By Tim Howington and Chris Haas
I had a life-changing meeting recently. I was privileged to sit down with a young couple committed to reaching students for Christ. Like many other missionaries, God has called them to spread the gospel in a specific part of our world, and they are in the process of raising their personal support. By that, I mean that they are working full time in their ministry and are looking to identify potential financial supporters who will give regularly to their ministry. And they were asking me and my family to pray about becoming a financial and prayer partner.
The answer was “Yes.” It is always yes. Why would I say no to a missionary? I can, at the very least, send them on their way encouraged by some small act of generosity. Maybe buy their meal or give to their ministry as the Lord leads me. Or maybe even give to them like they are hoping I will—regularly (monthly or annually). Great Commission people like you and me are praying are looking for the next generation of laborers to take up the torch.
The Church’s Primary Strategy to Get Missionaries to the Field is Personal Support Raising. Don’t believe it? Talk to your pastor this week. Tell him God has called you to be a missionary. After his jaw returns from the floor, he will be excited for you. Then ask him how much of your missionary budget the church would be willing to commit to your endeavor. The answer to that question will tell you if your church views its responsibility as the primary funder of its global workers or just one of the pieces to your financial puzzle. Except for a few denominations, most churches believe the missionary is responsible for raising the needed funds from other believers and other churches to accomplish their mission.
The New Testament Model of Generosity
My day-to-day ministry consists of sitting down with families and helping them in personal finances. The average family deals with a lot of pressure in this area. Seventy to eighty percent of families are living paycheck to paycheck with no game plan in sight. One of the areas we coach people through is in giving; particularly kingdom giving. The average believer gives one to two percent of their income towards kingdom causes. Most people desire to be more generous but they need a plan. They also desperately desire to have a Biblical mindset about their giving. In 2 Corinthians 9:6-7, Paul writes, “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
In this passage we see the essence of the New Testament model for generosity. Here are a few key points:
- We are blessed because of our giving. We reap what we sow. God’s blessings on our personal finances are proportionate to our giving/generosity.
- We should give decisively. Decide what you want to give and then give it. We should not give because we feel pressure from others or a sense of guilt.
- We should give cheerfully. The Greek word here is hilaros. This is where we get our word hilarious. God wants us to give with great joy.
Where should we invest Kingdom Funds?
In the New Testament, there are at least seven key areas that believers are expected to give:
- The local church– Acts 4:36-37, 1 Timothy 5:17-18, Acts 13:1-3, 1 Corinthians 16:1-4, Galatians 6:6-10, 1Timothy 5:3-16
- Missions– 1 Corinthian 9, 3 John 5-8, Roman 15:22-24, Acts 15:3, Titus 3:13-14, 1 Corinthians 16:5-6
- The poor– Matthew 6:2-4
- Widows and orphans– James 1:27
- Other believers– Acts 2:43-47, 4:32-35, 6:1-6; 2 Corinthians 8, 2 Corinthians 9, James 2:14-17, 1 John 3:16-18
- Care for aging parents– 1 Timothy 5:3-16 (focus vs 8)
- Your community– Matthew 5:13-16, Hebrews 13:2
I ask each believer to pray about how much God wants them to give, and then pray about where He wants them to give. At the end of the day, we should all look at our giving and ask ourselves,
- “Am I being generous?”
- “How am I investing in each of these key areas listed above?”
- “Am I following the Lord’s leading in generosity?”
- “Am I cheerful in my giving?”
Greatest Needs in the World Christian Movement
I went to a conference recently with many national leaders from mission agencies around the world who were talking about the greatest needs of the world Christian movement. The top two needs are:
- For workers to go into full time ministry
- For the Body of Christ to see their responsibility to financially give to mission workers
Romans 10:13-15 says it this way: “‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’”
“‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’”
It’s time for the Christian family to take our responsibility seriously and send these workers to the field. One of the greatest things we do with our finances is to make sure that kingdom workers have all the resources they need. And, by the way, these are our missionaries. They are our team. They are our family. We do not do them a favor by sending them. They do us a favor by going. They represent Jesus to the ends of the earth. Some of us are called to go to the unreached, the rest of us are called to send others to the unreached. Remember the Golden Rule of Missions- how would you want people to respond to you if God called your family to be mission workers?
The next time someone in mission asks you to meet with them to as for support, meet with them! Just meeting with them will be a huge encouragement. If they ask you to give, actually pray about giving to them. Ask the Lord if He would have you invest some of His money He’s given you towards this mission worker. We have a great privilege to connect with those who are on the front lines, and we owe it to them to do what we can to send them on their way, encouraged that there are followers of Jesus like you who are excited to be involved in the work of God. And who knows—your partnership with them might become the most rich and rewarding act your family does with your resources this year.
*Article originally published on the Support Raising Solutions blog