I (Tim) had a world-changing meeting at Cracker Barrell recently. It was impactful to me because I was privileged to sit down with a young couple committed to reaching college students for Christ. I got to hear about what God is doing as He expands His kingdom in and through these missionaries. 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 as the Lord leads along the way. 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 and looking for the next generation of laborers to take up the torch and run with it.
Great Commission people like you and me are praying for and looking for the next generation of laborers to take up the torch and run with it.
The Church’s Primary Strategy to Get Missionaries to the Field is Personal Support Raising
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. Except for a few denominations, most churches practically believe the missionary is responsible for raising the needed funds from other believers and other churches to accomplish his or her mission.
You may not realize it but the Church’s primary strategy to get missionaries to the field is through personal support raising.
The New Testament Model of Generosity
Our day-to-day ministry consists of sitting down with families and helping them in 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 in generosity. Particularly- Kingdom Generosity. The average believer is giving 1-2% of their income towards Kingdom Causes. They desire to be more generous but need a plan. They also desperately desire to have a Biblical way of thinking 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 NT Model for generosity. Here are a few observations.
- We are blessed because of our giving. We reap what we sow. God’s blessings on our personal finances are proportionate to our generosity.
- We should give decisively. Decide what you want to give and 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 hilariously.
Where should we invest Kingdom Funds?
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, I Timothy 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
- Aging parents- I Timothy 5:3-16 (focus vs 8), Mark 7:9-13
- The community- Matthew 5:13-16, Hebrews 13:2
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?”
- “Am I cheerful in my giving?”
Greatest Needs in the World Christian Movement
We went to a conference recently where there were a lot of national leaders from many mission agencies around the world, and they were talking about the greatest needs of the World Christian Movement. They mentioned the top two needs are:
- We need workers to go into full time ministry— The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few, pray that God would send laborers into His harvest field.
- 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 Christian Family 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. 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 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.
Remember the Golden Rule of Missions- How would you want people to respond to you if God had called your family to be a missionary family?
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.
The next time a Kingdom worker asks you to meet with them to tell you about what God is calling 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 you who are excited to be involved in the work of the King. Who knows–your partnership with them might be the most rewarding thing your family does 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
5 responses to “An Open Letter to the Christian Family about Generosity to Our Missionaries”
[…] you or judge you. They just want you to consider their option. Earlier I wrote an article entitle Why would I say no to a Missionary where we addressed the great opportunity to be involved as a financial and prayer partner with […]
I go to a church where I am getting dozens of these invitations to meet and provide support to different “missionaries”—many at the college level in Chi-alpha ministries. We have already stretched our giving to several different monthly commitments for churches & charities. We can’t possibly meet and/or give to all these folks. It isn’t realistic. What is your advice here?
Leah, this a great question. In fact donor fatigue is a challenge that many of us face. My advice is to address it head on. It sounds like you enjoy giving to missionaries so why not open the funnel a bit. I have have been raising support for over 20 years and the perfect world for the missionary is to have people commit monthly but as you have stated this becomes unrealistic for the donor after a bit. Especially if you are also an active donor in your church. As a donor myself this is has been frustrating and can be discouraging for the missionary if they are always dealing with people who either won’t meet with them or are always saying no. This a lose/lose situation. So a few years ago, I changed the way my family approached this. As missionaries contacted us- we meet with them, ask the Lord if this a ministry we should support and if so we add them to the “missionary train”. Depending on how the Lord leads we might support them monthly but some we give more sporadically.
Let me illustrate, we currently are supporting 15 missionary families but not monthly. And there is always room for one more. Each month we start at the top of the list and give a gift to as many missionaries as we have money available (currently we have a $50 train going so gift is $50), when we run out of money we stop giving. We pray that God will provide the needs of the remaining folks on our list and wait till the next month where we pick up where we left off. This accomplishes a few things
1) we get to encourage the missionary… we are an active partner in their ministry and their support. Here is a missionary secret most people don’t know- the missionary is not depending on you or me to take care of their needs. They are looking to God. So, anyone who values them and their ministry and are standing with them in prayer and finance is a blessing. Even if it is a small part of their overall budget. Ultimately we, like the missionary, are looking to God to provide their needs and we are playing just a little part
2) we get to participate vicariously in their ministry. I always tell the missionaries we love to support missions because while we are sleeping they are working and our money and prayer are at work.
3) not being able to make it through our train each month makes me more conscious of the needs of our missionary families which helps me pray for them and their needs more.
Hope that Helps
Thanks, Tim. I like the train idea. I’ll be honest in that, while I’m grateful for missionaries and support their cause, my heart and passion has always revolved around our local causes:Teen Challenge Center, Pregnancy Resource Center, etc. I’m not a finance expert, so I’m sure we could handle money a little better. Regardless of the “mission”, I really like the money train idea and looking forward to sharing and implementing it.
Our ministry helps with families with personal finances and as we address the idea of giving we use a two prong approach 1) Ask God what He wants you to give 2) Ask God where He wants you to give… I find that heart and passion play a big part in direction of where to give… God uses our passions to figure out where to give.. at the end of the day the hope is to be a cheerful giver who has listened to the Lord’s guidance as to where you are to advance the kingdom…. thanks for sharing…