Church Missions Trends for 2011

It has been interesting for me to observe what has been going on in the Christian segment of the relief and development world in 2010.  Some of the new trends are encouraging, others are troubling.  Below are three trends I believe are taking root.

1.      Churches embracing secular humanitarian efforts.

Increasingly I am seeing churches embrace and fund raise for secular humanitarian organizations in relationships that further social good, but do not lead the poor toward Christ.  Toms Shoes, Charity Water, Kiva and other secular agencies are all being promoted in churches.  However, when evangelical churches bring attention to these organizations they are giving a seal of approval for their congregations to follow.

This guidance mistakenly encourages church members to ignore how humanitarian efforts can empower the communication of the message of the Gospel and lower the defenses of those being helped, to the work of Christ in their lives. This will never be the focus of secular organizations.  So churches should be clear to prioritize the message of the Gospel along with good relief and development practices and they should do more to partner with excellent Christian ministries to give them a greater opportunity to gain public and private funding.  If churches don’t support and promote holistic ministries who will?

2.      No more building orphanages.

Finally! I believe churches are getting the message that building more orphanages is an outdated and over used model.  Published studies and my own experience show that supporting family based care is cheaper and more effective at helping vulnerable children.  In 2011, watch for the Faith to Action Initiative and the Christian Alliance for Orphans to come on strongly with a message that there are more effective means to helping orphans than building another institution.

3.      Cut backs.

Missions’ budgets tend to be lagging indicators in the economy.  When the economy starts to wane you can figure that in 12-24 months missionary and missions budgets will be cut.  I started to see this happen particularly in late 2009 when churches that once supported the work of Bright Hope could no longer continue in 2010.  Severe cutbacks came from churches of all sizes. Cutting the dollar level is understandable as all church ministries have to adjust to the economic realities, however the more disturbing trend is that the percentage of the overall budget going to missions is dropping.

What do you think?  What trends do you see?  Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

About C.H. Dyer

I am the CEO of Bright Hope. I am dedicated to helping those who earn less than $1.00 a day. There are one billion people in my target market (the extreme poor) and I could use some help. I am a Christian, father of three (two are internationally adopted), entrepreneur, speaker, improving writer and amateur photographer.

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