There are two myths about missions and money. The first is typical of people who live fairly prosperous lives and do not themselves do charity or mission work. This myth is that we can throw money at a problem and this will fix it. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti literally billions of dollars were spent (or at least were claimed to be spent) in helping Haiti. But none of this money actually trickled into the local economy and many of the times when donations did reach the affected communities, the fact that food and supplies were handed out free wrecked the local businesses and left people in worst shape than before the “aid” was supplied. Some of the organizations providing “aid” required that supplies and equipment be purchased in the home country rather than in Haiti. This also deprived the local economy and businesses from taking part in their own recovery. I do not want to describe all the ways that throwing money at a problem does not work. If you want to see how that did not work in Haiti, I suggest Jonathan Katz’s book: The Big Truck That Went By.
Another myth about missions and money is that the church is the only organization we need to support missions. Many folks and churches think that by simply giving to missions they have met the demands of the Gospel and have no further responsibility. The problem is that there are far more needs than there are dollars and people to meet them. For the missionary, this means they have to seek funding to do the things they do among people who may already feel (correctly or mistakenly) that they are doing enough.
One answer for both missionaries and the churches that support them is to engage their communities in helping. The team I worked with in Cape May Court House, NJ started an annual golf tournament as a fundraiser. Although it attracted some players from the church, most of the participants were not active church members. They got donors and sponsors from local businesses who donated door prizes and hole prizes. They even have two car dealers donate a car for two “hole-in-one” holes. If you get a hole in one on that hole, you win a car. This team has raise $20,000-30,000 each year since starting this tournament.
I would like to hear from some of my readers/followers about what you have done to support the work of short-term or full-time missionaries. What are some creative ways we can engage our communities and allow bigger projects to happen that feed, clothe, and support those in need as well as spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ?