WHY WOULD CHURCHES DO THIS?

I’m really confused. It makes me angry. And it makes no sense to me whatsoever.

A church here in Texas dropped all their mission works from their budget and told their missionaries that they were supporting, “We’re sorry, but your support ends at the end of the year” … WHY WOULD THEY DO THIS? Simple … because they wanted to build a new auditorium and couldn’t afford to do both.

Who knows, maybe I’ve misinterpreted Mark 16:15-16. Maybe what Jesus was really saying was, “Go into all the world and preach the good news, but only if you can afford it and you don’t have a building project going on …”

Sorry about the preaching today, but something seems way wrong here to me. I wonder what God thinks about it?

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Article by Trey Morgan

I am a Christian husband and father, who moonlights as the minister for the church of Christ in Childress, Texas. My wife Lea and I have been married for 25 years. We are doing our best to raise our 4 boys, who are all growing up way too fast. Read 1182 articles by
32 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Anonymous says:

    while I was in Italy, the missionary “joke” was that a missionaries worst enemy was an unpaved parking lot….

    too true to be funny

    brian

  2. preacherman says:

    It is a sign of our culture. The “I” mentality. The church is so focused on “I”. The society has effected the Church. People go to church with the “I” attitude. “I” want to feel this way when I leave. “I” want the preacher to make me feel good. “I” want a Youth Minister to meet my teen needs. “I” want. “I” want. “Me”. Instead of “Christ”. Instead of “His will be done.” The devil has has got us focused for so long focused on ourselves (buidlings, parking lots, worship styles, womens roles, you name it) that we forget that their are people who are lost. We forget that God has given us a command to “Go into all the world and make disciples.” We neglect our missionaries. In order to make oursleves feel good, comfortable, and perhaps a new building may be a sign in the community that something is happening. (What they fail to understand is they will attact church hoppers. The lost will still stay home, go play golf, sleep off the hang over from the night before. It isn’t like the unsaved are going to wake up one morning and go wow, did you see the new building so, and so has, lets go to church, and cancel our tee time. Let’s go to church instead sleeping in and relaxing at the lake.) So all the missionaries suffer. Why? Because of the “I” mentality.

  3. DJG says:

    I wonder if God even recognizes what we try to pass off as His Church….

  4. Tim Archer says:

    I visited a church which said, “Please excuse our parking lot. It needs some work, but with our missions commitments we just can’t do it right now.” Amen!

    There are a few out there.

    Grace and peace,
    Tim

  5. JoAnn says:

    Hmmm….its called “building bigger barns”? Still sad, and yes, a reason to be angry. As is the nature of misplaced decisions, the innocent get hurt. I don’t know, saving souls or my tush comfortable in a new building? Seems like a no=brainer to me. But hey, like all my cheesy, self absorbed decisions and choices, God will flip this around to His glory, without a doubt!
    JoAnn

  6. Monalea says:

    Daryl and I went through this same situation….we came to realize that the leaders had lost their perspective…..they were under the impression they were running a business and forgotten Whom had died for it.

    Monalea

  7. Bob Bliss says:

    Tim, where is that church? Maybe we should all send some money to help them add more missionaries to their budget.

    I know how you feel Trey. When I was at Sunset, a church was being hailed in our brotherhood for being the first one to give $1 million in a single contribution. The problem was that it was going for their new building. What a waste. Buildings come and go but souls last forever. If only we would all believe that.

  8. Stachia says:

    This is so sad!!!! I am so thankful that our church is not like that. The building flooded and we met in the fellowship hall as crowded as that was and still had luncheons for the youth, helped people in our community and certainly continued to help our missionaries. We now have a beautiful auditorium but it’s not about the beauty of the building it’s the family within that’s more beautiful because they do reach out to so many.

  9. Danny says:

    I hope this church did not drop these good works so they could build a bigger/newer building. God forbid.

    We at Gateway have dropped a couple of mission points this year in order to concentrate more of our resources into our two main mission works.

    Sometimes it may happen like that, but to not support mission work at all is ignoring the Great Commission.

  10. Bob Bliss says:

    Trey, my guess is that they are thinking if we build a better auditorium to attract more people and grow then we could afford to fund more missionaries. It’s sad but all too often that is the way we think.

  11. Philip Murphy says:

    I hate hearing news like this. Yet, maybe there’s another side to this story. Maybe.

    Missions budget issues are a continual hot potato in church deacons/elders meetings. It’s hard for most churches to increase their missions allocations because there are usually pressing needs in front of their eyes, including parking lots, but sometimes benevolence issues as well. Yet, it seems the Missions budget is the easiest item to axe, or not increase. It’s the part of the budget that sometimes doesn’t have a face. Thank God for deacons and elders that stand up for Mission support.

