Taipei is now just as expensive to live in as Washington, D. C., and Tokyo and Hong Kong are more so. This hard and revolutionary fact comes from cost-of-living indexes prepared by the U. S. State Department.

The developing nations of the Third World are quickly moving into modernity and higher standards of living, and the world is now showing an economic interdependence that makes inflation, unemployment, recessions, or their opposites no longer local phenomena but worldwide conditions. My own Christian service has put me in the position of observer of these changes. Twenty-one years in India as a missionary taught me much about poverty, but a recent visit after thirteen years’ absence showed an unbelievable advance. Then twelve years in the United States as the president of a Christian college taught me much about cost accounting and a new sense of stewardship of resources in Christian service. Now, a year of post-retirement teaching in Taiwan is revealing to me the tremendous revolution going on in these advancing nations.

Through the years the missionary sending bodies have been completely conditioned by the idea that missionaries were sent to “primitive peoples” or to “underdeveloped nations,” where the powerful American dollar did wonders. This became, perhaps unconsciously, a standard factor in fund-raising and giving.

First of all, the missionary could live abroad for a pittance. The amount was so small that most churches could afford to support their own missionary, or even a family. This made the church people feel that they were doing nobly, and it also reflected glory on the missionary. By Western standards he was obviously living very sacrificially. But in the eyes of those to whom he went, he was quite a rich man.

Second, there was fund-raising appeal in the simple fact that a small gift, little missed by the donor, would accomplish much: $10 would support an orphan for a month (and he might become a famous leader), or $1,000 would build a magnificent church.

Those days are gone forever. In Taipei, for example, people are very well dressed and well fed. Slums are fast being removed. Wages are rising, and prices have nearly doubled during the year I have been here. My heart aches for missionaries whose pitiful allowances are now completely inadequate. This is partly because of inflated prices, and partly because of the compulsiveness of the rising standard of living.

The sending churches must almost overnight revolutionize their giving mentality. No longer are the majority of missionaries going to primitive peoples, and no longer does the American dollar do wonders.

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We now have to realize that it costs just as much to operate a mission in Taipei or Tokyo or Hong Kong, or a host of other cities, as it would in Cleveland or Boston or St. Louis. In many cases it will cost more to maintain a missionary in Taipei than a pastor in Pittsburgh. To comprehend and to act on this simple fact will call for a complete revolution in the thinking of sending churches. Perhaps this is part of our punishment for not getting on with the job sooner.

Whole new dimensions of stewardship are called for. Those whose income is at the national average or below will find (as many are doing) the joy of going beyond the tithe by exploiting the “faith promise” principle. This is a covenant with God to give a certain sum to missions, above one’s regular tithe, if God brings in the extra and unexpected income with which to pay the extra sum. Those with incomes well above the national average—and for many this means four to ten times the national average—need to have a private session with God in which they acknowledge that they are not, as Christians, at liberty either to hoard wealth or to “live it up.” Such a person should, in the presence of the Lord, decide on a figure that adequately covers the basic living needs, of himself and his family and provides for his retirement; this he should accept as the “living” part of his income, while the balance goes to the Lord’s work. If his income is large, he may need to handle this giving in the pattern of a foundation.

A revolution is required not only in mentality and in giving but also in management of giving. The standard motivations for giving, emotion and habit, are no longer adequate. Now missionary giving must become far more intelligent and spiritually basic. Emotional appeal is not enough. The conscientious steward must know the basic principles of the mission of the church, what the order of priorities is, and which mission agencies are reasonably efficient in their programs.

So far we have dealt with the money revolution at the sending base. But the implications are equally drastic for missionaries on the field. Radical and even revolutionary change in mentality and in methodology is required among missionaries and their sending boards.

Probably the most important change in thinking would be to shift the focus of attention away from the person of the missionary to the making of objective and strategic plans. Instead of starting with available personnel and finding things for them to do, missions would set objectives and goals, make plans for achieving them, and then seek workers to fit the plan. Since home constituencies know the missionary better than the needs of the work, we have all fallen into the easy trap of making the missionary central. This has hindered the development of the church and led to problems in turning over authority and responsibility to nationals.

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The problem is aggravated in missions that require missionaries to raise their own support. This tends not only to foster the acceptance of workers with inadequate screening but also to center the objective of the mission, not in the success of the field work or a well-planned program, but in the number of missionaries sent. Unlimited expansion becomes a goal, measured by how many new missionaries are being sent out; questions of whether they are needed or how they will be used may be bypassed.

So the first item in the change of mentality is to start with planned objectives, not personnel. The second is to develop efficient methods. This involves cost accounting and the elimination of duplication and overlap.

