World Evangelism Fund

Our balanced attack -- How Nazarenes finance world evangelism (part 3)

This ebook by Howard Culbertson was originally published by what is now The Foundry for the Nazarene mission book series under ISBN number 083-411-4186. Some sections of the manuscript have been updated for this online version.

3. We used to call it general as in "General Budget," but it's actually very specific

Decades ago, when I was trying to become computer literate, I would become very frustrated. That computer did not always respond as I thought it should. At times I suspected my keyboard and monitor were taking a fiendish delight in defying me.

As I stumbled along, I learned that a good computer will do spectacular things! From those experiences, I've even picked up a sermon illustration or two. One comes from basic computer technology. You see, without software (programs or apps), a computer is useless. Take away software's complex instructions, and even the most expensive computer is an inert and useless collection of exotic electronic parts.

In some ways, the Nazarene World Evangelism Fund resembles a computer's operating system software. The World Evangelism Fund "boots up" or starts our worldwide system and provides an operating environment. It draws together the basic elements of global evangelism and fits them together in an effective manner. Without the structure provided by the World Evangelism Fund, Nazarene global outreach and ministry would bog down. To be sure, the World Evangelism Fund provides only part of Nazarene missionary funding. Offerings like Approved Specials, Nazarene Missions Teams Alabaster, World Evangelism Broadcast, Child Sponsorship, and Hunger and Disaster build on what the World Evangelism Fund is doing. Giving in such special, designated offerings easily arouses more interest and emotion than does paying the World Evangelism Fund. A whispered temptation comes to let the World Evangelism Fund giving slide while concentrating on some favorite special offering. That would be a mistake. Special offerings, no matter how large or emotionally rewarding, do not pay missionaries' salaries, keep hospital doors open, or carry out strategies on a global scale. Without the World Evangelism Fund we might revert to spotty, fitful efforts financed on emotional whims.

Where does it go?

We say World Evangelism Fund is for world evangelism. Our colorful posters say: "Missions!" That's why we've urged people to give in Thanksgiving (or Christmas in countries other than the U.S. and Canada) and Easter offerings. Our slogans sometimes lead people to assume that the World Mission office gets every penny of these big offerings. Forgetting that it began as "General" Budget, they express surprise -- even dismay -- that the Global Mision does not get every World Evangelism Fund dollar.

Actually, the World Evangelism Fund dollars from the pooled resources of about thirty thousand Nazarene churches around the world are divided among all the ministry areas of the global church such as Sunday school, Nazarene Youth International, World Mission, and higher education on all six world regions (Africa, Asia-Pacific, Eurasia, Mesoamerica, South America, and USA/Canada). At the Nazarene Global Ministry Center and in Regional Offices around the world, more than 200 people work in these ministry areas. World Evangelism Fund pays most of their salaries and funds most of those programs. It is a cooperative program aiming to fulfill the denominational mission of "making Christlike disciples in the nations." The World Evangelism Fund is the key element in our funding of the mission.

The simplest way to explain where World Evangelism Fund dollars go was with an an 80/20 formula. Of each World Evangelism Fund dollar, about 80 cents goes to world missions outreach. The remaining 20 cents is for other global church ministries and overall administration. In stark contrast to what happens in many nonprofit organizations, very little World Evangelism Fund money goes to actual fund-raising.

Even costs labeled "administration" are sometimes misleading. Take the general superintendents, for example. They are part of the 20 percent administration. Still, Dr. William Greathouse preaching to 3,000 people in Port-au-Prince was probably more "evangelism" than I was on the days I spent double-checking Haitian district statistical reports before mailing them to Kansas City. Yet, for reporting purposes, I was considered "evangelism;' and Dr. Greathouse's support was labeled "administration"

A few years ago a general superintendent was in Haiti, holding district assemblies. He heard about a young pastor's wife who was seriously ill. Three hundred dollars of medical bills had far outstripped that struggling family's resources. Unless past due bills were paid, she would get no more medical help. When that general superintendent departed Haiti, he left behind $300 to wipe out those bills. The fund he used that day was a part of the World Evangelism Fund labeled "general administration." So even some of those expenses labeled "general administration" could well be called "world evangelism."

Not everyone is happy with the 80/20 disbursement plan. Some complain that too much money from US churches goes elsewhere in the world. There is so much yet to be done at home, they argue. We're top-heavy in foreign missions spending, they say Others see immense numbers of unsaved in the far corners of our world. They lament that we can't do more in evangelizing unreached peoples.

