Taylor, Faith, and Finances: Theory, Practice, and Controversy of NonSolicitation in the Early CIM

Kenneth Warnock Kenneth.Warnock@omfmail.com Littleton, CO February 15, 2012

2 It should come as little surprise that Hudson Taylor is noted as having a strict Non-Solicitation Policy (NSP) with respect to funds. However, several questions remain. Is this steeped in fact, or is it merely part of the “myth and legend” of J. Hudson Taylor? Did Taylor ever present need, and if so, did he ever solicit funds? Did Taylor stick to what he claimed, and did he even see this as an important issue? I should point out that there have been doctorate theses, and even books written on this topic. It is neither my purpose nor my desire to delve into such great detail. Rather, I intend to provide a brief summary of the issues, challenges, and controversies surrounding Taylor’s views towards finances. Keep in mind that this is almost exclusively based on printed documents; what Taylor actually said or done in person may have been different. Given his elaborate theology on the subject, it seems highly unlikely that this would be the case, but it is an important limitation to consider. In this paper we will explore both the rationale and theology behind Taylor’s NSP. We will touch upon the dynamic nature of the NSP and how views toward it changed over time. We will explore Taylor’s actions regarding solicitation and statement of need1, and we will also examine Taylor’s desire for financial transparency and the reports that ensued. We will briefly touch on Taylor’s views toward advertising the sales of books and mobilization materials, and we will close with a summary and applications for the NSP today. As a final caution, the statements and trends listed in this paper are accurate to the best of my knowledge and ability. A thorough reading of the over 40,000 pages of material may render certain trends or claims false. There may be facts that I simply did not find. The purpose of this paper is not to find rare exceptions and use them to disprove Taylor’s theology2. Rather, the purpose is to find a general framework that encapsulates both what Taylor believed and actually practiced regarding the NSP. 1. The NSP as an Ideal

The first question to consider is whether Taylor actually emphasized the NSP and whether he saw this as an important matter. This question receives an astounding, unbiased “yes”. Taylor frequently and consistently emphasized that the China Inland Mission (CIM) was “Supported by God through the unsolicited offerings of his people” (China’s Millions *CM+, 18751876 p. 69) This was printed in the first volume of CM, and this verbiage continued without change for the entirety of Taylor’s tenure. This attitude was quite unique to Taylor and the CIM at the time, and caused several

1

While many acknowledge that Taylor stated need, there was actually a systematic pattern that he seemed to follow. This point will be discussed in that section. 2 Critics of Taylor and the NSP are quick to point out that Taylor violated his own “rules” regarding the NSP. While this is true, it simply does not do the topic justice to seek out these violations for the sole purpose of discrediting the policy. We shall explore and acknowledge some of these exceptions, but we must also keep in mind that these occurred no more than a few times over 25 years.

3 contemporaries to note the unique non-solicitation practices. There is no doubt that Taylor considered this to be a vital aspect of the CIM. Taylor had very specific reasons for the NSP. First, he wanted to ensure that the CIM was not detracting from other mission boards or from people’s giving to their church. Second, Taylor had a strict belief that he and other missionaries of the CIM should be totally reliant on God for their provision and support. By not soliciting, this “left things in God’s hands,” so to speak. (See Wigram’s essay Hudson Taylor and Non-Solicitation: Historical Context and Practice, pp. 3-5 for more information regarding the history and context of the NSP.) We will explore in future sections how this practically played itself out, but suffice it to say, Taylor strongly believed and preached his mantra of non-solicitation. Before delving into the financial aspect of the NSP, however, we must first visit Taylor’s views on prayer. In many ways, the NSP was just as much, if not more, about soliciting faithful prayer as it was about not soliciting funds. 2. The Link Between Need and Prayer

