How to Support a Missionary


I might have a terrible sense of timing. I’ll admit that right away.

Lots of my friends and colleagues have questioned the wisdom of my becoming a missionary of the General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM) of the United Methodist Church at a time in which, one year from now, the church as we know it might not exist.

Yes, there are lots of reasons why this may be a bad idea. For one, many churches (including Kessler Park!) have decided to withhold their global apportionments until General Conference 2020 — that is money that is used to fund GBGM missionaries! And what will happen to the general boards and agencies in the event of a split? Which side of the church will inherit them?

One thing I know for sure — those of us who are clergy didn’t opt for the ministry because it was a safe and secure career path! Indeed, we didn’t choose to be pastors — we were called.

The truth is that I’m going back to Africa as a missionary simply because I believe God is calling me and Leah. This isn’t my idea, but God’s.

As I previously announced, I will be teaching at Seth Mokitimi Methodist Seminary in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa beginning in July 2019. I recently received my first semester course load; I will be teaching Methodist History and Introduction to Christian Ethics. I’ve also been asked to co-lead a post-graduate program called Theologies and Perspectives of Leadership. I honestly can’t think of a more important place to be — and role to play — than this appointment, even though I will greatly miss my friends in the North Texas Conference.

But I will need the assistance of United Methodists in North Texas to succeed in my new position. As you may know, there is a financial crisis in our denomination.

Let me explain how missionaries are funded in our current system. First, unlike other missionary agencies, United Methodist missionaries receive monthly salaries from GBGM. Salaries are paid from a general pool of money. At the end of each three-year term, missionaries spend three months traveling among UM churches, telling their stories, and raising money for the GBGM missionary pool.

The money in this pool comes from a number of places: partnerships with congregations and individuals, investments made by GBGM, and from the World Service Fund of the church’s general apportionments.

But the amount of money available has been shrinking. Even before the 2019 General Conference, the next quadrennium budget for GBGM had been slashed by 20%.

One way to ensure that GBGM missionaries can remain on the mission field in the future is to support missionaries like me and Leah with Covenant Relationships.

At last week’s Annual Conference, I invited North Texas congregations to consider entering into a Covenant Relationship with me during my ministry in South Africa. Covenant partners agree to send $2,500/year (or $5/member) to the GBGM missionary pool on my behalf for a period of one to three years.

It would mean a lot to me if Kessler Park UMC considered the same thing. By becoming a Covenant sponsor, you would not only be supporting United Methodist missionaries across the world, you will also guarantee a visit from me in three years when I come back to the States on furlough.

I’d love to have Kessler Park as one of my official sponsors, but even more so, I value your prayers and encouragement. Thank you for preparing me for my next phase of ministry.

Crowdfunding is for Crowds


On Sunday, I preached about the first crowdfunding project in the Bible — the story of Moses asking the Israelites to bring their goods and gifts to help build the tabernacle. 

My favorite part of the story is the fact that the people gave so much that Moses finally had to tell them to stop! 

But there’s something else about that story that makes me happy. Did you notice that from the very beginning God wants everybody to participate, not just the wealthy few?

That’s the interesting thing about crowdfunding a project — it’s so much more rewarding and fun to have 250 people giving $100 each for something they care about, than it is to have one person plop down $25,000, just because they can. 

I suppose Moses could have gone to just the richest Israelites and asked them to fund the entire tabernacle. He could have gone to the richest one or two folks and asked them if they would pay for everything. Maybe he would have succeeded in such a fundraising approach. 

But he didn’t. Instead he asked everyone to consider what they could contribute to the whole. He didn’t demand; he invited people to consider in their hearts what they might be able to give.

And because everyone participated, everyone felt connected to what was being built. The tabernacle belonged to everyone, not just a wealthy few.

I once served a small country church where there was precisely one wealthy family in the church. This family was probably the wealthiest family in the entire county. And they were generous to the church.

However, this created an unhealthy dynamic for the church. For one, everybody knew that if we got in a bind, this wealthy family would step in and get us out of our hole. This happened at the end of every year, when it was time to pay apportionments. The matron of the family would come into the church, ask “How much left on apportionments do we owe?” and then write out a check for that amount. The problem is that the members of the church knew this happened, and let this be an excuse to refrain from giving too generously.

Furthermore, this wealthy family never pledged or even gave regularly. They simply gave when they saw a problem or discerned that the church needed something in particular. As you can imagine, the church was never in a very healthy financial state.

I have also heard horror stories about churches where a single wealthy donor created havoc. For example, I heard once that Ross Perot made a huge donation to his mother’s small East Texas church, which was in danger of closing. He wanted to help keep it open. Instead, the gift was the source of much conflict, and the church closed more quickly than if it had never received the money. 

The crowdfunding model is a much healthier pattern of financial giving for an organization. Instead of leaning heavily on a handful of donors, whose interests and motivations for giving might or might not be pure, we ask for everyone to participate financially by giving what they are able. Some are able to give more, and others less, but when we all do our part, then the whole benefits.

As your pastor, I want you to be excited about what the church is doing. I want you to be fully invested in our vision and purpose, and thus I want you to give what you feel God is calling you to do. 

When you help Kickstart KPUMC, you’re not just helping the church, you’re also giving your own faith a kickstart. And so, if you haven’t already, make your 2018 pledge today. Just click here to make your pledge.