Mission Possible: Support the Missionary – Part Six

The seventh principle for missions at our church is “Support the Missionary”. I am currently writing several blogs about supporting the missionary.

Thus far, we have looked at (1) Provide proper vetting, (2) Provide people support, (3) Provide preparation support, (4) Provide prayer support and (5) Provide debriefing support. Here is the sixth way of supporting a missionary.

Provide Financial Support

A sixth way a church family can support their missionary is through finances. In most cases, missionaries are required to raise their support through family, friends and those who have a burden for the country in which the missionary serves the Lord.

In Philippians 4:15-16, Paul wrote to the church in Philippi, “You yourselves also know, Philippians, that at the first preaching of the gospel, after I left Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving but you alone; 16 for even in Thessalonica you sent a gift more than once for my needs.”

The church in Philippi was founded by the Apostle Paul (Acts 16:1-40). It had the distinction of being the first church established in Europe after Paul received the Macedonian call to go west. It was the one church that Paul used as a model for other churches (2 Corinthians 8:1-5; 9:1-5).

According to Paul, the Philippians supported him in his missionary and church planting endeavors. He thanks them and lauds them for their generous support and interest in the gospel.

Supporting missionaries is a very biblical concept. It makes sense if we are to “make disciples of all the nations”. Missionaries need to be sent and supported financially.

Philosophically, I believe missionaries need to be sent by their home church. If they do not have a home church in which they are committed and serve, they should not be sent. By the same token, their sending church should be totally committed to their missionary, which includes generous financial support like the Philippians.

As a result, a missionary’s home church should be willing to provide the majority of support necessary for the missionary to serve in the field. Every missionary, however, should be required to raise a percentage of their support from outside the church family and the church budget as validation and affirmation of their calling. However, in the final analysis, lack of finances from external sources should never hinder a missionary if, indeed, the church family believes the missionary is called by the Lord.

Because of the potential enormity of the support for our own missionaries, our church family does not support outside missionaries who are not a part of our church family unless we are partnering with them directly.

This particular principle of missionary support solidified a result of my time at Urbana in 1987. I took time to speak to dozens of missionaries attending the conference. They all shared with me the same story about the difficulty of raising support. They lamented about using their precious furlough time traveling the countryside visiting all the churches that supported them. While they were extremely grateful for the minimal support, it necessitated them continuing a relationship with dozens of churches and sometimes hundreds if the support was denominational. So, rather than rest, restoration and renewal on their furlough, it was work, work, work.

I shared with those missionaries my ideas of the home church being the principle provider for our missionaries (up to 75% of their support) and they resoundingly supported the idea.

Thus, for the sake of the missionary and the Kingdom of God, we try to get totally behind our missionaries in the field in every way, including financial.

Something to think about…