Supporting Lutheran Missionaries – the Network Model

WitnessThe LCMS has been sending more and more missionaries throughout the world.  It is sometimes thought of that the massive LCMS budget covers this, but it does not.  Instead the missionaries are a part of the process to raise the funds from the grassroots (congregations and individuals).  A good example of how this works can be found at missionary Rev. Roy Askins page “Askins in Asia”.

Go on over and see how to support missionaries.  Rev. Askins is one of the many faithful men that are being sent and need support.  To support others, you can go to the LCMS Missionary Support page.

Similarly, at BJS we also lend our support to Lutherans in Africa and Rev. James May.  Go ahead and throw some support his way as well.



About Pastor Joshua Scheer

Pastor Joshua Scheer is the Senior Pastor of Our Savior Lutheran Church in Cheyenne, Wyoming. He is also the Editor-in-chief of Brothers of John the Steadfast. He oversees all of the work done by Steadfast Lutherans. He is a regular host of Concord Matters on KFUO. Pastor Scheer and his lovely wife Holly (who writes and manages the Katie Luther Sisters) have four children and enjoy living in Wyoming.


Supporting Lutheran Missionaries – the Network Model — 34 Comments

  1. “…It is sometimes thought of that the massive LCMS budget covers this, but it does not…”

    See,folks, that is where the current administration continues to think it’s more important to spend thousands of dollars on equipment for the synodical center in kirkwood instead of funding missionaries. From the board of directors website of the LCMS: (the figures below are in dollar amounts)
    Resolved, That the Board of Directors approve the FY16 capital budget requests totaling $1,085,127 as shown on the attached lists, with funding provided by general corporate cash, capital debt, restricted funding, or through allocations to other corporate users.
    2015/2016 Capital Budget
    Information Technologies​​PC/Mac Purchases​​ $ 259,565
    ​​Network/Desktop Printers/Scanners​ 9,150
    ​​Projects/Infrastructure​ 100,300
    ​​Wing Copiers​ 29,950
    Communications​​ New Synod Display for Conventions $ 95,000
    ​​Video and Photo Storage Equipment​ 10,000
    ​ Video Wall​ 20,000
    Facilities*​​Replace Fire Panel​$ 15,000
    ​​Replace Ceiling on Atrium​ 29,000
    ​​New A/V for Wyneken, Annex, 326/327 25,000
    ​​Upgrade Conference Rooms​ 64,000
    ​​Replace Kitchen Equipment​ 15,400
    ​​Copier/Folding/Mailing Equipment​ 108,162
    ​​Replace Pickup Minivan​ 25,000
    ​​Replace Conference Room Table/Chairs​ 55,000
    ​​Replace Tables for Catering​ 15,000
    ​​Replace Hinge Assemblies on Wing Doors 20,000
    ​​Replace Chairs in President’s Office​ 14,000
    ​​Room Scheduling Hardware​ 25,600
    ​​Other**​ 150,000
    Total Capital Budget​​ ​ $1,085,127​ ​

  2. @Glenn Scowcroft #1

    Pastor May, who created and leads Lutherans in Africa, as I understand it, is LCMS. He is supported (as other missionaries are… see separate thread) by individuals, congregations and cooperating RSO’s. Pr. Rossow is more knowledgable on that.

    He gets my support indirectly because I support Lutheran Heritage Foundation, which does translations and provides printed material for a fraction of its value in Southeast Asia and in Africa. In both cases, I think, they are doing work the Mission Board is not interested in doing.

