You may not realize it, but the Church’s primary strategy to get missionaries to the field is through personal support raising. Don’t believe us? 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. In missions circles, we call that centralized funding versus decentralized funding. Except for a few denominations, most churches practically believe the missionary is responsible for raising the needed funds from other believers and other churches in order to accomplish his or her mission. Let me illustrate.
You may not realize it but the Church’s primary strategy to get missionaries to the field is through personal support raising
I (Tim) had a world-changing meeting at Cracker Barrell recently. I was privileged to sit down with a young couple committed to reaching college students for Christ. Their story is 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, they are working full time in their ministry and are looking to identify potential financial backers 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 is “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 token of generosity. Maybe buy their meal or give to their ministry initially and as the Lord leads along the way. Or maybe even give to them like they are hoping I will–committing to give regularly (monthly or annually). Great Commission people like us are praying and looking for the next generation of laborers to take up the torch and run with it.
Great Commission people like us are praying for and looking for the next generation of laborers to take up the torch and run with it.
Like most believers, I have a pool of money that I give to Kingdom causes every year. Ultimately, all of this money is the Lord’s, and I look to Him to help me direct it to the places He wants me to invest it. It is not a big pot of money, but it is enough that I can afford to invest in a new ministry, at least a little bit. And the fact that someone would reach out to me and want to share their ministry with me might very well be an opportunity from the Lord for my family and an opportunity to encourage one of God’s workers!
Even a household with the average American wage of $50,000 a year after taxes will have around $4000 a year to invest in Kingdom endeavors if they tithe.
$50,000 Annual Gross Income
$10,000 Minus Taxes (20%)
$40,000 Net Income
$4,000 Annual Tithe of Net (10%)
On a side note: Giving in the Old Testament started with the tithe, which means a tenth, and families were instructed to give a tenth of their income (whether money, crops, or animals). There were other offerings the Jewish family was expected to participate in as well. In the New Testament, you really do not see much mentioned related to tithing, rather generosity that comes from a purposeful, cheerful heart.
Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 “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 the New Testament, there are at least 7 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, 1 Timothy 3:1-13, I Timothy 5:3-16
- Missions- 1 Corinthian 9, 3 John 5-8, Roman 15:22-24, Acts 15:3, Titus 3:13, 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, 9, James 2:14-17, 1 John 3:16-18
- Aging parents- I Timothy 5:3-16 (focus vs 8)
- The community- Matthew 5:13-16, Hebrews 13:2
It is interesting that most of the giving passages in the New Testament are connected to supporting the laborers (pastors and missionaries) and the people (poor, other believers, widows, and orphans).
Our day-to-day ministry consists of sitting down with families and helping them in the area of personal finances. The average family is dealing with a lot of pressure in this area. 70-80 percent of families are living paycheck to paycheck with no game plan in sight. One of the areas we coach people through is the area of generosity. Particularly- Kingdom Generosity. The average believer is giving 1-2% of their income towards Kingdom Causes. And feel terrible about it. They desire to be more generous but need a plan.
We encourage each believer to pray about how much God would have them 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?”
We went to a conference recently where there were a lot of national directors for many mission agencies, and they were talking about the greatest needs of the World Christian Movement. They mentioned the top two needs were:
1) We need workers to go into full time ministry—“The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few,” and
2) We need for the Body of Christ to see their responsibility to financially back these ministers.
Romans 10:14-15 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!”
It is time for the Body of Christ to take seriously our responsibility to send these workers to the field God has called them to. One of the greatest things we do with our finances is make sure the Kingdom workers have all the resources they need to do God’s work. And, by the way, these are our missionaries. This is our team. We do not do them a favor by sending them. They do us a favor by going. They represent us to the ends of the earth. Some of us are called to go to the nations, the rest of us are called to send.
One of the greatest things we do with our finances is make sure the Kingdom workers have all the resources they need to do God’s work.
In this day and age, we honor the military in our country who protect us and keep us safe. As a country, we need to make sure they have all they need to do their job. In like manner, we need to make sure our Kingdom workers (churches and missionaries) have what they need to represent us to the ends of the earth and do their job.
The next time a Kingdom worker asks you to meet with them to tell you about what God is asking them to do, meet with them. Just meeting with them will be an encouragement to them. If they ask you to give, pray about giving to them. Really ask the Lord if He would have you invest a little of His giving money towards this 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 us who are excited to be involved in the work of the King. Who knows–your partnership might be the most rewarding thing you do with some of your Kingdom giving this year.
Chris Haas (right) is President and Founder of Freedom 5:one Ministries. He lives with his wife, Tiffany, and 5 children in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Tim Howington is Executive Vice President for Freedom 5:one Ministries. He lives with his wife, Terri, and son in Rogers, Arkansas.
Freedom 5:one Ministries exists to help families in one of the top trouble areas facing the family today—personal financial management. We also have a heart to help believers reach their generosity goals. More information at www.freedom5one.com