I recently received a couple of messages that have me thinking…
mulberryoak asked you: Hi Unka Glen, I have a question. My husband and I felt as if we weren’t doing enough for the Lord and His people, after praying for weeks for Him to move through us and to guide us, we were given the opportunity to help a church in Africa. The church needs money to finish building their roof, to house and feed some missionaries; they also need bibles, and clothing for the children at the church. We cannot find anyone interested in helping—even our own church. Do you have any advice?
1lg-prvbs3-5-6 asked: Had a read of Matthew 25 and wow, I tremble at how it is of utmost importance that we serve people in need for we are serving Christ, & also sadness as I’ve realized the attitude within my local evangelical circles that serving the poor is seen as an afterthought or ‘background stuff’- which needs to change.
Unka Glen answered: Here’s the thing, I’ve spent my entire career working with people at the bottom of life, addicts. gang members, ex-cons, the homeless. You name it. That is to say, I earn my living from people who agree with me that this work is important. But that’s where the problem is as well.
In Texas we have a saying, “never ask a barber if he things you need a haircut”. The meaning is clear, the barber’s input shouldn’t count as much, because he’s always going to say yes. Likewise, an odd dynamic arises when a person devotes their entire life and career to something, it means that people feel a little more comfortable tuning you out on that subject, because they sense you’ll always say “more is needed”.
I’ve been thinking about this for awhile, and I’ve come to one big conclusion on it. YOU are the solution. Indeed, only you can be the conclusion. As much as we need people on the front lines doing this work full time, we need an army of support behind us to get it done, but more importantly, we need someone like you to move that army into place.
Here are the hurdles that must be overcome:
1) Get a copy of your church’s budget. They should have plenty of copies laying around somewhere, and no problem whatsoever showing it to you. If they act funny about you asking for a copy of the budget, it’s officially time to move on.
2) Take in the scope of the problem. Do it without making excuses for anyone, without taking excuses from anyone, and without utterly losing heart. If you are part of a suburban American church, you will very likely be disappointed in your church. Sad as that may be, you’re here to change things, not mourn how wrong things have been.
3) Suggest goals. I’ve never heard of a church with any goals of any kind related to missions. What about starting a seminary in a third world country? How many sunday school supplies should be sent overseas? How many wells dug? How many short term missions trips? Once your goals are in place, then you can start looking to partner with existing ministries to help you meet those goals. In a quarter century of missions work, I have never once seen this happen. You could be the first.
4) Jerusalem, Judea, and the ends of the Earth. When Jesus sends out his followers at the beginning of the book of Acts, He tells them to take the Word to Jerusalem, Judea, and to the ends of the Earth. You can use this as a sort of rough guideline, to do some missions locally, some regionally, and some internationally.
5) Motivate people in a positive way. For most churches, they look at how much money is left over, after they do everything that needs doing, and that’s how much they decide to put towards missions. When you look at it that way, chutes always say they just don’t have enough for missions. The whole church is then caught up in a very negative system where missions gets the church’s “last-fruits”. Get people excited, and they’ll give in ways they never have before. Including giving more to the church itself.
…Bottom line: I recently spoke to a group of seminary students, and I said the following:
“2 Corinthians 8:11-13 makes it crystal clear that there should be financial equality between churches. Your denomination does not have this equality, and they are not working on achieving equality. If you want to minister to rich people, you will get rich doing it, if you want to minister to poor people, you will become poor doing it. Period. You are either about to benefit massively by this system, or get screwed over by it.”
As much as I told these future pastors that the change is up to them, today I think it has to be you as well. No pastor can change things on his own. We need you.
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