Restore Strategies | How Much is a Missionary Worth?
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How Much is a Missionary Worth?

How much is a missionary worth?  Our answer to this question has massive implications to the way we view our time, our budget, and our other resources.  When we think about local mission, there is a second, related question that we must consider:  Are we calling our people to become volunteers or missionaries?  This may seem like small distinction, but I would argue that we think about these two groups in drastically different ways.


Volunteers are not worth much, in fact…they are free.  We think of volunteers as something that saves us money, something that keeps us from hiring a position or paying for services by the hour.  Volunteers are a bonus.  They are the icing on the cake, making something that was good, slightly better.  Here is the problem, volunteers are not essential, and therefore are not valuable.  They are helpful, but only to a small degree.


Missionaries, on the other hand, are priceless.  Missionaries are essential.  They are the primary means that God has chosen to share his message with the world.  When we consider the great commission, the call to go and make disciples, we see missionaries are central to the mission of God. Unlike volunteers, missionaries don’t save us money, they cost a lot, but the cost is worth it.  We will devote hours, months, even years to training and equipping missionaries.  We will give thousands to see one person take the gospel overseas.  We are willing to pay whatever needs to be paid to send a missionary, because they are valuable.


Volunteers are free, missionaries are priceless.


When you think about training and calling your people to engage the city, which word best describes the role you are calling them to?  Does your local mission strategy send volunteers or missionaries?  If you are sending volunteers, then you are probably not very excited about giving more resources to this cause.  If, on the other hand, you are sending missionaries, then you probably want to spend even more time and money, even if it means just sending one more.

  • John Isaak
    Posted at 21:01h, 17 October Reply

    Categories are not mutually exclusive. Volunteers can be missionaries. And the fact that they volunteers often is their strongest witness.

  • Carlos Correos Huelma
    Posted at 06:11h, 18 October Reply

    Even in Third world country like the Philippines, the mindset of the churches is the same as you explain. My concern is that does Volunteer provide less effort than a Missionary? How we make the correct assessment and provide support equally with equal labor done in evangelism and church planting.

  • Uchechukwu Azuonye
    Posted at 08:40h, 18 October Reply

    It is very painful to have this dichotomy in the Church between the Volunteer and the Missionary. I have been both and the poor value given to Volunteers affect their output. The local church that is willing to pay so much to support a missionary will not budget anything to support and encourage her volunteers. That attitude should change.

  • Lanie Lopez G.
    Posted at 09:34h, 18 October Reply

    To me both are valuables because they are the one who have come in front to work for Christ cause. Money is not the number one, it will just come as the heart of these people beat for the cause of Jesus. Volunteers not only given their time and whole life but even to support their own means just to volunteer. Missionaries can not do what the volunteer did for they can only work with financial support of others. There are missionaries one like me who isn’t comfortable with the so many requirements of the sending field or perhaps God’s unique call is for me to be alone working but partnering with other likely brethren. As for me whatever the Lord told an individual or a group to do His mission on earth that must be obeyed.

    On the other hand, sad to say there are many been put in front but never called by God. Who put them there? I am sure someone also that had no heavenly discernment. Anyway as God allowed it I am hoping for the culprit to learn to change their left ways to the Lord’s ways.

  • Brenda Jank
    Posted at 13:08h, 18 October Reply

    Amen! Amen! Praying through a strategy right now of waking up our local churches to God’s call to our county, our rural community. The harvest awaits. Lord lead the way! Thank you for this great, short clip!

    • Doug Phillips
      Posted at 18:59h, 29 October Reply

      Brenda, I am glad you were encouraged by the article.

  • Bruce Webster
    Posted at 14:13h, 18 October Reply

    Where Christianity is dying we spend a lot to train and deploy church leaders and missionaries. Where Christianity is growing rapidly mostt church leaders and missionaries are bi-vocational. I have a friend who is a bi-vocational missionary in India. He has a job there but his primary reason to be there is to multiply disciples. Often bi-vocational missionaries have greater credibility with locals they are trying to reach because they have a job.

  • John Ochepo. Am a missionary with. Campus Crusade For Christ International.
    Posted at 22:19h, 18 October Reply

    Very good thoughts. Indeed volunteers are free but missionaries are priceless.

    • Doug Phillips
      Posted at 18:58h, 29 October Reply

      Thank you John, I am glad this article was helpful!

  • Michael E King
    Posted at 12:35h, 19 October Reply

    Volunteer Missionaries are vocational missionaries. Largely white middle and upper middle clas American Evangelicals DO NOT THINK in this way. Leaving our often massive suburban churches and subdivision neighborhoods to go to the inner city to minister to the-least-of-these a across racial lines is still not I great vision in American Christianity to would seem. David’s Platts’s book Radical changed my whole heart and mind. Slowly trying to make a difference!

  • Jonathan Mark Walsh
    Posted at 00:37h, 21 October Reply

    As a self-supported missionary in Mexico, I often feel I am considered “priceless” only in the aspect that no other pays a missionary-support “price” for me to minister here. I have to work several secular jobs to support my family of five in order to able to teach teach biblical Hebrew and train up Great Commission ministers.. There is pressure to give up on them and return to where the money abounds, but my calling and biblical convictions keep me living on the obedient edge, doing all the work God provides, no matter the future uncertainties. Knowing how inward the American church tends to be, I don’t even ask for funds. When God has your heart, He doesn’t have to plead for your purse. If He doesn’t have your heart, you will waste your money on yourself. He won’t bless even if you do make a show of “giving.”

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