the weblog of Alan Knox

What if they worked for support?

Posted by on Jun 1, 2009 in blog links | 41 comments

In keeping with my theme from this morning, I noticed a very interesting post from Gary at “{missional} space” called “A way around the IMB cutbacks“. Gary – an itinerant missionary himself – says the following:

What if instead of entering the field as a missionary on a platform you….got a real job in the host culture? Novel idea huh? There are some plus sides to it….no bureaucracy to deal with, no platforms to establish, and best of all….you get to do a real job and develop relationships the same way you would in the US.

I’m beginning to wonder if the best itinerant missionaries wouldn’t be those who would come into a location with a marketable skill. Gary even offers a website that helps people find jobs overseas.

What would be the negative implications of this? What would be positive about it?


41 Comments

Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 6-1-2009

    so Alan… your friends doing translation work do not have a “real” job?

    While the question might be valid, I find the terminology of “real job” offensive. I think folks doing translation work and planting churches is “real work”. The folks I know work very hard and long hours, serving and helping people in very practical ways. Some folks who don’t have a “real job” sufffer greatly for the Gosple and many have died not doing “real work”.

    In an effort to promote a personal agenda, I am sorry some people find it necessary to degrade and diminish the work and real sacrifice others do for the Gospel of Christ.

    If folks want to talk about restoring NT Christianity… People should stop blogging their discontent. When Paul had a criticism of a church, he sent a letter via personal messenger. He did not hide behind an impersonal form of combination like the internet. He did not publish books for profit. Paul did not just “mail-it-in”… he lived with people, invested in people, loved them, and then brought loving criticism through personal interaction (his or through a surrogate).

    I think if folks want to recapture the NT faith, stop taking the easy way. Stop “mailing it in” and start loving our brothers and sisters in Christ before you judge them.

  2. 6-1-2009

    As a cross-cultural missionary, I have wrestled with this question a lot over the past year or so. The only real drawback I see (which can be a significant one) has to do with time/focus. If you’re working a 40- to 60-hour a week job, it can be hard to give the time and energy to discipleship you would like to give as a cross-cultural missionary. Being a foreigner, you have a limited role and want to make reproducing disciples and then move on as quickly as reasonably possible (in my opinion). A job divides your focus, although of course you would be trying to do as much discipleship as possible on the job.

    Apart from that, though, there’s a lot of upside. It gives you a viable identity with the locals and can get you through a lot of snags with the government. It’s more reproducible in the sense that if you’re trying to plant simple churches that aren’t dependent on paid clergy, you’re expecting your disciples to work full-time jobs but still reproduce.

    I don’t know if it’s right for every situation, but I would love to see more cross-cultural missionaries wrestling with these issues rather than automatically leaning on support.

  3. 6-1-2009

    J.R.,

    If I mow my lawn (which takes about 2 hours) I have worked really hard. But that isn’t my job. I don’t think Alan said that the current missionaries who receive financial support are lazy or don’t do any work. But the fact of the matter, they do not have a “real job” according to any definition of “job” that I’ve heard.

    Someone who has a job can also be called an employee. An employee is someone who receives financial support from an employer for a service. I do not think the SBC missionaries are considered employees of the IMB. If they are, then they aren’t missionaries, they’re just doing their jobs.

    If I want someone to translate the Bible in Korean for me, I may pay someone to do that. That person would be my employee. If someone decides to translate the Bible in Korean because of their love for Koreans, then they are not employee’s, that is not their “job”, but that doesn’t mean it’s not hard work.

    Planting churches can be a lot of yard work, but who is the planter’s employer?

    Paul worked for himself, he was his own employee… actually, he was the employee of whoever wanted to purchase one of his tents. He offered a service to support his needs. Doing this gave him the opportunity to build relationship, disciple people, plant churches, etc.

    If we followed Paul’s example of supporting ourselves, then as missionaries we could be freed from a lot of the “red tape” that comes from being a “missionary”.

