Saturday, February 5, 2011

Giving to Missions

The other night a young graduate of one of the Concordias came to speak at my church.  He was recently contracted to work with a Lutheran pastor in Japan and hoped to find some financial support from a couple of our groups.  We gladly promised him support.  I am pleased that my congregation remains supportive of missions.  When the budget was passed last month the elder in charge of the stewardship board, upon seeing that we had a budge much under the previous year due to paying off our building loan, suggested we raise our overall giving to missions.  It passed without resistance at $22,000 (which includes support for all synodical services at district and national.)  All glory be to God alone!

Given this I was disappointed when I recently read how far down the list the LCMS is with regard to mission giving, especially overseas missions.  The February 2011 issue of Christianity Today reported that the Missouri Synod contributed 1 cent for every dollar it raises.  The ELCA, Presbyterian Church USA, Episcopal Church and Disciples of Christ landed in the same basement category.  The Southern Baptists and United Methodists rose slightly higher with 2 cents on every dollar.  The Seventh-day Adventists, Wesleyan Church and Presbyterian Church in America placed next with 4 cents on the dollar.  Then came the Church of the Nazarene and General Association of General Baptists with 6 cents.  Finally, the largest giver to overseas missions goes to the Christian and Missionary Alliance. 

I realize that the Synod is in the process of restructuring and reevaluating how it does business.  Nevertheless, I wonder: why have we been unable to raise our mission commitment higher?  Many years ago we ceased any meaningful support of our universities and seminaries, leaving them to fend for themselves financially.  The national trend in giving also does not look promising.  Again CT reported that church member giving is decreasing in this recent recession as a percentage of income.  At our recent Circuit Counselor meeting we discussed stewardship and I realized that I really do not have a deliberate and structured approach to teaching my people the biblical principals in this area.  Perhaps it is high time I start in my own church and engage them in true stewardship education.  Stay tuned....

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