the weblog of Alan Knox

How much organization and administration is necessary to finance global missions?

Posted by on Jan 19, 2012 in blog links, missional | 6 comments

How much organization and administration is necessary to finance global missions?

There are different ways to answer the question in the title of this post: How much organization and administration is necessary to finance global missions? Different denominations and church organizations have answered this question in different ways, but most of the answers focus on some type of organization with administrative requirements, as evidenced by the proliferation of missions boards and sending organizations.

However, Felicity at “Simply Church” offers a different perspective in her post “How are simple/organic churches financing mission?

When I first read the title of her post, I was expecting a “how to” post with examples explaining what different groups are doing. But, that is NOT what her post is about.

Instead, Felicity cites results from a doctoral dissertation which compared the giving patterns and missions financing patterns of different churches. Here are some of the findings:

Of those surveyed, 51.6% of those involved in organic/simple church gave 11%-25% of their income to charity, and 7.5% gave greater than 25%. In other words, almost 60% of people are giving more than a tithe. (The typical American Christian gives less than 3%.)

The money spent on the internal administration of simple/organic churches is very low: 59.1% of the participant’s house/simple church spent less than 1% of their total annual proceeds on internal needs, and 15.1% spent 2%-5%. In other words, more than 70% say their simple church spends less than 5% on administration costs. (The typical institutional church spends 85% of all church activity and funds directly toward the internal operations of the congregation, such as staff salaries, building payments, utility and operating expenses.)

People in simple/organic churches are giving more, but their churches are spending less on internal needs, so more money is made available for Kingdom purposes. Their money goes towards benevolence and missions.

Moving away from the “traditional,” “institutional,” “simple,” and “organic” labels for a moment, these results raise some good questions.

For example, are we actually helping missions activity by requiring those activities and individuals to be funded through a missions organization? Is it actually possible for us to spend less on ourselves (funding our programs, our meeting locations, our leaders, etc.) in order to give more money to help those in need and to help those traveling from place to place to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ?

What other questions do these results raise?


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

  1. 1-19-2012

    Really sits you down hard to consider these numbers. This reminds me that one day nothing will be hidden, there will be no spin, and the truth will have it’s glaring day. This is why tears will be dried…we will be weeping at our foolishness and faithlessness.

  2. 1-19-2012


    I’m sure there are alot of reasons and excuses…


  3. 1-19-2012

    “But I only get a tax credit if I give to an organization.”
    I confess this is a thought that has come up recently more than it should. As if my money is “my money”, and as if my finances is something I can control on my own.

    And now that I understand the 10% tithe isn’t the hard rule it makes it both simpler and harder. Simple because I only have to give as God directs. No guilt attached. Harder, because I have to listen for His voice.

  4. 1-20-2012

    It raises some interesting questions on ‘ease’.

    We create ‘organisations’ to ease things. If you have a missions organisation, it can direct missions better than just one person going somewhere. They can raise funding, direct it, get better pricing through group buying, have greater shared knowledge, setup programs so things run faster\smoother\etc. But, each organisation has an overhead.

    Soon you have a ‘ceo’ who earns a decent salary, 10 managers, 10 secretaries, 45 admin staff and a bunch of volunteers. Then you need a building, an accountant, PC’s, a computer guy. It grows. The missions run ‘smoother’, but the cost is certainly higher, as it is not just churches doing through volunteer work.

    So what is the cost of ‘ease’?

    Maybe it is a challenge to all of us to up off our comfortable couches and get involved, streamlining things as God calls, rather than outsourcing for a cost? Just one side of the coin I know, but something to think about – thanks for posting 😀

  5. 1-22-2012

    Probably the best and most economical model for funding missions was modeled by Paul. Stay in one place for a long period of time “Ephesus”, get a job that provides for your own needs and for the needs of others, in the evenings after you are finished working and providing for your own needs, teach the Word/Christ and train nationals from other parts of “Asia” to teach the Word/Christ-who then go back to their homes and repeat the process. Simple and cost effective. I think his other methods of traveling from city to city on a journey was all part of the learning curve until he implemented the most effective and cost effective. This way missionary work does not cost anything but the time offered to God to teach Christ to others. Then giving can be used to help people who are in need, not for providing traveling and living expenses for “missionaries”. We are all full time ordained missionaries and ministers. My 2c worth. 🙂

  6. 1-23-2012


    I think that may be the motivation or concern for some… perhaps many.


    You said, “Maybe it is a challenge to all of us to up off our comfortable couches and get involved…” I think that’s a great point and a great challenge!


    I’ve always thought Paul’s model was a good one also.