The Biblical Model for Funding Missionary Work

A summary of the biblical precedents for missionaries soliciting funds so that they can devote themselves to full-time ministry.

How should missionaries be paid? Biblically, there can be only one answer to this question. As Paul says, the Lord has commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel (1 Cor 9.14). The teaching is very explicit. There are many examples of this principle being practiced in the Scriptures. Here are just a few:

  • First and most significantly, Jesus’ ministry was funded by some of those who heard Him (Luke 8.1–3), and He taught the disciples to rely on others while ministering (Matthew 10.5–15).
  • Second, Paul requested that the Roman church financially support Phoebe, one of the ministers at Cenchrae. (Romans 16.1–2)
  • Third, Paul himself received support and was grateful for the support he received: Philippians 4.10–20 (people frequently assume that Paul always supported himself by making tents. Actually, that was the second-best option for him. See Acts 18.1–5, where Paul began by making tents and quit as soon as it was financially feasible to do so. See 1 Corinthians 9.1–18, where Paul’s whole point is that the Corinthians owed him support: he concludes the letter by telling them that he hopes to stop by and that he hopes they will provide for him to finish his journey in 1 Cor 16.5–6. Also see Romans 15.20–24, where Paul asks a church he has never visited before to fund him on his journey to Spain.) In addition, Paul explicitly teaches in Galatians 6.6 that Christians are obligated to provide for the needs of ministers.
  • Fourth, the apostle John encouraged his friend to support a band of missionaries in 3 John 5–8.
  • Fifth, the whole Levitical system in the Old Testament (the Levites were ministers) is predicated on the financial support of ministers by the rest of God’s people (Numbers 18.21–24 is a representative example). See Nehemiah 13.4–11 for how outraged Nehemiah was that the Levites had to go earn wages in another fashion.

In summary, there is an extremely strong Biblical case for missionaries raising financial support from the Body of Christ.

Which bring me to my point: we’re missionaries and we need your partnership! If you’d like to support our ministry financially, here’s how.

Incidentally, the word that we prefer to use when discussing financial supporters is partner. That word was chosen very carefully. If you’re curious, read about how missions is really a partnership

If you still have unanswered questions about supporting missionaries, you might be interested in our answers to common questions about supporting missionaries.

15 thoughts on “The Biblical Model for Funding Missionary Work”

  1. Great site!

    Spelling error thought you’d want to know about:
    “minsters” should be “ministers”

    God Bless.

  2. Greetings from Colombia, S.A. my brother!

    I hope that you are well…and assume that you are very busy as Christmas approaches. I love this time of year, don’t you?

    Let me introduce myself. My name is Paul Robinson, an AG missionary in Colombia, South America. Just recently I was preparing to give a workshop regarding the Biblical Model for fundraising to some short-term missionary teachers at a school here when two veteran missionary teachers (who were offended by this) wanted to school me in the correct Biblical Model.

    Anyway, I wasn’t going to entertain this because it would only be divisive — and there is no need for this. You see, these two teachers are from an organization that doesn’t raise support like we (AG) and others raise support, and apparently they think that we “beg” for support and this is not “Biblical.” Crazy, huh?

    So, in short, I just wanted to thank you for the fine work you did regarding this.

    Have the best Christmas ever…and may He lead you into this New Year with a fresh joy, boldness, and perspective…carry on!

    A fellow bold servant,
    Paul Robinson

  3. I’m very glad I could serve. If you ever need to teach on this again, the finest book I know of is Scott Morton’s “Funding Your Ministry Whether You’re Gifted or Not”. It includes much Biblical and practical material, although some of the practical stuff is very American and might not translate well into various foreign contexts.

  4. I am a missionary last 8 years and I am working with out financial support. I have to raise my support. I am working in a mission as an accountant. I belong to that country there church is not educated to support the people. I am praying for my financial support. Could you help me How can I raise my support.

    1. Susan — yes. It is the backup model presented in the Bible, but the preferred method always seems to be relying on the generosity of God’s people. I tried to address this in the third bullet point. I can elaborate if my comments were unclear.

  5. I write to agree with you on the biblical model for supporting mission(aries). However, if you are pioneering a work, like we are doing in Cameroon, Africa,“tent-making” would be a sensible option without external funding.

  6. I am Williamson working in missions in Central and Luapula Provinces of Zambia, Africa.
    indeed Missionaries need a lot of support and encouragements. Most christians or local churches do not support missions and missionaries.
    I would like to be of help in teaching local churches in Mission and how they can be partners in missions work.
    I want to learn from you.

  7. Great article. Very enlightning. I believe it takes being in the shoes of a minister to be able to understand these challenges from a minister’s perspective.

  8. Hi, I see the last person commented on the year 2012. I was researching on the Biblical way Jesus funded His ministry as well as Paul and I love your article. I just started preaching to Schools in Kenya. I was thinking of what to do to raise money because I have this lots of things to do for God , like fellowships but no money. I am student to make it a bit funny. I believe that God is able to provide for the working of my assignment as he has always done. I wish to encourage all ministers to seek God deeper and believe that He will meet all needs. God is able to do above all that we can even imagine.
    God bless
    Thank you.

  9. Although I agree that the model is sound. I can not find where Paul kept paying the staff, took out loans for purchasing land and hired help to maintain the churches he started. Your personal needs as a missionary are often confused with ministry needs. Do missionaries really need $30,000.00 a year to live on or are they including cash for construction, buildings for churches to duplicate the model back home. A missionary who does not have a business plan on how to support their work will be terribly shocked after being on the field for more than five years.

    Jon Hutton

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