“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.