Is your Vineyard church involved in a missions partnership yet? If not, why not? Perhaps you’ve run into roadblocks or you don’t know where to start. Maybe you think your church is too small or you don’t have the money? You’re not alone. But let’s not just leave it there. Let’s push into those hesitations.
Tim Mengler, the Pastor of Crystal Lake Vineyard in Illinois and the Partnership Leader for the Mozambique Partnership, has asked to share his story and experience with missions partnerships. We are exploring how he’s faced these struggles and overcome them.
This is part 3 of a 7-part series. Click on these links for previous releases:
The Issue of Money
When it comes right down to it, the concerns and hesitations about being involved with missions is often tied to the issue of money. We hear, "We can't afford to be in involved with missions. We can barely meet our budget now," or something to that effect. This is where that issue of size often comes in. "When we are bigger, say 200 people, then we will be able to afford to do missions." Of course, the problem with this thinking is that when you reach that size you have a lot of other expenses like bigger facility, more staff, etc. But my question to you is can you afford to NOT be involved with missions?
Let me share with you an extraordinary story. A few years ago now I was invited to go to Tanzania and then to Senegal. My first thought was that I didn't really have the money for such a trip, and even if I did, wouldn't that money be better used to actually fund our missionaries? (In hindsight, I now realize that was just fear talking.) But I felt like I heard the Lord say, "Just be honest with your congregation about this." So I did. I just stood before our small church one day and said, "Hey, I have been invited to go to Tanzania and Senegal." I left it at that and didn't ask for money. We had a first time visitor that Sunday, and he called me three days later on Wednesday and asked to stop by my office. When he came by he simply handed me a check for $50,000.00 and said, "Go on that missions trip." No that wasn't a typo. $50,000.00. Needless to say that was a defining moment in our understanding of God's heart for missions. If that man had only given us $5,000.00, which would have been more than enough for that trip, I don't think I would have gone on that trip. (I know...a spirit of poverty) But in that extraordinary gift, God showed me that He is serious about missions, and He has the resources to make it happen. Now don't go and think that if you decide to join in God's mission to the nations that you are automatically going to receive large sums of money. Chances are, you probably won't. But the lesson is the same for all of us. God is serious about mission to the nations, and He has the resources to do it.
Now, let's take missions out of the budget. Many of us have been told that the best way to fund missions is through a percentage of our budget – one or two percent usually. But maybe this isn't the only way or the best way for your church. When you take it as a percentage of your budget it's really easy to get that “we can't afford it” feeling. The people of your church also don't feel very connected to the missions work, and therefore have less buy in. If you simply take it as a percentage of your budget, it ends up being “out of sight and out of mind”. One of the older, wiser pastors in the Vineyard suggested to me a long time ago to fund missions through specific offerings. We do have a set amount we send each month to our mission in west Africa. But all of our funding for east Africa and much of our funding for west Africa comes from quarterly offerings. Whenever a month has a fifth Sunday, we talk about missions a lot more that month. Each Sunday during announcements I give an update from one of the two countries we are working in. I show lots of pictures and tell stories of the victories and the struggles in each country. Throughout the month we are also encouraging people to pray and ask the Lord what they should give. Then on the last two Sundays of the month we encourage people to make an offering, over and above their normal tithe, towards missions. This offering always ends up being far more than 1 or 2 percent of our budget. But the best part is that people have far more buy in and investment into the mission. It helps to keep it front and center in their thoughts and prayers.
I will talk about this more later but another way to multiply your missions money is to help start micro businesses in country. A small investment from us can lead to a self-sustaining business they can run to generate income.
Don't let money or the fear of not having enough stop you from getting involved in missions. As one of my pastor friends likes to say, "God always pays for what He orders." The more our church has invested into mission the more the Lord has blessed us. Missions to unreached people groups is always at the center of God's heart. I would even be so bold as to suggest that if you need more money in your general budget, you start by investing more in missions. Let the Lord bless it back to you. I will also talk more later about how money isn't the most important thing they need or desire.
Tim & Amy Mengler planted the Vineyard of Crystal Lake Illinois just outside Chicago in 2005. As a church their first foray into mission was with the Senegal partnership. Then toward the end of 2013 they were invited to join the work that God was doing in Mozambique. Tim and Amy took their first trip to Mozambique in June of 2014 and of course fell in love with the people and the nation of Mozambique. Tim now leads the U.S. side of this partnership.