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Would You Pay People to Go to Church - Part 2

Jul. 29, 2015By: Jeff AtherstoneAuthor Bio

Yesterday, we asked the question “would you pay people to go to church?” After a few quick thoughts the answer was obvious “no way!”

Then we turned the tables and asked, “Would you pay pastors in Africa to attend the conference your STM team is hosting?”

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Here is why I  (as a missionary) would discourage you not to:

1) African’s are relational. They want to meet you, ask about your family, share about their family and get an individual picture with you. This doesn’t happen for them in a crowd of thousands. This type of experience might be satisfying for our western individualistic culture but for a relational society it leads the crowds feeling empty. Ultimately, the only national the STM teams connect with are their drivers – who are also there just to be paid!

2) As leaders go – so goes the church. If the leaders are only motivated to learn, study and worship because they are getting paid they will produce the same type of churches. Sadly, church growth in Africa has become “whoever gives out the most wins!” This means that churches are growing because they sponsor children, provide free medical care, and pass out free clothes and bibles not because the gospel is preached, discipleship is taking place and the body is functioning according to the gifts. This pulls many people away from Bible-teaching churches and into prosperity gospel churches simply because the prosperity church has money.

3) It harms the ministries that last longer than a STM trip! Passing out things for free while receiving high-fives, hugs, smiles, cheers, testimonies and praise for a week or two is an amazing rush which motivates tens of thousands of STM teams to come to Uganda and surrounding East African countries every year. It’s a rush that has become a yearly “must –do” for churches around the US. Then when the money runs out everyone feels great because it is time to board the plane.  But for the churches that meet every Sunday, Child Development centers that open every day and Bible Colleges that meet year round there just aren’t enough resources to pass out free gifts and provide transport every day – so when the visitors leave so do the crowds. This forces many ministries to host teams year round which leads to the same types of visitors, the same messages and the same activities year after year, which African's fully show appreciation for – because it’s their job – there are getting paid!

4) What would you do? Ultimately as a pastor in the US you don’t go to every conference. You pick conference(s) based on what you can afford and when you pay for that conference you know that your elders, deacons committee or whoever else paid for the conference are counting on you to use that time to get what you need most to satisfy your soul and prepare you to lead your church. Treat your brothers in Africa the same way – let them come because it is what they need most not because you are picking up the tab!

At our University we host 5-8 conferences a year and charge anywhere from $5 – 50 per participant and it works. The pastors that need it come and those who don’t are free to stay and faithfully serve in their churches. Our conferences are well attended and I have never heard from anyone that wanted to attend and couldn’t because of the money. We’ve yet to have 10,000 attendees but then again we never had to pay anyone to come…

There is a cost to discipleship – let’s make sure we aren’t changing the gospel call by making everything free!

Jeff Atherstone is the President of African Renewal University and has served as a missionary in Uganda since January 2006.

 

 

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Raising Support: Should You Ask People To Pray But Not Financially Support You

Jul. 21, 2015By: Darren CarlsonAuthor Bio

There are roughly three different fundraising philosophies Christians follow when they raise support. They are:

  • No information, no solicitation approach
  • Full information, no solicitation approach
  • Full information, full solicitation approach

2967554597George Muller made the first approach famous. He claimed that he never asked anyone for any money, though he did spend four decades telling stories of God's provision to crowds around the world. One may question Muller's style here. If you had a world-wide audience, where at the end of every message you ended with telling them you never asked anyone for money, what do you think would happen? Muller had so much money he had to give it away - much of which was given to Hudson Taylor!

Hudson Taylor and CT Studd made the second approach well known, and it dominated the majority how missionaries viewed the solicitation of funds in the modern missions movement. It was later called the "faith principle." Missionaries would go out, share prayer requests, but never say how much they actually needed. They just prayed and asked God to meet their needs. Lillias Trotter, founder of Algers Missions Board also took this approach. Read this letter for example to see how this played out.

The third way is seen most clearly in DL Moody, who would write and personally ask people to invest money into the work of Christ's Church. Today most missionaries and those who operate on support take this approach, though I believe many wish approach two worked better!

