Today I had a couple of conversations about the issue of missions both home and foreign. I do realize this is a sacred cow and I really appreciate all these people do. One person asked me the question, "so do you think there are missionaries that are simply living in another area while churches fund them?" You have to understand that I do not get offended with these kind of questions. Instead of getting irritated I enjoy the conversation. My response was a simple "I think so". It certainly does not seem to be a problem but hearing stories from different organizations...yes there is the occasional case. What really gets me is some people taking their kids on the missions field and they pay more attention to the mission than their family. I heard of one missionary that left the states with a depressed kid on their hands because of the move. After a few months their child was diagnosed clinically depressed yet they stay on the field. Is this really God's plan? To put ministry before family?
Overall we agreed that missionaries are good and necessary but, in newsletters the "look at me" photos and family pics are okay but we really want to know what you are doing to make a difference. To see pics of the missionaries doing ministry and not just attending conferences is what makes supporters smile otherwise it just seems like a travel brochure. If I was to send out a newsletter it would have one line across the bottom...follow our family on facebook or at this blog. That's it.
The other issue we raised with this leadership group is at what point does a church say "we are a mission as well and need to take care of ourselves in this down economy so we can do ministry here." Occasionally I am approached with "what are you doing to support state-side missions?" One time (perhaps sarcastically) I said, "we are doing ministry." Seriously though isn't it true that churches should be doing ministry and therefore would be considered missionaries? Our church does "Church at the Pub" and for some of us, this is like going to a foreign land because we were not raised in that. To reach our community takes funding....this is stateside missions at its best. I may hit up churches in the US to share my dream and meet with their mission board to raise funds for the church I pastor lol.
Honestly, missionaries do have a special place and need prayer and financial support. It just seems sometimes funding needs to go to these places for this or that when in fact if you are a part of a outward focused church...much of the funding can go towards these efforts on the home front. It comes down to a healthy balance.