Author: Alex Araujo
Category: Resource Mobilization
To facilitate a truly global conversation, we ask Christian leaders from around the world to respond to the Global Conversation’s lead articles. These points of view do not necessarily represent the Lausanne Movement. They are designed to stimulate discussion from all points of the compass and from different segments of the Christian community. Please add your perspective by posting a comment so that we can learn and grow together in the unity of the Spirit.
A response to Rob Martin’s article: From A Wallet In The Purse of the Bride
Rob Martin summarizes raising funds for ministry as a simple combination of four elements:
What could possibly be complicated about this simple formula? Well, what is complicated is that money has a powerful and distorting influence on our way of thinking and acting.
From the beginning of time money has not only been useful and convenient in our material transactions (“then exchange your tithe for silver, and take the silver with you and go to the place the LORD your God will choose. Use the silver to buy whatever you like: cattle, sheep, wine or other fermented drink, or anything you wish. Then you and your household shall eat there in the presence of the Lord your God and rejoice.” Deut. 13:25-26)
Money has also been motive for greed, robbery, murder and war. Money has become one of the most regulated objects in human history, with vast and complex systems designed to keep track of it, many laws designed to prevent or punish its misuse.
Money has been the cause of much distrust between people, and many friendships and family relationships have been destroyed because of it.
Why does this matter to missions? Because money is also a convenient way to transfer resources to where they are most needed. In a sense, money is not really a resource. We can do nothing useful with it until we convert it into bricks, or bicycles, or buildings, or travel tickets, or books. And these and so many more things are part of the work of missions.
Money is also important for missions because often the resources needed cannot be obtained without it. In all but the human societies with a barter economy, money has become the convenient way to acquire resources needed for a particular task.
Christians and churches have made extensive use of money to advance causes and projects. We read in Acts that early Christians would voluntarily sell possessions and bring the money to the apostles to be used for the common good. The apostle Paul himself lead a campaign to collect money from various churches to help the impoverished Jerusalem church during hard times.
Sadly, the lust for money corrupted Christians as well non-Christians. Ananias and his wife lied to the apostles so that they could look like good people while keeping part of the money for themselves (Acts 5:1-11).
Even today, we try to walk a delicate line between relying on money to help resource our work and to prevent it from becoming destructive of relationships. The global missions movement has been stained by careless misuse of money, sometimes knowingly, but more often than not, unintentionally, because we have not properly understood how can affect our relationships in missions collaboration.
It is to correct this negative record and encourage the best use of money in missions that the Lausanne Standards has been created. We worked hard to consider different cultural perspectives. We sought to state biblical values in terms of relationships between people, money being subordinate to the harmony and mutual trust among followers of Jesus.
The Standards are not perfect and are not finished. I encourage you to consider the ideas and recommendations it expresses, and to add your insights so that we can all grow together in service to God in honor, harmony and effectiveness.
Alex Araujo is the Senior Partnership Consultant, Partners International