I would say that most missionaries today fall between approaches two and three. Many do not enjoy asking people for money directly, so they send out support letters with reply cards, but will not ask someone face to face to support them financially.

Here is the crux of the issue - why is it ok for pastors to preach on giving and churches to challenge their people to be generous, but not ok for a missionary to ask directly for people to be generous? Muller's approach was passive agressive. I am asking but not asking. Hudson Taylor and CT Studd were the same - here are our needs, pray about them, but we are not going to ask you to meet them. We are asking God.

The Bible never says that asking people to pray is good, but asking to give is not. It feels manipulative asking people to just pray when everyone knows full well I need financial support. Joining your support team (for whatever you are doing) is a chance for someone to invest in something with eternal consequence. Do you believe in the mission enough to have someone else invest. What better return on investment would you need in order to ask people to invest?

 

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How the Red Cross Raised Half a Billion Dollars for Haiti ­and Built Six Homes

Jun. 5, 2015By: Darren CarlsonAuthor Bio

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While this happens all the time, one would not believe that $500M in donations to the Red Cross would yield 6 homes. The type of thorough research in this article shines the light again on our well-intented donations gone awry:

In late 2011, the Red Cross launched a multimillion-dollar project to transform the desperately poor area, which was hit hard by the earthquake that struck Haiti the year before. The main focus of the project — called LAMIKA, an acronym in Creole for “A Better Life in My Neighborhood” — was building hundreds of permanent homes.

Today, not one home has been built in Campeche. Many residents live in shacks made of rusty sheet metal, without access to drinkable water, electricity or basic sanitation. When it rains, their homes flood and residents bail out mud and water.

Read the whole thing here.

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Should You Trust Celebrity Charities

May. 19, 2015By: Darren CarlsonAuthor Bio

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Here is an interesting find by FoxNews (no political crankiness please). It lists 12 charities run by celebrities and breaks down where their money actually goes. For most, the results are not good. I have put an asterick next to the ones that seem to be managing their money well.  The charities that make this list:

1. The One Campaign - Bono

2. Andre Agassi Foundation 

3. Michael J. Fox Foundation**

4. The Michael Phelps Foundation**

5. The Rainforest Foundation - Sting

6. Baby Buggy - Jerry and Jessica Seinfield**

7. The Dr. Phil Foundation

8. The Larry King Cardiac Foundation

9. Make it Right Foundation - Brad Pitt**

10.Elton John AIDS Foundation **

11. The American Foundation for Courtesy and Grooming - Letterman**

12. Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation**

 

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Lottery Losers

May. 15, 2015By: Darren CarlsonAuthor Bio

Winning the big one does not guarantee anything.

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Jack Whittaker: This West Virginia businessman won $315 million in the Powerball lottery in 2002, the largest jackpot ever from a single ticket in American history at the time. After being robbed of $545,000 in cash while at a strip club, Whittaker's granddaughter and daughter were later found dead, and Whittaker was sued by Caesars Atlantic City casino for bouncing $1.5 million worth of checks to cover gambling losses.

Juan Rodriguez: This New York City parking attendant was earning less than $30,000 in 2004 when he won $149 million in a Mega Millions drawing. But soon after taking the lump sum option of $88 million, his wife filed for divorce and was awarded half of his winnings.

Fred Topous, Jr.: Topous won $57 million, the seventh-largest jackpot in Michigan state history in June 2008, but eventually took a $33 million lump sum. The convicted sex offender, who was released from prison in 2006, needs to register as a sex offender until 2024.

Billy Bob Harrell, Jr.: This preacher working as a stockboy at Home Depot struck it rich in 1997, winning $31 million in Texas' lottery. Some 20 months later, after divorcing his wife and buying a half-dozen homes for relatives, he committed suicide using a shotgun.

Jeffrey Dampier: In 1996, Dampier and his wife won $20 million in Illinois' lottery and used the money to buy relatives homes and to start a gourmet popcorn shop in Florida. Nine years later, Dampier was kidnapped and killed by his sister-in-law and her boyfriend who targeted him for money.

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Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/03/29/lotterys-biggest-losers-big-wins-dont-equal-better-lives/#ixzz1qcD5cyMe

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