My 2 Cents on the Ministry Money Game
I received two letters recently from 2 different ministries promoting their work and asking for financial help. In the past I’ve supported both of them because I believe they have been doing good things in making God’s kingdom a reality but the more I thought about it the more I noticed a marked contrast between them.
The first is asking for $ 500, 000 to get a TV show off the ground. No details about staff, programs, or what fruit is being produced is mentioned except that according to the founder and director, in these tough times we must not cut back on our giving to receive God’s blessings. They offer no idea of their budget, income, expenditures or accountability.
The second supports indigenous ministries in mostly 3rd world countries to un-reached people groups by channeling funds and resources for everything from bibles, pastoral training, food, evangelism, to church planting and medical care. Working in more than 29 nations, regions and people groups to totally fund all that’s mentioned would take around $ 35, 000 (a mere 7% of ministry #1’s request). They provide regular updates about who they support and what’s happening and are voluntary members of the “Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability” to which they report their financial data. No promised blessings are offered except the implied joy of changing untouched people’s lives.
When I look at the cost of simply starting a TV program for ministry #1 compared to the real progress being made by ministry #2 overseas, $ 500, 000 seems an obscene amount not only to spend but a gross waste of the church’s resources. For the most part I have never seen the cost / benefit ration between TV programs and true spiritual fruit. For that kind of money more than Gallop market share or self-reported stats is required. The problem is ministry #1 is fairly well-known. Ministry #2 is not. My guess is that ministry #1 will get their half-million while ministry #2 will fund perhaps 3/4 of what they could achieve. Imagine what ministry #2 could do with a half-million! That’s what I find sickening about the machinery of ministry fund raising – the squeaky wheel gets the grease, and usually the wheel that squeaks the loudest, is most visible and because of its marketing but not achieving or doing the most significant work.
A pragmatist would respond – “Ministry #2 should buy better marketing!” However, I think its time for a massive re-shift in giving. I’m not on anyone’s big donor list but I’m starting with who I give to – guess who I’ll send a check to? And if you’re interested in learning more you can visit them here