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watchmanwakes

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I received the following account from a long time member of John Macarthur's church regarding their Short-Term Missions.  Notice that according to this account, Grace Church will fund the short-term mission trips only on the condition that the prospective missionary first send out at least 100 letters to people in their "sphere of influence" who are asked to send money directly to Grace Church.  Then supposedly the missionary receives the excess funds when he returns.  Why doesn't Grace Church simply fund the missionary trip from the congregation's offerings?

"The short-term mission trips are a major source of income. Every member is encouraged to go at least once. Many go multiple times after a well-organized marketing campaign (which includes sending a letter to at least 100 people—family, friends, church members, co-workers, dentists, doctors and any other people in their sphere of influence) and each person attempting to raise several thousand dollars. Contributing one’s own funds is greatly discouraged, as it prevents other people from being a blessing in this missionary effort. The money is sent directly to the church; noting which 'team' the contribution is being made for. From my understanding, as long as the person sends at least 100 letters they are 'guaranteed' they will make the trip. I estimate that the excess of contributions are roughly 2 to 3 times more than the actual travel and living expenses (usually on a missionary compound). I have been told that the excess funds are given directly to the missionaries. Upon return, pictures, videos and many, many wonderful presentations are made in the Sunday morning fellowship groups. In addition to a different family being featured each Sunday in the bulletin, each member also was encouraged to take a full-sized 'Missionary Calendar' to hang on the wall as a daily reminder to pray for them."

 

bjw

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This happens at TMC in a similar way. They have two missions breaks per year, fall and spring. About a month before they start showing slick tear-jerker videos before each chapel service showing all the lost people in each country and past missions efforts. This is usually followed by a guilt trip sermon about how not doing enough missions work means you are unsaved. You are expected to join a missions group, otherwise you are placed in one.

In my opinion some of the trips are at times irresponsible. For instance, they had 18 and 19 year olds pose as college professors in countries where Christianity is illegal. Some countries they did not know enough about geography or customs to send college students to. Also, some were in dangerous areas, like they wanted me to go to south central LA where a church had a ministry to gang members, while sleeping in the sanctuary on a sleeping bag.

Also, while Tatlock even told me once the trips were optional and I could not go without penalty, many people came to me and told me I was lost for not spreading the Gospel. The sermons in the days leading up to missions weeks turn up the guilt as well, like Ray Comfort did a sermon called "Leave Your Comfort Zone" the week before one of the trips. When Natalie Dyk was killed on her missions trip there were notes from this sermon in her journal, and she said she needed to leave her comfort zone.

I am all for spreading the Gospel and being proud to believe, but I feel much more training is needed than what they provide. Also, not everyone is suited for every type of mission. For instance, I feel you should master the language and culture before serving a mission in a foreign country, especially when there could be danger.

It's interesting how they managed to turn it into a con in the main church, they make millions every year and can't afford to pay for these trips. At least for TMC students they were willing to foot the bill.
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The Watchman Wakes In Vain
    Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the                 Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.  Psalm 127:1
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