25,000 Frontier minded Christians Jam Stadium
Imagine the exciting situation whereby all of you good people who've given to us 25,000 of you were enabled physically to gather together in a single stadium face to face, at no expense of time and effort or money, let's say. And suppose we were to spend several hours praying and discussing, in small groups and large, in order to reach a meeting of the minds, especially the mind of the Lord. What would the result be? What would we come out with as the best approach to the solution of the financial problem of the Center How can this property be paid off so that we can continue on, as we are now, operationally self supporting? Let's sketch out some of the possibilities.
Someone might boldly take the microphone and say, "We 25,000 can do this ourselves. For us 25,000 people, it is only $20 that each of us will have to pay to jack this entire project up out of delinquency for the remainder of this year. That will produce $500,000. Then, if we commit ourselves over the next few months to paying
Someone might boldly take the microphone and say, $500 apiece, that will pay off once and for all the entire property, $10,000,000." 25,000 people x $20 = $500,000, needed by December 31. 25,000 people x $500 = $12.5 million, total.
Response #1: The problem with Plan A, as everyone knows, is in part that for various reasons you can't expect all those 25,000 people to respond. It always seems unreasonable, furthermore, for people with less means to give the same amount as those who have more. The rule is simply that no plan is good that expects the same amount of money from every person.
Response #2 Here at the U.S. Center for World Mission, we agree that we should not expect everyone to give the same amount of money to the Lord's work However, that is not quite the same as saying it would be reasonable for us not to ask more than $15 for this specific project if there were special reasons for that rule being followed and there are.
Response #3 The chief problem with Plan A, however, is that paying off the property is not the only thing we feel we must be concerned about. The primary concern we have (for which this property is only a means to an end) is to "unearth" 1 million American evangelical believers from confusion about missions, and get them fitted personally and positively and perseveringly into the cause of frontier missions. In other words, we believe that it is just as important, if at all possible, to reach a large number of people not just get in a large amount of money
People are often mystified by this attitude. They can't believe that money alone won't solve our problem. Now, I'll grant you that it might be logical to say that "later in time to be concerned about the larger problem; right now we need simply money to pay off the campus." However, unless we demonstrate successfully the meaning and purpose of the campus, unless in effect we do concern ourselves right now and labor right now for the larger cause, people will not see why we want the campus and as a result it would not be likely that the money would be forthcoming!
Suppose another person came up to the mike to present a radically different point of view. "All of us should go home and persuade our own churches that they should dip into their budget and pull out $4,000 and send it in. Even though only 1 out of 10 of us may succeed, that will do the job. Our churches should each send ahead $200 right now for the momentary crisis."
2,500 churches x $200 = $500,000, needed by Dec. 31. 2,500 churches x $5,000 = $12.5 million, total.This would again solve our financial problem. Note 'that this time whole congregations are involved, not just the individuals who have already given to us another person came up to the mike to present a radically different point of view.
Response #1 I do not doubt that there are 2500 churches which would be able to give us $200 to keep the wolf away and clear things out of the way through December. In fact, I do not doubt that 2500 churches could spare even $5,000 as a onetime gift, so as to pay off the entire property. I'm sure that many churches need only to be asked to do so.
Response #2 Note, however, the question remains, "How much will this help us toward that other goal, the goal of a million people being 'unearthed' from the load of confusion and darkness that affects their outlook about the completion of the missionary task?" After all, we're trying to complete the task not just complete the property Getting this property has its greatest value only if we can unearth one million evangelicals as well.
In the light of that goal unearthing people out of confusion and darkness regarding the current mission scene the bad news is this fact: However common and conventional a thing it may be for churches to give money out of their budgets, we have discovered that it turns out to be relatively uneducational to the people in the pew. I am very pained to relate that churches have given the USCWM amounts of money in the'thousands of dollars. Perhaps 50 churches have. At least a handful of churches have given us $10,000 or more. One small church early in the game gave us $100,000. However, in the cold light of dawn we have had to realize that precisely these churches, on the level of their ordinary membership, probably know as little or perhaps even less about the cause of frontier missions than other churches that have given far less but which have s!rred up a number of individuals in their membership to give a small amount each.
In other words, we feel it is crystal clear by now that a church that has stirred up a hundred of its people to give $15 has not only given us the same amount of money as a church that gives us $500, but has done incalculabflmore for the expansion of the vision of its people I don't mean to say that churches that are giving block grants of funds are making a mistake. I don't mean to say that's a bad thing to do. In many cases the people already know all about the goal of such gifts. I'm only suggesting that in terms of new education, especially when a cause hinges on a new kind of vision, it turns out to be a much more beneficial impact upon a congregation to persuade a hundred people to give $is for the cause of frontiers than for the missionary committee simply to allot $1,500 to our project.
Now suppose someone stands up and says, "I can see that there is no substitute for something more personal, more enduring. There must be no attempt to shortcircuit around the necessity for individuals to be wrestling in their hearts and minds on a personal daily level with the need for new vision. What we all need is for you people to produce a booklet of daily devotional readings that will help a person through a month day by day to focus his heart and his thoughts on the frontiers. Once that is available, we 25,000 people can really go to work for the cause of the frontiers. We can get our churches lined up to find an essential minimum of 50 people in our congregations who will pray together and save their loose change, as part of the Loose Change Frontier Fellowship, and once a month meet together around this vision. We will do it if only you will prepare that booklet. Once this gets going, we'll be happy to earmark $15 to the USCWM from each person's loose change offerings. We'll even send you in advance the $750 that will come from our 50 people. It will take 667 churches doing that to produce the needed $500,000 by Dec. 31st, and it will take 16,750 such churches to pay off the full $12.5 million."
