This post first appeared on the TMS Global website as the November Activate Post. It may be seen in its original context here.
I was coaching a church missions committee in the northern part of Florida. We were engaged in a discussion of how short-term missions should be conducted for maximum benefit to all involved. One of the attendees interrupted by saying, “How do we discontinue support for some people and groups without hurting feelings and causing havoc?”
Fast forward a few months, and I am meeting with a church mission team in eastern Pennsylvania. To get a feel for where they were and what they were doing, I opened by asking them to tell me about the various ministries they support. One man began to tell me of a missionary couple they supported. He was stopped short by another team member saying that the couple was no longer on the mission field. As another one told me of a ministry, they too were informed that the ministry was now defunct. Before the first hour was up, I heard of five ministries that were no longer viable, yet they were still listed as being supported. In fact, the church was sending financial support, though it was obviously not going where they thought or intended.
A couple of months later, I am meeting once again with a mission committee in North Georgia. The same question came up. How do we stop support of missionaries and mission groups we no longer feel led to support?
This was only the beginning. In varying ways, this issue came up again and again in the ensuing years. So much so that I came to the belief that stopping support must be the hardest task a local church mission team faces. Consequently, far too many choose not to face it at all and just live with the dilemma.
The problem begins rather innocently. Someone in the church knows someone going into missions and it would “be nice” if the church could help them out. A missionary comes in to speak and an emotional decision is made to support them based on a one-time encounter. A ministry seems to be doing “good work and needs our support.” The list goes on.
It doesn’t have to be this way. There is a way to ensure the support list is current and reflects what God desires. And it can be done in a way that is simple, relatively painless, honors God and the ministry, and eliminates this issue for all subsequent missions committees/teams.
The church culture team at TMS Global can begin immediately helping your church deal with this task. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.