Missions giving: Approved Specials, Bequests, and deputation offerings

ebook: Our balanced attack -- How Nazarenes finance world evangelism (part 4)

This ebook by Howard Culbertson was originally published as a Nazarene mission book by what is now The Foundry under ISBN number 083-411-4186. It is presented here in updated form.

4. Peanut butter and jelly

One evening I was bumping down a dirt road hugging Haiti's south coast. Destination? Damassins, a small village where we had a new church. Few villages in rural Haiti have electric power. All I saw dispelling darkness along the road was an occasional oil lamp or flickering candle. When I reached the edge of Damassins, I saw a bright light ahead. That puzzled me. I didn't think there was electricity in that village.

Someone must have a small generator, I thought. Then, as I got closer, I saw that the light was coming from our church. What was shining so brightly that dark, moonless night was not an electric light bulb. It was a Coleman lantern hanging from the rafters of the brush arbor. As I walked into that brush arbor, I remembered that Approved Special money had helped Damassins buy a Coleman lantern. Our global outreach, underwritten by the World Evangelism Fund, had helped plant that church. Approved Specials gioving provided something extra.

Coleman lanterns work by burning pressurized kerosene on a carbonized cotton mantle. I don't know why that produces such a bright light, but it does. One Coleman lantern gives off as much light as two 100-watt light bulbs.

Sure, Haiti's churches could survive without Coleman lanterns. Many Haitian congregations use only smoky little oil lamps. While dispelling a little darkness, those oil lamps are only slightly better than a candle. Even with one of them beside me on a pulpit I've struggled in vain to read my Scripture text. A Coleman lantern changes all that, giving a new atmosphere to night services.

Through the years we've helped lots of Haitian churches by subsidizing their purchase of a Coleman lantern. World Evangelism Fund would have never stretched far enough to include those lanterns. Fortunately, we run a balanced fund-raising attack. With World Evangelism Fund underwriting the core of our global strategy, we've moved creatively to find more resources.

The 1920s' switch from using specific emotional appeals for everything to a comprehensive budget financing most areas of global church ministry initially almost killed Nazarene missionary outreach. Nazarene giving to missions plummeted overnight. A sinking treasury caused all kinds of curtailments. At the end of World Evangelism Fund's first year, the General Board heard some dismal reports. General Treasurer J. G. Morrison said it had been "the saddest year that the foreign missionary cause of the Church of the Nazarene has known." Eventually, however, Nazarenes rallied to the idea of giving to a budget system. Now, many churches actually overpay their assigned share of the World Evangelism Fund.

Still, making ther World Evangelism Fund as the only way to give to missions wasn't satisfactory. Some time ago I saw a bumper sticker that said: "Man doesn't live by bread alone; he needs peanut butter and jelly as well." The bread for Nazarene world outreach is World Evangelism Fund. But we've discovered we don't like it plain. So, through the years, ways to add emotional appeal offerings to World Evangelism Fund giving have emerged. We've put peanut butter and jelly on our basic bread.

Among the potent extras we've added are Approved Specials. Often raised by NMI, these special offerings provide tools for missionaries and leaders in their evangelistic efforts. District teen and children's NMI groups are always raising money for an Approved Special. Approved Specials come from Sunday School classes or children's church groups. Through the years, NMI has been very creative in raising money for Approved Special extras. I've often thought that a colorful addition to Nazarene Archives would be a collection of posters, banners, and other props that have been used to raise Approved Special money for our world missions outreach.

Why the "approved" label? Every year, mission fields send proposed specials lists to the World Mission Division office for approval. These lists look like Christmas wish lists. On those lists will be vehicles, medical equipment, construction tools, literature, and scholarships. On those specials so approved by the Ten Percent Committee, churches can receive credit toward Ten Percent giving.

I saw Approved Specials help Nazarene outreach in Italy and Haiti. Today, thanks to Approved Special giving, Italian Nazarenes have their own hymnal. Equipment used to publish Italian literature came from Approved Special giving. Approved Special funds provided a tent for evangelism in Italy. Folding chairs used in the tent and in Sunday Schools across Italy came from Approved Specials. Rural pastors in Haiti ride Approved Special horses and mules up to mountain villages where the gospel has never been preached.