667 churches x 50 Frontier Prayer Partners x $15 each = $500,000. 16,750 churches x 50 Frontier Prayer Partners x $15 each = $12.5 million.
Response #1 What does this do that Plan B did not do? Plan B involves churches making decisions only on a committee level. In Plan C each of these churches will find 50 people and become a "Frontier Mission Church," with an ongoing daily revival cell within. All congregations with that kind of prayer discipline within need to be given a modest plaque which will remind them of their commitment. Just imagine the impact on the tone of a congregation for 50 people studying day in and day out, month in and month out, year in and year out until the year 2000, praying that we might have a church for every people by the year 2000! Isn't that exciting?
Response #2 Note, however, that Plan C requires a far larger number of churches (16,750) in order to help us reach the required $12.5 million goal. This is a far larger number than the 2,500 churches involved in Plan B. But it's obviously superior, is it not? And do you notice that 16,750 is exactly equal to the number of remaining Hidden People groups? Isn't it perfectly clear that it is better for there to be 50 people praying in the very heart of 16,750 churches than for only 2,500 churches to get involved in terms of a single $4,000 gift. Furthermore, if Plan C incidentally delivers $12.5 million to the USCWM, it will deliver far more to the rest of the cause of frontier mission, that is, over $70 million in 1982, and level out to $100 million per year from then on.
Response #3 Stop and ask yourself what it is you would like to see happen. Then decide whether Plan C is not actually superior to either Plan A or Plan B. We believe you'll find it immeasurably superior! But, you'll ask, "Isn't it a lot harder than the other two plans?" Well, better things are usually harder. We ought to ask not whether it's harder, but whether it's worth it and whether it's possible. Is it worth it? Is it possible? The answer, I believe, is "yes" to both questions.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO MAKE PLAN C WORK
It is perfectly obvious that we need 667 churches right away that will step forward and say, "We will do what is necessary to energize 50 people in our congregation to pray every day for the frontiers, and to save their loose change coins. The funds resulting will be prayerfully designated to the cause of frontier missions, and sent through our own denomination or through mission boards with which we are acquainted. We will be happy to put $15 from each person's giving into the establishment of the U. S. Center. Indeed, we will see if our 50 x $15 (= $750) can be advanced in time for your critical Dec. 31st date."
Is your church one of the 667 churches that would be willing to do this and become a Frontier Mission church? Note that the greatest value in this is not the $750 that will come to us, nor even the $5,000 per year your church will receive, but the daily prayer, and daily absorption of insight and inspiration about the entire cause of frontier missions. Nevertheless, I'm sure you recognize that the immediate property need we have is important.
How does this actually calculate out? We have founc that a person setting aside loose change every day will likely average at least 28 cents a day and that even a small amount like that amounts up to $100 per year. Then, $15 of that constitutes only 15% of the first year's offering. Thus a Frontier Mission congregation, with at least 50 people praying and setting aside coins daily, will produce at least $5000 per year. Only $750 will come to the USCWM, and this only the first year. But even that amount from 667 churches right away will save the life of this project.
Remember, we want to spread these blessings around to as many churches as possible. If your church enlists more than 50 people, fine, but by all means, let's get 667 churches lined up right away, and by all means let's get 16,750 churches lined up by the end of next year. We expect many organizations, including denominational groups, to help use do this. This will very nearly complete the initial goal of the Frontier Fellowship 1 million evangelical believers praying, studying, giving and sharing their frontier vision.
That is a worthy goal! It will itself truly lay a proper foundation for the final era of missions. But in addition there is the coin dimension, which will mean $100 million per year specifically for frontiers. We believe these little coins and the Daily Prayer Guide will drag with them much more in regular gifts to the cause. of the final frontiers.
I wish that for a moment we could forget about the U.S. Center project, and that all of the 25,000 people I referred to could gather together to ponder the larger challenge. That is, I wish it were possible for all of those who have already given and prayed for the USCWM to look fully at the larger task of mobilizing forces in all the world to seek to establish a church for every people by the year 2000.
The cause of the final frontiers is so simple, so inviting, so exciting, so challenging, that it cries out to be unsnarled even from so crucial a frontier base as the vast Pasadena USCWM. Indeed it is the validity of that larger cause that gives rhyme and reason for the world wide network of action centers which the USCWM represents. So that you can pray on a larger scale with us, here are the five planks of that larger cause, stated by itself:
- It must be clear that the cause of the final mission frontiers has now suddenly jumped into focus on the screen before thousands of evangelicals, especially mission leaders and alert pastors all across this country.
- The "people group" (vs. "country") perspective is as old as the Bible, but became a conscious point of view as recently as the 1974 meeting at Lausanne, and is now widely held in mission circles.
- It is only a simple step further then to note that the true mission task unlike the ordinary evangelistic task, is to be sure to penetrate each remaining people group and make sure a base for internal, indigenous evangelism has been established.
- Today most North American mission agencies (due to success, not failure)' have become to some extent caretakers of earlier beachheads. To be able to expand their forces greatly (even granting new mission agencies are being formed in the "Third World") requires an ominously vast new financial base
- The new base must consist first of all in renewed prayer, daily prayer for the frontiers. It must be as strong a movement as only truly across the board collaboration between churches and Christian organizations can be. The essential minimum basis of collaboration (why not?) could well be an adaptation of the Asian "Handful of Rice" at each meal. This strong, new thrust to the frontiers is the purpose of the Frontier Fellowship movement, and will continue to be so, even if wounded by the loss of the Pasadena base. But that will be a grave wound.