  3. “Massive LCMS budget…” — this is a deception. The LCMS budget is NOT massive. It is stagnant. The National LCMS receives from districts and congregations about the same dollars it did 40 years ago and the rest of it comes in restricted funds (like mission support) that can ONLY be spent where it was designated. Though the unrestricted funds from districts and congregations have remained pretty level over 40 years, the actual costs have skyrocketed. Look at your own household budget! The fact that we are able to do all we do with such only about 25% of total spending the unrestricted funds that are free to be spent where they are needed is a miracle of good management. The previous administration had “borrowed” from restricted funds to the tune of more than $15 Million and, to his great credit, Harrison and his administration has paid this back, restored a small cushion, and reduced spending. Before you complain about all those capital projects, most of them are bandaids to get us through and not creative new projects. We have a solid and fiscally conservative administration at 1333 S Kirkwood Road AND in the Board of Directors of Synod. The funding of missionaries is a model which goes back more than 30 years and was once called Personalized Mission Support (with the unfortunate acronym PMS). In all of this the fruits of our renewed Synodical mission effort has resulted in the highest number of career missionaries in decades! This is one area we need to praise our leaders and not condemn them. There are plenty of areas where our leadership is struggling or has fallen short but this is not one of them.

  4. @Tileman hesshusius #2

    So? A total capital budget of a mere $1M for an org the size of the LCMS has you up in arms about misplaced priorities? Did you notice the funding sources for this outrageous sum come from “Capital” and “Restricted” funds?

    Ever stop to think that making staff more efficient with a modicum of technology improvements can result in needing less staff, resulting in a net cost savings?

    I dunno, just putting the best construction.

  5. @Marc L. #6

    You are so correct.  This is a very modest capital budget for a headquarters operation in an aging building that leaks.

    These are capital investments/improvements – not current expenses.

  6. For post 6 &. 7:
    So you see nothing wrong with spending $15,000 for tables for catering? Nothing wrong with spending $20,000 on door hinges? Do you really need to spend $260,000 on computer equipment? You can get cheap, very functional computers from tigerdirect and run Linux which is free. Instead you get sucked into this Microsoft/Apple marketing propaganda.
    How many pastors out there are suffering sitting on a chair and using a desk from goodwill? You are never going to convince me that these line items for this budget is acceptable. (And not mention all those corporate salaries over 150k being paid out with exceptional benefits)

  7. @The Rev. Larry A Peters #6

    To the average pewsitter in a congregation with a 100K budget, 80+ million is massive. In mentioning it, I was trying to draw attention to the fact that the average LCMS layman looks at the budget number if they see them and just think that it includes missionaries. It doesn’t have to be taken negatively. A part of that large budget is even designated to international missions, but that is used to have the support infrastructure for the missionaries (training, care, response, resources). Those folks have been busting their tails in order to train and send all of these new missionaries. They deserve some thanks. But still, the budget is large, especially relative to most LCMS congregations, and it is often assumed that missionary support and even the seminaries are included in it. [CORRECTION: The budget does include the missionaries and seminaries in them, funding comes largely from restricted gifts which are raised by the missionaries, such as the original link shows]

    @Tileman hesshusius #9

    Those numbers are what they are, however in the IT world, 260K doesn’t go very far, especially if you are including building infrastructure and then also equipment for people that are deployed (all over the world). As a former IT person, I can tell you that the side cost of linux for the average employee would be huge in training, support, and so forth (not to mention conversion of things already developed). I know that the missions folks use Apple products because they are manufactured using global standards that work in the various places our missionaries and mission folks need to be.

    It does seem odd some of the prices associated with tables and chairs. They are a small, small portion of the budget though (and yes, some trimming is always in order but I believe the administration has been focusing on some of the larger trimming like the above mentioned “borrowing from Peter to pay Paul” which thankfully has been corrected).

    As far as salaries go, they are a temptation for offense, especially to many out there struggling to get by not even receiving “guidelines”, or for those layman who work hard and don’t even come close to that amount. If you have a problem with salaries I believe the Synod Board of Directors sets those, and I would suggest contacting them probably in writing.

  8. @Tileman #9

    There is a sizable cafeteria in the International Center, serving the administrative positions of every branch of synod as well as a good number working the insurance program. I’m glad they get tables.

    There are congregational pastors who make more than the synodical president.

    And it is a false argument to suggest pastors suffer and so should others.

  9. RE: “You are never going to convince me,” etc.

    Okay, I won’t try.

