Ocean Mist

17 Jun 2007

Mission Correction

Posted by Phil

error-correctionLately, I’ve been thinking about the balance any church must strike between local ministries and long distance missionary efforts. As with any other balance, you can find churches at either extreme: some churches do not support any missionary efforts, while other churches are entirely devoted to them. As I continued to think about this balance, I thought about how things tend to correct themselves when too close to either extreme, and how this behavior resembles the stock market in similar situations. There are three, basic analogies that can be drawn between church ministry and stock market corrections.

  • The first analogy is that corrections happen when everything is going well, not when they are going poorly. The stock market can do well, but if it starts to do too well in too short a time a correction may occur to bring stock prices back down to a more reasonable level. The same is true for churches. Mission work can be going strong with good support behind it. But if it starts to grow too quickly, if there is too much money pouring in and there is an overwhelming level of interested volunteers to where it becomes unmanageable, it may see a correction.
  • The second analogy is that corrections hurt people in the short-run. Prices of stocks drop significantly when the stock market corrects itself, causing investors to lose money. The same is true for church mission work. The people in charge of the mission efforts and the people most dedicated to it our hurt to see a partial loss of interest and support. More importantly, the people being helped by the mission work are hurt because there is now less effort being expended than before. Because corrections occur when things are going well, and because they tend to hurt people in the short-run, they are often misconstrued to be undesirable.
  • But the third analogy is the bright light at the end of the tunnel: corrections help to maintain long-run stability and growth. Corrections in the stock market help to keep it from growing at unsustainable levels, preventing even harder, more difficult falls in the future. This is the same result for churches and their level of missionary efforts. Just like an engine, missionary work produces the best results when it is running at an optimal level. But when pushed too hard, it can seize up and then it becomes unable to fulfill its function. But kept at a reasonable and manageable level, mission work can continue to grow at a stable rate doing more and more good every year.

One last note: The same is also true for churches that support no missionary work. The correction could be a new member, or a new idea, that jumpstarts the congregation to begin supporting a long distance missionary effort at a level that is manageable and sustainable for that congregation. And what is “too fast” or “too slow” or “just right” is unique to every congregation.

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