Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Church Finances in the Majority World

*I use the term majority world because the majority of the world’s population lives in a developing country and also because most Christians live in a developing country.

So a few weeks ago Gamasara United Methodist Church had the great opportunity to host a seminar for local pastors and church leaders in the Mara District. Since I am the local pastor in charge of Gamasara UMC I had the “privilege” of making all of the arraignments for the seminar. Arraignments included food, lodging for all out of town guests, and trying to keep the seminar schedule going.  Having filled the role of youth director for 4-5 years before coming to Tanzania these types of details were not unfamiliar to me, however the setting, I can say, is quite different. The planning began with the church council and we set out the menu and the sleeping arrangements. It was not anything extravagant, rice and beans for dinner and mattresses on the floor of a school classroom for sleeping. I was a little worried about how all of this would be received. When the pastor’s should up they were not happy with the arrangements, they were thrilled. They were very excited with how much food there was and that with the mattresses we also provided sheets. The life of a village pastor in Tanzania is not exactly glamorous.

That weekend we were able to facilitate the training of 5 local pastors, 10 local church leaders, and 1 future pastor on the history of the United Methodist Church and the organizational structure of the current church in Tanzania…all for $150. The moral of the story that I gained is that a lot can be accomplished for God’s kingdom with only a little money, the challenge is that often even that little money is not available. For example, the weekly offering at Gamasara UMC right now, a church of over 50 adults is $8. For many of the churches that came to receive training that same $8 is their entire monthly offering.  This makes it difficult to do too many seminars in one year, considering we spent over 15 weeks worth of offering on one seminar. Luckily the pastor at Gamasara works for free ;). However, as with most ministries the cost and effort are well worth it. Any time we are able to train people what we are really doing is spreading out the knowledge of a few to the many who want to use it. We are also empowering them and giving them the confidence to return to their churches and do some of these essential tasks. The leadership of the church is being multiplied. There are still more people that are interested and willing to receive training as worship leaders, Sunday School teachers, Bible study leaders, and evangelists. All we have to do is make the resources available.

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