There is also little doubt that Taylor expressed financial issues to the readers of CM. He would occasionally reference new projects, including the financial obligation they would likely entail. He frequently printed a financial “expense report” of CIM for the year, listing income, expenditures, cashon-hand, and the like. In fact, Taylor was incredibly transparent, providing itemized accounts of both expenditures and incomes (E.G. CM 1887, pp 104-105). It should be noted, however, that the statement of financial need was inexorably linked to petitions for prayer. “We need, however, not merely funds … for this too, we shall be glad of united prayer.” “Property is expensive in Shanghai, and 800-1,2000 pounds might be required to meet our need… We should therefore be very glad for prayer for guidance and help in this matter” (Both from CM 1885, p.52). For Taylor, received finances were a direct result of God answering prayer, and he would frequently praise God for these provisions (E.G. CM 1875-1876, p. 70 and CM 1888, p.3). It is little surprise then that any explanation of financial need followed the formula of ‘This is what we’d like to do; this is how much it will cost, so pray for us.’ Some may see that as a very round-about sort of way to ask for money, particularly given our current culture’s method of soliciting funds. “Will you pray about supporting me?” “Will you pray and see if God leads you to give?” To reach the center of Taylor’s message, however, we must be willing to leave our own cultural baggage at the door. When read in the full context of Taylor’s theology that support comes from God, it seems perfectly reasonable that he meant exactly what he wrote with respect to appeals for prayer. Letters

4 and articles from CM make it abundantly clear that CIM missionaries, Taylor included, coveted prayer above all else. (See CM 1875-1876 pp. 14, 69, 135, 163, 172 for just some examples within a single volume.) So while Taylor and the CIM did not agree with soliciting funds, they openly acknowledged that they were soliciting prayer. “We meet together not to ask your money; but we beg, we entreat your prayers on behalf of the 150 millions of perishing souls!” (CM 1875-1876 p. 163). Having reviewed articles over the span of 25 years (1875-1900), it is my whole-hearted belief that these requests were completely sincere and were not subtle ploys to manipulate others into giving. This remains an important point for us today. Regardless of where we stand in the spectrum of expressing need and/or soliciting money (or not), this must remain a primary focus. I would argue that soliciting prayer was, in fact, even more important to Taylor and the early CIM than was the process of not soliciting money. 3. Changing Views Toward Finances

In what follows, we will view Taylor’s actions regarding solicitation, expressing need, and providing financial accountability. However, before beginning these analyses, it should rightly be pointed out that each of these topics were still quite dynamic in nature in the early CIM. What did and did not constitute solicitation in their minds changed over time, as we would rightly expect to occur. As the first mission organization to practice this ideal to such an extreme, there were naturally some “kinks” to work out. One does not and cannot challenge the existing system in a vacuum.3 As an example, the first copy of CM contained a supplementary page almost like a brochure explaining the CIM – why was it formed, what is its purpose, why China, etc. At the bottom of this sheet was the phrase “All donations be sent to [their address at the time]” (CM 1875-1876 p. S.4). By 1885 – and quite possibly sooner4 – this verbiage had been dropped (CM 1885 Supplement). While the inclusion in 1875 may have been intentional – it was, after all, the first issue of CM to be sent – it seems equally plausible that that statement was later seen to be a violation of the non-solicitation policy and was subsequently dropped. Similar changes are seen both in the way CIM expressed need (See Wigram) and how CIM provided fiscal accountability (See CM 1884-1886 and note the dramatic changes in how financial transactions are recorded). According to Wigram, citing Broomhall, “In the early days of the mission, the expenses needed were outlined clearly in communications… [However,] this degree of reference to financial need was seen to be a violation of the non-solicitation policy and was later dropped” (Wigram, p.8).
3

This topic of tracking changes in how the policy was seen over time would make a very compelling thesis or even book. 4 Since this was a supplemental insert, it is very difficult to conclude whether the information was deliberately excluded prior to 1885 or whether that insert was simply missing from the archives as it was not physically in the book, per se.

5 Pre-1885 there were very few references to the overall budget – ‘this was raised, this was used, this is left over.’ In 1885, this switched into a line-item report listing every single donor, and by 1886 this had evolved into a line-item budget report listing expenditures, as well. By 1890, this financial report spanned several pages, listing the contributions from China and the US, line-items on incomes, and lineitems on expenditures. The point of listing all these changes is to emphasize that Taylor and the early CIM “made mistakes” with respect to the NSP and promptly adjusted them. It is incredibly dangerous to use isolated instances to ‘prove’ that Taylor actually solicited funds or stated needs and was thus in violation of his own policy. Rather, we must be willing to ask, “What were Taylor’s general views and how did they practically play themselves out over time?” Only then can we begin to ask ourselves how – or whether – to apply these principles today. 4. Taylor, Solicitation, and the Anniversary Meetings

