Q: Dear Pastor,


A lot of churches put a huge emphasis on supporting missionaries overseas. I have a problem with that. We have plenty of desperate people in America who need help!


A:I hear you. For years, I sat in a padded pew in my childhood church thinking to myself: “Why are we sending all that money to people in Africa? Aren’t there poor people here who need stuff?” My teenage heart was making a good point because I knew kids in school who were barely eating at home. It didn’t sit right with me that my church appeared to be neglecting the community nearby while they doted on a few missionaries in other countries — and our small congregation struggled to maintain those commitments, anyway. For years, I added that disgruntled rationale to a large bouquet of excuses why I didn’t like the church. Rejecting organized religion — their rules, regulations, programs and missions — was my reasoning to leave God behind for a decade (during my 20s) and run wild in the world. Thankfully, I discovered the world’s landscape was really just a landfill. At age 26, I returned to my belief in the Jesus I met in that old church and started unpacking my suitcase full of gripes. I examined each complaint and found them to be selfish and misinformed.


Now that I’m in the ministry, I stand corrected on most of my youthful theology and judgments. As a clergy insider, I’ve discovered every church I know operates on a “both/and” plan of action regarding missionaries; they support local and global causes in equal portions. This is because God does. God rarely accomplishes anything for just one person or one reason. He likes to multiply his efforts to kill two birds — or 200 — with one stone. Supporting global missions is like throwing a Jesus-rock in the middle of the world’s pond. The ripple effects are just as important as the ponds on the homefront.


That said, there are indeed church missions departments that approach their charitable giving in an unbalanced and unhealthy way. It is something that must be ethically monitored inside a church budget committee or financial department. The problem occurs when the pastor, usually operating inside a toxic system of dictatorship, has a personal agenda or pet project that needs money. Because of his or her controlling position, that opinion of where the missions money goes wins out.


For example: My family changed churches when I was a senior in high school. This new pastor had a married son on the mission field in Africa. It was soon apparent that all charitable giving went toward supporting the missionary couple, even to the point of saddling the congregation with the purchase of a new car for his missionary kids to travel around the African savanna. No one in that church’s leadership dared question the pastor’s money-funnel, because it would mean pulling the plug on their African income. A bad situation, and thankfully, we left.


Yet, Matthew 28:19 provides clear reasoning why the support of global missions is critical and, in fact, commanded by God. Jesus said this, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” God asks that we make sure we’re visiting the nations with the good news of Christ while we’re involved in causes down the block. Not everyone is destined for international evangelism, certainly. But we must participate in that global mission, the fulfillment of Matthew 28:19, by enabling others to do it.


— Adrienne Greene pastors a Christian church in West Harrison, Indiana. Do you have a question or comment for Pastor Adrienne? Please send your inquiries to heavenchasepub@gmail.com or write to P.O. Box 214, Harrison, OH 45030.