Category Archives: Reforming-missions

Is Missionary Support Begging?

Missionaries begging for Support

Missionary Support Begging. There is a misperception by many people, even many missionaries, that if you receive money from individuals or churches, you are begging. Christians are not to be beggars. King David said…

Ps 37:25 I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.

missionary support BeggingSo what we can conclude is that it is not biblical for Christians to be begging, much less ministers of the gospel.

So who are doing this? Actually there are some missionaries who seem to “beg” (ask strongly for people to give them money) for some trumped up reason, like sickness, lack of food, or some other necessity. The tone of what they say seems very much like begging.

The point here is that of unethical behavior by missionaries. This kind of conduct should tell God’s people NOT TO GIVE THEM ANYTHING!

A Laborer is Worthy of his Salary

1Cor 9:9 For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen?

1Tim 5:18 For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.

missionary support BeggingThe principle of God is that a person doing a worthy work is worthy of a worthy salary or reward. The problem here is that we don’t want to make the gospel at a condition. Very simply, we give the gospel away, and we do not condition our service and laborers on the recipients giving us (ministers) something, but rather, we freely give, BUT we teach that the receivers should also give to those serving them, and then we would be completely happy with whatever comes in, even if nothing comes in.

Is missionary tentmaking biblical?

Missionary tentmaking, a Definition

Missionary tentmaking is were the missionary actually supports himself via some secular job instead of by donations by people in his home country and/or the field where he is going.

missionary tentmakingI have worked in a secular job while in the US raising support to go to the field. So I cannot say as a missionary that I have done missionary tentmaking. Having clarified that, let me also say that I have no desire to do. Tentmaking missionaries have a lot of problems that a regular missionary does not have.

Tentmaking problems: with tentmaking

First of all, in almost all areas of secular work, you will find that you are displacing nationals which do the same thing, and this is not well received by the host country, and in most cases, the host country will not cooperate with you very much to give you the needed visa to some secular job. Moreover, doing this job and making money from it without permission is simply illegal, and you risk being deported or even jail. So that road is not so open as when Paul took it.

Tentmaking problems: Is it biblical?

Secondly let’s get a bit of a focus on New Testament missions. Paul and his companions were not going around the world tending to the medical needs of people in other countries. In fact we see no real examples of this. The church at Jerusalem at one juncture had economic problems coming from persecution, and other churches send economic help. That is a far cry from sending food to starving kids in Africa, which number one are not saved, and number two are not in a church, and number three, the money is not going to a church to be distributed to their own people. Sending money via some government or world organization often ends up putting the money or goods in the hands of corrupt people who only sell it at double or triple the market rate, and there is nothing noble or righteous in doing that.

What Paul and his companions did is they were sent out from biblical churches as missionaries, and to the best as we understand the New Testament, at least some local churches sent support to them for their work. Considering the situation of the times, these churches probably took up or used their funds to give these missionaries a lot of money at one time, probably a year or more support in a single offering. With a couple of churches, they could travel and work for several years, and then they returned home.

In other words, they went out in faith and worked trusting God to provide for them along the way (think Matthew 10 here). They were not missionary tentmaking.

Moreover these missionaries worked on a certain basis: i.e. the laborer is worthy of his hire, and somehow, those that accept the gospel have a responsibility to support the ministers among them.

1Cor 9:1 Am I not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are not ye my work in the Lord? 1Cor 9:2 If I be not an apostle unto others, yet doubtless I am to you: for the seal of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord. 1Cor 9:3 Mine answer to them that do examine me is this, 1Cor 9:4 Have we not power to eat and to drink? 1Cor 9:5 Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas? 1Cor 9:6 Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear working? 1Cor 9:7 Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock? 1Cor 9:8 Say I these things as a man? or saith not the law the same also? 1Cor 9:9 For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen? 1Cor 9:10 Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope. 1Cor 9:11 If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things? 1Cor 9:12 If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ. 1Cor 9:13 Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? 1Cor 9:14 Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel. 

