Bob Finley

Xulon Press, 2005, 264 pp.   ISBN 1-59781-158-0   

Bob Finley served as a missionary from 1948 to 1953 in China, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, the Philippines, and India.  Returning to the U.S. he founded International Students, Inc. to reach international students, and Christian Aid Mission to send financial assistance to overseas missions organizations.


The purpose of the book is to reveal “some things amiss in our thinking about the whole concept of ‘foreign missions’.  We must replace our “antiquated, unscriptural, counter-productive methods...” (9, 213, 227) Sending missionaries to other cultures, according to Finley, is a misguided, counterproductive church tradition that is not supported by Scripture. (9)


Finley calls for international missions to be done exclusively in two ways: reaching internationals among us and supporting indigenous missions abroad.  “Our role should be limited to reaching people while they are away from home, then getting behind them with financial support when they go home to spread the faith among their own people.” (147) 


He credits two organizations as doing missions right: Christian Aid Mission and Partners International.  Most of the experiences he cites are from about 1950.  Chapter 20 gives some advice for how to support indigenous mission ministries.


We shouldn’t send missionaries to other cultures because:

·        They generally hinder rather than help the cause of Christ (7)

·        It is simply a 19th century church tradition. (9, 47, 161)

·        It has no basis or precedent in the New Testament. (9)

·        The ways we conduct it often deny the most basic principles of Biblical Christianity. (9)

·        We often run roughshod over our fellow believers already there. (10)

·        We hire away the workers of indigenous missions and devastate their ministries. (10)

·        Rich missionaries bring discredit and suspicion upon poor local believers. (10) 

·        Economic disparity is a hindrance to the Cause, a stumbling block (11,38)

·        Rich western missionaries are thought to be spies for the CIA. (11,39)

·        The gospel is identified with aliens who appear weird and this erects artificial barriers of prejudice against the gospel and hinders its acceptance. (11)

·        Missionaries commit cultural offenses. (11)

·        Colonial-type mission boards generally assume an attitude of superiority. (11)

·        The rich foreigner’s presence may breed covetousness and destroy any sense of self-sacrifice. (12, 163, 166)

·        It is a misuse of resources to spend $60,000 of God’s money to send an American when a national can serve with the support of $600 or less annually. (12, 114)

·        Mission Boards are guilty of carnal, sectarian, denominational expansionism and free enterprise models of competition. (12, 40, 41, 45, 48, 166). 

·        The motive for 90% of our missionary work is to enlarge our own sphere of influence, power and control more than to further the cause of Christ. (116)

·        The New Testament does not record “that God ever sent a missionary to where he did not know the major language of the area or would be looked upon as an invader from another culture.” (18, 20, 27, 28, 136)

·        In Mark 16:15, cosmos means the world around us.  (21)

·        Paul did not exhort his disciples to go work where they did not know the language. (28)

·        The Gospel is associated with colonialism. (60)

·        We cannot survive if we try to live on the level of the people of poorer countries. (69)

·        Colonial methods of operation create dependency. (75, 76)

·        90% of donated money goes to overhead. (80)

·        Foreign missions do less than 10% of the work. (80, 178)

·        When we transplant our types of churches into other cultures they are not likely to take root, grow or spread. (92)

·        We are virtually helpless unless we are fluent in the local language. (114) Only about 1 in 10 Americans can learn a new language well after he is 25 years old. (170)

·        “The money we spend on hotels, restaurants, taxicabs, sight-seeing and ‘shopping’ after we get there would support several more local missionaries for a year or two.” (115)

·        African men will not step forward in leadership as long as the dominant foreigners are there. (134)

·        “The continued presence of foreign missionaries tends to bend the local culture out of shape and inhibits healthy growth of the churches.” (139)

·        White man’s diseases are introduced and take a terrible toll. (146)

·        It demonstrates a lack of faith in the power of the gospel and the word of the Holy Spirit. (146)

·        The spread of the faith is hindered by its identification with foreign invaders. (147)

·        We’re squandering our resources. It’s the greatest hindrance to supporting effective workers.  (167, 190)




The best thing we can do for “mission field” countries is get behind the indigenous ministries by providing the financial support they need. 

·        Then they will finish the job. (30) 

·        Nationals are more effective.  100-fold (59), 10 times (147, 149, 164, 178), many fold (166)

·        Explosive advances of faith in China and India occurred because the Christian faith is no longer associated with colonialism. (60)

·        Indigenous missionaries can cope with the environment. (69)

·        Dependency is not a problem when we give to indigenous, rather than colonial missions. (75)

·        90% of stewardship teaching in the New Testament deals with believers in more prosperous areas sharing with fellow saints in areas of poverty. (77)

·        Indigenous churches generally have missionary vision and motivation while colonial branch churches tend not to. (149)

·        They are not brain washed by rationalistic Scripture twisters.... (153)

·        “Growth of indigenous churches in Nepal has been almost entirely the result of witness from native missionaries and individual local believers.” (158)

·        Financial support strengthens and multiplies their effectiveness. (159)

·        Gifts will accomplish 50 to 100 times more for the Kingdom. (160)

·        90% of effective pioneer missionary work is done by indigenous missionaries. (178)


In 2004 more than 6000 indigenous missions have more than 300,000 missionaries.  (30)


“I am convinced that it would be better for the cause of Christ if foreign missionaries were withdrawn from all other areas of the world as well, ....” (57, 59


Assist indigenous mission organizations rather than individual local churches. (77, 78)


“In all my 60 years of serving our Saviour I have never seen anything more ridiculous than the way we botched our opportunity to help God’s servants in Russia....  May He forgive us for squandering His resources on the frightfully expensive process of sending Americans over there, when He had already prepared tens of thousands of laborers who could do the job ten times better at one percent of the cost.  We know not what we do.” (114)


“Only 10% of missionary contributions are made available to the servants of our Saviour who do 90% of the work.” (178)  99% of the truly fruitful work is accomplished with one percent of all funds given to advance the Kingdom.  (178)


“What some Christian kids spend on recorded music, videos, computer games and related hardware is probably equal to the entire foreign missionary enterprise of their respective churches.” (181)


“Shouldn’t Christian youth be challenged to pray about someday ‘going to the mission field?’  Definitely not.” (183)  Every Christian can advance the Kingdom now by supporting an indigenous missionary.  (184)


We may have needed foreign missions 100 years ago but not now, because 300,000 indigenous missionaries are serving.  Get a productive career; live simply; and support them.  Don’t drain billions for foreign missions.  (185-86)


“Reach the foreign visitors in our midst and send them back as missionaries among their own people, as the original apostles did.” (197)


“I am reluctant to discuss exceptions regarding things I have said in this book lest someone use them as a basis for perpetuating colonialism.” (214)


“If those who go seldom if ever participate in missionary evangelism among strangers while at home, how do they expect to suddenly blossom into pioneer apostles when they go to a foreign country?” (218)


“Those who claim to be going for ‘short term mission ministry’ would do well to stay at home.” (218)


 “Individuals and churches in America should avoid direct involvement with specific churches or individual workers in poorer countries.  Help should be sent rather to established indigenous mission agencies which are engaged in planting new churches in pioneer areas.  Local churches should be self supporting, not subsidized.  All missionary ministries being helped should provide financial accountability to make sure that individual workers are serving under the oversight an discipline of apostles and elders.” (230)


Have an agency such as Christian Aid or Partners International evaluate a ministry before sending funds to it.” (231)


Stay away from making decisions for our fellow believers in poorer countries. (233)


Avoid personal financial involvement with individuals. (233)