    Just my two cents.
    God Speed.
    Lew

  4. 6-1-2009

    J.R.,

    I agree with Lew A. I think you missed the point of what Alan is saying. I have met Alan and have read enough of his writings to know his heart.

    I don’t think he is trying to “promote a personal agenda” or is trying to “degrade and diminish the work” of anybody. I see no “discontent” in Alan’s voice nor any motives other than to challenge the traditional thinking of the body of Christ.

    Go back and read his post again. I think you may see it another light.

    Blessings,

    Jack

  5. 6-1-2009

    Joe (JR),

    I understand that you are offended by the term “real job”. I would suggest that “work” and “job” mean different things. Yes, church planting, translation, etc. are work, but I would not call them a job.

    Apart from being offended by the phrase “real job”, I don’t really understand your comment. As far as I can tell, Grady is doing exactly what he suggests that others consider in his post. And, as far as I know, he hasn’t written a book, but maybe he has and I just don’t know about it.

    Perhaps one problem stems from the context. I did not explain the context in this short post. I’ve been part of several conversation recently concerning the fact that the IMB cannot support everyone who wants to go overseas because of the decrease in giving.

    The purpose of this post and my previous post is to show that the IMB (or any other missions support group) is not the only way that God provides for itinerant missions.

    As you can tell from my previous post, I actively support itinerant missions. As you can tell from this post, I also think it would be good if more itinerant missionaries considered getting a job that would support themselves and others.

    Chris,

    Thanks for the pros and cons. You said that a job would cause discipleship to be more difficult because of time. Could a job also be a source of discipling relationships (like it is for many who are not itinerant missionaries)?

    Lew,

    Some do consider SBC itinerant missionaries to be employees of the IMB. I think the IMB feels that way. There’s a big discussion that’s been going on for the last few years concerning the roles of the IMB and the churches in sending itinerant missionaries.

    Jack,

    Yes, my goal was to suggest a viable option that some itinerant missionaries do not consider.

    -Alan

  6. 6-1-2009

    Paul seemed to be quite capable of working a trade and planting churches and he also seems to have been rather productive.

    In fact although we are talking about missionaries/church planters, Paul even commanded the local elders/pastors to follow his example of working hard with their own hands in order to provide for their own expenses and that of the poor.

    Paul seemed to think there was great benefit in this approach both for the one doing the ministering (both missionaries and older more mature believers/ local elders/pastors) and the ones being ministered to.

    Thanks for sharing Alan, this is a very positive development for the church.

    Mike Hutchison

  7. 6-1-2009

    Growing up, one of the most cutting remarks you could make to someone was “get a real job!”

    If someone worked at McDonalds and you did not like the service, someone would say, “get a real job”

    If someone got a call from salesman during dinner, you just cut them to the quick by saying, “get a real job.”

    I don’t acknowledge the artifiical distinction between “job” and “work”. If someone is a fully supported missionary, then doing a translation, planting a church, or building a village IS their job and their work.

    Again, the question itself may be valid, are there benefits for an overseas missionary to getting a job locally?

    I have a friend who does medical missions in Egypt, and that (on a short term basis) is effective.

    But then I have friends who work in 100% Muslum countries where they are not be allowed to work. I know folks who do missions in South America among indigenous tribes where there is no such thing as a “job” that could pay for their travel, resources, or feed their kids.

    I would suggest that my friend who was a fully sponsored missionary to a small tribe in Africa, ate with the people, helped them build huts, brought medicines, helped them fish, dig irrigation ditches, and did the work of learning their language, translating the Bible, got sick and almost died… did have a job and did work for a living–he made his living at the Gospel supported by faithful Christians in America.

    To suggest that he, or others like him, were, in Alan’s words, “less” or “more” effective than someone in a totally different country in a completely different situation among a different people group is a moot question.

    I am thankful for BOTH kinds of missionaries who work hard at the Gospel and have brought the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ to otherwise lost people. I would rather let each missionary consider the options, pray, and trust the leading and conviction of the Holy Spirit.

