Home     David Mays           Updated: April, 2008



Funding Local Ministries

David Mays


Traditionally churches have established an annual missions budget.  It may derive from faith promises or a percentage of the overall budget, but it is an amount set aside for evangelism and ministry to people of other cultures and nations because they have fewer Christian resources and/or less access to the Gospel than we do.


As our culture declines, more and more needs appear before the church.  These include needs of the poor, addicted, and afflicted.  Groups have also sprung up to minister to special demographic groups such as college professors, truck drivers, race drivers and professional golfers.  Further there are the needs of Christian groups such as youth groups going on mission trips, Christian camps, Christian schools, finanical consultants for Christians, and legal experts defending Christian organizations.


In most churches the missions budget has increased modestly while being subdivided in ever more directions to accommodate the increasing needs in our own culture.   As a result, a decreasing proportion of church giving is going to minister to those in other cultures and nations who have few Christian resources and little access to the Gospel.


I've been trying to illustrate how I feel about this.  Here is a try.


Let's suppose you have two sons, Jared and Jacob.  When Jared gets old enough you begin giving him an allowance.  Out of your $75,000 salary, you decide to give him $10.00 a month. 


A couple of years later when his younger brother Jacob is old enough, you decide to give him an allowance too.  You go to Jared and say, "Your brother Jacob is now old enough to receive an allowance.  I'm going to give him $5.00 a month."


"That's good, Dad," Jared says.


"Oh, there's one more thing,' you say to Jared.  "I'm going to take it out of your allowance.  You will now begin receiving $5.00 a month and your brother Jacob will receive $5.00 a month."



Well now, of course, you wouldn't do that.  But if you did, what do you think your son Jared would say?


Now if he were a very respectful boy, he might not say it out loud, but he probably would at least think, "Dad!  You have lots of money!  Give him his allowance out of your money.  Don't take it out of the allowance you give me!"


And wouldn't you agree with him?


Well, that is what I think we do, when we begin to use our missions money for local ministries.  Churches really do have lots of money and we spend the great majority of it operating the church.  To meet local needs, I recommend we set up a separate budget funded out of the church's money rather than take it out of the proportion we have designated for reaching people of other cultures and nations with fewer Christian resources and/or less access to the Gospel.


Think with me.

How do you respond to the story about the allowance?  Would you agree with Jared?


Do you think the story is a fair analogy to missions?  If not, why not?


Do you agree with the point of the story?  Why or why not?


How would you make the story more useful to illustrate the point?


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David Mays, April 2008.  www.davidmays.org