    I’ve heard churches defend their meager missions budgets by stating, “every part of this church is missional.” I’m not stating that the Missional Philosophy is wrong… but it seems to be a cop out for some congregations.

    In my opinion, if your congregation can’t muster up 10% of its budget to send to other churches, then your congregation needs to re-examine the budget.

    Also, my $.02, it’s a little misleading to include short term mission trips in your church’s missions budget. Stop bragging about raising $1 gazillion dollars for missions if most of that money is being spent on foreign Bible camps. I’ve seen several churches spend more money on sending their 14-yr olds to Honduras rather than supporting a full time “missions” ministry. There’s no doubt that a 14-yr old can help an orphanage in El Somewhere, Latin America, but honestly, more often than not, the 14-yr old gets more out of the mission trip than the people they’re trying to help. It’s not that I don’t love short term missions programs, but they should not be used a substitute for long term programs.

    ’nuff said.

  12. TREY MORGAN says:

    Hey guys – I think you’re dead on. I think the “if we’ll build it they will come” mentality is alive and well. Not trying to be critical or jump to conclusions – but somehow this isn’t right.

    Philip – I was hoping (as a missionary) you’d put your two cents worth in. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  13. AncientWanderer says:

    trey-
    I have been in “stateside” mission work for 15 years. I have had brethren drop me to support “real” missionaries. I have had elderships totally reject our plea for funds (not even a $1) to build our first building and then one year later that same eldership invite me to a “celebration” of their $100,000 dorm they just finished in Central America to house preacher training students. Just like that quarter in your pocket there is always another side.

    Missions is a strange thing in the modern church. It only seems to happen in places that require passports, visas, or thousands of dollars to visit every 18 months.
    I could have operated this entire work every year on what some “mission minded” congregations spend annually on their “visit” to the mission field or their special “missions trip” to their mission field. I have individuals contact me every year trying to raise $7,000 – $10,000 – $20,000 for a week or month mission trip to “Umbaland” [[brian not a real place]].

    BTW: I have had to deal with being “dropped”. I love that word. For those of you who don’t know THAT IS THE ACTUAL TERMED USED when they stop supporting you- DROPPED.

    I can also see where “missions” are everywhere. Is building a bigger auditorium any less right IF you’re growing than a congregation not reaching out to their own neighbors to build a building in Malaysia? Some times “missions” start right inside our own four walls sometimes they are 4,000 miles away.

    I am not trying to be contrary.
    (No I’m not!)
    I agree that too much money is spent on keeping the local electorate happy. Some of that money isn’t in buildings. It’s also wasted on sending the Youth Group on Missions Ski Trips; or, Super-Duper Sound Systems and Power Point equipment; or, landscaping; or, up grading the 2 year old song books; or, vans that sit in parking lots; or, like Philip said sending the young folks to places like Jamaica. [[brian this is a real place]].
    I believe that every year at least 10 congregations send their youth to Jamaica on missions trips and have done so for the past 45 years. Now that is about 9,000 missionaries and 220 missions trips in last 45 years… hasn’t Jamaica been “taken for the Lord” by now? Now the South American trips are all the rage.

    But not all building expansions are bad.

    TREY did not say they were. He just brought this up for discussion. :)

  14. One Observationist says:

    In a book called Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire by Niall Ferguson on page 22 it states, “In April 1994 the Churches of Christ had a total of 223 missionaries in Latin America, with the largest number (81) in Brazil. Seven years later, although the number of missionaries in the region had fallen by nearly half, the total membership of Churches of Christ congregations had increased by 60 percent.”

    The point of the book was to show how the American Empire uses missionaries similar to the way the British Empire did. These two empires used missionaries as “a channel for cultural dissemination in the developing world today…”

    Though that’s not Trey’s point isn’t it interesting that of all the religious sects Niall Ferguson chose the Churches of Christ to bring up as an example. It is quite a thing to be known for missionary work.

    I wonder how many of our churches will be known for their grand buildings. How much of an impact will the billions of dollars sitting in property have on the unchurched, the lost?

    Church owned property, no matter how small it may be, has been a sore spot for me over the last five years or so. But I do not have a solution for it. It is the make up of our church. It is one cog in the wheel of the organization that we perpetuate.

    There was an atheist on a NPR program the other day that said one way people of faith can get rid of fundamentalist attitudes is to quit attending regular “church, synagogue, mosque” services. Quit supporting the beast that fuels the problem.

    I wonder if the same could be said for the issues we face regarding all the church owned property and assets. The Lord’s money and resources that lay dormant and unused.

    I quit going to church for a couple years and though it helped me to grow spiritually in a personal faith sort of way I missed the association with other Christians. I don’t think there is a real solution out there to deal with the issue you bring up Trey. If there is I haven’t found it yet.