Heretofore each denomination or society has felt justified in maintaining its own institutions so as to give its own particular slant. The waste and inefficiency of this procedure has been possible only because the American dollar went so far, and the home constituency did not ask intelligent questions.

Taiwan well illustrates this problem. For a long time nearly all work on the island was Presbyterian, and there was enormous success in planting churches. After the war there was a hasty influx of evangelical mission bodies. The island was already well covered with Presbyterian churches, largely made up of third-or fourth-generation Christians and needing revival. But very few of the newcomers had any vision of losing themselves in the service and revitalizing of the existing churches. By and large the new societies settled in to do their own thing, and many adopted exotic methodologies that did not call for the slogging work of church planting.

It is still true that not more than 5 per cent of the population is counted Christian. The evangelistic task is enormous. But there seems to be no point at which Christian leaders come together for strategic, islandwide planning. Obviously the most potent action for evangelism would be to turn the nominal Christians in the Presbyterian churches (numerically much greater than any other) into vital, witnessing Christians. But there is little vision for this on the part of missions busy—one might say overly busy—turning their own wheels. Church-growth studies have their adherents, and many individuals are concerned about church planting. A few, but only a few, missions have given themselves successfully to this priority.

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Can we afford this kind of inefficient and ineffective effort? Is it still important to get foreign denominational labels planted in Taiwan and slightly different emphases embodied? Or has the time for a cooperative and all-out effort to plant the Christian Church everywhere and to bring a high percentage of the people of Taiwan to Christ?

There is also a need for revised thinking about those works that are directly auxiliary to the life of the church, such as production of Bibles and theological education for pastors.

Currently three different groups (and perhaps a fourth) are each attempting to produce a new Chinese translation of the Bible for the use of Chinese churches. They have found money, formed committees, and started translation work, without pooling the services of Chinese who are Hebrew and Greek scholars. Some even think they can make the translation from new English translations. This is an extremely unfortunate situation. It is a terrible waste of resources and may easily lead to the confusion of having in the Chinese churches no standard translation but a variety of versions, none of which is really satisfactory. The scholarship is available, but the competitiveness of the agencies keeps them from getting together. This is a capital illustration of what we can no longer afford, and a real indictment of our sense of stewardship.

In the field of theological education there have been, besides the two older Presbyterian seminaries, at least half a dozen others operated by evangelicals. The academic standard of each is that of the theological college—students admitted from high school (or less), a four-year course leading to a Th.B. degree, and in some an additional two years for a B.D. Recently, as a cooperative effort, the China Evangelical Seminary has been set up, accepting university graduates and giving a Master of Divinity degree in three years. The two Presbyterian seminaries have 100 and 200 students. The other seminaries are small. Three have about forty or fifty students. Others have as few as fifteen.

One can say categorically on the grounds of cost accounting that no seminary in Taiwan is big enough to be efficient. The most crucial factor in a cost study of an educational institution is the faculty-student ratio. For the liberal arts college in the States it is well established that 1 to 20 is both academically and fiscally defensible. The non-Presbyterian seminaries on Taiwan, taken as a whole, have a faculty-student ratio in the neighborhood of 1 to 4. It is not unheard of for a Bible school to have more teachers than students. Fortunately, the heads of evangelical institutions are holding serious talks to see what steps they can take to consolidate.

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From an efficiency standpoint, evangelicals would do well to concentrate on one undergraduate and one graduate institution on Taiwan. There are usually three divisions in a seminary: biblical, theological, and practical. Ideally the minimum faculty should be two men with doctoral qualifications, plus pastoral experience, in each division. In Bible there should be an Old Testament and a New Testament man. In theology, one with biblical and the other with philosophical orientation. In practical theology, one should have pastoral and the other religious-education orientation. Granting these six teachers and applying the formula of 1 to 20, we find that the minimum ideal student body would be 120.

When missions go it alone, costs soar. And when they use available workers instead of securing personnel to fit a plan of theological education, the result is usually that the faculty is unbalanced and represents marginal specialties instead of the basic core subjects, and worse still, that piety, or availability, is substituted for academic competence. The time has come for all missions to face these realities. It is not good stewardship of resources to substitute loyalty to denominational distinctives for competence and excellence in advancing Christ’s cause. In Taiwan discussions are proceeding, as they must everywhere, to see what theological concessions can be made and how theological distinctives can be protected in realistic cooperation among evangelicals.

I have used Taiwan as an illustration of a typical field and theological education as a particular area in which cost consciousness and cooperative planning are greatly needed. These simply illustrate a whole range of fields and areas where these principles must become operative. We can afford no less. And we must answer to God for our stewardship.

Evangelical cooperation has always been right. Can it be that what we were not willing to do because it was right, we may now do because of economic pressure?

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