A Conversation with a Middleman by Rev. Todd Wilken 7/22/08

(Something LCMS Inc. doesn’t want you to know!)

A short story:

We were sitting in a district meeting with a mission executive from Synod. (Sounds boring already? It was. But stick with me.)


The mission exec. was scolding the assembled pastors.   He thought our congregations weren’t sending enough money up the pipeline to his office for “mission work.”

Being young, I asked a stupid question, “Well, my congregation is very interested in supporting African missionaries directly. Why can’t we just do that?”


The mission exec.’s answer was an instant education in how Synod Inc. thinks about mission work, congregations and the laity. I will never forget it.  


He said, “We think Synod can spend mission dollars better than individual congregations.”


A bit shocked that he would actually say this out loud, I asked again “Why shouldn’t my congregation simply pick a missionary in Africa, send him money directly, and eliminate the middleman?”  


He answered, “Because that missionary might use the money to go out and buy a car.”


I asked, “But what if that missionary NEEDS a car?”  


His response was stunning: “We’ll decide that.”


True story. Sad, but true.


But it explains why, over the last seven years, LCMS World Missions has sent out more pink slips than missionaries.


Much to the chagrin of LCMS Inc., the laity are beginning to realize that “world missions” doesn’t happen in the cubicles of 1333 Kirkwood Road. The laity are realizing that they can eliminate the middleman.  


Think about it this way: Your congregation already supports at least one missionary. You call him “Pastor.”  


When you support your pastor as he preaches the Gospel and administers the Sacraments every Lord’s day, you are supporting a missionary –directly!   Do you need a middleman to do that? No.


So, why not support a missionary in Africa, Siberia, or anywhere else THE SAME WAY –directly?


A synodicrat will tell you it’s inefficient. Really? Is it more inefficient than bringing missionaries home?  


He will tell you that missionaries don’t know how to handle money. Your pastor seems to handle his paycheck just fine.


He will tell you that the money might get wasted. Ask him how much of Grandma Wilken’s mission offering actually makes it, past the middle man, to the few missionaries we still have in the field.


He will tell you that if everyone did that, we might not need a mission department at all. My point exactly.


You already support at least one missionary directly –your pastor. Why not support other missionaries the same way? Eliminate the middleman.


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