Biblical Support for Ministry Partners
Some often ask, “Is raising support even Biblical?”
The answer for me is yes. And I would like to add that it is not just about raising support but partnering together to do the work of ministry. The Bible clearly shows that all ministry is meant to be done in close community with each of us sharing each others resources (which includes finances). So, I believe that not only is it Biblical, but may be the most rewarding way to do ministry for the giver and receiver of the funds! I believe that all of us can be the giver or receiver at any given time and that we should partner together to do the work of building the Kingdom of God.
Your belief systems affect your behavior and responses. What you believe to be true controls your responses more than objective truth.
- Luke 6:45 – The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.
- Philippians 4:8 – Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
- 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 – For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ…
Here are a few solid principles to remember when thinking about raising support:
Principle 1: Fundraising Is Biblical
- The Lord intends His work to be dependent upon His people giving of their resources. (Think of the way the church functions.)
Principle 2: Fundraising Is Ministry
- Your communication is proclaiming the work of God
- Their giving of their resources is the opportunity to honor the Lord
- God is unleashing and redirecting America’s wealth for Kingdom work.
Principle 3: People Need/Want to Give
- People need to give far more than any person or cause has the need to receive!
Principle 4: People Need to be Asked.
“Asking people for money is giving them the opportunity to put their resources at the disposal of the Kingdom. To raise funds is to offer people the chance to invest what they have in the work of God. Whether they have much or little is not as important as the possibility of making their money available for God.”
–Henri Nouwen (The Spirituality of Fundraising)
Old Testament Examples
- The Israelites’ tithes were given to the Levites for their service; they received no other inheritance (Numbers 18: 21, 24).
- The Levites tithed from the tithes given to them by the Israelites (Numbers 18:26).
- God feeds the Levites and provides for them by the contributions of the Israelites. He tells them it is their “reward in return for your service in the tent of meeting” (Numbers 18: 31).
- We see here a biblical foundation of a change in our perspective for raising support. The Israelites gave to GOD (Numbers 18:24) and the Levites received from GOD (Numbers 18:8).
As we approach support raising we must recognize that our need to depend upon God for provision. We also need to recognize that when others give, they are giving to the Lord and His purposes, not to us. They are supporting God’s work in our lives. We begin to go from a horizontal giving perspective to a vertical giving and receiving.
Other Old Testament Examples
- Nehemiah before the king (Neh. 2:1-9)
(Neh. 2:4 “Then the king said to me, ‘what would you request?’ So I prayed to the God of heaven.”)
- Elijah and the ravens (1 Kings 17:1-7)
- David asked people to give for building the temple (1 Chron. 29:1-20)
* Other OT Scripture references regarding fundraising: Exodus 25:1-2; 35: 4-5, Numbers 18:14, Deut. 14:27; 16:17, 1 Sam. 9:7-8, Neh. 13:14, Prov. 30:7-9
New Testament Examples
Jesus (Luke 8:1-3)
- Jesus was going city to city proclaiming the Gospel. We see here in Luke that others were giving to Jesus, the disciples as they continued in their ministry, ultimately also supporting the ministry.
- Notice here that Jesus had all the power in the world yet He chose to depend on the giving of others, to bring them in on the ministry.
Paul (Acts 18:1-5)
- We see in Acts that Paul begins his ministry in Corinth while being a tentmaker. He later becomes “occupied by the word,” meaning he is now fully devoted to teaching and preaching.
- Paul gives his reasoning as to why he believes they should support him (1 Corinthians 9: 1-18).
- Paul questions why he and Barnabas should be the only apostles supporting themselves. (9:6)
- Paul gives examples of occupations that are supported by others, leading us to ask why should his ministry be any different (9:7).
- Paul refers to Deuteronomy 25:4 to show that God had care for the oxen as they served treading out the grain. Paul then goes on to say that God is speaking on our behalf, that God cares for the support of those who are serving others (9:8,9).
- In verse eleven we see Paul explaining that those in spiritual leadership should be supported by those receiving it. (9:11)
- Paul claims that he will continue to preach the Gospel regardless of receiving support or not.
- Paul asks Philippians to give for God to credit and bless them. (Phil. 4:17)
The Twelve Disciples
- Jesus sent the twelve disciples out two by two. They were not to take food, clothes, or money for they were to devote themselves to the ministry of the harvest. Jesus said they were to depend upon others for housing, for support (Matthew 10: 9-15; Mark 6: 8-11; Luke 9:1-5).
- They were not to appear as beggars. Keep the path, stay the road. Do not be distracted.
* Other NT Scripture references regarding support raising: Matt. 10:5-15; 11:18-19, 16:10-12; 21:1-4; 22:35-38, John 12:3-8, Acts 10:2-4, 18:3-5; 20:33-35, 2 Cor. 8-9, 12:13, Gal. 6:6, Phil. 4:10-20, 1 Thess. 2:9, 2 Thess. 3:7-9, 1 Tim. 5:17-18; 6:17
My favorite way to look at this is to see all support raising as a God ask.