Another problem with a simple 80/20 explanation is that internationalization has wiped out the lines between "us" and "them," between home and foreign. It isn't "us" here and "them" over there anymore. It's not just one or two countries giving all the money, sending all the missionaries, and making all the decisions. We Nazarenes all around the world are now all in it together. The only "them" are peoples outside the gospel message, in whatever country they may be. Because of that, the Global Ministry Center located in the central USA serves all areas of the church on all six continents.

This is reflected in the way funds are disbursed. Take publications, for instance. In earlier years, literature funds went through the Global Mission office. Now Publications International works directly with national leaders around the world.

The Specifics of what was formerly the "General Budget," now the World Evangelism Fund

While "budget" may be somewhat misleading, its adjective "general" may also have been not the best choice of words. It was used to mean inclusive, but it also it can also be understood as broad or nonspecific. Actually, the World Evangelism Fund works in very specific ways. Here are some explicit things the World Evangelism Fund does:

MISSIONARIES. The food for about 600 active Nazarene missionaries, the rent for their homes, and the fuel to run their vehicles comes from the World Evangelism Fund. We call it World Evangelism Fund. It seemed pretty specific when we used it to do things like sending our children -- Matthew and Rachele -- to school in Italy and then in Haiti.

The late General Superintendent J. B. Chapman dreamed of having 1,000 Nazarene missionaries on foreign mission fields in time to celebrate our church's golden anniversary. That anniversary celebration was in 1958. That was almost half a century ago and we haven't yet reached Chapman's visionary goal. Still, through nearly a century, more than 1,800 people supported by Nazarene missionary giving have served as Nazarene missionaries. They've heralded the Good News in places like Pretoria, Paris, and Pago Pago. Amazingly, one-third of those missionaries are still active. In our short history as a denomination, there have been 33 missionaries who have each given more than 40 years of service. That's been made possible because of our balanced funding system.

Some missionaries evangelize and plant churches. Some missionaries train national pastors and evangelists in Bible schools and extension programs. Then, we've also always carried a concern for the whole person. That's part of our heritage as a Wesleyan movement. So World Evangelism Fund also supports some medical missionaries. They oversee Nazarene medical ministries that treat more than 300,000 patients a year. You'll also find an agricultural missionary or two as well as some construction experts. You'll find missionaries involved with primary and secondary schools run by the Church of the Nazarene. Some run vocational schools.

With Christ's second coming on our minds, we hurry to complete the task. With some urgency, we work as though He is coming back tomorrow. Yet we also have a long view, knowing that we may not view time and history with God's eyes. So while we search for ways to get as many missionaries on the field as possible, we also look ahead for the missionary. When missionaries do retire, we intend to care for them. So there's a missionary retirement plan funded by the World Evangelism Fund. There's also a World Evangelism Fund-supported missionary retirement complex in Temple City, California, where some of our retired Nazarene missionaries live.

Our way of supporting missionaries with pooled resources beats any other I've seen in action. Missionaries in some groups raise their own support. That is, they get people or churches to pledge so much per month for them individually. That money goes through their home office, where a percentage of donations will be taken out for administrative and publicity costs.

When we arrived in Italy as rookie missionaries, we got acquainted with another newly arrived American family. As missionaries with an independent board, they raised their own support. During their year of language school, a couple of their supporting churches changed pastors. The new pastors wanted to help different missionaries. Funds that had gone to our friends were redirected to other missionaries. As a result, when language school ended, our friends returned to the United States to spend several months raising more support.

Ten years later in Haiti, we got acquainted with another independent missionary couple. They spent nearly two weeks of every month producing a monthly newsletter and writing personal letters home. The reason? To raise enough funds to be able to minister the last two weeks of the month. They liked to boast that every dollar given to their work got to the field. It did. Yet, they spent half their time raising the next month's support. In all honesty, their fund-raising expenses should have been calculated at 50 percent of their income.

The World Evangelism Fund eliminates those problems for Nazarenes. Nazarene churches do not send a few dollars each month to specific missionaries. Rather, donors give to the World Evangelism Fund. That fund supports all 600 Nazarene missionaries. As a result, while our missionary friends in Italy left for home after language school to raise more support, we moved into our place of ministry. While our friends in Haiti were forced to spend half their time raising money, we were able to be true full-time missionaries.

