How to Kill Christian Missions

How to Kill Christian Missions is an article by David Cox on the degeneration

When I was young back in “the dinosaur age”, I felt the call to missions. A large part of that call or divine pull in my soul came from reading books by missionaries about missions. In these books, the dedication of these men and women who went to the foreign mission field “BY FAITH”, an expression which simply means that there were no visible means for doing what they did, just a divine call, and a strong conviction that God would provide the means for every mission he sends a servant to do. I never thought I would be seeing in our day people, Christian people of with the objective How to Kill Christian Missions

We read about missionaries in those olden days going for 4-7 years without any support checks arriving, and in those days, and many of these missionaries lived lives that did not see much fruit by way of multitudes of people, buildings, cash flow, and such. But they were faithful workers, that stayed on the field of service, and worked even when there was no money. We don’t want How to Kill Christian Missions.

My observation is that there was a calling, a dedication, and a willingness to work the work of God without much financial income to speak of. Their reward was in heaven, and really they didn’t expect much on earth. Basically, the idea was to hold body and soul together, i.e. pay for rent, clothes, and food, and hopefully medicine if and when needed. How to Kill Christian Missions

These missionaries don’t exist anymore. Maybe they do, but in the missions of today, they are a very few of the many that in missions, and all the new missionaries going out are not of this caliber. What happened? What killed real faith promise missions? Money.

The worse thing that could ever happen to missions happened. No, it was not compromised on an evangelical front, where Fundamentalism was destroyed and contaminated. No, there were no government persecutions that stopped true missions. No, the workers did not give up in frustration and go home because of the hardships of missions. (Some are still out there.)

What happened is the United States of America “system” got involved, and we threw money hand over fist at missions. Churches (some) started giving great sums of money to missions (some missionaries only), and this is killing missions. I am only a single missionary on the battle lines, but I would like to take a shot at explaining what happened, and what is wrong.

Faith Got Lost in Missions

First of all, faith got lost somewhere in all the shuffle. I lived the last edge of anything looking like faith promise missions. I started out under a mission board, and they had “health insurance”. At that time, it was just a bank account where each missionary deposited $15 dollars a month into it, and they submitted their medical expenses if they were larger than what they could handle, the mission board would send a little help from that fund. The mission saw the great need to hire a retired Insurance man, and all that went away, and they started charging about 10 times that for medical insurance.

Setting aside “what they did” because I think they were just “looking around at what everybody else (other mission boards) was doing”, and they copied them. The trend was there in all mission boards in other words. But the faith element was slowly being stolen away from us. How to Kill Christian Missions

My point is that when a Christian says, “I don’t know how I will pay my medical bills, but God will provide,” well, that is faith. What happened is that churches didn’t like missionaries “begging for money” using trumped-up situations to get it. There was great abuse (still exists) on many missionaries part in being covetous, and using situations to “get money.” The vehicle broke down, my wife is sick, we had 5 souls saved this week, but could have had 50 if we only had another $5,000 dollars this month.” These kinds of abuses were very hard on the churches, because first of all, they came from their cherished missionaries, so to ignore them was difficult. Secondly, they bleed the churches dry. Once a few started doing it, most started doing it.

There is a point somewhere in all of this that we go out and see people saved by our own efforts, and those people who are saved and growing under our ministry should be supporting us (their first-line ministers), our works, and our crises.

The “Good ole boy” system has beaten Missions to Death

I have had a habit of basically getting an old used car (ready for the junkyard) and driving it until literally, the pieces are falling off of it. I have a constant need always to get a vehicle that works and is faithful in our travels and work. That has never materialized in 25 years of missionary service, and we are just adjusted to that. To us, a “new car” has 100,000 miles on it. How to Kill Christian Missions

In a missions conference one time, I was allowed to come. At the beginning and end of the conference, they had 30-35 missionaries and their families march down the aisles with flags from their respective countries, and it was a grand thing. As has happened many times before, I felt I was being “used” by the church to promote their own “thing” and not missions, much less my work. I was given 5 minutes to tell of my work and a display in an unused hallway. I stayed the week of the conference, and the ladies fed us well. Churches like social activities like this, because they too eat well.

