A missionary is someone who is sent to share the Gospel and make disciples. As a student at a missionary training college, I’ve heard different people’s opinions on missionary funding. I decide to do more research about if missionaries should fund themselves or not.
With this being said, should missionaries support themselves? Or gain the financial funds needed to be in ministry through the help of other Christians?
Should missionaries support themselves? No, missionaries don’t have to fund themselves.In the book of Acts that missionaries are sent by churches. All missionaries should have the support of their local church before going on the field. Some missionaries are funded by a business, this is not wrong. Missionaries can support themselves if they wish. But the example we see in Scripture is the church sending out missionaries and supporting them.
As we look into this further, and even into the different views of if missionaries should support themselves of be supported by others, let’s look into what the Bible says on this matter.
Missionaries – Living By Faith
Missionaries and all Christians alike, are called to a live a life of faith. This can look differently for all people.
Living a life of faith as a missionary can mean fully relying on God to use the church and others to financially support you to be apart of the work God is already doing.
It can look like having faith that God would provide through your businesses, jobs, or investments.
In this blog post, from a missionary sending University (Bethany Global) they talk about those who have lived life by faith and what this looked like for them.
God honors those who are wise with their money, and missionaries, pastor’s, and any teachers of the Word are held to a higher accountability.
Missionaries can fully support themselves, but they also should be sent off by their local church or Christians who can support them prayerfully as well.
Different Views Of Being Supported As Missionaries
Here are the different views of missionary funding I found:
1). Fully Supported Missionaries
Some missionaries feel strongly they need all the time they can get to do ministry full time. Because of the need to share the Gospel, disciple, plant churches, lead Bible studies, give Biblical counsel, preach and teach the Word, they may want to fully put their time into the work God is doing.
With that being said, making money may not be their highest priority, and they may need all the time they can get to be fully involved in ministry.
For these reasons, some hold the view that all should be fully funded by other Christians and churches who are considered senders.
2). Partially Funded & Partially Independent
Others already have businesses they are doing and want to continue making some of their income through that. Or they find that they can do their ministry better by being involved in the community by working at a local job.
This could even create more opportunities to do ministry by serving the community or working along side others.
In some countries, being labeled a “missionary” is not allowed. To get into the country, you would have to come in as a teacher, student, or for business.
By being a teacher or working in business as a Christian, is ministry in and of itself. Not only could this be your way into restricted countries, but also create opportunities for ministry.
This is why some hold to this view that it is beneficial to work part time and have specific ministries part time.
3). Fully Independent Missionary
This view is similar to the previous view of being partially funded and partially independent. If a country is restricted, one might have to work at a known job to be a resident in the country.
With this view of being a fully independent missionary, some believe that one should be responsible themselves alone for their income. The reasoning could be because it is the only way into a country, or because they don’t want to ask others for money, or they feel this is the best way to connect with locals.
Another reasoning for supporting themselves fully as missionaries would be because one might not feel missionary work is “real” work and feel the need to make their money themselves.
Once one is on the field themselves, if they are heavily involved in ministry, they will realize it is real work. Not just any work, but work God has called us to. Or maybe there isn’t much going on right away and the ministries are taking a while to pick up, working a local job can get your foot in the door.
As missionaries, I believe we are not to rely on people for money, but to God however that may look.
I personally believe that this could look like any of these three views. As long as one is being sent prayerfully by other Christians and Lord willing by their local church, relying on God for provision through the church, their job, or by other God-honoring means.
How much missionaries should make? I would encourage you to read this blog post.
The Biblical Answer
When Jesus did ministry on Earth, it looked different then how we do it today. Jesus gave power to his disciples to heal the sick, and cast out demons. He gives us authority to pray for the sick and cast out evil spirits in his name if necessary.
When Jesus did his ministry on Earth with his disciples, he told them to not worry about the possessions they had. Jesus said not to bring more than two cloaks, and that God would provide food and a place to stay.
And he said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics.Luke 9:3
Jesus continued and said,
And whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart. And wherever they do not receive you, when you leave that town shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them.” And they departed and went through the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.Luke 9:4-6
Jesus was telling them to have faith in the Lord for their provision on their journeys of ministering to people.
Not only do we see this type of faith in Jesus and his disciples, but we see this throughout the entire Bible how those of the Christian faith are called to live a life totally reliant on God. A life of faith is what all Christians are called to, and this can look differently for all people.
When we look to Scripture, we at Acts 13:1-3 we can see a pattern as both Peter and Paul are sent out from churches. They then send out leaders from the churches they plant – such as Timothy and Titus.
As Christians and missionaries, we are called to live a life of faith. Jesus was physically there with his disciples, and the Holy Spirit is in us now.
From looking at the many people of faith in the Bible, all were called to walk out in faith differently. We are also called to be good stewards of our finances, and work hard hard for our living expenses. But ultimately it is about serving the Lord, and not man.
If one does chose to be fully or partially funded Lord willing by the church, they must recognize it is not just the people providing, it is the Lord providing.
Nothing we own is our own, and all Christians should realize it is the Lord’s money.
If one feels lead to be sent by the church prayerfully, and financially support themselves, they must realize they too are being provided for by God.
Everything is done for the glory of God and we can start being a witness for Christ right where we are, also preparing for the field Lord willing in unreached places where the Gospel needs to be shared to all nations.
A promise to hold onto is:
And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.Philippines 4:19
In Matthews it says:
Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.Matthew 6:31-32
God knows all that you need, and he promises to provide. When you are feeling anxious or stressed about finances as a missionary, remember God is with you.