I received a note from a donor church recently telling me they were going to increase their support by 4%. The increase wasn’t large, but it was an acknowledgment of (1) they value my service in missions and, (2) knowing that the cost of living increases each year they wanted to help offset the high cost of ongoing ministry. It was a welcome note and I deeply appreciate it.
In my latest book Energize Your Local Church for Global Outreach (http://Lewis-Training.com/order.html) I discuss the importance of churches keeping abreast of the current needs of their global partners. Among many churches there is always a tendency to take on new projects. Of course we do want to encourage growth in our outreach programs, and taking on new missionaries and reaching new fields is important. However, how long has it been since the church has increased the support of those they made a commitment to five, ten or even twenty years ago?
In 1980 a monthly support of $75 has the buying power of $26.40 in 2014. If a church made a commitment of $100 in 1990, it takes $181.39 to offset the rate of inflation in today’s world. Even four years ago, a $100 gift has loss $8.72 of its buying power. I think we get the point. Mission support is not a one-time deal; it should be an ongoing process.
Everyone, (company worker, teacher, pastors) expect a raise from time-to-time. A missionary overseas experiences inflation rates sometimes much greater that the U.S. Raising support is a constant bane for career cross-cultural workers. No one likes doing it, but they must, to continue their work overseas. By a church increasing their support, even 4% annually, it may well keep the missionary on the field rather than looking for new support at home.
One of the buzzwords in missions today is “member care.” Member care for missionaries is not just prayer or helping them in their spiritual or emotional needs; it is also in their finances. By raising their support level occasionally, the church sends a strong message that they are not only praying for them, but are actively engaged in their lives by paying attention to their financial needs. As my old professor use to say, “You can’t eat a ‘God bless you.’” Give ‘em a raise.