Kevin Brosnan, Baptist World Mission Field Administrator
Just as Christians partner with missionaries in prayer, they also share in the fruit of their labors through sacrificial, financial giving. It is a source of great joy to know that our gifts enable missionaries to stand in our stead, preaching the Gospel, and winning precious souls to Christ. The financial cost of taking the Gospel to foreign lands is a formidable barrier to modern missions. While money alone can’t convert a single soul, missionaries are sent and sustained only by the consistent, sacrificial, financial commitment of God’s people. Lack of funds has a detrimental effect upon those who are called to take the Gospel to the world. It can significantly delay the departure of new missionaries. Everyone with a heart for missions is asking, “How can we better finance missions so that we can send and equip all whom God calls?”
AN ADVANTAGEOUS APPROACH
There are several advantages to the faith promise plan for financing missions. As a Bible-based program, it not only provides funds for missions, but also advances every objective of the local church’s missions program. Faith promise offers two great advantages over other methods. First, it elevates the church’s mission program to the place of prominence the Great Commission deserves. Second, it fosters a more direct and personal connection between church members and missions, resulting in a more mission-minded church. Members are more eager to participate in mission-related activities such as conferences, correspondence, housing, and even mission trips. Young people are more apt to respond to the call of missionary service. Giving directly to missions through faith promise definitely promotes a strong sense of personal connection with God’s plan for world outreach.
A BIBLICAL METHOD
Most people credit the Canadian preacher A. B. Simpson (1843-1919) for developing the faith promise program. He claimed he got it from the Bible, and we agree. The program is built upon solid biblical principles. Practicing faith in finances is as necessary as practicing faith in all other areas of life. No great work for God can be accomplished without faith, and 2 Corinthians 10:15-16 states the case for faith promise mission giving, “When your faith is increased…we shall be enlarged by you…to preach the gospel in the regions beyond.”
There are at least eight biblical principles in 2 Corinthians chapters eight and nine which define faith promise mission giving. The prerequisite is that we first give ourselves to the Lord (8:5). The attitude of our giving must be cheerful (9:7). Our willingness to give demonstrates our desire to further the work of God (8:3, 8, 12; 9:7). Our giving demonstrates our debt of gratitude for all that Christ has done for us (8:8-9, 24). These two chapters connect grace with giving eight times, placing emphasis upon both the gift and the giver. God promises the power to abound in giving just as He promises the power to abound in other Christian graces. Faith giving allows believers to give “beyond their power” to the cause of world missions (8:2-3, 7). We are to give out of our need rather than out of our excess. This is how God’s Word defines sacrificial giving (8:2). No one is exempt from participation in faith promise giving. God’s plan is all-inclusive (8:7). Paul commends the impoverished Macedonian believers for exemplifying these eight principles of giving, demonstrating that financing missions does not depend so much on deep pocketbooks, but on willing hearts.
A FAITH COMMITMENT
As its name suggests, faith promise mission giving is based on a faith commitment. In addition to regular tithes and offerings, each church member is challenged during the annual missions conference to exercise faith in making a one-year, weekly commitment to the church’s missions program. The church increases its missionary commitments for the next year based on these anonymous commitments. This is not a pledge to the church, but a commitment to Christ and world missions.
A WELL-PLACED FAITH
The challenge of faith promise is not, “How much can I trust God to give me for a faith promise commitment each week?” Rather, the question is, “How much can I give to faith promise each week and still trust God to meet my own needs?” The first question does not really involve faith, except on the missionary’s part. The latter question exercises real faith because I accept my commitment as a firm obligation and determine to trust God to help me live within His provision. Churches also exercise faith that members will not use their tithes and offerings to pay their faith promise commitment. The fact is that tithes, offerings, and ministry involvement usually increase when faith promise is biblically implemented, because the exercise of this faith produces greater faithfulness in other areas as well.
A SIMPLE IMPLEMENTATION
The simplicity of the faith promise program makes it appropriate for churches of all sizes. God’s people should be given time to pray and consider their commitment. A mission conference during this period should biblically present faith promise and demonstrate how the funds will be used to send the Gospel around the world. The sacrifices of the missionaries serve as examples of selfless commitment to the Great Commission. Tallying anonymous commitment cards often serves as a climax to the conference. The support of missionaries in the conference may hinge on its result.
A PROVEN PROGRAM
When properly implemented as a faith response rather than just a new method, faith promise mission giving has proven to be a remarkably effective tool in financing missions. Success breeds success as churches experience significant increases in commitments each year. Faith for giving spills over into other areas of living by faith, injecting spiritual vitality into local churches. Systematic giving provides more money for missions than periodic emotional appeals and promotes a greater commitment and attachment to missions and missionaries. The faith promise plan allows for significant increases to the missions budget year by year as the congregation approaches each conference with an open heart, a growing burden, and a sense of expectancy and urgency.
The administrators of Baptist World Mission are available to provide more specific information on faith promise or to help churches initiate a faith promise program. These men regularly serve as keynote preachers for faith promise conferences.