In an article titled "Stop Sending Money!" in the March 1, 1999, issue of Christianity Today, Robertson McQuilkin presented the problems that often follow when pastors and churches in poorer countries are financially supported by foreign organizations. He noted that jealousies arise, divisions occur, workers become materialistic, recipients are ungrateful, and church members tend to be irresponsible. His solution was simple: send no money.
Most mission specialists, myself included, agree that churches, by their very nature, should be self-supporting. Many would also agree in principle that the most effective indigenous missions organizations are those independent of foreign control and not affiliated with foreign denominations or mission organizations. But that is where the agreement seems to end.
Instead of helping these independent and indigenous mission organizations carry out their God-given ministries, many evangelical mission leaders in America have disparaged or discredited them. Like McQuilkin, they are especially adamant about not sending financial support of any kind to them.
The reasoning is simple—but perhaps too simple. In my experience at the head of an organization that sends missions money abroad I have found that providing financial support to indigenous ministries is effective if a clear distinction is made between directly supporting individual workers, on the one hand, and, on the other, supporting such workers indirectly through indigenous mission boards that give oversight to the handling of funds.
In the New Testament, we see evidence of funds being distributed in various circumstances. In the Jerusalem church, for example, the entire congregation pooled its resources to provide for the whole church, ...1
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