“I Wish We Were Doing More…”

We have all heard the conversation.  Sometimes it is after class at Bible college.  Other times it is after church, a movie, a presentation or a conversation.  It usually goes something like this:

 “Why are we spending so much  money to send missionaries to  ________ when people ________ need it more?”

Put whatever you like in the blanks and I am sure you’ve heard it said– there/here, here/there, Africa/down the street, down the street/Africa.  Perhaps you’re even guilty of expressing these feelings out loud in a moment of frustration or confusion.  I know I have.

I have been part of this conversation a lot in my life, on both sides of the issue.  I have always desired being a church planter, which tends to mean working in the english speaking world, while I have many friends who have felt the call from a young age to take the gospel abroad. Naturally, this conversation comes up a lot. Often, this is framed   as a discussion about where is “better” to be putting our funds.

This gets dangerous, because when you start deciding what is a “better” use of funds, you make statements that are easily interpreted as value statements on a person’s calling or ministry– If Africa is a better use of our funds, therefore must be a better calling.

Someone told me recently that instead of making statements like the first one– “Why are we spending so much  money to send missionaries to  ________ when people __________ need it more?”– we should say exactly what we mean instead, which is usually something like this:

“I wish we were doing more in __________.” 

That is ultimately what we’re saying right?  I doubt that deep down anyone thinks sending missionaries to Africa is a waste. But rather that there are so many unmet needs everywhere that we wish we could do more.

Another thing this does is starts the conversation off on a common goal, rather than a common division.  If you say, “I wish we were doing more in Detroit” and had five others who agreed, you then have a team of people who are ready to imagine with you about what that could look like.  If you untie people under a common goal, instead of a common complaint I think you have a better chance at success of bringing about the change you wish to see.



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About coleyoakum

My name is Coleman Yoakum. I am formerly a student at Harding University. Today you can find me in Detroit Michigan doing what I can to expand the Kingdom of God and preparing to start an intentional community in Pontiac. I enjoy reading, writing, photography, music and politics. I am sure that all of these things will find their way to this blog from time to time. Twitter: coleyoakum Facebook: Coleman Yoakum Email: coleyoakum@gmail.com Flickr: flickr.com/photos/coleyoakum/

2 responses to ““I Wish We Were Doing More…””

  1. mattdabbs says :

    Acts 1:8 said the mission was at home as well as abroad but that it was to start at home. Too often we have this idea that the mission is elsewhere and we think that if we would just send people to other places that we would be fulfilling our biblical mandate. That also involves paid missionaires. Our consciences got soothed because we know that our congregation has someone doing that kind of thing somewhere else. Jesus never intended it to be like that. That is convicting. I have known people who had a deep desire to be a missionary but wouldn’t even reach out to their next door neighbors.

  2. coleyoakum says :

    This is true and sad. In a perfect world I think if anyone ever said they felt “called” to mission work there would be an elder from the church who would go knocking on their neighbors doors to ask what kind of neighbor they are.

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