The clear intent of Paul here is that a missionary has a right, and this is a principle of God, that missionaries should live of the same gospel they preach. Now this comes to bear 1) from the church where they labor. 2) from other churches that send them out.

What happens if a missionary goes out but not to start a church? This is not figured in the NT and we don´t have any examples nor commands about it. In other words, that is not the biblical norm for missionaries to begin with, and why would you discard the biblical example to seek something else?

Faith Missions: Is it biblical?

Faith missions is going out living by faith. God can and will provide for you as a minister of God. But there are some problems with faith missions. First of all the amount of money you think you need. If you think God is going to give you 100s of thousands of dollars to go set yourself up as a sultan or something akin to that, think again. That is not faith missions. Faith missions means living by faith that God will provide you your daily bread, and in our day of medical insurance, retirement funds, emergency funds, vehicle replace funds, purchasing a house fund, etc., you will probably not be able to live by faith if you are placing non-faith demands on top of more of the same.

Faith missions is to make due with what God sees fit to give you. That is biblical. Emergencies will happen, and we need to deal with them in sharing them with our people on the field and back home. Many (most) churches have abandoned faith missions, and they don’t want to hear emergency needs from missionaries and if they do, they will accuse that the missionary is irresponsible for not going with all this taken care of. Bottom line: Yes you have a crisis, but don’t bother us with it.

Matt 10:9 Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, Matt 10:10 Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat. Matt 10:11 And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, enquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence.

When Jesus sent out his disciples on a missionary journey, notice what they were to carry with them or prepare before they were to leave. Nothing! You go, and live off of your preaching. That kind of minister is rarely seen.

The point of this is the following, why do we want to work a secular job instead of depend on the saved? Many times this concept of tentmaking is put forth as the ideal way to do missions when it was never done the way these people are presuming. Paul mended tents because his donations hadn’t come in. That is biblical “tentmaking”. We see no where that this is how Paul always supported himself (according to the popular missionary tentmaking concept). We see him rather receiving donations as the principle way of supporting himself.

So for those cheap people who don’t want to have to think about supporting missionaries, letting loose with hefty amounts of money, missionary tentmaking is perfect for them. They are not living by it, and so they push it.

The bottom line is this, if you have to work 40 hours a week to support yourself because you are missionary tentmaking, how much time can you devote after that to God’s work. Very little. Moreover, being an American, with an American level of living, in most places you cannot support yourself at that standard of living doing most common jobs in the country. Sure, if you are a heart surgeon, it would be easy. But few young people wanting to serve the Lord are heart surgeons. Most high paying jobs take a goodly amount of preparation, and this is lacking in most cases.


Q. Should missionaries tithe?

Do missionaries continue to tithe? If so, do they take that out of the money given by others to support their ministry?

titheAn auxiliary question to this is very simply, if they do tithe, where should missionaries tithe?

Let me just say that there is a lot of controversy in many circles about anybody having to give a tithe. This post is not to argue that point really. God’s work is done by God’s people donating their money for that purpose to the local church doing that work of God. Having said that, the NT does not directly mention 10% although that is the precedent set in the OT. But God does indicate that “as God hath prospered you, you should accordingly give back to God. There is a spiritual obligation to honor God with your income and belongings as well as there is a biblical principle that God’s people are to support God’s work.

If we can take that for granted for a minute we would turn to missions and missionaries and their responsibility. Really missionaries should tithe. Here we would assume that the missionary is a Christian under the same obligations as any other Christian so he should tithe. Besides his obligations, God works on the rule of you first establish a history of example before preaching (God does’t allow hypocrisy in his ministers) therefore there are several very heavy reasons why a missionary should tithe.