How do people find out about these specials? One way is through things that may be published in Holiness Today magazine. However, Holiness Today can only devote so much space to such special needs. Even if the editor made room, you wouldn't wade through several pages of those requests every month. A recent issue had a list of 11 items from countries in our Asia-Pacific Region. That was about 1 item from each country's list. So while most requests sent in by districts and Mission Councils get on the "approved" list, few of them get published in our monthly magazine.

Even though the full lists never get published, they're available for the asking. At your request, World Mission office will sift through them to find exactly what interests you. Or you can ask about a specific country, and they'll send you its entire specials list. You also can mention the total dollar amount you have in mind, and someone from the World Mission office will make up a list for you with several items in that price range. You may also contact your district NMI president for special projects.

Ten percent giving

Ten Percent credit is given not just on the World Evangelism Fund and on Approved Special requests from the field, but on several other items as well. The Ten Percent Committee of the general church pre-approves each item. On that pre-approved list are North American multicultural ministry projects. It includes needs at Nazarene student ministry centers as well as some North American church planting projects. It includes giving to Nazarene ministry to military coordinators in some world areas in addition to support funds given by local churches to college students going on approved summer mission trips.

Ten Percent credit is also given for:


Another peanut butter-and-jelly item we put on our World Evangelism Fund bread is that of deferred giving, or bequests left by people who have gone to be with the Lord. We've received such help in our own missionary ministry. For years, Edith Lantz worked in youth publications at Nazarene Headquarters. She edited Sunday School lessons for junior high pupils and spoke at Sunday School conventions across the United States. She was also a driving force behind Nazarene youth programming prior to and following World War II.

Edith Lantz was my wife's aunt. Toward the end of her life, she asked that the money from the sale of her house and car would go into improving Christian education. We've used those funds in our work with Christian education as missionaries. Edith Lantz has been gone for 20 years. When she was alive, she never visited a mission field. Today, however, her influence continues in Christian education endeavors on mission fields. Through the finances that her estate is providing, her giving goes on.

She's not alone. Many people want their ministry to continue even after they die. When they make out their wills, they leave part of their estate for world evangelism. These amounts-many of them somewhat modest-allow World Evangelism Fund dollars to stretch farther than seems possible. Altogether, annual bequests to various Nazarene ministries now top $20 million. About one-fourth of that, or $5 million each year, goes to missionary projects.

Interested in leaving a legacy like this? Making out a will is not very complicated. The Nazarene Planned Giving office at the Global Ministry Center has field personnel in most areas of the U.S. and Canada. They stand ready to help you at no cost or obligation. If you use their services, you will not be pressured to leave something to the church. It can be, however, for you a final act of stewardship that helps fulfill the Great Commission.

Occasionally, people make the World Mission Division the beneficiary of a life insurance policy. This happens most often when someone discovers an old forgotten paid-up policy. Since they had not been depending on it, they will change the beneficiary to the World Mission Division of the Church of the Nazarene.

Sometimes families set up memorial funds, asking that friends give to a specific project on a mission field instead of sending flowers. As an example, the family of E. G. Benson, longtime Sunday School promoter, set up a memorial fund to train rural pastors in Haiti. What a special way for Christians to add to our balanced attack.

Deputation or Home Assignment finances

Normally, Nazarene missionaries spend from two to four years on the field and then from three months to one year back in their home country. During this time of furlough or home assignment, they speak in what we call deputation services. That word deputation symbolizes our World Evangelism Fund approach to world evangelism. It refers to the office of deputy or delegate, to someone acting on someone else's behalf. Using this word is significant because Nazarene missionaries on furlough are not raising their own individual support. While we report on our own work, we also represent the whole Nazarene missionary force. We are, in a sense, raising support for more than 600 missionaries. Hence, the word deputation.

Our main aim is reporting on behalf of the missionary force, to boost interest in the whole missionary program. Still, as we travel from church to church, congregations will take special offerings for us. [ Humorous look at home assignment time ]

Like Approved Specials, these offerings count toward Ten Percent giving. Every dollar given goes to that particular missionary's ministry. The only fund-raising costs are the missionary's travel expenses to get to the particular service. Everything above those expenses helps that missionary buy equipment or pay certain living expenses.

Money from deputation offerings provided Barbara and me with vehicles and tools, typewriters and washing machines, automotive repairs and tires, projection equipment and sound systems, and ham radio equipment for commmunication.

There were never any "administrative costs" taken out. The World Evangelism Fund picks up those administrative costs. That's another reason it makes sense to channel all your missions giving through the Church of the Nazarene. When you give to other groups, you'll usually wind up paying administrative costs again.