Every army has supply or support troops that back up the front-line soldier. The Nazarene army is no different. The World Evangelism Fund puts support or supply troops behind Nazarene missionaries. Their work frees the missionaries to do what they went overseas to do. That is, in fact, the principle laid down in Acts 6:2-4. Faced with overwhelming workloads, the Early Church leaders wisely set up a support team. Thus, the apostles were freed from time-consuming ministries only marginally related to their specific calling. Aided by these support troops, they gave themselves wholly to their original ministry.

Our support troops include people in the Nazarene Missions International office who produce Global Awareness materials, coordinate prayer support, and facilitate fund-raising. Through mission education programs they encourage children and young people to consider the missionary call.

The support troops also include a Global Mission office deputation/home assignment secretary who makes up speaking schedules for missionaries on home assignment. Setting up a year's worth of services can be complicated. A missionary on home assignment may speak in 150 to 200 services during the year. A secretary in Kansas City saves the missionary endless hours of letter writing, making phone calls, sending emails, and poring over calendars. That secretary's work frees the Nazarene missionary to spend his time in cross-cultural ministry.

Another support person provided by the World Evangelism Fund is the Global Mission finance manager. He gets finances to the field. He makes certain that full accounting is given for every dollar. One of his assistants helps missionaries prepare their income tax returns. Others process visa applications and ship equipment and supplies. These people all help make the missionary on the field as productive as possible. We might call support people our "Acts 6 missionaries."

RADIO, TELEVISION. The World Evangelism Fund helps to fund Nazarene radio broadcasts around the world. We now produce regular programming in 40 languages and dialects. Fifteen hundred stations carry these programs to listeners in almost 100 countries, some of them closed to missionaries. Some of the needed funds come from the annual NMI World Evangelism Broadcast offering. That annual June offering now brings in nearly $750,000. While that's a substantial sum, it's not enough. So The World Evangelism Fund adds additional funds. [ promoting a June offering ]

Radio is only part of what we're doing in electronic communications media, however. The World Evangelism Fund enables us to produce outreach, training, and publicity materials in media formats ranging from audio cassettes to video productions.

As a missionary in residence at Southern Nazarene University, I used such Nazarene-produced films as They Cry in the Night, The Calling, An Alabaster Heart, The Garmans, and The Master's Sheep to motivate and instruct future missionaries. Videos frequently go from Headquarters to missionaries on the field carrying information, greetings, and highlights of general church gatherings. World Evangelism Fund provides all this.

LITERATURE. The Church of the Nazarene works in almost 100 languages. Nazarenes speaking each of these languages need good holiness literature. We publish books, Sunday School literature, tracts, and magazines in languages whose names I can't even pronounce. In some languages, we don't yet have a lot of churches and members. Therefore, sales are limited. To keep prices affordable, literature production must be subsidized. The World Evangelism Fund picks up that subsidy tab.

NATIONAL LEADERSHIP. I often get asked: "What did you do as a missionary? Did you pastor a church?"

Few Nazarene missionaries pastor churches. We couldn't possibly send out enough missionaries to pastor every Nazarene church around the world. In Haiti, for instance, we have about 800 churches. To put missionary pastors in all those churches, we'd have to transfer our entire Nazarene missionary force into Haiti (and that still wouldn't be enough pastors).

Missionaries have unique roles to play, but there aren't enough of them to complete the task of world evangelization. They only start the job. Finishing the Great Commission task will be gifted leaders from every tribe and people group. That's why the World Evangelism Fund develops and supports national leadership. These are not paid lackeys. We are helping gifted, Spirit-filled men and women make their dreams for their countries come true.

Barbara and I served in Italy for about 10 years. Today, competent Italian Nazarenes lead the Church of the Nazarene on that European peninsula. Because the district is small, the World Evangelism Fund helps support the district superintendent. In the Caribbean, not one of Haiti's 800 Nazarene churches gets regular outside support for their pastors. Some district superintendents' salaries in Haiti are, however, subsidized by the World Evangelism Fund. Such strong Nazarene leadership is emerging around the globe. With World Evangelism Fund support, people of many tribes and tongues are leading Nazarene world outreach.

LEADERSHIP TRAINING. Your World Evangelism Fund giving prepares pastors, evangelists, and leaders for holiness ministries around the world. Through Nazarene schools, the World Evangelism Fund helps prepare leaders who will keep us true to our heritage as part of the Wesleyan holiness movement. The World Evangelism Fund monies support about 40 Bible colleges. We have begun a university in Africa. Five thousand students study at these schools in both resident and extension programs.