Critics of Taylor are quick to point out that Taylor did solicit funds, whether directly or indirectly. While such instances do exist, we must also consider the context in which they arose. As an example, in the 1875-1876 volume of CM, Taylor discusses their financial need to secure what amounted to a ‘home-side office’ at that time. “An immediate outlay of 1,000 pounds is required… and we trust God will incline the hearts of His people to send special contribution for this project (CM 18751876, p. 160, emphasis mine). Clearly, this sounds like solicitation and a clear violation of the NSP. However, we must also consider the context of this quote. This comes from the meeting minutes of the organization’s Anniversary Meeting, a yearly meeting for those within CIM, comparable to a sort of “Shareholder Report” (Wigram, citing Broomhall, p. 8). All those in attendance would have been members or individuals with very strong connections to the CIM, where such a report would have made perfect sense, as “there was never any problem in communicating with the members of the CIM about finances” (Wigram, p.11). When seen in that context, Taylor expressed a need to those within the organization, and confidently believed that God would meet that need by placing that desire on the heart of his people. Keep in mind that the NSP had its own critics during this time (Wigram, citing McKay, p.12). It is not unreasonable to conclude that this is an example of Taylor reinforcing the NSP while convincing others within the organization that God would continue to provide for their need, especially considering that this was the beginning of the organization. Yes, that interpretation is entirely subjective, but given Taylor’s beliefs, it seems far more likely than the alternative that this was in fact a shrouded solicitation. This example raises a critical point in the analysis of the NSP. Over the decades, CM contains minutes from the annual Anniversary Meeting, as well as other internal conferences and meetings. It is important to point out that this process of expressing both need and a financial summary within the Anniversary Meetings did not change over time. It is clear that Taylor had no reservations about explaining the CIM’s need within these internal meetings and did not see this as a violation of the NSP. In fact, it seems incredibly likely that Taylor viewed this as an appropriate form of financial

6 accountability, explaining both the needs of the CIM and how God would – or did, depending on the tense – meet those needs. The ‘controversy,’ so to speak, arises from the fact that minutes from these meetings were then published in CM for the general public to read. The “insider” reports given by Taylor then became accessible to the outside, raising the question as to whether this was a tactic that circumvented the NSP, whether intentional or not. Perhaps the closest Taylor got to directly soliciting funds came in 1894 where he published a “bequest form” almost identical to a modern day “commitment card” (CM 1894, p.62) with no other information explaining it. While not a direct solicitation, it could certainly be seen as an indirect form. However, it must also be noted that this practice was discontinued the following month and was not repeated in subsequent years, suggesting that Taylor may have viewed it as a violation of the NSP. Otherwise, it seems likely that this practice would have continued. By no means was this a common occurrence. Once again, we must look at Taylor’s ethos toward solicitation in this example. Did Taylor solicit funds? Yes. Were they intentional? Probably not, though they could have been. Did it happen often? No. As for the topic of solicitation, it is clear that Taylor tried to avoid it in general. Under historical scrutiny, the “Non-Solicitation Myth” holds true. Taylor was not perfect in this regard, but he followed it within reasonable doubt, especially considering the general lack of precedent in the matter. 5. Expressing Need and the NSP

A casual reading of CM would suggest that Taylor was not opposed to stating need. In fact, he appears to do so on several occasions within each of the volumes. On the other hand, as stated before, expressing financial need was considered a violation of the NSP (Wigram, p.8). What seems to be lacking in most reports on Taylor is how to resolve this seeming contradiction. Some would say that Taylor saw no problem expressing need (or that he did see a problem and then just did it, anyway). I would argue that that is an incomplete and incorrect view of Taylor’s attitudes toward expressing need. A careful analysis suggests that Taylor had a very thorough and systematic approach that dictated when he would and would not state need. As discussed already in the section above, many of Taylor’s stated expressions of need came in the form of minutes from the Anniversary Meeting. Again, this was a natural venue for expressing such need as it was addressed to people already within the CIM. However, we cannot stop there, as Taylor clearly states needs outside those minutes, as well. Such statements are clearly directed to the general public throughout even the later issues of CM, suggesting that Taylor did not see a problem in printing them. While this may initially seem like a contradiction, it is my opinion that all general statements of need followed a similar theme. The expressed need was always for a particular special project and never for the support of either the missionaries or the CIM itself.

