I am part of a ministry team at Reflections yet each of us is responsible for our own financial support. In the past, our Board of Directors has asked me to share a teaching with those I serve on financial giving. Over the years I have taught on giving with some of the men I disciple and mentor but have not shared this teaching with all those I serve. This is an issue I struggle with, being in a faith ministry, i.e., the issue of raising financial support. What is my responsibility before the Lord as a teacher of God’s Word (James 3:1 says teachers will be judged more strictly) to teach those I mentor and disciple about giving in general and giving to Reflections? In my initial years of ministry, I felt completely comfortable with asking for support, based on Jesus’ words “the worker is worthy of his wages” (Luke 10:7) and stronger words from Paul: “The Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should get their living from the gospel.” (1 Corinthians 9:14) Yet for many years, I felt led to not ask for support but to trust the Lord to meet our needs per His promises in Scripture (Matthew 6:33; Philippians 4:19). This was so I could grow more in trusting Him myself and thereby more confidently exhort others to trust Him to meet their needs. Recently, I have been struck with the accountability I have before God to teach on money, as it is a major rival to the Lordship of Christ. “You cannot serve both God and money,” Jesus says (Matthew 6:24). Also, as I’ve entered into increasingly more one on one mentoring relationships with even greater accountability based on Hebrews 13:17, I feel even more convicted. It says: “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you (“your souls”) as men who must give an account (to God). Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.” This Scripture says I will give an account to God for the way I “watch over men’s souls” meaning “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15) by “teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:1) and “making disciples.teaching them to obey everything Jesus commanded them to do.” (Matthew 28:18-20) As Paul said, “knowing the fear of the Lord (our accountability before the Lord) we persuade men.to make it our goal to please Him” (2 Corinthians 5:9-11). So I fear the Lord both for myself and for the men I serve that we will be right with Him in giving financially and in the stewardship of all areas of our life. With that background, let me share some principles on giving to the Lord’s work.
Our Lord Jesus and Paul taught that those who minister and teach have a “right” to receive financial support from those they serve. (Luke 10:7; 1 Corinthians 9:7-14 – here Paul gives six reasons a minister has a “right” to receive material gain for spiritual sowing; also see Galatians 6:6) Jesus says “Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages (stipend, pay)” (Luke 10:7). Paul also taught to ask for financial support (Romans 15:24) and he received support from the people and churches he served (Philippians 4:16-17). Although he refused the “right” in Corinth and Thessalonica
(1 Corinthians 9:12; 1 Thessalonians 2:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:8-10) in order to validate his apostleship over the false apostles who “peddled the word of God for profit” (2 Corinthians 2:17) and to be an example against idleness
(2 Thessalonians 3:6-12), this was for specific purposes and not applied in all cases. In my case, I invested my entire retirement account (my tent-making years) in my ministry which I had accrued from twenty-five years in business so I could “devote myself to prayer and to the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4) on a full-time basis.
From these and other Scriptures, I see three general areas the Lord calls us to support financially: (1) To meet the material needs of others in the Name of Christ, the poor and those in need (Proverbs 28:27; Ephesians 4:28); (2) To meet the spiritual needs of others (through evangelism and discipleship – the Great Commission, Matthew 28:18-20) by investing financially in those churches and ministries that effectively teach and preach the gospel and who nurture and effectively equip the saints to “do the work of the ministry” (Luke 10:1-7; 1 Corinthians 9:14; Ephesians 4:11-13; 2 Timothy 2:2) and (3) To invest in your own needs for spiritual growth and reproduction by giving to those who teach you the Word (1 Corinthians 9:4-18; Galatians 6:6; 1 Timothy 5:17-18). Again, this includes churches and ministries who regularly feed you spiritually. The “church” is more than the local church. It is the body of Christ (Ephesians 5:23; Colossians 1:24), the family of God (Ephesians 3:15), which includes all saved people – “called out ones”, who assemble in houses (Romans 16:5), meeting places (Acts 19:9-10; restaurants, office buildings, etc.), or two or three gathered in Jesus’ Name (Matthew 18:20), and not just the local church building.
