Recently the president of the International Mission Board (IMB), David Platt, announced that his organization will soon cut 600-800 missionaries and staff. The IMB is the missionary sending organization for the Southern Baptists.
A study by The Center for the Study of Global Christianity (CSGC) at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary a few years ago made some interesting calculations about not only the missionaries sent by the U.S. but by all countries around the world.
A couple of statistics caught my attention:
- When the numbers are calculated by the number of missionaries sent per million church members these are the results
- Palestine – 3014 per million church members followed by Ireland, Malta, and Samoa.
- South Korea ranked 5th with 1014 missionaries sent per one million church members.
- United States ranked 9th with 614 missionaries sent per one million church members.
- The country that received the most missionaries in 2010? The United States, with 32,400 sent from other nations.
Could our pursuit of the American Dream have us off-track?
The American Dream. That phrase stirs up different emotions in people. Some think it’s a myth. Others live and die pursuing it. People from all around the world flock to America, because they believe it to exist.
I agree with this definition of the American Dream:
What is a Christian to do about the pursuit of the American Dream? Is it best to not create prosperity and success so that one isn’t tempted by the world? Or should a Christian embrace the freedom given here in this country to create wealth?
Either extreme can kill our passion for mission work.
If you lean toward not pursuing success and creating more than you need, then you don’t have the means to give to missions, either local or around the world.
And you if you want to go on the mission field, you have to rely on someone else’s wealth.
But can a Christian successfully pursue the American Dream without succumbing to the trappings of success?
I think it all boils down to what a person’s motivation is for pursuing the American Dream. If the motivation is any of the following:
- Keeping up with peers
- Living a life of comfort
- Satisfying a need for more
Then I think all that will do is lead to is apathy, pride, boredom, and disinterest.
That kind of pursuit of the American Dream will definitely kill our passion for missions.
What Is Our Motivation?
The challenge lies in the motivation for prosperity and success. Exactly why and for what purpose do we as American Christians want to prosper?
Once the pursuit for the American Dream is unleashed, what will keep things in perspective for a Christian who prospers?
How can we both create wealth and still have a passion for missions?
- First, fall in love with the One who sends. God is a missionary God. He sent His Son.
- Embrace His mission. Not only is God a missionary God, He has a mission for us.
- Go on short-term mission trips. Experiencing first-hand the need around the world to hear the Good News will change your perspective.
- Understand who gives you the ability to create wealth. Yes we live in a country where we can choose what we do to earn money, but it is God who gives the ability, talent, etc. And, He gave you this ability and opportunity for His purpose.
- Hang around others who have a missionary heart. We truly become like those we spend time with. If you are hanging out with people who are consumed with needing more and more stuff, you will want the same things. However, if you are around people who use their wealth for God’s purpose, guess what? That most likely will motivate you to do the same.
I will share soon another blog about a concept called “Giving Circles”. Stay tuned!