A common challenge for Christians looking to engage in global missions is, quite frankly, the cost! When you add up the price of flights, housing, food, and other expenses, the financial aspect of doing missions can feel like a huge obstacle for some, not to mention if a church is looking to send a team of people! In fact, I’ve found that one of the first things people worry about as they are wrestling with whether or not they should go on a mission trip is whether or not they will be able to afford going! And this says nothing about churches simply raising financial support for full-time missionaries or missional work in other countries!
Occasionally I read an article or hear talk about how ineffective it is to send people on mission trips from the United States to other countries. The typical argument of these well-meaning folks is that the money spent on travel could be better used by people in-country. Furthermore, they claim that sending funds instead of people would help reduce the poverty tourism that has sadly spread across American Christianity under the banner of short-term missions. In listening to these arguments, I must admit there is a kernel of truth in them that appeals to me. In purely logical terms, it would be far more efficient and cost-effective to simply wire money to Christian leaders in-country rather than trying to coordinate a short-term trip from the United States.
In Bill Jackson’s Vineyard history, The Quest for the Radical Middle, there’s a fascinating chapter on how the Vineyard became a church planting movement (chapter 5). John Wimber had a lot of previous experience in the world of “church growth” and it was clear that God had sovereignly prepared him for that work. Wimber had a vision of thousands of churches on a map of the United States, which led him to write, “I am now convinced that God has called me to encourage the planting of these 10,000 fellowships.”
Discernment is challenging work. Or is discernment an art? I tend to think Gordon T. Smith is correct when he states that “discernment is a learned exercise,” which means that there are principles and biblical guidelines to help followers of Jesus along the way of knowing God’s will.
By the Vineyard Missions Team
Last year, those involved with Vineyard Missions have experienced some wonderful things - conferences, special events, and trips all over the world. We on the Vineyard Missions team want to honor those of you in missions partnerships, especially those of you who serve in leadership roles, and those who this year have passed the leadership torch over to someone new.
Thank you, former leaders and new leaders, for the countless hours of thoughtful prayer and work you invest in your partnership, the churches in your partnership, the nation you are serving together, the indigenous leaders and their concerns and needs. You’ve accepted the WhatsApp and Skype calls at non-office hours, the Zoom meetings or Google Hangouts and countless emails it takes to set up those partnership meetings! Yes, we know! For tackling those difficult conversations and hard decisions in love, we thank you! For choosing to function in this new paradigm of accomplishing mission in partnership with other Vineyard churches, we honor you!
Thank you to the partnership churches who visited their focus nation this year - whether you sent one person or organized a team to bring encouragement to the nation in which you are working this year! Thank you to those partnership churches who wanted to send someone this year, but because of various obstacles, you just couldn’t. Thank you for your commitment to the on-going work in those nations, for the financial investment you made there this year, for the relationship investment you continue to make with every contact and conversation, for the prayers you lift up to the Father for our Vineyard brothers and sisters around the globe.
There are many people around you also making these sacrifices of time, treasure, energy, and emotion. You are not alone. You are not overlooked. Your gift is precious to us in the Vineyard and to the Lord Jesus. Thank you for partnering with the Holy Spirit to finish His dream in every nation on the earth, to see the name of Jesus lifted high and glorified until his return when all things are made right!