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Ambassador Baptist Church
1926 Babcock Blvd
Pittsburgh, PA 15209
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Ask the Pastor

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clear.gif - 808 Bytes What is the Scriptural basis for supporting missions through Faith Promise?

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clear.gif - 808 Bytes Let me say first of all that I do not believe that Faith Promise is the only way for a church to run its missions program. When I arrived in Michigan, the church I was to pastor was 49 years old and had never used Faith Promise. All missions was simply handled through the church budget. I never ended that practice, although I did challenge the people to consider practicing Faith Promise on a personal level, and we personally continued to do so as a family.

clear.gif - 808 BytesWhile I believe that Faith Promise is not the only way, I certainly do not find it to be un-Scriptural at all. Thus, I do not have a problem with using this means to finance our missions program. I do believe that there are some Scriptural principles that can be applied that show that Faith Promise is acceptable. I will list them below, but they are not in any particular order.

  1. The believer is to live by faith. The Bible teaches that "the just shall live by faith" (Rom. 1:17), and "we walk by faith, not by sight" (II Cor. 5:7). Thus, to ask church members to trust God by faith to give them a certain amount of money each week/month to give back to Him is not out of line. Tithing is not necessarily faith - it is first of all obedience, but it also says that if I don't make anything, I don't have to give anything. Faith Promise says "I will give what God has led me to give and I will trust Him to provide it." Normal church giving takes place when a man sees what he has and gives a portion of it. By the way, there is nothing wrong with this. The Old Testament spoke of giving the first fruits "of the increase", which means that they had to see it before they could give it. Faith Promise giving is when a man doesn't have it, but under the leadership of God gives it anyway, believing that God will provide it. This principle is found in II Cor. 8:2-3, where Paul writes,
    "How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves;"
    Apparently the Macedonians had almost nothing (deep poverty) yet gave more than what could ever be expected (beyond their power). This isn't tithing, this is faith giving.

  2. Vows were certainly a part of the Old Testament. They were a part of the Law, but they also pre-date the law, for they are mentioned in Job 22:27 as well as Genesis 28. They were always voluntary, but if they were made they were to be followed through (Psalms 76:11 - note that the word "vow" there seems to be more of a command than a suggestion). They did sometimes involve giving money (Gen 28:22). While the word "vow" does not appear in the New Testament dealing with the church, I think we do see the principle, from a financial perspective, in II Cor. 8:10- 12:
    "And herein I give my advice: for this is expedient for you, who have begun before, not only to do, but also to be forward a year ago. Now therefore perform the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to will, so there may be a performance also out of that which ye have. For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not."
    It seems that the Corinthian believers had made a commitment to assist the churches at Jerusalem, but now were considering backing out of the deal because they didn't have much themselves. Paul's advice was that they should follow through with what they had decided previously that they were going to do, and not go back on their commitment.

  3. It is always right to seek God's face to find out what we should do. James 1:5 tells us
    "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."
    In Faith Promise we encourage the church members to seek God's wisdom concerning what He would have them to do. Every year I make the following statement several times concerning Faith Promise: "If God tells you not to give anything, then don't give anything." If the Lord doesn't want an individual to participate in Faith Promise, He can make that clear through the Word of God. If He does want someone to participate He can make that clear through the Word of God. He can also lay the amount on the individual's heart. He does with me, and with many others, both in our church and others, who give to missions via Faith Promise. As I mentioned above, I have done it myself whether or not my church as a whole did it. For over 25 years I have, on a yearly basis, got down before the Lord and asked Him to show me what He wanted me to do, by His grace and help, for the cause of missions around the world. He always responds.

  4. The church is to give other ministries around the globe. I think that this goes without saying. Not all the "overseas" giving that went on in the first century church was for evangelistic missions. Sometimes it was for relief efforts for churches in other lands (II Cor 9), but sometimes it was for evangelism (Phi. 4:15-17). Individuals give to the church, and the church sends out the funds (I Cor. 16:1-3).

  5. Giving for these efforts was done, not on the spur of the moment, but ahead of time. I Cor 16 indicates that the money was set aside ahead of time at the church so that it could be used when the need arose. There was planning done, just as there was in II Corinthians 8 where the church had planned to give and then changed its mind. It is always wise to plan ahead, both as individuals and as a church. A man needs to "count the cost" in order to see if he can build. Likewise a church needs to be able to "count the cost" in order to see what kind of commitments it can make to those that it sends out. This obviously can be done through simply making missions a part of the church budget, but it can also be done through Faith Promise commitments. Some might argue that Faith Promise commitments violate the principle that you are to not let others know about your giving. If this is so, then there should be no system in the church for having a "tithing record" for tax purposes. In addition, since the Faith Promise cards have no place for a signature, they are anonymous - far more anonymous than a check written to the church would be. An individual could give cash through Faith Promise and no one would ever know where it came from. Also, I think it is wise for missionaries to be able to plan ahead. They know approximately how much it is going to cost them to be on the field, and they need to know approximately how much support they can expect from the churches. Having someone make a "promise" of missions support assists both the church and the missionary.

