Contend Earnestly: On the Topic of Missionary Support
I ran across an interesting post (part of a series of posts on missionaries) over at Contend Earnestly. The post asks if we who are not out in the field shouldn’t be more than merely financial supporters but also help to raise funds for the missionaries so they spend less time looking for support. That raised a whole ‘nother question for me, one I have written about before and so I posted a response.
Here was my question:
Is there not a case to made that missionaries should be self-supporting, not in the sense of raising their own support from other Christians but supporting themselves financially either by saving up their own money or working for a living where they are ministering?
I am thinking specifically of places where Paul speaks of his own efforts to work in place to support himself (Acts 28: 30-31; 1 Thess 2:9; 2 Thess 3: 6-12) and even in 1 Corinthians 9: 1-14 where Paul talks about eschewing financial support in favor of supporting himself so that the Gospel ministry is not hindered. In one place Paul speaks of getting support from another church (2 Cor 11: 7-10) and sees it as robbing the supporting church (verse 8).
Not trying to be snarky, but I do wonder if we need to rethink our model for missionary support from “Pay-Go” (you pay, I’ll go) to one of self-support where practical. It seems that many missionaries spend far too much time raising funds and reporting back to those who support them, time that could be spent working “in country” which in and of itself is a evangelistic opportunity.
Certainly there are some cases where it is less feasible to become a self-supporting missionary. On the other hand, being a missionary somewhere in the U.S. or in other more developed nations like Europe, Japan or Korea makes it fairly easy to get a “job”. I can see financial help to get in place and get settled, but if a long term missionary is going to minister to a people, why shouldn’t he or she work alongside them?
Should missionaries be supported by individual Christians, local churches and denominational mission boards or should they fund their own way and work among the people they are trying to reach? I wonder how people in other countries see this? I also wonder again, if we are funding missionaries to go overseas shouldn’t we also fund missionaries to come to America?