When Allen says he wants to discuss “the balancing act,” you know it’s not going to be about The Cat in the Hat holding up the cup and the milk and the cake and the fish on the rake all while standing on a ball. (Though I would dearly love to see Allen attempt that.) But, alas, when Allen talks about the balancing act, he’s talking about how Sowers4Pastors distributes its resources.
You might think it’s a simple matter of taking stock of resources and giving a hand out to anyone who asks. That is not the case. When an indigenous pastor approaches Sowers4Pastors to ask for assistance, Allen and Russell carefully examine the pastor’s other available resources. Specifically, Allen asks, “Does he have other North American connections who may already be providing help? Does this pastor have some guys in his church who are doing well financially (probably through coffee) and would be able to help?”
As Allen explained, “We’re trying to help guys who don’t have those connections.”
Sowers4Pastors also looks at what each pastor is producing, by asking some other tough questions, “Are they replicators? Are they sending out church planters? Are they taking advantage of Pastors’ Training School? Are they interested in becoming better educated on the Word of God?”
Allen knows you can’t base the final decision solely on how fast a church is growing. He understands a pastor may be ministering in an area that is resistant to hearing the Gospel. In the long haul, those people may be won over, however.
Essentially, it’s about being mindful of Sowers4Pastors limited resources and whether or not a specific pastor will use those resources well.
Helping without Hurting
“This is a constant, ongoing struggle we have--trying to utilize our resources well. We don’t want to give too much to one pastor, who then becomes entitled,” Allen stressed. He continued, “When that happens, the pastor can ask, ‘Why do I have to work hard to produce anything?’ It takes the focus off of relationship with God and onto what we can provide him.”
This can be particularly true among pastors who speak English and serve as translators. “As they build relationships with the visitors, they frequently start asking the gringos for things. It can create a monster, if we’re not careful. After a while, the pastor is not producing and is spending more to improve his personal lifestyle (above that of his community), using funds which could have been spent on his ministry. It can basically become a job for the pastor - mooching off the gringos,” Allen contemplated, "and the pastor can gradually become unable to live and work in community with the poor."
He discussed the age old problem of “rice Christians” - people who accept Christianity as a means for monetary gain or other benefits.
“We don’t want to bring up Christians who are in it for the money. Certainly not pastors who are in it for the money,” Allen emphatically said.
He also discussed the problem that can happen when missionaries focus on helping just one church. That missionary may bring down eight or ten teams a year, with all of the help going to one church. The minute the North American missionary leaves, this type of church frequently falls apart.
Sowers4Pastors’ goal is to use funds where it will make the highest impact. To make his point, Allen said, “We would rather take 1000 pastors and give them $50 each than to take one pastor and give him $50,000. If $50 helps a pastor out significantly, then that is a better choice.”
It’s all about balance.
- posted by Christi
- posted by Christi