A recurring Transformational Giving question goes something like this:
“I understand how a local ministry could get its champions to participate in ministry projects and then coach them into engagement in the cause. But my ministry is international. How do I get champions and potential champions to participation and then on into engagement in my international ministry cause if I can’t get them to the field?”
An overwhelming number of champions are already active internationally–we just didn’t know it and didn’t think to ask!
Consider the following beefy, information-rich quote from Robert Wuthnow’s brilliant new book, Boundless Faith. Granted, it’s the longest paragraph in history, but what a paragraph!
[I]nternational telephone traffic quadrupled between 1991 and 2004. Another indication is that the number of air passengers traveling from the United States to other countries grew from about ten million in 1975 to nearly sixty million in 2000. Nearly two-thirds (62 percent) of active church members in the United States have traveled or lived in another country. One in seven (14 percent) has lived in another country for at least a year. More than four in ten (43 percent) have friends or relatives who live outside the United States. Vacations, foreign study, military service, and business all contribute to these international connections. Eleven percent of active church members have served in the armed forces. Among church members currently working, 37 percent say they routinely interact with people from other countries at work. Immigration is another source of transnational ties. Although the United States is historically a nation of immigrants, the pace of immigration in the past three decades has been considerably greater than it was during the preceding half century. Approximately twenty-two million more came as undocumented workers. The impact was especially evident among young males in their twenties, the percentage of whom were foreign born jumping from 4 percent in 1970 to 18 percent in 2000. Currently, 8 percent of active church members are immigrants, 14 percent are children of immigrants, and 74 percent attend congregations in which recent immigrants are present. Besides having personal ties and experiences abroad, most Americans regularly consume information about the wider world through the mass media. Among active church members, 38 percent claim to be “very interested” in news about other countries. Three-quarters watch news about other parts of the world on CNN, MSNBC, Fox news, or other channels at least once a week; a quarter read about international news at least once a week in a national newspaper; and four in ten obtain information about foreign events at least once a week from the Internet.
If we can get champions to think missionally about the international contacts they already have–daily!–we have a powerful and readily available platform for growing them in international ministry causes.
I once saw an organization overlook that insight a million times on the same day–and they’re still paying for it.
I’ll tell you that story in the next post.