Medical Plan

We missionaries have no divine guarantee of a healthy life. Early Protestant missionaries to tropical Africa rarely lived long enough to learn the local language, let alone return for a second term. A coffin was an essential part of their equipment. That's no longer true. Still, over the past decade, health risks have increased for missionaries. New problems include virulent and resistant forms of malaria and hepatitis.

The quality of medical care has, of course, risen. So have costs. Charges for emergency and routine medical care for missionaries have, in fact, skyrocketed so much that medical bills, plus the missionary retirement plan, now consume 10 percent of each year's annual World Mission Budget. Even before the World Evangelism Fund came along, a Medical Plan fund was set up to help care for these costs. That particular offering was not absorbed into the World Evangelism Fund (although since 1983 increasing amounts of World Evangelism Fund money have had to be used to supplement that medical fund). With World Evangelism Fund help and receipts from Memorial Roll and Distinguished Service Awards, the Medical Plan offering helps missionary families cover the costs of:

That medical fund cared for me when I got hepatitis in Haiti. It cared for me on home assignment when I injured my leg with a chain saw. It cared for my wife Barbara when she had nerve damage repaired in her hand. It cared for our children, Matthew and Rachele, when they got malaria in Haiti. [ more on Medical Plan ]

Prayer and Fasting

Two years after what is now the World Evangelism Fund started, the Prayer and Fasting League was begun. The idea was simple: Fast a meal. Spend the time in prayer. Give the price of the meal as an offering. Way back then, some churches used that money to pay church debts. A few raised building funds using the Prayer and Fasting idea. Some went so far as to pay pastors' salaries from it. Still others gave it to missions. Within a short time, however, the General Board voted to unify the Prayer and Fasting League behind a single purpose: pray, fast, and give for foreign missions. For some local churches today, Prayer and Fasting giving plays a key role in their World Evangelism Fund giving.

Special occasion NMI offerings

Every so often the Nazarene Missions International will sponsor a denomination-wide special offering. Our work in both New Guinea and Venezuela got underway with just such offerings. The NMI silver anniversary project was an offering for Bible schools. Such special, one-time offerings have included hospital construction. There was a 75th-anniversary special for Hong Kong and China. Not long ago an emergency church-wide offering was taken to supplement the missionary medical fund.

Each year there's also an offering to give each missionary a cash gift at Christmas. The annual Radio Offering boosts our use of electronic media in evangelism and church planting.

Our artillery salvos

Some time ago I sat talking about mission finances with Doug Tatton. A Canadian, Doug served in Haiti with another denomination. For a while, he was their field director. While in Creole language school together in Port-au-Prince, Doug and I became close friends. As we talked that particular day about organizational structure and denominational missionary strategy, I explained how our World Evangelism Fund giving is amplified by Approved Specials, Alabaster, deputation, and other similar offerings. His church lacked that double-barreled system. He had to try to squeeze everything out of one unified budget similar to our World Evangelism Fund. Without the flaxibility that special offerings offer, they had to plan for everything far in advance.

Ours, on the other hand, is a system of basic budget plus extras as the Lord provides. Our balanced attack encourages a certain amount of spontaneity and direct emotional involvement. It gives people the chance to respond directly to certain needs. It does provide that feeling of knowing exactly where your money is going. It also avoids some of the problems of putting everything into a unified or World Evangelism Fund. It is a good system. It helps protect our commitment to outreach, encouraging us not to allow institutional demands to subvert our mission to unreached areas.

We often joke about all the offerings Nazarenes take. I don't apologize for those offerings. Nazarenes enjoy giving. I like the balanced way we do it. . . .[ continue reading ]

  Page:  ←Prev   |   1. Football and missions giving  |   2. Budget:  A bad word doing good  things  |   3. We called  it general, but it's  very specific  |   5. The Nazarene Constr uction  Company  |   6. I was hungry a nd  you gave me something  |   7. Giving more with&nb sp;less  pain  |   8. Doubling and tripling   our investments  |   9. Cleaning  out a ttics  and garages  |   Conclusion  | &nbs p; Next→ 

Building churches, schools, and clinics

right arrow with words Next chapter New and growing churches are always in need of facilities for ministry. How can affluent Westerners partner with those in the poorer countries of our world to construct needed buildings? . . . [ more ]

    -- Howard Culbertson,

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