Why should he not tithe? At first we can see no good reason to “not tithe”. I would grant to some missionaries in their individual set up, they have a ministry fund, and sometimes that is 30% to 50% of their living expenses, so donating that kind of money into the work they are starting, there would be a consideration for considering that as fulfilling a tithe and then some. Personally I don’t have a ministry fund, and I tithe of gross income. But even with my own situation, at times there are situations where you personally give a good size “chunk” of money to the church, purchasing or pay for something that is needed, or giving to people that you do not want the entire church to know about. But giving is definitely an essential for a missionary.

Where should the missionary give his tithe? Personally I feel like I am an example of Christ, and it makes me feel bad when the offering plate goes by me without me putting something in. So even when I visit other churches in the states on furlough, I still try to always put something in.

In principle, I want my tithes to go to the work that God has given me, my church on the mission field. There is nothing really wrong to give your tithes (at least in part) to your sending church back stateside (most pastors I deal with recommend that I not do that though).

I have a hard time with mission boards forceably taking a 10 or 15% tithe out of their missionaries income. Giving should never be under compulsion. I think that giving is a must, and there is a basic principle that people should basically be giving the majority of their money where they attend.



Q: Are national missionaries better than me going?

Doesn’t it make more sense to for me to raise funds for national missionaries, rather than raise funds for me to go?

consult2This idea pf national missionaries is one that I have seen floating around a lot, and let me just say, “No it is not better”. Let me explain some reasons why this is just wrong, and then make some personal observations as a veteran missionary.

First of all, let me explain that there is a great difference between a missionary and a national pastor. A missionary goes to someplace other than their own country of birth to spread the gospel when it is not named. We have to insist that this is ALWAYS biblical missions.

On one hand, we have “home missions” which is what? People who start ministries that cannot sustain themselves from that particular ministry. This is unbiblical. Why? Because we have a commission to evangelize and start local churches. We do not have a commission to do social work. This is not missions.

There is a legitimate place for this directly under the direction of a local church where that local church gets free volunteer help to work this, and they pay for a reason set of expenses in said ministry. To send money to a set of unknown people working without a clear methodology and doctrine that is constantly observed is extremely dangerous. It is valid to do these social works as long as they are under the authority of a local church, and that church pays and supplies workers.

Missions should be kept free of social ministries. They are valid in a lesser degree than missions, but what is missions should never be confused with what is the church’s social outreach. Likewise a biblical church spend many times more money and energy on getting the gospel out and churches planted than on social programs.

A national pastor is a pastor that is a native of that land which ministers. No where in the Bible is the concept that one country pays the salaries of the ministers of the rest of the world, and that is the concept in many areas, that the rich US should pay high salaries to national pastors.

We need to understand that biblical missions is always people in a church paying the salaries of their own ministers. We need to insist that national churches be established with this principle of paying a fair salary to their own national pastors, and that besides that, they should also support missions, which is nationals from this country going to other countries to evangelize and establish new churches.

There is a place for evangelists (which focus on presenting the gospel message, not preaching conferences among churches). But likewise these men should be supported by the churches that they preach in.

Why God hates Calvinism

dead-at-computer To some people, just the title of this article would be blasphemous. God is against Calvinism. Let me expand on the why of this statement.

God wants man to move morally

From what we see and understand in Scripture, God wants man to move morally. By “moving morally” I mean God wants man to repent of his sins (moral activity), and have faith in Jesus Christ as his Savior (moral action). This moral action IS THE WILL OF GOD. In parlance of Calvinists, this is the perfect will of God, not the permissive will of God. Calvinism, in itself, admits that man believing God is good and is what God wants. The Calvinist will attribute this to his concept of irresistible grace acting on the individual, but even so, it is a good thing. This article is dual posted here and at Continue reading Why God hates Calvinism

Are Mission Boards biblical?

I would refer you to an article by Church of Christ, John William McGarvey, “Missionary Societies” (1868), in which he argues that missionary societies are a modern invention which is unbiblical.

I think the issue here is very well put by McGarvey, when he argues that we are not at liberty to “invent” new conventions, organizations, and methods (especially not changing the content of the gospel message). Continue reading Are Mission Boards biblical?