Friday, May 11, 2012

How Do Missionaries Plan for Retirement?

Abu Daoud at Islam and Christianity has asked a very good question.  Well actually, he states a fear. In his post Missionary Secrets 1 -- Retirement worries us, Abu discusses how "retirement" in the [recent] Western tradition looks for missionaries.

Honestly, I haven't had too much contact with "missionaries" because, well, they're "over there" most of the time, and when they're home on furlough, it's expected that they will be fundraising in order to go back.  They don't seem to have much rest.  I once attended a church that suddenly had an elderly couple show up and attend regularly - a couple that were life long missionaries who had returned from the mission field.  For me it raised a whole new set of questions about missions.  Do you know missionaries that have returned?  Were they treated well by their brothers and sisters?


  1. Some missions now require missionaries to contribute to retirement funds. I'm sure it varies from mission to mission, but the ones we funded in the recent past (WBT, Crossworld, etc.) had some kind of plan in place.

    Old school, they would often be destitute. Places like Bradenton Missionary Village exist as missionary retirement centers, but only for those who spent a substantial part of their lives on the field and are truly poor.

  2. Perhaps some of those believers who find themselves in the 1% will generously fund retirement for missionaries who are among the truly 99% - on the other hand, probably not.

    As a former mission/denominational pension administer my observation is that for most Evangelical denominations/mission agencies it is a guns or butter decision: "With our resources we can have all the missions/buildings etc we want or all the pastoral/missionary compensation/benefits we want but not all of both. What do we need now for to build the organization?" Most have chosen missions/buildings over compensation and allowed ministers/missionaries to "live by faith." When they have shifted to provide more compensation (and less mission) we've labeled them liberal and "lost their Evangelical zeal."

    Fortunately, for some there have been generous laypersons who have helped clergy retire with some dignity. Better still is the core conviction and experience that Father will supply needs and our dependency is on Him and not on any retirement system - without that hope and experience to sustain life would be bleak for sure.