    Otherwise, I will leave the discussion to people, who are clearly more wise than me, to cast their judgement and decide which missinaries are the “most” biblical and which missionaries were “failures” because they raised support from Americans rather than working a local “job” for pay.

  8. 6-1-2009

    PS

    Regarding “work” vs. “job” you wrote, “Yes, church planting, translation, etc. are work, but I would not call them a job.”

    I would draw your attention to the title of your post, “What if they WORKED for support?” Oddly enough, you did not title it, “What if they had a JOB for their support?”

  9. 6-1-2009

    Mike Hutchison,

    Actually Paul did both; he made tents and received support from churches for his church planting efforts. You should check it out by reading through the NT.

    Also, he did not “commAnd” the Elders not to receive support, he did “commEnd” them. Again, the difference in those two words may not fit into your theology, but there is a biblical difference.

  10. 6-1-2009

    Hutch,

    I try to keep the discussion about elders (non-itinerant servants) separate from the discussion about itinerant servants. I think Scripture treats them differently, so I try to do the same.

    Joe (JR),

    You said: “Otherwise, I will leave the discussion to people, who are clearly more wise than me, to cast their judgement and decide which missinaries are the ‘most’ biblical and which missionaries were ‘failures’ because they raised support from Americans rather than working a local “job” for pay.”

    I haven’t noticed anyone else use terms like “most biblical” and “failures”. Again, I’m simply offering another option that is rarely mentioned by itinerant missionaries today, although it was a valid option in Scripture, as was support from churches outside the area where the missionary was working. Like I said, I like both options.

    By the way, you’re absolutely correct. The title of my post is ambiguous and should have been worded better.

    -Alan

  11. 6-1-2009

    Alan, you first wrote, “I’m beginning to wonder if the BEST itinerant missionaries wouldn’t be those who would come into a location with a marketable skill.”

    The term “best” is used in the English language to designate a value judgement. This seems to suggest more than an equal value for BOTH, but a preference as one being BETTER than the other?

    True, you did not use the term “more biblical” and you did just make a correction to Hutch’s attempt to make this a discussion about “biblical” vs. “unbiblical”… I appreciate that clarification on your part.

    But also recognize that my comments are not directed solely at you my brother, but at folks like Hutch (and others who might just be reading without making comment) who think missionaries who raise support are violating a NT command and therefore “unbiblical” or unfaithful to the Faith.

  12. 6-1-2009

    JR-

    I was speaking to the issue of missionaries following Paul’s example of tent-making, A thorough reading of the NT better expresses the fact that Paul accepted financial gifts when they were given. If you will read my comment again you will see that I did not say that it is wrong for church planters to accept financial gifts. I said they should follow Paul’s example of expecting to have to work at a trade to provdie for their needs, if someone wants to give somebody a financial gift what is that to me or you? I give financial gifts to both missionaries and church planters. What I said stands true, Paul did work a trade to provide for his needs and the needs of othrs and he planted churches, and he was quite effective.

    Your rude, high-minded and condescending attitude is very telling. Did you say you were an elder?

    Mike Hutchison

  13. 6-1-2009

    I did not say that missionaries are violating a NT command.

    Hutch/Mike Hutchison

  14. 6-1-2009

    Jr-

    I did not say that missionaries who recieve support are unfaithful to the faith or violating a NT command. Read what I said and stop putting words in my mouth.

    Mike Hutchison

  15. 6-1-2009

    JR-

    Here is what I wrote in response to Alans post: Paul seemed to be quite capable of working a trade and planting churches and he also seems to have been rather productive.

    In fact although we are talking about missionaries/church planters, Paul even commanded the local elders/pastors to follow his example of working hard with their own hands in order to provide for their own expenses and that of the poor.

    Paul seemed to think there was great benefit in this approach both for the one doing the ministering (both missionaries and older more mature believers/ local elders/pastors) and the ones being ministered to.

