by Jon Konnerup
In the mid-1970s, the Fellowship established the Missionary Projects Offering (MPO) to raise funds to help missionaries purchase or build homes and churches on the mission field. Since then, donors have given over $16.5 million to the MPO, helping establish approximately 140 missionary homes and 500 churches. Over a ten-year period in its prime, the MPO raised $800,000-$1 million each year. However, in the past three years, donor pledges have declined to an average of approximately $250,000 per year.
Doing the Lord’s work requires an ongoing evaluation of priorities, methods, and projects to assure that our Fellowship’s efforts remain effective and in-line with God’s purposes. Whether this downward spiral in giving is due to the current economic strain or a general misunderstanding of the MPO, it is evident that this once-useful program has lost its momentum
After considerable thought and prayer, and a special two-day meeting with the missions committee, we concluded that it is time to begin phasing out the MPO. To assure that current projects are funded to their completion, they will continue to be featured in the annual MPO brochure. Funds for each project will be disbursed as requested by the missionary until all funds have been transferred to the respective projects.
For churches who wish to continue to give to building projects, the Mission Office will set up project sub-accounts for the missionaries, enabling donors to give directly to the missionary and their projects. However, the fundraising and promotion responsibilities for these home or church projects will rest upon the missionaries and their sending churches. In other words, no new projects will be added to the Missionary Projects Offering.
There will be no changes to the Revolving Fund. This fund will continue to perpetuate as long as the missionary encourages foreign churches built with MPO funds to give back a portion of the funding they received as God enables them. No new BBFI-owned home projects will be promoted or funded. Missionaries will continue to reside in BBFI-owned homes under existing policies.
In September 2013, the missions committee will begin promoting an offering to raise funds for missionary care in our Fellowship. This vital shift will enable us to serve our missionaries and their churches more effectively while strengthening our efforts in keeping them on the mission field during times of great difficulty.
Some questions facing us are: Do we adequately provide care for our people serving the Lord in the cross-cultural ministry world? Is our Fellowship backing our overseas missionaries the way it should? Why are we experiencing increased attrition of our missionaries? Are we relevant to the needs of our missionaries today? I will answer these and other questions about the Missionary Care Offering in the next few issues of the Tribune.