This being a new blog, I need to state some things up front for those unfamiliar with who I am, or what I am speaking to. My name is Jeff Haney, and I am the pastor of Pinecrest Baptist Church in Corinth, Mississippi. Our church is in fellowship with the American Baptist Association (ABA) not to be confused with the American Baptist Convention; nor are we in tied to the Southern Baptist Convention.
That being said, for those familiar with the ABA and abreast of the general issues in our work, you will be fairly familiar with the issues of concern that I raise here.
For the last several years there has been much debate over whether or not the messengers of the associated work has the Biblical right to require a church who is requesting monies for mission work to send 20% of their requested salary to the office of Secretary Treasurer of Missions in Texarkana.
That being said, let me say unequivicolly that I am a flaming believer in local church autonomy. No one has the right or power to require anything of one of the Lord’s churches except the Lord Himself. Without going into great argument I will say however, that if any church will deny the request of the messengers under the banner of free will independence, then the messengers have the same right under the banner of free will independence to say no to the request of that church.
What is the big deal? Why is this an important issue that needs to be addressed? As one brother said to me, “just trust the churches to do what is right.”
Well that is wondrous and joyful except for the fact that some churches (intentionally or not) may be adding to the current subtraction of funds at the expense of the supporting churches.
Recently, I had a conversation with a foreign missionary who is well respected, and well loved in our associated work. Through our conversation I found something out that is very discouraging and possibly eye-opening to me. I found out that the church who sponsors this missionary is making money off of him. One of the requirements that this church has placed upon him is that he give his tithe back to them. (Now whether you agree with that or not is not the issue here.) The issue here resides in the fact that his sponsoring church only contributes $200 toward his overall support; but his overall tithe is in the realm of $4 to $500 a month. It’s not costing the church to send him out, it is profiting the church to send him out.
Now in his case he is on designated funds and not on salary which makes the issue nobodies business except those churches who are contributing directly to that missionary, if they care at all.
The question I have is this; are there sponsoring churches of salaried missionaries that require their missionaries to tithe their 10% back to them? If so then whether or not a sponsoring church is actually contributing their 20% of the missionary’s salary becomes a serious issue. If the sponsoring church of a salaried missionary is not sending their missionary 20% of his salary, and they are requiring him to tithe back to them, then that church is being indirectly supported by the salary fund.
Now whether or not the missionaries should tithe back to their sponsoring church is one thing. For sponsoring churches to send their 20% and require their missionaries to tithe is one thing. But for sponsoring churches to not send their 20% and require their missionaries 10%, then the Salary fund is being used for something it was never intended to be used for.
There is nothing inherently wrong with churches receiving the tithes of people who are supported by other churches. I have no doubt that the employees of the Baptist Book store, the Business manager, and the Secretary Treasurer of Missions tithe or give to the church of their membership. What is inherently wrong is for a church to manipulate it’s cooperation with everyone else in a way that is going to bring them profit without open disclosure.
Now let it be said plainly. I make no accusations against any one church participating in the salary program of the ABA mission work. I have no evidence that this is a practice, nor do I have any inside information that this is going on.
What I do know is that within the ranks of missionaries on designated funds, this is a practice. My question is, 1.) Is this a practice within those receiving salaried funds? 2.) If so, then would not the situation be cured by sponsoring churches sending their 20% to the office of Secretary Treasurer of Missions as the messengers requested?
With the current economic status, and the dwindling balance in the mission account, and the monthly deficit spending within the mission treasury, would it not stand to reason to eliminate any unnecessary leak in the funds? That is merely a question of concern.