Money is the god of this world. Yet our faith in Jesus is revealed not by rejecting the worldly system but by giving it meaning from the perspective of the Kingdom of God. In order to work as a missionary one must consider as part of their calling the issue of support for the ministry. There are various methods and ideas of how this can be done in the New Testament. One of the ways that stands out is the community of believers sharing their finances with those dedicate their life to serve the Kingdom of God. Jesus lived on support; many of the teachers and preachers of the Word were being supported by the church; often the receiving church did not support the ministers who had raised support from other churches to do their mission. Paul the apostle states that it is God’s command that “those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:14).
Either way, money was circulating in the NT church for the purpose of doing the work of the ministry: sharing the Word of God with those who God had called to eternal life and caring for the helpless and poor and needy (Acts 11:7ff).
One of the main obstacles for people to enter their call for minsitry is the lack or at least the scarcity of finances. The need for financial security is a decisive component of one’s decision to go or not to go. But the Lord has said: seek first the Kingdom of God and everything else will be added to you; ask and you will receive, knock and the will opened to you; and seek and you will find (Luke 11).
One of the most serious casues of fear or discomfort to Christian ministers and missionaries, who have to raise their own support in order to be able to go into the ministry, is the support-raising process. We all love the work God’s assigned to us; but we hate to raise the support needed to to do the work. And this attitude is wrong because we are limiting God. He has commanded us to ask and to seek and to be persistent in our pursuit of His will and His Kingdom. He has commanded us to be a body of believers who share not only their gifts, but their possessions as well. He also has told us to give especially to those who have devoted their life to the teaching of God’s word.
Why is it so difficult to ask then? Why is it so “unpsiritual?”
There is one major distinction that needs to be addressed by all missionaries and workers, who raise their support in order to serve the Lord. Is asking people to support the missonaries begging or a legitimate request?
Well, if your perspective is that it is embarrassing to ask people to support your ministry then you have an issue of pirde that overshadows your calling and desire to obey God’s direction. I know this because I am struggling with similar thougts myself. If you think that people support you becuse of pity for you and your finanical situaion then maybe you should not be raising money to go into ministry.
It is not pity but conviction that moves God’s people to give. That’s what the purpose of support raising is–to make those in the body of Christ interdependent with the means of this world to achieve the goals of the world that is to come.
There is an opennes and vulnerablity that happens on both sides the giver and the receiver in support raising situations. The giver is vulnerable to the intent and motivation of the one he gives to. The receiver is vulnerable by showing his need and trusting it to the will and judgment of the giver. In this transaction however pity is not an emotion that is valid. It is the belief of both the giver that he is giving to a worthy person for a worthy cause, and of the one on the receiving end that he is called to humility and responsibility with what is entrusted to them, beacuse they represent a worthy cause, that are the right outlook on this almost covenant relationship. But pity? Who pities the ambassador of the United States for representing the nation? How much more so the ambassadors of the “kingdom that has no end?” However, when external circumstance of lack become the standard and faith is not, then the wonderful relationshihp of generosity in the body of Christ may turn into something it is not.
May God give us wisdom how to guard this precious relationship in the use of our worldly resources for adavncing the message of eternal life.