If you were raised in the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist Church (IFB), you know how seriously they take world missions. IFB churches think their beliefs are the only truth and their practices are the only way to function as a church and live as a Christian. All other Christians sects are looked upon as “doubtful” and non-Christian sects are considered tools of Satan used to deceive the masses and lead them to a Christless hell.
Members of an IFB church hear missionary speakers quite often. Some churches have letters from the missionaries read from the pulpit, and most of them, somewhere in the church building, have a board where all the letters from the missionaries are posted.
In the IFB church, everything revolves around numbers. Attendance. Souls saved. People baptized. Offering size. How many preachers boys called into the ministry. How many men and single women called to the mission field. And…how many missionaries are supported by the church.
All of these numbers matter in the IFB church movement. Success is determined by the size of these numbers. I have often said, size matters, and what plays out in IFB churches is quite similar to men with their my dick is bigger obsession. Men with small dicks say nothing, as do pastors who pastor small churches and do not have the numbers the “successful” pastor’s have.
IFB churches like to support lots of missionaries. They may only give the missionary 25.00 a month, but, if they support fifty missionaries at 25,00 a month, they can brag at the next Preacher’s Meeting that they support FIFTY missionaries. Remember SIZE is everything!
Many churches have Missionary Conferences. These conferences are focused times when hotshot preachers come and preach about missions. Rarely do missionaries preach. They might give a report to the congregation or share their calling to ____________ country, but most preachers know, if you want to raise money for missions, NEVER allow the missionaries to preach.
Why? Many missionaries can’t preach a lick. They are often their own worst enemy. They may have a passion for winning souls but they often lack good communication skills. An IFB adage goes like this…preachers who can preach do, those who can’t go to the mission field.
So the hotshot preachers preach, and through their manipulative preaching and stories of lost people in need of IFB salvation, they make church people feel guilty over not giving enough money to the missions fund. If they are real good, they might successfully guilt a few church members into leaving the secular world and joining the preacher/missionary fraternity.
Countless young men and women, and quite a few older married couples, have abandoned all their hopes and dreams to chase after their “call” to be a missionary. Many of them NEVER make it to the field and quietly return home and fade back into the fabric of the IFB church.
They are failures. They weren’t willing to sell-out and follow Jesus. They are looked down on because they said God was calling them to the mission field and they didn’t follow through. Surely, there is something wrong with them, right?
Perhaps there is another scenario. Perhaps what really happened is that they were emotionally and mentally manipulated by a hotshot preacher who was an expert at getting people to think that his voice was the voice of the Holy Spirit.
Once a person says, God is calling me…it is almost impossible to undo what has been set in motion. The pastor brags about Bro, Mike being called to Canada. (yes, IFB churches send missionaries to Canada) The church is excited. Bro Mike, remember little Mickey? He is going to Canada to win the heathen Canucks to Jesus.
And so, off to Bible College Bro. Mike goes. He is trained in the IFB way of doing things. He graduates and starts on deputation. He travels from church to church BEGGING them to give him money so he can win heathen Canucks to Jesus.
He has a table display of items that show why the Canucks really, really need Jesus. Most likely he has a slide presentation or a multimedia presentation that he shows to churches in hopes of getting them to see that Canada is a vast wasteland with millions of people in need of the IFB gospel and Jesus.
If he is lucky, after his presentation, the church will commit to supporting him. If they don’t, he moves on to the next church. Maybe the next church will “see” the need and support him.
Prospective IFB missionaries will often spend years trying to get enough money together to get to the field. Many will never make it. Imagine the humiliation of having to go back to their home church and admit they aren’t going to the mission field.
Some of them will try to redeem themselves by coming up with a new calling. Instead of going to another country, they now think God is calling them to be a missionary in the U.S.
In this new scenario, they can work a secular job (tent making like the Apostle Paul) and still be a missionary. Their home church will kick a few bucks their way every months, and they will then be able to say they are still a missionary.
I have met countless missionaries who are missionaries to things like public schools, nursing homes, the streets of X major city, etc. Anything is better than being labeled a failure, a quitter.
Do you have a missions story to tell? Were you called at one time to be a missionary? Please share your story in the comment section.
My wife’s cousin’s husband, Jamie Overton was recently called to be a missionary to India. They are working through a Fundamentalist mission agency called, World View Ministries. Their sending church is my wife’s uncle’s church, the Newark Baptist Temple in Heath, Ohio.