November 19, 2020
The other day, one of my friends asked me, “Do missionaries get paid?” After hearing this question, I decided to research more about missionary funding to learn how they get paid.
Do missionaries get paid? Yes, missionaries get paid. The income varies depending on the mission sending agency, partnership, business, or church the missionary is working for. The average salary for a missionary is roughly $30,000 per year (BLS and Indeed statistics).
This post will explain in detail how missionaries are paid.
How Do Missionaries Get Paid?
Typically missionaries make their money through one of four options: mission sending agencies, partnerships, businesses, or churches.
Support Through Mission Sending Agencies
Missionaries are often sent out by a sending agency. These sending agencies are Christian organizations that help missionaries get on the field. They offer support for the missionary and the rest of the family.
Some of the support offered will include travel assistance, housing help, medical insurance, visas, etc.
Agencies such as:
- Bethany International
- SEND International
- Operation Mobilization
- International Mission Board
These agencies help send missionaries to the field.
Once the missionary is working with the sending agency, the missionary may receive a check every month from them. This is what’s considered the missionary’s income or salary.
Typically, this money will come through the missionary’s donors or churches.
If one works with a missions sending agency, they will typically handle the money for the missionary putting it into an account.
The missions sending agency will also help the missionary with taxes at the end of the year.
Support Through Partnership
In one form or another, all missionaries receive their support through partnership. This can be done in many different ways.
To get on the field, you’ll usually need a solid support system of individuals, or churches partnering with you.
Partnership is where missionaries set a goal of how much money they need to raise and ask their contacts to help support them.
How is Partnership Different Than Fundraising?
Fundraising is like a monetary transaction–you send your newsletter out and expect to receive something in return. Partnership Development is fostering stewardship by building trust in relationships and following up with your contacts who become partners. It’s proven to successfully launch fully-funded missionaries out to the field.Malaina, BGU alumni
Fundraising has often been done in a newsletter type form. In the letter, most share how God is leading you and how people can support you with money and prayer.
The problem with this is that you automatically assume people want to give you money without building any kind of relationship.
Fundraising has also often done through online posts. These are usually poorly done, and the focus is usually “me” or raising money for my trip.
It’s okay to share what God is doing in your life because you will need to share this. It’s all in how it’s done, and genuinely sharing your story is better in person, then over one letter that quickly moves how to fund you.
Partnership Development is about investing in your partners and effectively casting a vision of what God is doing in their life.
Partnership is about effectively telling one’s own story (so they know who they are working with, how God has been transforming and given you a calling, your purpose for life & missions) and then, strategically working through a cycle of following up with their dedicated partners.
Following up can be done by maintaining friendships with their partners through newsletter updates, phone calls, and face to face meetings.
It’s important to show the big picture, not making it about yourself, but about God’s plan for the world, and not only how you plan on contributing, how your supporter can be involved.
The missions sending agency will help the missionary with taxes at the end of the year.
The amount of money coming in just depends on how much support they receive from their partners.
Support Through Business
Today, missionaries are looking for other ways to bring money in. An example of a missionary using business is Paul, in the New Testament, who was a tentmaker to fund himself.
People typically use their business to employ locals and to build relationships. It is also a source of revenue for the missionary.
When a missionary chooses to have an income from their business, they are paid through their own revenue.
Business and missions are not two separate callings that simply co-exist with one another; rather, they are a lifestyle that works as one to harmoniously bring social, economic, environmental, and spiritual change to the darkest and hardest regions of the earth while taking the Church to where it is not.Bethany Global University
Paul took support from churches, as well as working and supporting himself. When Paul was completely funded by the churches, he chose to focus most of his time on his missionary journeys.
Paul says if no one works, neither should he eat. This doesn’t mean full-time missionaries don’t work, but I believe Paul is saying this to be an example for unbelievers, that missionaries still work.
Paul is an example of hard work, while being smart, as well as an example of involving the church. It is possible to develop a model to be effective.
Often times if the funded missionary runs out of support, they are forced to come back to the States often resulting in them seeking more support to go back.
This in-between stage can take years to get back to the field, sometimes resulting in never returning.
Whereas if you have some type of vocation that brings in an income where they already are, there is less chance they will have to go back to the States (making fewer chances of stopping entirely).
Support From Your Church
The Lord calls the church to help fulfill the Great Commission, to go into all the world and preach the gospel making disciples of all nations, caring for the sick and the poor, orphans and widows.
God calls the church to do His will and equip missionaries to go.
If one has been apart of a church for a long time, they will hopefully fund you to go. There are many denominations of churches that will fully fund a missionary and even their entire family.
When one is under a certain denomination of the church, the missionary typically will have to follow that denominations guidelines or “rules” while overseas.
If you have grown up in that church or a member there, hopefully, you agree with much of what they believe or stand for.
When the church comes alongside you, it is powerful to see the whole congregation supporting you while you are on the field.
I believe the Lord is pleased to see the church sending missionaries.
Your local church can be your biggest support system, not only financially but you know those grandmas are going to be on their knees praying for you.
If you do not have a local church, consider plugging into one.
Many missionary families go church to church (often within the same denomination) or “brethren” churches to also explain what they are doing to be supported by more than one congregation.
Biblical Basis for Missionaries Being Supported
Throughout the epistles Paul clearly encourages the financial support of missionaries and pastors through the church. He instructs the Galatians (Gal 6:6) that the church body is to financially support the teachers of the faith.
Paul quotes the gospels (Luke 10:7 and Matt. 10:10) when in 1 Timothy he tells the church to allow the servants to eat (5:18).
Paul thanks the church at Philippi for supporting him (Phil. 4:10-20).
Much of Paul’s letter to the Romans focused on the financial support of mission work.
Paul’s writing was not focused on missionaries caring for their own financial needs, but rather Paul’s desire for the church to provide for missionaries.
Jesus came from a working-class carpenter’s home. He himself chose a life where he and his full-time followers were dependent upon the contribution of those who supported his mission (Matt. 10:8-11, Luke 10:38-42).
Jesus’ ministry was funded by those who received his teaching. The women portrayed in this passage were paying the expenses for Jesus to travel through the cities “bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God.”
Jesus depended on God through others for support.
Now it came to pass, afterward, that He went through every city and village, preaching and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God.
And the twelve were with Him and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities—
Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who provided for Him from their substance.Luke 8:1-3
In Matthew 10:5-14, Jesus instructed the disciples to go out, relying on others while ministering.
These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel.
As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons.
Freely you have received; freely give. Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts— no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker, is worth his keep.
Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave. As you enter the home, give it your greeting. If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you.Matthew 10:5-13
He repeated this in Luke 10:7 when he sent out the 70 believers.
When believers are doing missions work, we should go with only a few things, knowing the Lord will provide what we truly need.
Jesus Himself said to go and that it is okay to be supported by others.
God wants to use the church and the support of believers to fund missionaries.