    For those who DO have ears to hear however, good Lutherans should heed the 8th and assume HQ were diligent in assessing and purchasing these needed improvements, unless there is evidence to the contrary (which is not being presented here – only assertions and assumptions). I know first-hand that catering and office furniture ain’t cheap, especially if you buy the latter of a quality to last a generation.

    As far as the issue of “high” salaries is concerned, I for one don’t want to have people running our Synod who aren’t at least worth $150K in COMBINED salary and benefits. Even in non-profit work, you tend to get what you pay for. Though the opening is uncomfortable for a Christian to hear, the speaker in this short Ted Talk makes an interesting case for how to properly judge a charity’s overhead costs, most especially executive salaries:

  10. Well back to the original post at hand because it seems the author has the most sense here, synod should pony up the money and help fund missionaries by, perhaps, paying off their student debt. Oh,wait I can’t help myself. “Replace chairs in the presidents office.” What are these made out of? Solid cherry with gold linen tassels?
    Mark L.: Really, 150k combined salary? Nope. Wrong.
    Mary: Really, there are pastors making 210k a year?

  11. Quote: To the average pewsitter in a congregation with a 100K budget, 80+ million is massive.

    $80+ Million is both restricted and unrestricted. Only about one fourth of that is money from congregations and districts and is free to be spent on general items. The rest is exclusively given and bound to the donor’s wishes with the vast majority going toward mission support. You cannot mix both together.

    If a congregation has a $10K memorial given for a new piano but no money for the electric bill or to pay the pastor, you cannot say that they have plenty of money. It does no service to the cause to fail to distinguish the different funding sources and to admit that the unrestricted funds flowing to Synod from district and congregation has been flat for almost 40 years!!! This is no small problem for us as a church body.

  12. @The Rev. Larry A Peters #14

    Pr. Peters,
    You are right, I was wrong on how the reporting was being done. I was emailed yesterday by a man who knows his Synod finances with the correction but was unable to post here due to a pastoral obligations.

    The missionaries are in the budget, but they still have to raise their funds (which then are restricted gifts to Synod for the missionary). I will be correcting my comment above.

  13. Pastor Scheer, you were right in what you wrote initially. The missionaries are in the budget but they have to raise their own funds. What does that mean? There in the budget because the synod will send them greetings cards at Xmas time and that has to be accounted for, so therefore that has to be in the budget. Anyone who defends what was listed as public knowledge with regards to the budget for next year is ignoring the facts and trying to put some kind of spin on what is nothing more than spending money on items not needed. Restricted funds versus non restricted is trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the caring and thoughtful pew sitter and shut in who think they are giving to a worthy cause
    “Copier/Folding/Mailing Equipment​ $108,162” really? In this day and age of electronics?

  14. @Tileman hesshusius #16

    Yeah, but my comment only muddied things, and I think you are being uncharitable with regards to the budget. The missionaries have to be there because the money for them is given through Synod to them, so it is technically a Synod budget thing.

    The copier/folder/mailing equipment is probably accurate given the Synod is trying to reach the pew sitter and shut in. As one who is running this blog (the largest non-synodical one out there), there is a whole huge portion of the LCMS that knows nothing of it because there is no printed option. Many folks use the internet for keeping up with family only and don’t want Synod stuff to come to them through that. It comes with being an older church body and one that is conservative.

    There is probably some waste in that 81 million dollar budget, but Pres. Harrison has seemed pretty devoted to helping get back on fiscal track from the whole Peter & Paul thing that the previous guy was pulling. I may have my issues with this administration, but I don’t think finances are one of them.

  15. @Tileman hesshusius #16

    Re: “…trying to pull the wool over the eyes”

    “Restricted/Unrestricted” fund-accounts are non-profit industry standard accounting practices, mandated by FASB itself. If not adhered to (as confirmed when a 501c3 or c4 employs an audit) donors may rightfully sue the charity, tax-exempt status can be forfeited, and executive leadership may even risk jail time.