    Jeremy

  15. One Observationist says:

    One more comment and this is really in response to some of the things AncientWanderer said. My dad has been a preacher here in the U.S. since the mid 1980s. He has mostly worked with smaller congregations which required him to gain support from other congregations in order to make ends meet. In fact he still does this today. And he has been “dropped” more times than he probably cares to remember. I can remember several phone calls that he received where afterwards he turned to mother and said, “Well, it looks like I’m going to have to find some support from another congregation. We’ve just be dropped by such and such CoC.”

    In 1995 he had the opportunity to work with some other preachers in Zimbabwe. Over the course of the last ten years (and even before my dad got involved) local preachers have been taught and many people have accepted Christ due to the efforts of my dad and many other men and women like him.

    Currently there are about thirty local preachers in Zimbabwe that my dad and his other preacher friends work worth and support. These local preachers receive their total salaries from money collected here in the U.S. These thirty local preachers feed their families and others in their home country because of the money sent to them by churches here in the U.S.

    A lot of the churches my dad has worked with in Zimbabwe meet under trees or in wall less mud huts out in the “bush” or in the back country. Places with no running water or electricity. (These types of examples only cause me to be further frustrated by the grand structures we have here in the U.S.)

    AncientWanderer said, “Now that is about 9,000 missionaries and 220 missions trips in last 45 years… hasn’t Jamaica been “taken for the Lord” by now? Now the South American trips are all the rage.”

    Couldn’t we say the same thing about all the “missionary” work done in the U.S.? My dad has received “support” from outside congregations in order to do the work he does with small congregations here in the U.S. Shouldn’t America be “’taken for the Lord’ by now?”

    Jeremy

  16. AncientWanderer says:

    Jeremy-
    I applaud you dad and not just for selfish reasons.

    No we haven’t taken America for the Lord because there aren’t enough men like your dad in the U.S.

    I grew up on the Texas Gulf Coast [uh-oh preacher analogy warning] and we have black birds every where. They are a big problem in the fields. So farmers use “guns” that work on compressed air to scare the birds away. I’ve been in those fields many times when “BOOM” then hundreds of black birds jump/fly up in the air and land 10 feet from where they started.

    MY POINT:
    Every 2-3 years hundreds of preachers in the Bible Belt hear a “spiritual BOOM” and they move about 10 feet away and start ministering all over again. I know of a preacher who has been in “his” area for 25 years and has preached at 7 different congregations- ALL IN THE SAME BIBLE BELT TOWN.

    Until preachers are willing to go where God sends them and not only where the “good schools” and “family” are… we won’t take America for the Lord
    God Bless Your Dad

  17. Jeanne M. says:

    The few places where I have been a member I have not known of the church sending youths to foreign places. Each person had to raise his/her own support for a trip – it did not come out of the “church treasury.” If someone has a desire to do mission work on a short term basis, I believe this is the way it should be done.

    I know of one congregation in Abilene who, in the past, supported several missionaries – both stateside and foreign – and did not build a new building, even though they were growing. They refurbished, or added to what they had, not in a grand way, but with the smallest expense they could do it. I do not know if they are the same today, since probably the eldership has changed, and certainly the membership has changed, thus the mindset may have done so, too. But even when building a new building, it should not be a “temple” but done as modestly, inexpensively, as possible to house the membership. Why do we think we have to have plush seats, many comforts, for the small time most of us spend in those facilities? In one place we worked there was no air conditioning – it was only hot three or four weeks in the summer, and we did have fans and windows that could be opened. But soon after we left, they put units in the building so I guess we had been holding them back. Yet that group has for a long time fully supported a native Nigerian missionary, as well as a stateside work, and the membership is only about 150.

    I think it is most unChristlike to “drop” a missionary. There should be a length of time when he would know it might happen, and would have time to find another church to help in the support. If you have ever been fired, you can understand the feeling of being “cut to pieces” by those who should show the most love and care. IMHO

  18. One Observationist says:

    AncientWanderer – I understand your point, however, what if the people here aren’t willing to listen? What if the type of person my dad is can not reach the people in America? What if the only people he can reach are in Africa?

  19. One Observationist says:

    AncientWanderer – Ok. Maybe I didn’t understand your point.

    Wow. You’ve just hit upon something that I haven’t considered before.

    Perhaps the “missionary” efforts we support are more for the edification of ourselves than they are for helping the local population.

    I’m not saying that this is what you are saying, but your comments made me think about this. Interesting.

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  21. TREY MORGAN says:

    I’ve enjoyed reading the comments … I do believe the missionary efforts are for reaching the lost. Whether that’s in Childress, Texas or Mexico City or South America. The goal is still the same. Preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, preaching the Gospel can’t be done in many foreign countries unless some one sends them (financially).

