Friday, August 28, 2009

To Ask, Or Not

I have just completed a very challenging two-month journey. The quest of my journey was to answer this question:

Is it appropriate to ask people to support my family and me as I do God’s work as a missionary?

I have heard MANY opinions. The loudest, and frankly, the harshest, opinions came from people with this view: “If I’m doing God’s work, then God will provide the resources to get it done.”

To this point, I agree with them, but our thoughts quickly diverge on their next statement. They say, “It is wrong to ask people to support ministry, because it isn’t found anywhere in the New Testament.”

This makes sense at first blush. I can’t find a single place where someone raises funds for themselves. It just isn’t there! As someone that has been asking people to support his ministry for almost seven years, this fact really rattled my cage!

However, today I received a great word of encouragement from God through a colleague I’ve met through twitter:

Pastor Martha Spigener (@butterflybeacon) wrote:
Our culture here in America is not the culture of the Bible…the culture of the Bible was one in which it was expected, let me say that again, expected, that the people would pay to support their priests and Rabbis. Just look at the sacrificial laws and what was for the priest and what was actually burned. It isn’t written in the New Testament because it was an expected norm. Our society does not exist with those expectations.

In other words, we don’t hear Jesus asking people to support Him because it was unnecessary to do so. People were already expected to support people in ministry (see Luke 8:1-3). People during Christ’s ministry understood that it was their responsibility to support people in ministry. Jesus didn’t have to ask!

Yes, God will provide what is needed for His work. The culture in which we live does not understand its responsibility to care for those in ministry. Therefore, we must ask people to support us as we devote our lives to the ministry God has called us to.

In my case, I encourage and equip church leaders. My services are desperately needed, but church leaders don’t have resources to “pay” for my services. Only through God’s sustaining blessings will I be able to continue to “build up the body of Christ, the Church, one leader at a time”. And the way God provides is through donations from God’s people. And for those donations to happen in this culture I will have to ask!

In Christ,

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