    The average pew sitter may not be up to speed on these terms, but he/she is a donor; meaning, these FASB rules are reflected in the Donor’s Bill of Rights (Google it sometime), to which all legitimate nonprofits subscribe. Most importantly, a donor’s confidence that a charity is FASB compliant leverages a fundraisers ability to guarantee to the donor that their intentions will be honored, without which you have no donations, etc.

    Sir, the more you write, the more you amplify Pollatta’s points from the short video I cited earlier.

  16. @Tileman hesshusius #16

    “Copier/Folding/Mailing Equipment​ $108,162″ really? In this day and age of electronics?

    “In this day and age of electronics” we use more paper than we ever did.
    If a bank persuades you to “go paperless”, you endanger the Post Office, that’s all.
    If you need anything on their record, you print it out yourself. On paper.

    Not every little church has all the “electronics”; if Synod is going to communicate with them, it will have to send a letter (and hope the P.O. will remain available to deliver it).
    There are still many places in this country where having all the electronics would do you no good because you can’t get a connection. I don’t use my TV enough to justify a cable bill but I get very poor reception of local stations on the “rabbit ears”. I live in the city limits of Austin, TX!

    My “smart phone” has problems connecting where I live, too.
    I hate to think of connectivity out in the country where many of our members and churches are still located!

  17. Good Grief! Sounds like shades of Washington.

    The line on the congregational reports is still called “missions”. And that’s what many pewsitters still think it is – not computers and furniture.

    P.s. I don’t have a “smart phone”. Can’t afford it.

  18. @Redeemed #20
    The line on the congregational reports is still called “missions”

    And missionaries also eat off tables, sit on chairs and are very thankful if conditions permit the use of phones, computers or other “electronics”!

    P.s. I don’t have a “smart phone”. Can’t afford it.

    It was a gift from someone who can… “last year’s model”… (the year before, actually). You can buy used ones quite cheap, BTW.
    (My old flip phone might have the same problem in this location.)

    [Sorry! Probably shouldn’t have answered that “rabbit trail”…]

  19. No matter how you slice it, expensive furniture in St. Louis does not equal spreading the Word of God (missions).

  20. Man wants to become pastor
    Man gives to local church for missions which LCMs corporate gets.
    Man goes to seminary
    Man graduates seminary
    Man has student loan debt
    Man wants to become a missionary
    Man needs to pay off student loan debt before becoming missionary
    Man has to raise his own funds for missionary work
    Man goes.
    Why bother to give to corporate LCMs when man gets nothing in return?

  21. Our church supports a missionary , we send our money to Mission Central in iowa district west.
    They do great work all the money we send goes right to our adopted missionary family. Gary Theis bought a old
    farm stead. With a lot of work and Gods
    Help they turned the farm into a mission center and museum,
    It’s truly a miracle place!

  22. Does anyone know how many chairs are in the office of the Synodical President? And if it’s more than twenty, just how big is the office of the Synodical President?

  23. Dear folks concerned about chairs!
    I had a conversation with a person at Synod to understand the business about replacing chairs in the President’s Office. There are 11 chairs, all of which are original to the building when it opened in 1982/3. They were originally in the Walther Room, the large conference room used by the COP and Board of Directors, as well as other larger groups. As chairs broke or irreparably damaged, and there weren’t enough to left to use in the Walther Room, they were used in other areas. The 11 left are now in the President’s Office. They are no longer serviceable, and some are unsafe. The cost of $14,000 is only an estimate, and they can only be replaced if money can be found. If not, the replacement will be deferred for another year.

    The ‘capital budget’ represents material items that, under current accounting rules, can be depreciated over several years. For that reason, the Board is required to approved these items separate from the annual operating budget because of the way the expense will be reported in the final audited statements. It is part of their fiduciary responsibilities. If replacement chairs actually cost $14,000 but last another 30+ years like the current set, the annual true lifetime replacement cost is something like $40 per chair. If they buy cheap home-office style chairs, which don’t last as well, replacement happens more often and the cost goes up.