    I’m amazed (and saddened) at the amount of people that would love to go and do mission work but they simply can’t find the support to do it.

  22. AncientWanderer says:

    Hmmm? Supporting those dark skinned folks because we don’t think they will ever be able to support themselves?

    I went to school with a great guy from Zimbabwe (actually two) but my friend said one day, “In 20-25 years we will be sending missionaries to America.” You should have seen the incredulous looks on whitie’s faces. [[He said this @ 1992.]]

    I do think that we get more satisfaction out of helping the “underclass” humans and we certainly think we get more credit from God. I know we think we have to help because they can’t do it themselves. Why else would we have so many “American” preachers in foreign lands?

    Before thou dost protest. Personal experience: 90% of the congregations we asked for financial help told us they didn’t build buildings in the U.S. I had one elder explain it to me this way- It’s an investment in yourselves… besides that you’ll get more respect if you do it yourselves.

    So…do you think this kind of thinking cause American congregations to “respect” their foreign brethren “in the morning”?

  23. millerjmike says:

    This is a sad state of affairs and it happens all of the time.
    I remember when I was an undergrad at one of our colleges. I worked with Campaigns Northwest, a mission to what was then (and may still be) the most un-churched area of the US. They would not give us a chapel to make a presentation to the students. They gave chapel time to advertise overseas campuses and spring break missions, but we apparently were not exotic enough.
    I wonder if we have gone from a missional mentality to a “mission trip” mentality.

  24. AncientWanderer says:

    millerjmike-
    This work was rejected by AIM for that very same reason. I’ve been trying to get help or a co-worker down here from day one. I was told by AIM that “their” students couldn’t get support to go to a work in southern Louisiana, that “out of the country” was what they wanted. This was only after 4 or 5 phone conversations that shined me on until the individual finally told me the real reason.

    But the worst case was the original sponsoring congregation that “dropped” me after 3 years because “it just wasn’t exciting enough visiting there”. They opted rather for Mexican/Central American Medical Missions and going back to Africa every year.

  25. Anonymous says:

    The church isn’t here for it’s members, it’s here for the non members –quote James Henderson

    That coversation helped me out a ton. Thanks. I can’t wait to see you guys tomorrow.

    Numero Cinco

    oh, and that’s awesome that you put that picture of us on the mountain up.

  26. Baptist Man says:

    That’s really low for a church to pull something like that. Do the people of that church expect God to fill their new building with people after their decision?

    PS. Trey, you really need to stop apologizing for preaching.

  27. David Kirk says:

    Maybe Brazil and Nigeria will be sending missionaries to the USA soon. How sad!

  28. Anonymous says:

    I have been to Umbaland, it’s really nice in the spring.

    brian

  29. TREY MORGAN says:

    When it comes to us (Americans)reaching out to other nations … I look around and see a very large portion of our Texas population being that of the Mexican-American people that have come from Mexico. I wonder if God got tired of waiting on us to go to them, so He sent them to us…?

    Just a thought!

  30. Falantedios says:

    Nicely said, Trey. I’m going to steal that comment and use it on Fumbling today (I hope).

    Concerning foreign missions, I believe we would do well to learn from such organizations as World Vision and other organizations whose mission is to defeat poverty in an area by encouraging self-sufficiency. Micro-loans and things like that. We should be seeking to encourage Christian communities that are not completely dependent upon American money. Not because we’re greedy but because by OUR greediness for the blessings of giving, we are stealing the opportunity for the local Christians to receive those blessings.

    In America, I wonder if our struggles come in part from ofering church instead of Christ. We hope that if we can just get people to come to church, they’ll catch Christ. Do we really trust that if we offer Christ in His fullness, church might take care of itself (maybe not in a form that is approved by the editor-bishops, but 1 Cor 4:3-5 ought to take care of that).

    in HIS love
    Nick

  31. Kimberly says:

    Call me naive, I am ok with that. But I can’t believe that this is the whole truth. Do you have any links to additional information on this controversy?

  32. TREY MORGAN says:

    Hi Kimberly,

    Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I’m sure there’s more to it than meets the eye too. But I know this congregation well, and I’ve had friends who attend there. They choose building a building and they had to cut their mission program out to do it. As for links? I really don’t think they wrote articles about all this and promoted it. Infact they really tried to keep it quite.

About Me

Trey Morgan Here are my thoughts about marriage, family, raising children, humor, faith and the life God intended for us all. I am a Christian husband and father, who moonlights as the minister for the church of Christ in Childress, Texas. My wife Lea and I have been married for 25 years. We are doing our best to raise our 4 boys, who are all growing up way too fast.

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