World Evangelism Fund's help in developing strong national leadership includes even the United States and Canada. There, the World Evangelism Fund has subsidized PALCON conferences for pastors and WILCON conferences for women in leadership.

World Evangelism Fund help reaches to include Nazarene Bible College in Colorado Springs as well as its 16 extension centers across the United States. The World Evangelism Fund helps support graduate seminaries. One of these is in Manila, training leaders for Asia. Another is in Kansas City, MO.

You may protest, of course, that U.S. and Canadian churches take special offerings each year for Nazarene Bible College and for Nazarene Theological Seminary. These offerings build buildings and care for other capital improvements. They don't, however, pay salaries or the light bill or buy books for the library. Some of these items are paid for from tuition. The World Evangelism Fund also picks up a hefty share of the costs.

THRUST TO THE CITIES. Fourteen cities in our world each have 10 million or more people in them. Forty-six others each have more than 4 million. Such megacities are unique mission fields in themselves. Our major missions thrusts in the 21st century will be in the battle for the souls of these cities.

We've planted a lot of churches in small towns and villages around the world. Still, working in large cities is not new to Nazarenes. A burden for the cities took root in the organizational meeting of that first Church of the Nazarene in Los Angeles. The minutes of that October 30, 1895, meeting include the statement: "The field of labor to which we feel called is the neglected quarters of the cities."

For a few years, our efforts to evangelize the cities centered on our Thrust to the Cities program. Each year, one or more world-class cities was highlighted. Basic funds for these thrusts -- be they in Berlin, Paris, Sao Paulo, Toronto, or Chicago -- came from the World Evangelism Fund.

GENERAL SUPERINTENDENTS. Support of our six general superintendents, who are important elements in Nazarene world outreach, comes from the World Evangelism Fund. Back in the 1920s Nazarene leaders decided that a general superintendent would preside over all Nazarene district assemblies everywhere. This put all districts worldwide on equal footing. It was a major step whose effects would finally burst upon us in the 1970s with internationalization.

The president of the Italian Evangelical Association told me that our general superintendents amazed him. Elio Milazzo said that within a few hours of stepping off a plane in Rome, they seemed to have a handle on difficult problems. He said he had not seen other Americans deal as effectively with local problems as Nazarene general superintendents.

The general superintendents' concern for adequate resources to accomplish our God-given vision is typified by the late J. G. Morrison. As this general superintendent talked to Nazarenes about giving to the World Evangelism Fund, he was well-known for his plea: "Can't you do just a little bit more?"

Decision-makers. Preachers. Even fund-raisers. That's what general superintendents are. They're much more, however. As they give direction and inspiration to our denomination, the general superintendents create the networks that hold us together. They're counselors for missionaries, district superintendents, college presidents, and pastors. More than once I've cried on their shoulders.

Our balanced fund-raising attack funds a balanced leadership team. Adding to the effectiveness of our general church are other leaders like the general secretary, general treasurer, and education commissioner. They, too, form a ministerial support team like the one in Acts 6.

YOUTH MINISTRIES. Each summer Nazarene college students are involved around the globe in Youth in Mission. Every four years thousands of Nazarene young people gather for Nazarene Youth Congress. One of those earlier gatherings near Washington, D.C., included our son, Matthew. While the young people themselves raise a good deal of money for these events, they are also aided by World Evangelism Fund support. From this pool of young people will come lay leaders, pastors, evangelists, and missionaries.

I think back to the 1962 Nazarene Youth Congress (then called "International Institute") in Estes Park, Colorado. I was one of that crowd of Nazarene teenagers. Paul Orjala, pioneer missionary to Haiti, was one of the speakers. His messages and presentations helped solidify my sense of call. World Evangelism Fund subsidy for that event may have been called an expense. It was actually an investment in future world evangelism.

Our World Evangelism Fund investment in youth pays early dividends. Through the years Nazarene youth have gotten involved in special missions offerings. Nazarene beginnings in Alaska, Australia, and Germany were all funded with special Nazarene youth offerings. Youth groups often go on mission trips, raising all the needed money.