    Folks, it might be good once in awhile to pick up the telephone and call the headquarters to ask about things like this. Employees there are more than willing to look into concerns and come back with good information. They provide at least two toll-free numbers: 800-248-1930 or 888-843-5267

    Just tell whoever answers you have some questions about Synod’s finances and budget and they will work to connect you to someone willing to look into it for you. It may not be the same person every time, and it may take some time to hear back, but answers are not hard to get.

  24. So we need to replace these sofa’s and chairs with real leather sofa and chairs? Actually, they look fine from the photos Carl v. Produced.
    “The cost of $14,000 is only an estimate, and they can only be replaced if money can be found. If not, the replacement will be deferred for another year.”
    Spending $14,000 makes enough sense like having the Missouri district office several miles away on 64/40 instead of sharing the same building. But wait, we might need $14,000 worth of chairs and sofa’s there too. Be prepared donor’s.
    Really we don’t have good woodworkers in Perry county that could make some chairs instead of purchasing chairs from Ikea? Really.

  25. Mr. Hesshusius:

    I can assure you that the LCMS will not be soliciting donors for gifts to pay for chairs in the President’s office. If you would like to have a conversation about what the LCMS solicits contributions for and why, you are welcome to call and speak with me, toll free, at 800-248-1930. All I ask is that you provide your baptismal name, as I have done here, and be aware that I don’t have trouble hanging up on those who are rude, or unwilling to have a two-way conversation. I can listen to people who are angry or frustrated and seek to understand their perspective on issues. Everyone has a right to their opinions.

    Mr. Vehse:

    The sofa and sofa chair are not in the count of 11. Nine chairs were/are around the conference table. One is used by the President at his desk. The eleventh, when I was up there yesterday, was close to his desk as if it would be used by an observer or second party to an informal conversation. It could at times be used at the conference table. Neither the sofa or sofa seat is unsafe to sit in.

    To the impartial readers and lurkers: I’ve sat in a few of these chairs. They are at the end of their life from a safety and maintenance standpoint. The covering does not appear to be leather. On close inspection, it feels and looks more like Naugahyde.

  26. A number of comments continuing the discussion of chairs and specifics concerning accounting practices at the Synodical offices have been removed. Pr. Scheer provided contact information for those interested in pursuing the matter and Mr. Hofman provided his name as well.

    Further comments on this thread concerning these issues will be deleted as off topic.

  27. @Steadfast Moderator #30

    Not to cause any trouble, but let’s be clear and honest, the steadfast moderator is pastor Scheer.
    Pastor Rossow would have let us comment on anything and everything. I’m just saying…

  28. @Pastor Joshua Scheer #32

    Well, at least I was right about the numbers I posted. That came right from the Anyone can verify that. You know, pastor Herman Otten has written about this very topic for years. The bloated budget, lack of missionary support and false teachings. Regarding the spending from the budget, you probably don’t see anything wrong, because you have over 200 members in attendance at the your church and as senior pastor your paycheck would be pretty good and stable. Try being a worker priest, or a pastor without a call, making a minimum wage and the tell your viewers how you feel about the budget then.

  29. @Tileman hesshusius #33

    With regards to my Divine Call to be a pastor of the congregation I serve, take it up with the Triune God who put me where I am (as to the number of souls in the congregation, you have to take that up with God who put them there as well). I am blessed by God to serve in this place, and the dear saints here take care of both of their pastors. My previous parish was much smaller and also in that place the dear saints were very supportive of their pastor. With regards to my good and stable paycheck, take it up with God who provides daily bread and the First Article gifts He does.

    With regards to worker priests and pastors without calls, I do what I can where I can, using the resources at my disposal (including this site, my own income, and my own home) to help who I can.

    Your comment is a fine example of why we as Christians still need the 8th and 9th commandments.

    Contentment is a godly virtue, St. Paul learned and practiced it with much and with little.

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