    Thanks for sharing Alan, this is a very positive development for the church.

    Please show me were I said that missionaries who receive support are unfaithful to the faith or violating a NT command.

    Thank you.

    Mike Hutchison

  16. 6-1-2009

    Joe (JR) and Hutch,

    Please contact one another privately if either of you are offended by the other. I do not think this is the proper channel to discuss such issues.

    However, I would welcome either of your inputs into this post in particular. I think this is a very important issue for the church. I’ll explain why in my next comment.

    -Alan

  17. 6-1-2009

    Everyone,

    Everyone,

    I hope that others – especially itinerant missionaries – will weigh in on this topic. This is still a very important issue.

    I have talked with people who had decided that God had “called” them to travel overseas, but they decided against going because their mission organization could not support them. Many times, the person made this decision without even considering the possibility of seeking a vocational position in order to support themselves.

    And, yes, I did suggest this option to the people that I talked with.

    -Alan

  18. 6-1-2009

    Huth, you wrote, “I did not say that missionaries are violating a NT command.”

    But you did say Paul “COMMANDED” them… that would be a NT command Hutch.

    Also, your first post did not mention anything about Paul getting support from Churches, so yes it lacked balance. If you were aware of this, it was not clear in your first comment.

    And, as Alan noted, your post conflated two different things.

    Your subsequent corrections notwithstanding, I will stick my my original critique.

    Hutch, based on a few blog posts, you made the following judgement, “Your rude, high-minded and condescending attitude is very telling. Did you say you were an elder?”

    Did you say you were a Christian? ;-)

    Seriously Hutch, attitude is hard to interpret from a blog post, but maybe you have abilities to discern the motives of the heart that I do not posses. I don’t know you outside of this series of posts. Maybe you think anyone who disagrees with you is arrogant… I don’t know. But you are entitled to your opinion.. and that’s all it is, an opinion of one person with limited and fallible knowledge. Thanks for you input, but I’ll wait for the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

  19. 6-1-2009

    Alan, I just read your last suggestion.

    Hutch, if you feel that my critique of your first post contained an “attitude” please email me

    nospam [at] emerginglife.org

  20. 6-1-2009

    JR-

    I am sorry if I took this comment that you made as rude and high-minded. “You should check it out by reading through the NT.” Academics often overestimate tehir knowledge on a subject and are known for making comments such as you make in order to insult people they view as intellectually inferior. Nothing new.

    My comments regarding missionaries stand.

    I am not personally offended by your immature remark, I have become used to you coming out swinging each time Alan makes a post by questioning his motive or what you call his own personal aggenda. I have found Alan to be a sincere man who seeks for the truth from God’s text, better than that he is a true servant leader.

    I did however insert a comment about local elders and although I did make a distinction and call that to attention, I can see how you could have become confused and thought that was directed towards missionaries.

    Alan-

    I will stick to the subject of your post/missionaries so as not to take the post down a rabbit trail. My bad. Won’t happen again.

  21. 6-1-2009

    Spell check version:

    JR-

    You did not say my post lacked balance, you said I should read the NT an obvious dig and insult. Trying to back out of what you have done does not undo. Hopefully when you counsel folks in your role as pastor/elder you will take you second approach first and lose your first approach as it is neither kind nor mature.

    Again, I am not offended, I am just correcting your false statement about my comment. I do not want you mischaracterization to stand uncorrected.

  22. 6-1-2009

    Hutch, you scamp.. you had me at "I'm sorry" :-)

  23. 6-2-2009

    Really interesting comment chain. Thanks for pointing us to Grady’s article. I posted a short response there. I love the fact that people are beginning to engage in this kind of dialog. The brothers here are too, and that is even more exciting to me. God is definitely up to something in today’s world, and I love being a small part of it all!

  24. 6-2-2009

    Alan and others,
    Thanks for the link…and for the dialogue. Let me clarify a few things…I work for the IMB…and I do think this is real work. I work among a Muslim people in a very difficult part of the world…I don’t need to be reminded that it’s hard work.