But at the end of the conference, I was talking to the pastor about any possibility of support, and he unilaterally said no, that none of the missionaries at the conference were going to be taken on by the church, only one that they already supported was going to be continued as “their missionary”. They pushed faith promise missions hard, and the church presented that their donations were going to “missionaries like these fine folks.”

I found out in the conference that this couple was the pastor’s nephew, and they were going to Africa. The conference was a fundraising project to raise $30,000 dollars to pay for their shipping container to send the frig, stove, washer, drier, dishwasher, and household furniture to Africa. Another $20,000 was being raised for their airfare. How to Kill Christian Missions

I needed a new car and I was hoping to get $1000 dollars from the conference to help in that search, but alas I got $50 like the rest of the missionaries. I am glad for the $50, because it cost me $100 in gas and hotels to get to the conference. At least I got something.

The point I am trying to make here is that there is a “system” within modern missions, and it is designed to grab the money, and keep anything (scraps) from getting out to anybody that isn’t in the good ole boy system. I identified this as “the good ole boy” system from the south where I grew up. In this system, my friends, and my friends’ friends get everything, and if I don’t know you, you are automatically rejected no matter your qualifications. Without getting into the good ole boy system, money is hard to come by.

When the Holy Spirit is just wrong

It has come to my attention in the past, that in a few occasions I have had dear friends of my family, friends of mine, and people that I knew “outside of” the missionary deputation thing that confided in me. It was very disturbing and disappointing to me when in a supporting church, a man that was giving me $100 every couple of months or every 6 months told me he couldn’t do that anymore because the pastor found out about it, and rebuked him for it. According to what he told me, the pastor says the church gives me regular support, and anything extra should be put into the church’s general fund, and eventually, that will “trickle-down” to David. There were two men in that church that told me the same thing. I never said anything to either of the two men that were helping me. At the time my total income from all sources was around $800/month. I was dying economically, and this is what pastors were doing “to help me”. How to Kill Christian Missions

On the flip side, the church paid that pastor a very generous salary and bonus package, and they built million-dollar buildings and paid them off in a matter of fewer than 2 years.

In another church, the pastor said that they would take up a free-will offering, and whatever comes in is mine. The last missionary got $20. After the service, the pastor went with the men to count the money and came to me afterward as I was putting up my display. A lady came up interrupting him and said she was in the nursery, and couldn’t come up, and had a check for me. She had made it out to the church, and opened it up. It was for $50. The pastor quickly took it, thanked her, she left, and gave me my offering check for $35 while stuffing her check into his pocket. He said, oh, that is included in this. He insisted after the service that I stand beside the man taking up the offering in the back of the church, and I saw several $20s, $10s, and a $50 bill. How to Kill Christian Missions

What my observation here is that pastors just don’t want some missionaries to get money. They fight against us it seems. Maybe they are “a few rare birds”, but I thought we were on the same side? Apparently not. Money is the issue in all of this. It was not so much the loss of the money that upset me, as the identification of a pastor being my enemy when he should have been my friend, my supporter.

In all of this, the moving of the Holy Spirit is denied it seems. Normal Christians cannot discern a valid giving objective or not. Pastors have to overrule. My experience is that many Christians have very little discernment when it comes to fakers and true ministers, but somehow, it would seem that the Baptist rule of the priesthood of the individual and soul liberty should enter all this somewhere. (All these cases were in Baptist Churches).

