Concerning the Great Commission, the church has two problems. The first is that there are too many places and people and not enough missionaries. There never has been enough, but it is worse today. The world’s population is exploding while our missionary force is decreasing. The sad truth is we just do not have enough laborers. Matthew 9:37 is as true today as when Jesus spoke it—“the labourers are few.” Jesus told us to pray for more laborers; are we really doing that? If not, why? That answer is explained by the second problem: The church has too many missionaries. We can’t afford the ones we have (or we think we can’t); why should we ask God for more? Do you suppose Jesus gave us this important assignment, but didn’t know that it would be so expensive? Or to be more ridiculous, do you think that God has run out of money? Could it be that He wants everyone in the world to hear the gospel and be saved, but He lacks the funds to send the gospel messengers to most of the world? Or could it be that He would supply the finances for this world outreach if we would just look to Him for it?
Yes, God will pay for what He orders! And He will do it through you and me. What a privilege; what a responsibility! I am a debtor to the heathen who will one day soon plunge into hell without a Bible and without a warning. I also owe it to the dedicated missionary who is willing to forsake family and friends to take the gospel to the foreign field. The missionary who doesn’t get discouraged and quit will probably spend four of the best years of his life driving around the country, wearing out vehicles and family members, before he can raise the support to do what God has put on his heart. My missions offering will help get him on the field sooner. The question is not what does my church do for missions, but what am I doing to enable my church to do more?
God has a plan for meeting the special needs of others. It is explained in II Cor. 8 and 9 and illustrated in many other passages. It works like this: 1) I see or hear of a need such as helping to get missionaries to the field. 2) I decide to get involved. But I do not decide what I can afford to give. Instead I pray earnestly, asking God what He wants me to give for missions, above my tithes and church offerings. 3) I promise to give the amount that God lays on my heart and trust Him to provide it. 4) At the set time—probably each week—I give my promise that I have made by faith. I don’t have to be concerned about what others are giving; I am doing what God wants me to do to help reach the world for Christ. Perhaps next year, when my faith has grown, my faith promise can also grow, and I can help send even more missionaries. Through faith God may lead me and enable me to do more than I am able to afford.
The Macedonian believers gave what they could, and they gave even more than they were able. “For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves;” (2 Cor. 8:3). How do we do what is beyond our power? God empowers us! After all, it is God who is not willing that the heathen perish; He gives to His children what He wants them to give so that missionaries can go. This giving by faith is being practiced in churches all over the world; they are meeting the needs of the missionaries and God is abundantly meeting their needs. Faith promise giving, if correctly taught, will not hurt the church; it will help it. Faith pleases God. Surely giving by faith would please Him.
Churches today that are giving beyond their power are probably practicing faith promise giving. A Korean church in Washington of only thirty-five people gives over $70,000 to missions yearly. A church in Austin, Texas, with about three hundred in Sunday attendance, gives about half a million! A church in Oklahoma of about one hundred thirty people, including bus kids, just surpassed their 2009 goal of $152,000. I recently visited a church in New Mexico, and I doubt if they had seventy-five people there that Sunday morning; and they support one hundred thirty missionaries at $50 each month. We are not talking about rich churches with wealthy givers. We know one poor husband and wife that give enough each month to support nine missionaries at over $50 each. Faith promise giving allows the individual, not just the church, to be involved in giving to missions.
There are many missionaries, pastors, evangelists, and mission leaders who would gladly visit your church and teach this faith promise principle. A church that can afford to support only ten missionaries might be enabled by God to support one hundred. Churches are not commanded to practice faith promise giving, but as the Apostle Paul said, they can do it to prove the sincerity of their love.
Do we really love Christ? If so we should prove it. What better way to prove it than by giving to make Him known to those for whom He died? My missions offering shows my love for God, for the missionary, and for the one who will become my brother in Christ if he can just hear the good news.