Don't cause financial dependency
- The "have" Christians of the world want to share in
Kingdom work in "have not" places. So, they shower money on projects and people in faraway
- Giving money to people and projects in other cultures must be
done wisely, strategically, and judiciously so that it helps rather than hurts.
- Dependency on foreign money can sap spiritual vitality,
stifle local initiative and actually slow down Great Commission fulfillment.
- Foreign money should only be used to "prime the pump" rather than to subsidize ongoing
Mission Briefing: Ideas shaping world mission outreach today
Dependency. It is a word often associated with addiction. Sadly, dependency is also used as
a label for a problem bedeviling world evangelism efforts. That problem develops when
well-meaning attempts to aid a congregation or a leader in another country create a thirst for
foreign funding and the view that more foreign money will enable a church to fulfill God's plan for
it. Sadly, such financial dependency on foreign aid often has the effect of sapping spiritual vitality,
stifling local initiative and actually slowing down Great Commission fulfillment rather than
speeding it up.
That's a tragic irony, isn't it? The "have" Christians of the world want to share in Kingdom
work in "have not" places. So, they shower money on projects and people in faraway places.
However, raining down money on people and projects can be akin to trying to help baby birds
get out of their eggshells or butterflies out of their cocoons. That "help" is not good for the birds
or the butterflies. What was meant to be a helping hand becomes counterproductive and winds
up hurting rather than helping.
Here are ten reasons why allowing financial dependency to develop is unhealthy in global
- Dependency on a continual stream of foreign money make local churches financially
unsustainable at the local level and therefore not infinitely reproducible.
- Dependency lulls aid recipients into thinking that forward progress is dependent on the
generosity of overseas benefactors.
- Members of churches dependent on foreign benefactors miss out on the joy of giving
sacrificially themselves and living by faith in God's provision.
- Knowing that a congregation is supported by foreign money taints a church's credibility in
the eyes of the local community.
- Dependency creates an entitlement: The more aid is given; the more it is expected and
solicited. It's an unquenchable thirst.
- Dependency sometimes leads those having access to foreign money to see themselves as
powerful rather than as servants.
- Because jealousy too often raises its ugly head among those not receiving assistance,
dependency strangles the sense of community that should characterize networks of local churches
- Though it seems paradoxical, dependency has even fostered resentment toward or disdain for
foreign benefactors (who never seem to be giving enough).
- Dependency allows foreign benefactors to have undue influence over vision, goal-setting and
decision-making in churches where they have only a very superficial understanding of context
and cultural dynamics.
- Dependency breeds temptations to "borrow" foreign funds or embezzle them outright.
For these and other reasons, depending on a pipeline to foreign money to finance local
ministries often winds up stalemating things rather than sustaining or increasing momentum, It
stunts initiative rather than stimulating it. It cripples churches rather than galvanizing
them to increased action.
So, is giving financial help always bad? No. But it must be done wisely and with great
discernment. No one sets out to purposefully create dependency. It is, tragically, an unintended
consequence. To avoid dependency, foreign money must not be used to pay for everyday local
expenses such as pastors' salaries, living expenses, building rent or utilities. In terms of an
analogy from pioneer days in the American West, foreign money must only be used to prime the
pump rather than to subsidize on-going operations.
All Christ's followers are called to give. Believers are called to help the less fortunate.
However, we must do it judiciously and strategically so that we help rather than hurt.
- What are some negative consequences of creating financial dependency in global
- Why is it important to give financial help wisely and with great discernment, according to the
- How can the creation of financial dependency hinder the fulfillment of the Great
- What are some potential dangers of foreign benefactors having undue influence over vision,
goal-setting, and decision-making in local churches?
- How can churches and organizations ensure that foreign money is used wisely and
strategically to avoid causing financial dependency?
-- Howard Culbertson,
This mini-essay on a key issue in world missions outreach is one of 12 articles in
the "Mission briefing" series published in Engage
You might also like these