I realize much more needs to be written on this idea, not just written but placed before many considering mission work. Donation based ministries have many problems, but let me just address a few of the points.

 

     The motivating factor for a ministry as harsh as this sounds will always gravitate to money. It is assumed that your income will be from donations from friends, and churches back home. This is seen by looking at missionary training centers curriculum. There is never taught an alternative to newsletters and furloughs to raise ministry project money, or personal cash. Missionaries start with pure ideals, but actual experience on the field pushes a missionary to have 4 full time jobs. 1. Their ministry as a teacher, medical worker, pastor, evangelist, is one job by itself. In most instances there is no income from that fledgling position, or it is given back to the ministry in support of a “new work”. 2. After the personal adjustment time of settling into the country of two to three years 50% of your donation base will move on. You now must take on another job of fundraising for personal expenses and ministry support. Videos, editing, updating mailing lists, better tech videos that everyone back home is accustomed to see. Many do not like this option because of the difficulty to grasp new technology so they take on small export businesses to stay past three years. 3. To move their ministry project along at a faster pace, usually in fear that their current donations do not lower because most jobs need to be complete in one to two years, they attempt a fundraising campaign and return back home to raise support for their project. 4. After building their ministry they come to a crossroads, the stark reality of their own dire financial situation from years of pouring their own finances into their work. They must either go back home to retire, or find another source of income for their older years.

 

     This is the nightmare I have seen played out or in the process of playing out before my eyes. For many it has destroyed their own family, turned many to alcohol, suicide or leave the mission field in defeat, broke, and doubting their own faith. This has consequences in their ministry country as well. It teaches the nationals that if you have a financial need, want to get something done quickly go to the United Sates, or at least write letters asking for money. The most appealing method to end your family, business financial sorrows with the least effort by far, becomes obvious. I have seen this method tear families apart in the ministry country and lead many into a life of crime, divorce, and fallout that takes children and families generations to recover. This format has been used and is the only method taught for successful missionary work. Is it biblical and successful, without a doubt, NO. There is an alternative that does not leave casualties. We have to start teaching sustainability missionary work. Businesses that are part of the ministry, how to run and maintain local businesses. This increases employment, work ethics, maintains self-worth, and a myriad of good community strengths. People will ask for work not handouts and loans. Money from donations can then be used for new businesses starts. I would carry this so far to say if a missionary does not have a business plan, has not studied the business environment that he is going into, does not have a plan on self supporting his work through business endeavors.... he should not go, because of the complete collapse he will face.

 

     To back this point, I went online to at least 15 mission training centers and pulled their curriculum. It is a long list, please not note, not one preparation course on how to make your ministry sustainable. Not even touched. There was one school that had a course on helping the mission students learn how to fundraise and do newsletters. But, can I scream that loud enough, I doubt it. Fundraising is not related to sustainability. It is the opposite, and sets missionaries up for postponed failure, burnout. Here is the list of classes taught. Missionary Training School (MTS): Atlanta Orientation Week Missions Motivation and Death to Self-Week Inner Healing, Fasting, and Seeking Week Intercessory Prayer Week Personal Discovery and Team Dynamics Week Evangelism Week Singleness and Marriage in Missions Week SHAPE (Spiritual gifts, God’s calling, Teamwork) Week World Religions Week Healing, Faith, and the Holy Spirit in Missions Week Language Learning and Acculturation Week Stewardship and Support Raising Week This course focuses on stewardship of finances.

 

     The better way by far is to not just teach sustainable ministry outreach, but sustainable support for ministry and missionary through involvement in in-country businesses. You will have a better witness, use your business knowledge for counseling, and have a longevity aspect that you could never have another way. Many at this point will say but isn’t this a distraction to what you originally planned to do. The real distraction is having to go back to the states when you are not ready because your visa expired and have to have your ministry tended to by someone not ready, or does not have the same heart as you do. I know many missionaries who had their ministry destroyed or stolen from while they were back home fundraising. The real distraction is the counseling nationals who trying to repeat what they see you doing by going to the states to bring back money. They end up destroying their own family thinking they can go to the States or overseas like the missionary has done. Finally, the distraction dealing with people who ask for money because they see money not work as a way to ease their family and financial problem. The only cure for lack of money will never be having money, but real character in Christ that teach a self-worth and a new identity in him.