Several individuals from the church where I currently serve as Transitional Pastor returned last week from a church that we help support in El Salvador. They had gone down to be with that church as it celebrated its 25th anniversary. Yesterday morning one of the people who went reported some of their experiences in both of our worship services. It was an amazing report of what God is doing through that church.
In addition to supporting the church, we also help support the education of some of the members. While our team was there last week some of the graduates told of the difference their education was making in their lives. One had recently completed his engineering degree, another had graduated from law school, and I believe a third was now a doctor. I believe there are others our church is supporting who are either in school or have graduated. The individual who gave his report to our church said no one from our church who went had a dry eye as these young people shared how much the support from our church meant to them.
This church I'm serving supports a number of special interest missionaries around the world in addition to this church in El Salvador. Many of these missionaries are related to our denomination, but a number of them are independent missionaries who have some connection to the congregation. Plus, this church sends a large sum of money each year to our denomination's overall missionary effort.
As I listened to the report given about the church in El Salvador I could not help but think of the world-wide impact our church is having for the Kingdom of God. We are a church with an average attendance of around 200 people in a county with a population of around 32,000 people. Yet, through our support of mission work world-wide we are impacting the lives of countless tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of people for Jesus Christ.
So many churches have no vision for ministry that goes beyond the four walls of their building. Virtually their entire budget is directed at activities and needs of their own church with little to nothing given to ministry outside the church. Most of these churches will claim their giving is poor and they do not have the funds to give to mission work or even to ministries within their community. Money is not the problem. A lack of vision is the problem.
Two things are at work when a church suffers from poor giving. It either has no vision for ministry or the church needs teaching in biblical stewardship. If a church is only going to use its offerings to meet its expenses, that is all that will come in. But, if a church has a vision for ministry that goes beyond its four walls, it will see its giving increase IF the people have been trained to tithe and be responsible stewards.
As an Area Minister I had many pastors serving in financially-strapped congregations tell me they were not allowed to speak about money from the pulpit. I always told them they were in a church that most needed to hear about stewardship, but few of them were brave enough to go against the mandate they had been given. As a result, the church continued to struggle financially which continued to result in little to no ministry being done outside the church walls.
I can't take credit for anything the church I'm currently serving is doing with its support of mission work. They were doing this long before I arrived, and I pray they will continue to maintain their vision for doing ministry around the world through their support of various missionaries. I have always said that God will honor a church that honors missions, and this church is a great example of that. I pray your church is as well.