ViewPoints: Is it Valid to Raise Missionary Support? What about Tent-Making? (part three)

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Would Paul be an RV-maker today?

In ViewPoints: Fresh Perspectives on Personal Support Raising,<Not an affiliate link>, Steve Shadrach addresses an issue that most missionaries who raise support will face.  Imagine yourself in this situation.

You are meeting with a group of potential ministry partners, and they start sharing about this wonderful Christian missionary they know who is working in this really tough and strategic part of the world.  They say things like:

  • “He cares about reaching these people with the gospel so much that he doesn’t have others financially support him. He’s willing to work there.”
    “He simply does some contract jobs for a few months each year there, and then he lives so frugally that he does full time ministry the rest of the year.”
    “He works with a business so that he doesn’t drain financial resources.”

Most of us raising missionary support can then go on the defensive, or even start wondering if raising missionary support is valid.  Worse yet, one despairs of having the skills to be a tent-maker.  Imagine comparing yourself to this wonderful tent-maker: “I don’t have the professional skills and the ministry skills that he does!”

For those of us who raise missionary support, it can be deeply discouraging!

Thankfully, Steve gives some good thoughts on this.

Tent-Making is Biblical, and so is Raising Missionary Support.

Steve first gives us Jesus’ ministry as an example.  Luke 8:1-3 and Luke 10:1-11 show that Jesus “chose interdependence over independence” and trained his disciples to do the same.  He could have worked as a carpenter, or he could have just miraculously provided for his ministry.  Do you think the women supporting Jesus’ ministry  were disappointed to give when Jesus didn’t miraculously feed everybody?

Look also at Paul.  Steve points out that, yes, Paul did make tents.  2 Thess 3:8-9, Acts 20:33-34, and Acts 18:4-5 show that Paul indeed did make tents to support himself.  However, 1 Cor 9 shows that Pauls “preferred mode of operation” was to be engaged in full-time ministry; when he wasn’t, it was an exception for a specific purpose.

Why Raise Missionary Support if you don’t have to?

One main difference between mission agencies is whether or not you have to raise your own financial support for ministry.  Many missionaries can choose between these organizations.  I’ve met at least one, and I’m sure there are several more, who have chosen the agency they chose solely so that it would force them to raise their own missionary support.

Are they crazy?!

No, they know that raising missionary support is valid, and they honestly believe that it is a privilege for others to partner with them in their ministry.


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