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What is the Cost of Baptisms?


“…those who win souls are wise (Proverbs 11:30).’

When I speak of the cost of baptisms in various countries, I am not talking about blessing a priest or pastor with $ 50 or a fifty euro note (€50) for baptizing your child.  Likewise, I am not talking about spiritual discipline and the various ‘teachings of baptisms (Hebrews 6:2).’   Christ said, ‘Go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit… (Matthew 28:19).’  How effective do we carry out this process?  What does it cost to reach lost sinners, hear them ‘confess with (their) mouth the Lord Jesus (Romans 10:9; Matt. 10:32-33);’ and go ‘down into the water… baptized’ (Acts 8:38)?

Before there was a Federal Reserve System, global central banks and mortgage derivatives; missionaries such as Lake, Liddell, or Livingstone, would forsake their high paying salaries and luxuries, their athletic talents, and even their families in order the reach and save the lost.  They unselfishly would ‘go into all the world and preach the gospel… (Mark 16:15).’  But, today, even though more than 100,000 people die every day without knowing Christ, we do not use our resources effectively.

It is true that we Christians are ‘not’ to ‘forsake the assembling of ourselves together (Heb. 10:25),’ that we should ‘exalt God in the assembly of the people… and elders (Psalm 107:32),’ and that ‘a laborer is worthy of his wages (in this verse it was about shelter and free food; Luke 10:7).’ However, today, many churches spend over 90% of their income on salaries and building cost, and less than 10% on their poor and on missions.  Now, before you larger churches say that is not us, how many pastors make a salary 2 to 10 times that of your average adherent?

Back to the matter at hand, many churches in America take in $ 500,000 or $2 million dollars a year in tithes and offerings and use 95% or more on maintenance, insurances, salaries, loan repayments, and utilities.  And many of these baptize only a few people a year.  Thus, the cost may be $ 50,000 to over a million per baptism.

Now let’s say we send a missionary to another nation as instructed by the Lord.  According to the Evangelical Free Church of America (EFCA), ‘the average cost to support a missionary from North America is approximately $ 6,032 per month (2008).’   However, according to Gospel for Asia (GFA  – you should get Yohannan’s free book, Revolution in World Missions), ‘a national missionary can be sent out at a faction of the cost of a Western missionary.  In fact, the average cost is only $ 1,440 to $2,520 per year compared to over $ 75,000 per year for a foreign missionary.’

According to Gordon Conwell’s (Center for the Study of Global Christianity) World Christian Trends, AD 30-AD 2200 (2001) less than 1% of Christian revenue is spent on evangelism to the most unreached peoples.  All costs of ministry divided by the number of baptisms per year in India in 1999 were approximately $9,800 per person.  While the costs per baptism in the United States was about $1.5 million per person (WCT pages 520-529).

And according to the Center for the Study of Global Christianity (World Christian Trends) at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (2008), it costs about $ 330,000 to convert and baptize a person in America versus $ 1,400 in Mozambique.  They estimate that it costs 700 times more to baptize converts in rich countries such as Switzerland than in poor countries such as Nepal.  Less than 1% of Christian revenue is spent on evangelism to the most unreached!

My point is not to ‘quench the Spirit’ in American churches, or churches in nations with high standard of livings; only to remind wealthy Christians filled with the spirit of God that as we ‘bear one another’s burdens’ and ‘love our neighbor,’ we do not forget our neighbors and brethren in foreign countries – both natural born and missionary.  And to offer facts that we might consider what are the most effective ways for Christians throughout the world to work together to reach and save the multitude of lost souls.

Sincerely in Christ Jesus, a servant of the Most High God.

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