The Danger of Missions
There are two types of churches. Churches who are good at supporting missions (giving money to missionaries or mission organizations), or doing missions (sending people to do mission work). Both of these are scriptural commands. It is very clear that as Jesus ascends, He is calling the church to evangelize the world(Matthew 28:16-20). And we also see that it is the call of the local church to support missionaries (2 Corinthians 8). But there are dangers on both sides of this mission paradigm. I am going to focus - in this article - on the dangers of simply supporting missions.
How could supporting missions be danger? How could sending money to trained missionaries hurt the church?
What hurts the global church is when the primary missional agent of the church only monetarily. Churches who swing too far to one side will be come reliant on others to do mission work, to the point where the church will no longer see the need or desire to physically do the work - locally or globally - that God calls the chuck to. Churches who do this often reflect it in their budgets. Churches can give far beyond 10% (which is typically the standard for churches to shoot for).
Churches will support missionaries fiscally, without equipping the local church to do any kind missional work in their surrounding area.
These churches will say, "when someone wants to do local missional work, we will put money towards it!" The problem with this philosophy of missions becomes that nothing is planned, and because they have become dependent on others to do missions, no one thinks that they need to do missions themselves.
Another challenging and dangerous side effect of this ministry philosophy is tracing all of the missionaries that local church supports. When missionaries come to report what they have done the church can become numb to hearing how God is at work. That or they will become proud, because we are a church that loves missions. Not realizing that although they give serious money to the mission speaker, that missionary of organization isn't meeting the objectives that the church is giving them money to meet. That reality, pared with congregations serious lack of understanding of what healthy mission looks like, results in congregations who - most often oversee mission committees - continuing to do what has always been done. That being supporting missionaries who are primarily in regions or countries where the church is already heavily established.
Lastly, the danger that faces the church with a mindset like this is accountability. When a church is supporting lots of missionaries it is hard to keep track of what they are doing. They loose track of what fruit their ministry is producing. What this can result in is churches throwing money away to ministries and missionaries that aren't producing results for God's Kingdom.
It breeds this apathetic culture within the local church that believes that mission is important as long as I don’t need to be bothered to do it.
Unfortunately this isn’t the only area the local church has this attitude for.
The result of this is that we end up exporting the very same kind nominal churches to the rest of the world, that are killing the American church.