    I know there has been discussion of what I meant by “real job” and I’m sorry if you were offended…I didn’t mean to imply such an idea…I simply used apostrophes to bring attention to two words…simple as that. I had no personal agenda, nor did I seek to diminish anyone’s job…just used apostrophes to bring attention.

    I don’t think we should abandon traditional sending methods but I also think that someone entering into the market place will have influence among a totally different set of people than we do. There are other “believers” here that work a “real job”…they have office hours, offer a product, pay taxes, have employees and it’s amazing to see their influence. They’ve been woven into the marketplace and are networked among people that I don’t have access to. I’m here on a platform and do what my platform is…but I don’t have the same type of influence.

    I think the overall question is….Do I have to be a professional Christian to be effective in overseas ministry? I believe the answer is NO. I know there are specialized areas of our work that require a pro…translation especially…but I think when it comes to everyday church planting that an embedded believer working a secular job can be as if not more effective.
    Grady

  25. 6-2-2009

    JR-

    Said: Hutch, you scamp..

    scamp–noun

    1. an unscrupulous and often mischievous person; rascal; rogue; scalawag.
    2. a playful, mischievous, or naughty young person; upstart.

    So you view me as an unscrupulous, naughty young person and upstart.

    Yep, Your rude, high-minded and condescending attitude is very telling-indeed. :)

    Mike Hutchison

  26. 6-2-2009

    Grady,

    I completely agree with your last paragraph. Well stated.

  27. 6-2-2009

    Guy,

    I should have linked to your article concerning this same subject. I’m glad that people – including itinerant missionaries – are talking about this also.

    Grady,

    Thank you for the clarifications! And, thank you for starting this discussion. Do you know if anyone at the IMB is considering this option?

    -Alan

  28. 6-2-2009

    Alan,

    As you pointed out (a number of comments back), I do think a job can be a good source of discipling relationships, and I think that model fits well within a simple church framework.

    I’ve been fairly influenced this past year by Roland Allen’s “Missionary Methods: St. Paul’s or Ours?”, which emphasized the importance of cross-cultural mission work being a temporary undertaking. The idea is basically get in, make reproducing disciples, get out (rather than staying for years on end injecting our foreign culture and influencing church decisions). So the only drawback to tentmaking on the Roland Allen model (he would say the Pauline model) I see is this: While a job can provide good discipling relationships, I think the work responsibilities necessarily cut into the missionary’s time some, not allowing you as much focused discipleship time as you would have if you raised support. That probably means being a little longer in the host country before your work is done. But could the discipleship you do while tentmaking be better because you’re living a more reproducible life for your disciples…?

    I definitely see enough upside to tentmaking that I could end up on that model myself (and I’m in Mexico–not a tough country to get into and stay in). At very least, I think the western mission world has to start taking it a lot more seriously as a viable possibility, not just a last resort way to get into a very closed country.

    I keep wondering if the economic recession could be very good for North American missions. I think we missionaries would do well to be forced to live a little more on faith and live on less finances (and therefore at a standard of living closer to the average in our host area), and then to seriously consider tentmaking and a lot more of us start doing it. I think the tougher the financial situation gets, the more it could lead to only those who have a real drive to be on the foreign mission field being able to stay–and that could be a pretty good thing.

    This is an important topic you’ve raised, Alan, thanks!

  29. 6-2-2009

    Grady,

    I am an SBC church planter up on the PNW. I am fairly new to the SBC, but have really appreciated the direction things are moving.

    Thanks for your clarification. I know so many people who work very hard and make incredible sacrifices (more than we can imagine here in the US) and seeing value in their work, while coming up with approaches that address current conditions is very important.

    I think the worst model for missionaries that I have seen is the one I saw growing up where missionaries spent 9 months of the year visiting churches and begging for money. I think it was hard for anything to get done on the field.