Another observation here is when I started out and needed a new vehicle (as always as I mentioned above), and I put that in my prayer letter one month. The mission board rebuked me for that, that I was begging for money. On the one hand, they nailed the problem of missionary beggars very well, but on the other hand, I needed a new vehicle. They stopped me from raising more than $550/month support (in 1983) and said I had 100% of my support and should go to the field. As a missionary, I wondered, if I am not to mention my needs and the fight I am fighting in them, why send them out in the first place? How to Kill Christian Missions

Another issue here is exactly how do mission boards promote missions? Because they soak up a tremendous amount of missions funds. What do they offer in return? Having living for half of my ministry under a mission board, and the other half under a local church board, the local church board does exactly what the mission board did, but for free. The mission board on the other hand made repeatedly bad decisions in things involving me and my ministry, and they insisted that their position is already right, even when they sent a divorced evangelist to us with their recommendation, when that was against their own policy. Never an apology is heard. If their discernment is wrong (obviously over years of cases, you just know they were wrong and out of God’s will in what they told you to do), and they soak up your potential support, and they really don’t help you get more support, then what good are they? They cause more burden and damage than good. The classic laughable situation which I have seen probably a half dozen times of a missionary having marital problems, or an affair, and they direct him to “a professional” (i.e. a local church pastor) for counseling. If they are a great help, where was the preventative stuff? Where is the dirty nasty counseling and preaching to those who need it? They sluff all that off on pastors (which they are not). Experts that know nothing, but assert their expertise. How to Kill Christian Missions

At the same time, I was trying to replace my vehicle, I heard of ABWE mission board, that they were needing to move their offices into a new complex, and they were raising 1 million dollars for the new building. There is where all the money is going, in building office complexes and paying secretaries’ and executives’ salaries for mission boards. That is mission giving. Somehow Christians have been convinced that investing in that is better than giving a few out in foreign country money to go door to door and tell the unsaved about Christ. There is where Satan is killing missions.

I often wonder and observe these mission board executives, and I ask myself, do they go out witnessing door to door in their home church, or do they just run around the country “promoting missions”, and yet when home, hardly even attend a church much less be active in one. As a missionary pastor, I preach normally 4 times a week, and yet I am the novice in all of this and they are the experts. These guys get one sermon and preach it over and over again in different churches raising money. Millions of dollars are spent by God’s people on “missions”, and this money pays salaries of people that in some cases aren’t even saved, and in most cases, do all their “ministering” in an office, and never actually tell anybody about Christ. I wonder how many are actively pastoring a local church, or have successfully done so? I notice that many missionaries that cannot get much of a group of people raised up on the foreign mission field, or pastors that church hop for a while often end up on the staff of mission boards. How can they direct or help missionaries when they don’t even know really what it is, much less do it well. You don’t want failures and dropouts making executive decisions, do you? That is what you get in most mission boards.How to Kill Christian Missions

Getting back to “when the Holy Spirit is just wrong”, I really thought about the way modern missions has formed. We use the good ole boy system for approving missionaries ignoring the point that God’s Holy Spirit could direct on an individual basis. I was a part of a mission board. I have observed that this “system” produces a great turnover in missionaries. These people are not leaving because of lack of money nor because of hardship of the ministry, they are leaving because of personal sin in their life, and this the system didn’t “catch”  it. Their prime examples of missionaries are often the ones who fall hardest. The filtering process of mission boards is just not working. Why? Because they are more interested in missionaries that “play ball” with them, that a followers of the board, than are ministers of God.

In the end result, why do mission boards exist in the first place? So that we have “intelligent” missions, and spend the money the best that we can. How about spending the money the way the Lord wants? No, “we do not need more people in foreign pagan countries telling people about Christ” they tell us, we need them pushing paper in some office in the US, making a nice salary, working in a million dollar complex. This is killing missions. This is the same problem US churches have, because it is “their own way” of doing ministry, and the work of true, real evangelism and expository preaching just isn’t a priority any more. Christianity is quickly dying in the US. How to Kill Christian Missions

Some people are not cut out for the roughness of aggressive evangelism on the mission field. They should not in the ministry then. So they get a job in a mission board, and this is the problem, dilution. Satan by swelling the “missionary work force” with hundreds and hundreds of people that could not give a clear plan of salvation if their life depended on it, and much less will they actively go out and do that, he dilutes the funds for all missionaries. The bottom line here is very simple, we do not need all these “support ministries”. We need the money to pay for food instead. How difficult is it to receive a check for a missionary and deposit it into his bank account? Mission boards presume that every donor needs a thank you for every gift. That gives their paper pushers work to do. That also allows the mission board to soak off more money from the missionaries funds.

