Here are a portion of the the notes from a sermon/teaching that I give called “Avoiding the Help That Hurts”. It concerns Western support of non-Western ministries, and gives some basic guidelines for doing so.


– Give to one-time projects that the locals feel are needed but can’t afford, after they have given sacrificially (sweat equity) and in faith.

– Building projects might be in this category but the horror stories are rife where foreigners build buildings unsuited to local culture/economy.

– Leadership training might be in this category, but not ongoing student and/or faculty support for institutions. The training ought to be commensurate with local resources and modus operandi.

– Avoid giving to ongoing salary support, since whatever the salary scale, it can be met by local believers.

– If a pioneer situation, give church-to-church, not individual to individual or church to individual. Local church there holds their own people accountable.

– If a church plant ministry is supported, do it on a sliding scale of 100% first year down to full local support in five years. Understood ahead of time. Not a permanent subsidy. With the goal that a net receiving church becomes a net sending church.

– New Testament giving was for poor, so Relief and Development is the safest investment. But there’s a HUGE amount of deflection to other uses of gifts given for relief and development, so great vigilance must be maintained. The problem with “vigilance” however, is that any attempt to control or monitor use of funds from the outside is viewed as neo-colonialism and not acceptable.

– Foreigners should not linger too long – they should work themselves out of a job, quickly raising up national leadership.

Continually ask, “What is it going to take to see a Church Planting Movement among this people group. Ask not, “What can I do?” But, “What is it going to take?” Ask “How little of that can I do, versus encouraging them to do it…” “Are we doing for them what they can’t sustain themselves?”