  6. II Corinthians 10:15-16 says,
    "Not boasting of things without our measure, that is, of other men's labours; but having hope, when your faith is increased, that we shall be enlarged by you according to our rule abundantly, To preach the gospel in the regions beyond you, and not to boast in another man's line of things made ready to our hand."
    Note the underlined portions. Paul states that he will be able to preach more when the faith of the Corinthians church is increased. He is writing to the church as a whole, but the church as a whole is made up of individual believers. Thus, he is challenging the faith of the church and the individual members, and he says that when their faith increases, he will be able to do more. How would that happen? The obvious way is that they would trust the Lord more so that they would give more so that Paul could accomplish more. I would call that Faith giving.

  7. In Philippians 4: 15-17 Paul writes,
    "Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity. Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account."
    Paul is writing to the church, and he mentions that the church sent him money, but note that he is addressing "ye Philippians". He is talking to the individual members, and saying that they contributed to his needs and that they would receive the fruit on their (plural) accounts. We see again individuals giving to missions, not "the church" giving to missions. The church sent it, but the individuals gave it. Please note that the amount of time that passed between when Paul left Philippi and when he left Thessalonica was probably quite brief. We only know for certain that Paul was in Thessalonica for three weeks (Acts 17:2). There was no time for the church at Philippi to set up a yearly budget and determine that a certain percentage of that was going to go to Paul. When the individual believers gave the money, it was already earmarked by them for missions.

  8. In II Corinthians 8:8 Paul states that giving to missions proves the sincerity of the individual believer's love. This may refer to his love for God, his love for the missionary, or his love for those the missionary is going to minister to. Again, the terms used are plural ("your" love), so they apply to the individual's giving, not just to what the church as a whole does.

  9. II Corinthians 9:7 reads,
    "Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver."
    The context of this passage deals with giving money away to meet the needs of saints in other places. Once again we see this giving is to be done on an individual basis (every man), and it is to be done as "he purposeth". To "purpose" means to "aim" or "intend" or "resolve". He does this in his heart, which implies that he has thought about it. Ephesians 6:6 says that we are to do the will of God from the heart, so I think it is safe to say that a man is to give for the needs of other ministries based upon what he has determined to do, which he has based upon his understanding of the will of God.

clear.gif - 808 BytesSummary: We are to walk by faith. Vows (promises) are voluntarily given to God in the Scriptures, and once made they are to be kept. Men are to seek God's will through prayer. Giving to other ministries is done by individual Christians through their local church. Increased faith produces increased outreach by those who have been sent out. God promises blessings and fruit to those individual church members that give to other ministries. An individual's giving to missions reveals his level of love. Giving is a result of a decision made or resolved in the heart. Planning is necessary for ministries to be carried out effectively.

clear.gif - 808 BytesI believe that the typical Faith Promise program accomplishes all these goals and principles. It requires faith, as well as a voluntary promise. The amount is arrived at through prayer and seeking the will of God. Once the individual has purposed this amount, he gives it cheerfully and regularly (I Cor. 16:2 - "First day of the week"). The funds are given by individuals through their local church, but because the giving was done by them individually and not just by the church budget, they can personally receive the blessings of God, the fruit can be marked to their personal accounts, and their own personal love is shown. Increased faith on the individual's part will translate into increased giving which will result in increased outreach. Finally, it allows the church and the missionaries to count the cost so that they can carry out their ministries in an organized fashion.

clear.gif - 808 BytesThere are some practical items as well. For one, individual giving promotes individual concern. If I am giving a specific amount of money to missions, it will increase my burden for missions. The Bible says,

"For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Matt. 6:21).
When people simply give to "the church", they tend not to be as concerned about missions as those who give to missions itself. Second, I think that Faith Promise tends to increase giving across the board. This happens because people continue to give their "tithes and offerings", but now give something "above and beyond" to missions. The money needed to keep the church going is still there, but since extra money is being given to missions, it leaves more "disposable funds" for the church to use at home. For example, we fund the John/Romans assembly, as well as all our tracts and local evangelistic efforts, through the church budget. If the money we as a church give to missions also came out of that same fund, it might hinder our ability to continue those ministries, because there would be fewer dollars in there. Third, keeping missions separate tends to keep churches honest about what they send to missionaries. For example, all money that is designated for missions must (unless other legal arrangements have been made) by law go to missions. However, if no money is designated for missions, then the church can take the money that was budgeted for the missionaries and use it for any other purpose that they wish. Budgets are not obligations, they are guides. Churches can use money budgeted for missions to pay salaries, pay bills, or anything else. Often churches have not sent the missionaries the amount of money that they said they would because it has been used for something else. In designated missions giving, that normally doesn't happen. Fourth, it gives individuals a sense of being involved in the church outreach. Let me give you an example. Our church has a visitation program. Most of the church people aren't involved, but they can always say to themselves, "My church goes out calling." That doesn't really do them any good though, does it. Do you think God is going to accept the fact that the church goes soul-winning as an excuse for the individual who never witnessed to anyone in his life? Probably not. Budgeted missions based on tithes and offerings lets people say, "My church is involved in missions". Faith Promise lets that person say "I am involved in missions".

clear.gif - 808 BytesThere you have it. I would never say that a church that doesn't practice Faith Promise is wrong. Churches, as well as Christians, have liberty as long as what they are doing is not contrary to the Scriptures. However, as the pastor of Ambassador Baptist Church, I believe that the Lord has led me to lead our people to be involved in Faith Promise for our missions program.

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Pastor Dr. Mark Montgomery
Email: Ask the Pastor
Ambassador Baptist Church
1926 Babcock Blvd
Pittsburgh, PA 15209

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