At a recent General NYI Convention, it struck me that within 10 years those young people could be major contributors to the world evangelism effort. As they move into their careers, they will be deciding how to get involved, if at all. How would we reach them? Later that summer we were at Nazarene Day at King's Island near Columbus, Ohio. I saw Nazarene young people proudly wearing their "Dare to Run;' "Radically Saved," and "Share His Spirit" tee shirts. I wondered: As they move to adulthood, will they adopt a radical Christian lifestyle? Will they make significant resources available for world evangelism? Or will they be seduced by satanic materialism? The World Evangelism Fund investment we're making in Nazarene youth can help push them toward a radical Christian lifestyle.

HELPING LOCAL CHURCHES. Headquarters ministries like the Sunday School Ministries Division and the Church Growth Division help local churches expand and improve their ministries. Workshops. Conventions. Seminars. Materials. All are helpful to local churches. They all, however, cost money. These are often subsidized by the World Evangelism Fund. In a recent year, for example, Evangelism Ministries held 29 schools of evangelism. Each month, Nazarene leaders receive Grow, a publication spotlighting church growth stories and trends.

During our 10 years in Europe, we always made time to go to Germany for the annual European Nazarene Military Personnel Retreat. Each year, American military personnel and their families -- about 200 at the height of the Cold War -- would gather in the Bavarian Alps for that week-long retreat. I remember altar services where service personnel who had grown up in Nazarene churches got back to the Lord. I remember testimonies of sanctification. Part of the funding for this retreat and one in Asia came from what we now call the World Evangelism Fund.

GENERAL ASSEMBLIES. The Church of the Nazarene is a big family. Our quadrennial General Assemblies make that clear. We love getting together. Still, General Assemblies cost money It costs money to rent convention centers and stadiums, to print ballots, and to pay secretarial help.

A recent Nazarene General Assembly heard reports from commissions studying the call of a pastor, Nazarene higher education, and the God-called evangelist. It takes money for these commissions to meet, research, and write recommendations for the assembly. It takes money to get Global Ministry Center staff to the General Assembly. World Evangelism Fund money picks up those bills.

"We can't afford not to"

One Wednesday night I spoke at Wichita, Kansas, First Church. It was the opening of their annual Faith Promise Convention. Wichita First is a church that often gives more than 20 percent of its income to missions. At the close of that service, Pastor Gene Williams stepped forward to announce their yearly goal. He explained where monies would go. He told how it would be going toward the World Evangelism Fund, to two planned Work & Witness projects, and to several Approved Specials. As Rev. Williams came back to the total goal, he paused. Then he said: "Folks, we can't afford not to reach this goal."

He reminded them of the church's earlier financial troubles. Those had been severe. The problems had, however, evaporated when members radically increased their giving to World Evangelism Fund and to special missionary projects. God blesses obedient churches just as He does obedient people, Rev. Williams said.

Occasionally I hear someone moan and groan because a church has been asked to make larger budget contributions (based on its increases). Not long ago, I was in Loveland, Colorado In one service of that missions weekendm Rev. Gary Abke was praising the Lord. He had just calculated Loveland's World Evangelism Fund assessment for the next year. It was going to be higher than vefore. He didn't moan and groan over the increase. Rather, he was brimming with excitement about the larger share expected of them for world evangelism. As he talked, someone down on the third row said, "Praise the Lord!" The congregation had caught his enthusiasm.

At a Gallup, New Mexico, Faith Promise Convention banquet, Pastor Tom Crider said: "I've got good news and bad news. First of all: The General Board is recommending lowering World Evangelism Fund assessments. That means they'll be asking less of us for world evangelism." He paused.

"That's bad!" Rev. Crider continued. "Now here's the good news: we'll be able to overpay our World Evangelism Fund by larger amounts than we have in the past!" I like Tom's spirit!

God's call to take the Kingdom message into all the world is clear. Each local church must obey on its own, or churches can band together, pooling their resources with other local churches. We Nazarenes have chosen to do it together. We call our primary financing method "World Evangelism Fund." It's been 80 years since its launching under the name "General Budget." It took a while for the idea to catch on. But it did. Then, along the way, we discovered that we didn't like our bread plain. We wanted something on it. So we began to add some specific offerings to our World Evangelism Fund giving. That is, however, the subject for another chapter. . . .[ continue reading ]

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Extra offerings

Next chapterOur missions giving is balanced between regular, on-going support of global ministries and some special offerings as well as appeals to meet one-time needs . . . [ more ]

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