What I note here, is that the Holy Spirit is first of all rebuked in all of this, and secondly, He is treated as a demon (when He moves on an individual to give, it is wrong). I say that because God can no longer guide individual Christians to give to the needs of God’s servants. Yes there are crooks out there masquerading as missionaries (and pastors). But the bottom line is, the good ole boy system is not biblical.

Churches and individuals need to sit these ministers down and get to know their workers and where their investment is going. That is hard work. But besides that, God’s people need to pray over where they give their money. There should be respect for the Holy Spirit moving, and issues and needs should be heard, even though they may be refused. What is going on is that when the good ole boy system missionaries and mission boards need something (be that $ 1000 dollar, or a million dollars), that gets promoted and churches give big time to those “needs.” But the actual people doing the work don’t get the same treatment. They are branded as beggars, and looked at with scorn, and are rejected from anything.

More articles on Christian Missions (not killing it)

Shysters as Missionaries, and Disobedient Churches

A proud dad asks his son, “Son, you mom tells me you want to be a missionary when you grow up.” “Yea dad, that is what I want to be.” “Why do you want to be a missionary?” “Because I want to be rich, do nothing for it, and be lazy all the time.”

I mentioned about some missionaries using bleeding sob stories to get money. I remember a missionary here in Mexico sent me his prayer letter for some half dozen months. In one of them the engine in his car broke down, and they were winning 20 kids to Christ every Sunday with that van, and he needed $3000 to fix it (in the 1980s). In the next prayer letter, his wife had contracted a disease from eating contaminated food, and she might die, and he needed $5000 for medicine.

That one struck me hard, and on my limited income at the time, I decided I would try to send them something. I was new to Mexico, in my first year, and asked a Mexican pastor about that disease. He told me that the medicine for what she had was given away by the government for free, and if you wanted to buy it, it cost like $3 US dollars in a drug store. My lesson was that some people are just crooks at heart. They are covetous.

In another strange case, I knew a pastor of a local church. They had about 150 people when I first met him. After 3 years I went to the mission field and lost contact with him. He had about 350 people by that time, had built a new building (2 in fact), and had started a Bible institute in his church. After a few years, I heard he had left that church to go to the mission field, to “make the big money.” How to Kill Christian Missions

It completes baffles me when I see reliable sources (the missionary himself in a prayer letter to his churches) state that their income is $7,000/month, and their work fund is $5,000/month (back in the 1990s). What happened to faith missions? These guys spend more time in the US raising that money than actually doing any ministry on the foreign field. Do they have people? Yes, because they give away a lot of stuff, and on the Sundays, they do that, the church is packed with 5,000 people. The rest of the time there is 3000, and when the missionary is in the states raising more money, they have 200, mostly paid staff or Bible institute, students. That is success? I don’t think so. But that is what so many churches are pumping their money into.