    I think your option of working an “Indigenous Job” (I submit that this term might be better than a “real-job”) is a good solution to the coming financial shortfalls plus, it keeps people in the field, working on relationships and sowing the seed of the Gospel.

    Thanks again brother for all your efforts at the IMB.

  30. 6-2-2009

    Chris,

    Thanks for the comment. I’m glad that more itinerant missionaries are talking about this.

    Your comment made me think of something else. When I think of itinerant missionaries (like Paul) I think of people who move from place to place, like you talked about. If someone moved to a new location but planned to stay there, do you think should consider themselves an itinerant missionary (like Paul)?

    Joe (JR),

    I agree that it’s good to hear from people like Grady and Chris and Guy and others.

    -Alan

  31. 6-2-2009

    I like this in theory. However it sure would be tough being a missionary in a country where a job would pay $2/day or even $8/day like many jobs in Mexico. With an income like that most missionaries would have a hard time feeding their families, let alone saving enough money to ever fly 'home'.

    It would be tough. But I do know that if this was what God was calling someone to do, He would make it work out good.

  32. 6-2-2009

    Jonathan,

    I understand your concern, and I understand it would be tough living in Mexico only making what Mexicans make. But, I agree with what you said, "[I]f this was what God was calling someone to do, He would make it work out good."

    My concern is that many people that I've talked to have decided not to go because funding was not available – and this was after they decided that God had called them.

    -Alan

  33. 6-3-2009

    Jonathan,
    I also understand your concern…but again this isn't a one size fits all solution. This is simply another path to the same destination. It won't work in all situations and it won't work for all people.

    In some countries the person may need to enter with a NGO possibly supported by US churches or even by international funding options such as the UN. UN agencies and other humanitarian options are also another way.

    The key is to realize that the goal is to flesh out and proclaim the gospel among a different culture. We no longer are limited to the traditional, professional Christian route. We can be other things. And as more of the world becomes post-Christian and post-modern these "other" options may be the more effective options.
    Grady

  34. 6-3-2009

    I haven't read all of the comments here, but I have read many. I think that many of the criticisms are unjustified. I have considered this a good idea for some time. It is practically beneficial in many ways and it has a good amount of biblical precedent in Paul (who worked in Corinth, Ephesus, Thessalonica, and indicates in 1 Corinthians that it was his general practice). As long as it is do-able in the country, and it is a job that is portable and little restrictive (as the internet makes available)I think it is an option that should be considered by all and sought by most. Thank you for the post and bringing this opportunity to the awareness of so many.

  35. 6-4-2009

    Grady and Debtor Paul,

    Thanks for the continuing discussion.

    Why do think this option has not been considered very often historically (at least in recent history)?

    -Alan

  36. 6-4-2009

    Alan,

    I think you may be on to something there. I don't know that missionaries who stay in one place should consider themselves itinerant missionaries like Paul. And I think we missionaries tend to get way too rooted. A more Pauline method would seem to indicate a lot more moving around. I sense a lot of us don't think it's possible to plant churches as quickly and effectively as Paul, but I have to believe it is if we could recover a more truly Pauline ministry.

    Jonathan,

    You're right, it would be tougher living on less. But if the locals make it work…A problem I see is that a lot of missionaries (not all, I'm just saying quite a few) aren't very willing to live near the standard of living of those they're trying to reach. I think that creates a barrier.

  37. 6-4-2009

    I think there are several reasons why we don't see Pauline-type church planting much today. First, let me say that I do not believe that everything in Paul's method must be adopted or else your method is unbiblical. That being said, those that don't do things like him should not call themselves Pauline church planters (which is OK). That being said, we need many more Pauline church planters. So here are some of my reasons:

    1. Paul and his team died to their rights to have a wife (1 Cor 9:5), making them much more mobile and giving them less legitimate cares than some legitimately have (1 Cor 7). (this isn't for everyone, but it is for some, though it is rarely considered today).

