‘All donors have agendas’

missions“All donors have agendas,” writes Patrick Brennan. And so they do. No one gives money without seeking some return, some benefit, some recompense. It may come in the form of mere satisfaction at helping another, with no strings attached. Or the donor may seek influence, power, manipulation. And who hasn’t bought something just to get rid of the seller, the return being the restoration of peace?

Beyond the small amounts and the small returns, donors usually seek to further their own vision of how the world should work. And how the recipient ought to work. This principle is true of churches as well.

Some churches have the Lord’s agenda of teaching the gospel of truth to the lost. But sometimes that agenda is soft, subject to budgets, elder or preacher projects, or majority wishes. Even then, mission funds can serve to assuage guilty consciences or be a badge of a successful church worn on the front page of the weekly bulletin.

Then again, more and more churches with businessmen for elders are looking for more bang for the buck, more baptisms per dollar. You dunk the natives, and they’ll plunk down the bills. Not a few mercenaries play that game with the calculating churches.

Some missionaries, in a rush to the field and in a crunch for funds, accept support from progressive churches, thinking that their money won’t talk or make demands. But if anyone has an agenda, it is progressives.

Some years back, one missionary wife confessed that she and her husband were concerned that their new sponsoring church was more liberal in some areas than they were. She didn’t know how they were going to deal with that.

They dealt with it by allowing liberal doctrine to influence them, so that today their congregation is the most liberal in the country and pushing progressive ideas among the churches. How liberal? Recently, people were dancing in the aisles during the Lord’s supper.

All donors have agendas. So they contribute to support-seekers, drop others along the way, until their funds find the field and the personnel that matches their vision.

The challenge in all this is for churches and missionaries who have Jesus as Lord of the mission to find each other.

For the greatest Donor of all has his agenda, too: the salvation of the world and eternal life for all, through the proclamation of the gospel of God.

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