ebook: Our balanced attack

How Nazarenes finance world evangelism (part 1)

This e-book by Howard Culbertson was originally published by what is now The Foundry for the NMI mission book series under ISBN number 083-411-4186. It has been revised and updated for this ebook version.


1. Football and missions giving
2. Budget: A bad word doing good things [ go to chapter ]
3. We called it General, but it's very specific [ go to chapter ]
4. Peanut butter and jelly [ go to chapter ]
5. The Nazarene Construction Company [ go to chapter ]
6. I was hungry and you gave me something [ go to chapter ]
7. Giving more with less pain [ go to chapter ]
8. Doubling and tripling our investments [ go to chapter ]
9. Cleaning out garages and attics [ go to chapter ]
Conclusion [ go to chapter ]

1. Football and missions giving

If I'm in my car on an autumn Saturday afternoon, I'll turn on the radio and hunt for a football game broadcast. It's a habit I developed growing up in Oklahoma.

Oklahoma is a football-crazy state. It doesn't have a professional football team. No matter. The University of Oklahoma regularly wins conference championships. They've been crowned national champions a few times. Several players from OU and from Oklahoma State University have won the Heisman trophy which is given each year to the best college football player in the United States. Teams from Oklahoma universities often play in postseason bowl games.

Because of where I grew up, I caught football fever. I spent autumn Saturday afternoons listening to the Oklahoma Sooner Football Network. I dreamed about being a great football player. Alas, I never did play on a school team. The only time I got out of the bleachers and onto a playing field was playing my trumpet in the band. Along the way, I did play a lot of sandlot football. Of course, my dream of being a great player was unrealistic. Usually, I was the shortest kid on the playground. Without question, I was the skinniest. So they often chose me last. Still, whether as a player or a spectator, I have always loved football. I'm from Oklahoma, and Oklahoma is a football-crazy state.

There are some important things you should know about football. One is that you don't win championships depending on a single player. You've got to have a balanced attack. That means using the skills of a variety of players. Consistent winning takes a team effort. "Balanced attack" also refers to the way you play the game. Football teams don't win game after game by throwing passes on every play. They will not win by always running the ball. Winners balance their offense with a mix of running and passing plays. A real championship team will be further balanced by having a top defensive strategy.

What does all this have to do with missions? Well, let's first look at an example of a missions program that tried to operate without a balanced attack. While we were in Haiti as missionaries, a well-known American televangelist confessed to grievous moral lapses. At the height of his glory, money had flowed toward him like iron filings attracted to a magnet. With some of that money, he bankrolled most of his denomination's mission work in Haiti. Among the things he paid for were hot lunches in 100 elementary schools. Then, one Sunday evening on television, he confessed to sexual immorality.

By Monday morning, a full-blown scandal had erupted around him. He seemed briefly contrite. Then he plunged ahead, using everything sent in by faithful supporters to keep his headquarters open and personal airplane flying. Anticipating that donations would fall off after his confession, he called Haiti that first week to shut down the lunch programs. On payday two weeks later, Haitian teachers in "his" schools got empty envelopes. We had missionary friends supported directly by this television preacher. Their full reliance on his money brought their work crashing to a halt. Within days after the scandal broke, these missionaries packed up to go home. Without his financial support, their ministry had collapsed like a football team that had depended too much on a star player who then broke his leg.

Nazarene missionaries are different. The funds for our global ministries are raised in several different ways. For me, football's balanced attack makes a great illustration of how Nazarenes look for resources to fulfill Christ's Great Commission. We Nazarenes don't depend on one person giving all the money. We use several different fund-raising avenues. We appeal to the young and old, to the rich and poor. Sometimes, we appeal to the emotions, sometimes to a rational sense of careful stewardship.

The results are impressive. Flying in the face of the selfish materialism gripping much of our world, Nazarenes give more money for missions than many larger denominations. As a result, we have more missionaries than the United Methodist Church, a denomination whose memberships in the USA is 10 times that of ours.

The longer I'm involved in Nazarene missions outreach, the more convinced I become of the soundness of our balanced fund-raising strategy. What is so special about it? Well, to begin with, ongoing expenses like missionary salaries and hospital supplies are underwritten by a budget system. This budget -- funded with monies given to the World Evangelism Fund -- provides continuity for our missions outreach. Through economic boom and bust, through the poundings Satan may give us, we'll be fulfilling our divine mandate, thanks to the World Evangelism Fund. To balance out a rather mundane-sounding budget system, some of our other fund-raising ventures encourage spontaneity, appealing to emotions. These include offerings to open new countries, to buy horses for rural pastors, to help disaster victims, and to build buildings.

Aided by funds raised through our balanced attack, we Nazarenes have been able to move through lots of doors God has opened in front of us. We've planted districts of thriving holiness churches on six continents. In 1983, Nazarene churches celebrated 75 years as a denomination. That year, there was a big push for urged local congregations to overpay their World Evangelism Fund share to enter several new world areas. Those overpayments helped us enter several countries: Myanmar, the Azores, Kenya, Suriname, and Botswana. Adding these to the list of areas already penetrated gave us a total of 74 world areas, just one short of our diamond anniversary goal of 75 (one world area for each year since the 1908 Pilot Point merger).

Now, nearly forty years later, we're in 165 world areas -- including Italy where we served before going to Haiti. ] Fueling such global outreach is a diversified fund-raising system combining the best of emotional spontaneity with long-term commitment. That's what this book is about: a balanced attack combining an underwritten budget topped by special appeals and other resources. . . .[ continue reading ]

  Page:  1. Football and missions giving   |    2. Budget: A bad word doing good  things   |    3. We called it  general, but it's very specific   |    4. Peanut butter and  jelly  |   5. The Nazarene Construction Company   |   6. I was hungry and you gave  me something  |   7. Giving more with less pain   |   8. Doubling and tripling our investments   |   9. Cleaning  out attics and garages   |   Conclusion  |    Next→ 
-- Howard Culbertson,

It's not a tax!

right arrow with words Next chapter It's wrong to think about the 5.5% that Nazarene churches are asked to give to world missions as some kind of tax. Joining forces with other local churches in creating a fund for world evangelism is an excellent way of fulfilling our Great Commission responsibilities . . . [ more ]

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