7 This begins to make sense after realizing Taylor’s adamant refusal to use money from the general fund for anything but the evangelization of the Chinese. An article written by Taylor in the 1885 CM emphasizes this point nicely. “We have opened a special fund for this object, for, needful as it is, we cannot touch the general funds of the Mission for this purpose” (CM 1885, p. 52, emphasis mine). Whether it was a new prayer room, a building in Shanghai, a new school in China, a UK office, or a famine relief fund, Taylor refused to use money from the general fund (E.G. CM 1875-1876 p. 160; CM 1884, p. 98; CM 1885 p. 52). Naturally, this created an intrinsic necessity for Taylor to state the need of these special projects – apart from divine revelation, people wouldn’t know to support a specific project unless they were told the project existed. Wigram notices a similar trend, that “while Taylor relied solely on God for his own need, he saw no inconsistency in collecting funds for other *organizations+” (Wigram, p.10, addition, mine). One of the principle components of the NSP was that Taylor did not want the CIM to detract from other agencies or workers (Wigram, p.7). Consequently, soliciting for others was never seen as a problem; it would then stand to reason that Taylor viewed special projects in the same light. Since money for these projects was never used to support CIM missionaries themselves, they would still be reliant on God’s provision. As mentioned before, Taylor saw no problems in communicating financial circumstances (be they need or surplus) with members of the CIM. Quoting Wigram, “At the same time, within the mission, information was given about the financial need, but the CIM members were exhorted to ‘let no hint of our circumstances be given outside’” (Wigram, 11). Given this strong sentiment, it seems very unlikely that Taylor would turn around and state a specific need to those outside the organization. Even Taylor admits that there were specific projects that contained funds even while the general fund was lacking. In Taylor’s words, the funds for the projects “of course, could not be touched” (CM 1892, p.2). The fact that Taylor made such a distinction between special projects and the general fund highlights the purpose of the NSP. If there were needs for others, such as a school or hospital, then that need would be stated. As an organization, however, the CIM and its missionaries were to rely solely on God for their provision. The closest Taylor gets to expressing a need for the CIM seems to come in the same article from 1892. In it he explains that donations had decreased substantially despite an increase of workers, the exchange rate had made work more costly, and they were routinely lacking funds for the general fund. However, Taylor is also quick to point out God’s provision in the midst of this. “While *there has been an increase in people sent+, there has not been a corresponding increase of income, but the reverse; moreover, exchange in China has been seriously against us. It has, however, been wonderful to see how God has helped us… Repeatedly we have been without any funds for the general requirements of the whole Mission… Our hearts have been kept in

8 peace, knowing that God’s promises cannot fail; and to the question, ‘Lacked ye anything?’ we can only reply as did the disciples of old, ‘Nothing,’ Lord.” (CM 1892, p.2) Few would argue that this was a statement of need. In many ways, this stands as a rare exception rather than the norm. I would also point out that although Taylor states a vague need here, he still does not attach a specific amount, as he easily could have. It is also difficult to determine Taylor’s motivation for writing this article. He may well have been trying to emphasize the Lord’s provision in spite of their limited finances, but it does seem as though he could have expressed that without stating need had he wanted to do so. Nevertheless, this incident stands out as the exception, rather than the rule. Statements such as these occurred at the rate of a couple times over the course of three decades. After 3 consecutive years of decreased giving, it is at least understandable why Taylor spoke out in the 1892 issue. But as the CIM continued to struggle financially throughout the early 1890s, there were no future statements of need. Given that the financial situation continued to decline (See CM 1893, p. 85), it seems reasonable to assume that Taylor recognized his “fault” in 1892; otherwise, we would expect similar behavior in 1893. Yes, Taylor did make statement of need for the mission. No, it was not sustained or typical. As we have seen, Taylor discouraged members from speaking about financial need to the outside, he stopped publicizing where to send money, and though he did on very rare occasion state that they were lacking in funds, he never gave a specific amount needed for the general fund. Once again, we are forced to conclude that Taylor was imperfect and did on occasion break his own “rules” regarding the NSP. However, it seems unreasonable to conclude that Taylor promoted the stating of need for the general mission. He stated need on remarkably rare occasion, and he never gave a specific figure though he obviously could have. Had Taylor whole-heartedly condoned expressing need for the CIM, he would have probably done so far more often. 6. Taylor and Fiscal Accountability