One pastor tried to convince me to join his mission board, and he used one of his missionaries as an example. This guy in Brazil was grossing $10,000 monthly (1999), and another $5,000 ministry fund. He had 10,000 people in his church. I read the newsletter that that group put out citing this information in a public forum for their supporters (for the whole mission board). How to Kill Christian Missions

I told the pastor the guy is a fraud, and unbiblical. He didn’t like that and asked me why? Very simple. Didn’t you send the missionary out to start a real church down there? Yes. Doesn’t that include an autonomous structure as a goal? yes. Why don’t they support their pastor like up here in the states? But the people are poor was his reply. If these poor people who drink 2-3 cokes a day, sacrifice 1 Coca-Cola (about $1 anywhere in the world), they could fully support their pastor. They sacrifice a coke every 2 months, and they take care of his ministry fund. Why don’t they do that? Because they are there for the photos the pastor takes back to the US to raise money with. They come for the freebies, and they don’t deposit anything in the offering plates. How to Kill Christian Missions

If persecution comes, this 10,000 person church will disappear overnight, and probably 30-100 of them are real Christians, and the rest will become whatever is easiest.

The point here is that the American style of missions is killing missions instead of completing “the mission”. Money is at the bottom of it all. How to Kill Christian Missions

Let me share with you a little conclusion I made from studying the Greek word “Apostle”. This is the concept of being sent on a mission. It includes equipping the ambassador, as well as directing his activities toward accomplishing a mission (missionary). Getting that firmly in the mind, read…

Rev 2:2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:

Was there any problem with the NT churches recognizing who was Peter, James, or John? No. The confusion here is not in recognizing one of the 12, but apostles like Paul, apostles of the churches sent out to start more churches through evangelism and church planting. How to Kill Christian Missions

God rebukes many and commends this church for their “intolerance” of fake apostles (missionaries). The church “tried” them (examined very carefully and profoundly their works) and found some were “liars”. They presented a ministry worthy of financial support, interest, prayers, etc., but this ministry was invalid, a fake, a fraud, like a Hollywood movie set. That being the case, they were rejected by these churches, and God commends them on their discernment.

When missionaries are automatically accepted because of some accrediting organization or group (mission board, Christian school, or fellowship), this is exactly why this system is pushed. There is no close individual examination by churches, they delegate it out. There is where missions has been filled with fakers. People who soak up all the funds for the most part, and do nothing, or do works that are propped up by Madison Avenue modern worldly promotional ideas and methodology. Ask yourself and your pastor some hard questions about your missionaries.

How do your missionaries get their people? 

Is it through trickery, giveaways, or other methods that are not simply a clear plan of salvation? For the Hyles people here, is repentance a central part of the plan of salvation or is saying some magical Mickey Mouse enchanted words, and you go to heaven, and nothing more matters about your Christian life?

How much money does your missionary make (all incomes)?

It is totally fair to ask the missionary to defend his income. What do the people get for what they give him? Where is he spending his money? How to Kill Christian Missions

What exactly does he do as a minister?

If you are giving him money to do something, get him to tell you what he does, and how often he is raising funds. Both past experience and present activity should point to somebody who is more concerned about ministry than money. The requirement of “not coveteousness” is repeated many times in the Bible as a requirement for a minister. Hardship, working without, these are strong biblical qualities. Judas had his hand in the money bag. He was overly concerned about money. That is a bad sign.

How flexible is your missionary as far as where he goes for his money?

Many of these guys will go into Southern Baptist Churches, Pentecostal Churches, and other churches that are very different from your doctrine. Is that acceptable?

How do we put the faith back into faith promise missions?

I think the answer here is to stop the flow of money to missionaries who are banking it and getting rich. Churches need to see the presentation of needs and praying for these needs as the way God has chosen for missions to work. That means that churches and individuals need to open their hearts on a case by case basis, and not just dump their mission funds in a good ole boy system.

Faith is the belief in things not seen.

Faith Missions is men and women missionaries going out “WITHOUT SEEING THE MEANS AT THE MOMENT.” They go in faith, and God’s people respond to their needs. Many times they only tell God, and God’s people back home respond. That is going away, and we need to demand that our missions work with churches and individuals sacrificing, but also our missionaries not going out with all the means in their hands. They need to exercise their faith, and this works by praying and presenting needs, and God’s people somewhere responding. How to Kill Christian Missions