Saturday, February 01, 2014

Part III: Analysis and Implentation (D)

 So far we have looked at the mission projects the church wants to be involved in, the budget for global outreach and now it is time to determine the dollar amount of support for those projects.

As with earlier topics, when it comes to determining financial contributions, one size does not fit all.  It is the role of the mission’s team to determine global outreach expenditures.  

First, what is the budget of each missionary or missions project?   For a North American missionary family of four, the annual support need will probably range from $50,000 to $70,000.  Obviously it depends where missionaries live in the world.  In developing countries it will obviously be less that developed countries.  The mission’s team must do its homework in understanding how to analyze a missionary’s budget, which would include asking the sending mission agency about cost of living in those countries as well as going to the Internet for cost of living index.   While Kenya may be a developing country, cost of living in Nairobi is much higher than another city in the country.   Obviously a family of four will be different for a single missionary.  My advice is to ask the missionary to help your team understand their financial needs and work accordingly.

This financial analysis also would apply to national missionaries, mission organizations and projects.  If the project is for Sudanese refugees, instead of just responding to the appeal, “$20 dollars will feed a refugee for a month,” find out what their budget is and how the money is spent.  There is always overhead in every project, whether it is the cost of promotion, administration and personnel needs and they are usually legitimate.  An astute mission’s committee (team) should be able to inform the congregation how much a $20 contribution actually goes to feeding the refugees.   

Determining Support Amount

How much to support missionaries and mission projects?  Again, it depends on your scale of priority.   If those missionaries and projects were in the 15 – 20 point scale, perhaps your church would support them 5% of their total budget.  Let’s suppose a missionary or project’s annual need is $65,000 (about $5,500 per month) meaning your church’s monthly contribution would be approximately $270 per month or $3,240 annually.  Perhaps their missionary activity is in the 10-point scale and you want to support those in that group at 3%.  Your support to those people and projects, using the same annual budget would be around $165 per month or $1,950 annually. 

Of course every dollar counts and every contribution is appreciated.  However, some churches have a standard amount of giving no matter the need.  A monthly contribution of $100 means a missionary must find 54 other churches or people to give that amount to reach their budget.  There is always outgoing expenses as well, emergency travel or unforeseen ministry expenses (the breakdown of a vehicle or the sudden devaluation of the local currency).  For the missionary that means they must find at least 60 or 65 donors at that $100 level just to stay current with their financial obligations.  My recommendation is that churches make an attempt to provide at least 3% for each missionary project that is 10 points or more on your scale. For those who are less than 10 points, either discontinue their support or commit to giving them 1% of their support needs.  (There is nothing wrong with supporting the retired missionary living in Omaha, if that is what they need to live on.  After all, they were faithful servants representing your church for 40 years. )

When is the last time you gave your missionary a raise?  A church supporting a missionary $75 per month since 1980 is actually contributing, adjusting for inflation, approximately $26.40.

No matter how you analyze your mission program one thing is clear…the support should be focused and intentional.  Who, what, how much, should be a process.  I believe that if the local church leadership will treat missions in a serious, prayerful and thoughtful way, it will energize the whole body of believers for the Great Commission.