Many have wondered about Taylor’s seeming obsession with money. Throughout his entire tenure, he would always include some degree of financial information during the introduction to the Anniversary Meeting. This almost always took the form of ‘This much was raised, which was this much more or less than last year.’ These were also broken down by country after the addition of the US, China, and Australia in the mid 1890s. As stated before, Taylor also published an anonymous list of every donation that came into the CIM along with an itemized list of expenditures by the mid 1880s. No doubt, these practices strike us as peculiar a century and a half later. Some may even argue that this was a very subtle attempt to increase giving. While such a practice might carry that connotation today, it is incredibly unlikely that that was Taylor’s objective.

9 First, the list of donations was anonymous5. If he were trying to raise support through the practice, he probably should have included names. It is far more likely that these were simply ways of showing financial integrity in the days before audits and personalized giving reports. Further, these served as assurance that someone’s money had been received; the19th century British postal system probably left something to be desired in terms of both security and reliability. I do not think it is correct to read more deeply into these practices. On a similar note, some have also criticized Taylor for publishing letters from those giving along with the amount given. Once again, the donors were anonymous.6 The publishing of these letters began in 1882 and continued to be published at least once every two years, if not more frequently. Critics of this process might argue that Taylor was using these as a way to raise interest for giving. While they may have achieved that goal for some, it seems unlikely that that would have been the primary focus of these sections. By and large, these sections are filled with inspirational letters written from 5 year olds donating their life savings of a few cents and 90 year olds giving an equally small amount (E.G. CM 1882 p. 14; CM1884 p. 98; CM 1886 p. 40). What stood out was not the amount, but the encouraging words of donors as they fervently prayed for the evangelization of the Chinese.7 These would have been – and still remain – an enormous source of inspiration. Though the practice may seem strange to us now, this seems to have been quite normal for the time. Taylor clearly did not see these as a violation of the NSP. I think it is a grave disservice to consider them as such. Taylor was very concerned with demonstrating fiscal accountability, both to the members of CIM and the non-members, as well. Taylor was certainly not afraid to talk about finances – he seems to do so all the time throughout the CM volumes. Throughout these reports, Taylor did a remarkable job of stating fact without expressing either need or solicitation. Without fail, Taylor would always follow this report by praising God for meeting their needs. 7. Profits from Sales

As a man driven by statistics, facts, and figures, Taylor and the early CIM produced and sold several items that we would now classify as “mobilization resources.” These include maps of China, books on the history and founding of the CIM, and even CM itself, among other things. Taylor saw no inconsistency in using the sales of these resources to support missionaries. In the first volume of CM, he explains that sales of CM could “cover the outlay of sending a couple of missionaries to China” (CM 1875-1876 p.13).

5

Throughout 1875-1900 there is a single instance of naming a donor during one of the anniversary meetings. Even Taylor admits that this is an exception to the norm, but does so to honor the long-standing member of the CIM in the context of a CIM meeting. Again, this is the overwhelming exception to the rule. 6 As an aside, I find it fascinating that people wrote letters when they gave back then vs. receiving letters from organizations when they give now. I leave the tracking of that change over time for another thesis project, as well. 7 In fact the most encouraging letters were almost always sent by those who faithfully gave what little they had.

