Yesterday’s post may have sounded like I was against funding local preachers in other countries. Actually, there was a time when I felt that way. I was also against purchasing church buildings in other countries; no way, no time. I’ve learned that there are no one-size-fits-all solutions. Nor should there be across-the-board prohibitions. Each situation needs to be analyzed on its own merit.
I’ve mentioned Tony Fernández before. He’s a great example, to me, of the kind of person who should be supported. Tony has been on support for about 17 of the last 18 years. That one year that he didn’t receive support, Tony continued to work with the church as much as he could. The time he could give to the church went down some because he had to work to support himself. But he didn’t stop being a minister. In fact, he’s told me: “I’m always disappointed when I see a preacher who loses his support and stops preaching because of it. I have to ask myself if they had a ministry or they had a job.”
There are hundreds of good men out there like Tony. So how do we find them? I’ll offer a few suggestions, then I’m interested in hearing yours:
- We start by empowering the local church. We let Christians in other countries choose the men that they think should be supported.
- We fund through the local church. The local church should know what the minister is receiving. He should answer to them, not to the money people in the States.
- We look for men who are already ministers. Same philosophy I have for choosing elders: an elder shouldn’t begin to shepherd because he received a title. We should give the title to those who are shepherds. In the same way, you don’t look for a man that you hope will become a minister when you start paying him. You look for people who are ministers and support them in order to free them to do more of what they are already doing.
- We ask for regular reports, read and endorsed by the local church. (Are you noticing a trend?)
- We treat our workers as people, not tools. Most churches should support fewer preachers and do it better. I don’t mean increasing their monthly salary. I do mean investigating things like health care, insurance, etc. The church should provide for its workers at least as well as local businesses do.
I’ve heard church leaders discuss whether or not a certain preacher is still “useful to us.” Doesn’t seem like the right way of approaching it. Better to ask if we’re still useful to them.
I mentioned Tony Fernández. Tony’s dad passed away a few years ago. Tony’s mom still receives $50 every month from the people that supported his dad. In Cuba, that’s enough to be a huge help. I think that’s the sort of thing we need to think about. People, not tools.
Those are some of my thoughts. What would you add or change?