    2. Language barriers weren't as much an issue with Paul (for Paul wasn't a cross-cultural missionary in the same sense as many of us are)(there may have been somewhat of a language barrier in Lystra though, and you see what problems of misunderstanding he had there)

    This barrier can be overcome by the training of single nationals to do church planting like Paul. There are also other ways to mitigate this, though they are time consuming at first.

    3. Immobility of careers is a problem that Paul didn't have to deal with as much, which helped with his mobility. This can be mitigated sometimes with some people, especially with the advent of a global internet economy.

    4. A simple view of the church allowed Paul to leave a body of believers as an autonomous church within a very short time of their conversion (though he usually did this not willingly, but by force, and he usually desired to stay longer when he could)(it should be kept in mind that he maintained very close contact with these churches though by re-visiting, leaving team members behind, sending them later, and writing letters)

    5. He had fewer requirements for church leadership than we often do (most of his requirements were based on morality not knowledge, though this did play a part). This sped him up sometimes too.

    6. Perhaps the most important factor was that Paul (as a Spirit-guided man himself) was able to trust the leadership of the Spirit in a newly formed church, enabling him to leave them soon, etc.

    7. Other factors also may have played a part such as his reliance upon people of peace and other contacts in a city, his ability to live at the level of the people (though the disparities weren't as much as they are now, and he didn't have a family to lead around), etc.

    These and other factors play a role (to varying degrees in various fields) in the disparity between Paul and us. However, we also have advantages over him in some areas (communication and travel capabilities, printing abilities, and the ability often to hand new converts a Bible). There are other things that go into this too, but I have gone much too long already. I will be posting on this within the next few weeks in an up-and-coming series on my blog. Just waiting on some stats to come in. Again thanks for the good discussion.

  38. 6-4-2009

    "Why do think this option has not been considered very often historically (at least in recent history)?"

    Although I think other comments have already touched upon this, I will say that a lot of it goes back to the colonial mindset that much of modern American "missions" organizations still operate under… (to a certain degree…)

    We still operate with this mentality that we have our "base" here at home, amongst our middle-class American "senders", and that we go out into the "mission field", which is basically defined as anywhere poorer that where we're from (and that's most of the world…)

    We "raise" thousands of dollars to go somewhere (even if it's a country with lots of indigenous churches already…) to do "mission work", with the underlying assumption that we have the right to continue living a more or less middle-class American lifestyle. Sure, maybe we're giving up cable T.V. or the white picket fence, but there is still all these assumptions about things we must have… Someone mentioned earlier the issue of saving money for trips home… But isn't that the old 'colonial' mindset creeping in? I mean, if I felt God calling me to move my family from Seattle to say, Florida, to preach the gospel, could I then think it was my "right" to fly back to Seattle every couple of years? (to my "home-base") and then ask other people to pay for it?

    One of the main reasons that overseas "missionaries" have to fly back to the U.S. (or wherever they originated from) on a regular basis, is to return to raise more money… And this is just accepted as the norm, as the natural way to reach people around the world. It becomes a viscious circle… People reject the idea that God could provide ways to support themselves, and so they end up perpetually living off of other people who have to actually work for a paycheck… We end up flying people back and forth, here and there, because we have accepted the idea that "missions" is something completely and substantially different from what each and every one of us is called to do as a follower of Jesus Christ… – Daniel

  39. 6-4-2009

    Chris,

    I appreciate your thoughts concerning itinerant missionaries. This is a topic I've been thinking about lately, but haven't written about much.

    Debtor Paul,

    Great list! Very thorough… I'm looking forward to reading your blog post.

    Daniel,

    You might be right. There are certainly some brothers and sisters who give up alot to travel around the world. In the same sense, I know some who didn't go because of what they would have to give up.

    -Alan

  40. 6-4-2009

    Debtor Paul,

    I loved your first paragraph! Well said. Good list of reasons, too. Those are the types of things I hope we'll all think through a little more than many of us have up until now.

  41. 6-4-2009

    Debtor Paul,

    excellent summary!