10 Knowing absolutely nothing about printing and shipping costs in 19th century England, it is difficult to determine just how much money might have been raised through these venues. Given their low price and some production cost, it is certain that these would have constituted only a very small percentage of the total general fund. What is interesting, however, is that Taylor saw no conflict in using funds from these sales to support missionaries, perhaps because there was never a direct request for support. Taking it a step further, Taylor saw no conflict in advertising the sale of these materials, the money from which would go the CIM. Apparently, It was simply viewed as a financial transaction with the additional benefit of providing mobilization material. It is interesting to note that the 1895 issue of CM contains numerous order forms for books, even when compared to later years8. This did coincide with the 30th anniversary of the CIM, and unlike other practices, this continued throughout the year before it stopped. Thus, it seems likely that this was simply an increase in information to commemorate the anniversary year as opposed to a new marketing ploy9. In any case, the sale and direct advertisement of mobilization material or books with the express intent of using profits to support missionaries is not in conflict with Taylor’s ethos toward money. Others point to Taylor’s willingness to use missionary boxes (Wigram, p. 10). Knowing little about this practice, it is not my point to expound upon this any further. Suffice it to say, Taylor was willing to work with some of the existing mechanisms for raising support so long as they did not 1) directly solicit money for the CIM and 2) require the statement of financial need. 8. A Conclusion on Taylor, and NSP today

Throughout this paper we have seen that Taylor had a strict policy of not soliciting funds and considered even the statement of need for the general fund to be a violation of the NSP. While the 25 year period from 1875-1900 does contain a few deviations from this policy, Taylor and the CIM did a remarkable job of holding to this policy and correcting any inconsistencies that naturally arose. It is important to note that Taylor seemed to “violate” his NSP in two distinct times. The first was in 1875-1877, as he no doubt struggled to define what the NSP should look like. These practices changed over time, likely as Taylor began to determine the practical applications of the NSP. The second was in the early 1890s as the CIM experienced a major decline in funds from England. 1892 marked a direct statement of need, while one month of CM in 1894 contained a “donor support card” that potential donors could return. To Taylor’s credit, such practices were discontinued in the following month. Nevertheless, it would be interesting to know Taylor’s motivation for the inclusion, albeit briefly, of these pieces.

8

The process of reviewing books seems to have begun in the later issues of the 1894 CM. By 1895, there were several order forms and advertisements for books written by and about the CIM. These forms appeared consistently throughout the year, but seem to have dropped off in the years that followed. However, because these were supplementary inserts, they may have appeared in later volumes only to be lost prior to archiving. 9 By 1895, the lack of giving from the early 1890s was slowly recovering. Had these advertisements appeared a few years earlier, a much stronger case could be made that they were included to raise revenue.

11 There is no doubt Taylor struggled with the NSP during the early 1890s and was looking for new ways to encourage giving. While he did make some very borderline decisions, there was certainly not a systematic or regular occurrence, even throughout those years of decreased giving. As such, it would be very difficult to prove that Taylor and the CIM knowingly and willfully violated the NSP. However, even more important than the NSP itself was Taylor’s insistence on soliciting prayer, mobilizing others, and giving thanks for all that God had provided.10 Regardless of how we choose to treat the NSP today, these components must remain at the forefront of our organization. Failing to do so would be a far greater violation of Taylor’s legacy than any amount of solicitation or statement of general need. Many have wondered whether the NSP should still be followed. It is certainly not a Biblical command, and it is certainly not unbiblical, either. As such, there is room for discretion. Currently, this has taken the form of stating need without directly soliciting funds, a process humorously termed “don’t ask, do tell”. This research raises several questions that must be answered regarding the NSP if they have not been answered already. Only then will it be possible to move forward with practical applications.  What is the motivation behind our current NSP? o Taylor created the NSP for very specific purposes including the desire to rely solely on God for support and to ensure that the CIM was not detracting from other ministries. Why are we following the NSP, today? How well are we soliciting prayer? o This was the driving force behind Taylor’s requests and petitions. Is it ours? How much of Taylor’s ethos toward finances should we still hold? o For better or for worse, our current system is in conflict with Taylor’s general ethos toward money. Is this conflict acceptable? How do statements of need actually get perceived in today’s culture? o Do people hear a request for money, even if we aren’t saying it? If so, what are practical ways to prevent this from happening11?

 

Kenneth Warnock Kenneth.Warnock@omfmail.com February, 2012

10

Even the 1892 “Statement of need” praises God for sustaining them and admits that they have never been found lacking in anything. 11 From a purely observational stance, members tend to be reporting need on the basis of percents rather than physical numbers. This seems to be a good way of providing financial accountability while avoiding the impression of solicitation.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful