to a growing ministry.  That is true even if it requires us to change cherished methods.

How important are career missionaries to that growing ministry?  Very.  In places where there are substantial numbers of Christians (the "reached" world) the main thing that CRWM does is provide training to those national Christians, who are the most important piece of the mission effort.  However, more than one-fourth of the world's people live among unreached people groups, where there are few or no Christians.  Even in such settings we "begin with the end in mind" by seeking to develop leadership abilities in those who have come to faith, knowing that we will not be there forever. CRWM seeks to respond to the varied conditions in various places and among various peoples.  

Well stated. An interesting anology. Maybe "The benevolent role of the World Missions board toward its missionaries (that) has been a touchstone of that relationship" is the primary teaching for the CRC supporting congregations and for the people we try to help. Must a smaller mission force result in a smaller impact on our world for Christ? Isn't that up to the Holy Spirit to decide?  

Probably wrong, but I think the next 50 years in North America will see an economic/social structure similar to that described in Downton Abbey but without the benevolent ownership/leadership. The Gini Index will grow while the poor and the working class retains all our "rights" as defined by our constitutions and case law.

 

 

Interesting comparison!  I don't have cable, so I don't know the story of Downton Abbey.  What I'm left wondering, however, at the end of your comparison is: What new means of fundraising do we need to employ?  What are some examples of funding that we must consider to stay in business and to keep the mission going?

Secondly, I wonder if the lower number of career missionaries isn't a good thing.  Might that be because we now realize that for real mission to have power and impact in the local community, it must be done by locals?  So rather than having career missionary families on the scene, isn't it better if someone from the West goes occasionally to train the locals, and then returns to the West leaving the national to carry on the ministry?

Hey JP I don't know where your comments went, perhaps they were flagged for moderation - considered too sarcastic. At any rate it is only through honest discussion that we will find common ground in our approach to Islam. This debate has been going on at least since the 19th century evangelical missionary movement. We have different approaches but the Spirit of God leads us and Lord willing Jesus will be glorified. Whether you take a more contextual or historic approach, that is our end goal. I advocate a respectful stance towards Islam as an important part of that process.

And the CRC wonders why so many members are leaving the denomination.

I'm pleased to hear of the "Justice and Excellence in Short Term Missions Think Tank."  I think its high time we consider seriously what we are trying to accomplish with short term missions.  Often such trips when considered thoughtfully will end up doing more harm than good.  I would refer the reader to a book by Brian Fikkert with the title: "When Helping Hurts."  When short term missions sends teams to go and do what the locals should be doing for themselves, that form of helping hurts the locals and creates unhealthy dependeny.  I trust that the "Justice and Excellence in Short Term Missions Think Tank" will give some much needed guidance in this area. 

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