Now let me speak on these three areas regarding Reflections. (1) To meet the material needs of others: God’s Word says He will meet all of our needs (Matthew 6:33; Philippians 4:11-13; 19) and indeed He has met our family’s needs since 1990 when we began our faith ministry, for which we give Him thanks and praise. Of course, He calls His people to be the means of His provision to meet our needs and we are thankful to those who have faithfully supported us. So we trust the Lord to raise up people to meet our ministry and personal needs. (2) To meet the spiritual needs of others: Regarding the second area above, the Great Commission, our mission statement and ministry is focused on evangelism and discipleship, especially in the marketplace. With fewer and fewer people going to church, we are taking the gospel to them in homes, businesses and public arenas, etc., both through large and small group meetings and one on one. Thus, if your experience with Reflections has demonstrated to you that we are effective in “making disciples”, you have a calling and opportunity to reach out to others through investing in our ministry in the area of marketplace evangelism and discipleship. (3) To invest in your own needs: Concerning the third area of being personally fed God’s Word, Galatians 6:6 says: “Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor.” Reflections in general and I in particular, have personally chosen to “focus on a few” in order to go deeper in our walk with Jesus even as our Lord modeled with the twelve. The multiplication or ripple effect of a man going deep with the Lord and reproducing Christ’s life and ministry with his wife and children, co-workers and community is the model of ministry Jesus taught us. I believe the failure to do this is greatly responsible for the lack of our salt and light influence in our country today. Thus, those who personally receive the ministry of the Word through our ministry would fit the third category of giving above.
Another question is how much to give? Although tithing is not a New Testament teaching, ten percent should be the starting point for most of us in America based on our comparative wealth in the world and the New Testament Scriptures on giving listed below. (Actually, the Old Testament teaching on tithing amounted to 23 1/3 percent; Deuteronomy 14:22-23; Numbers 18:21; Deuteronomy 14:28-29.) This means we give first to the Lord’s work (Numbers 18:8-13), before all other expenses, ten percent or more of our gross income, and even then, we are accountable as good stewards with what is left per other Scriptural principles – e.g., contentment versus greed or hoarding. (Luke 12:16-21) Other principles on giving are 1) to give in proportion to our income so as our income increases, our percentage of giving increases; (1 Corinthians 16:2); 2) to give regularly (1 Corinthians 16:2); 3) to give sacrificially (2 Corinthians 8:1-4; which is defined as affecting your standard of living in some tangible way); 4) to give joyfully and 5) generously (2 Corinthians 9:6-8). Jesus says that storing up treasures in heaven is the wisest investment we can make for ourselves (Matthew 16:19-21; 24) and for the best possible purposes – people’s eternal good (Luke 16:1-15). Money is a blessing only if properly stewarded (Luke 12:48). It becomes a blessing to others and ourselves when, like all other gifts from God (time, talents, etc.), we steward it in light of our accountability before the Lord. (Matthew 25: 14-30).
In summary, prayerfully consider supporting our ministry based on the following: (1) our need – I only receive financial support from the men I serve, those I teach as well as those I mentor one-on-one. I have no other source of income. We are experiencing a substantial deficit from past shortfalls in our budget which means we have missed five monthly paychecks. This deficit can be recouped if we receive funds in excess of our present budgeted needs. (2) to invest in the Great Commission through our ministry by supporting me to reach other men with the gospel of Jesus Christ and to make disciples; and (3) to invest in your own spiritual growth commensurate with the spiritual value you receive from our ministry and according to your ability to give per the Scriptures above. My desire, in essence, is that the men I serve be right with God based on His Word on giving. I don’t want to indirectly encourage disobedience to the Scriptures by failing to teach them to those I serve. I encourage you to study these Scriptures for your accountability to the Lord. We, like Paul, want you to give to God so it will be “credited to your (eternal) account” (Philippians 4:17). We pray we will all be obedient in giving to the Lord for the eternal good of others and our own personal stewardship as we prepare to meet Him and desire to hear Him say, “well done good and faithful servant.”
Yours for Christ’s sake,
Len and Kristen
How to support our ministry. 1) Mail your donation check in the envelope included in my monthly newsletter. 2) Automatic deposits. 3) Stock donations. 4) Contributions from business profits/ corporate gifts. (Call Heather Cottingham 404-842-0707 for procedures)