We’ve got our first California church service this Sunday! Paula and I are driving up to Dobbins, CA at Dobbins Christian Assembly, where Jack Overbey is the pastor. We’re pretty excited to begin sharing our vision with the churches of the Northern California/Nevada District of the Assemblies of God. Pray that God would grant us favor!
2674.6 miles later and we’re finally here in Palo Alto, and we’re loving it! Our life is consumed by cardboard boxes right now, but we’re slowly eradicating them from our lives (forever, God willing).
It took a while to get our Internet connection set up (although now we’ve got a smokin’ fast T1 connection!), so we apologize for being out of touch for so long.
Soon we’ll post some pics of our new apartment for those of you who are curious about such things, and we’ll also upload the story of our move. It was more relaxing than I thought it would be, and we got to see some truly amazing sights (Carlsbad Caverns, the Grand Canyon: two of the most famous holes in the world. After seeing them, I understand why people make such a big deal about them.)
Why Stanford is one of the most strategic mission fields on the planet: today they learn, tomorrow they lead!
Today They Learn, Tomorrow They Lead
In a very real sense, schools like Stanford function as a steering wheel
for our society. Whichever way they turn now determine how our society
will turn out a few decades down the road.
- Government: 4 current Supreme
Court Justices (Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Associate Justices Sandra Day O’Connor, Anthony Kennedy and Stephen Breyer), California governor Gray Davis, 5 U.S. senators, and Ehud
Barak (former Prime Minister of Israel)
- Business: the CEOs of 3Com, Hewlett-Packard,
Nike, and Sun Microsystems
- Celebrities: Reese Witherspoon, Chelsea Clinton, Ted Koppel, Sigourney Weaver, Ted Danson, Jack Palance, Jennifer Connelly, and Fred Savage
- Sports: Tiger Woods, John Elway,
and John McEnroe
- Education: the presidents of Yale,
the University of Arizona, and Johns Hopkins.
- Science: Vinton Cerf “the Father
of the Internet”, and 17 astronauts (including Sally Ride), and the founders of Yahoo! (most
popular site on the Internet) and the founders of Google.
In other words, Stanford is one of the most strategic mission fields in the world! For an even fuller list of alumni, check out the Stanford famous alumni list!
Cover these first two Chi Alpha students in prayer!
are a few students currently involved with the Chi Alpha group at Stanford.
The three most involved are a junior named Luis Trujillo [last name
pronounced "true heal", he’s the guy on the right], a freshman named
Andrew Wright (he’s the guy on the left), and another junior named Wilbur Montana (he’s the invisible guy in the middle).
Please pray that God would grant them favor with their peers as
they seek to reach out and favor in their studies so that they may get
good grades! Also pray for encouragement–it’s challenging to maintain
your faith at Stanford.
Why we are convinced the term ‘partners’ is more Biblical (and healthy) than ‘donors’.
I sometimes conceptualize missions as a stool supported by three legs: proclaimers, providers, and pray-ers (or for a completely different set of labels we could use intercession, investment, and involvement). Without any one of these legs, missions simply cannot be sustained.
Which leads into my point… you may have noticed that we prefer the term ‘partner’ to ‘donor’ in our conversations and in our writing. This preference emerged from a study of how ministry was funded in the Bible. A crystal-clear conviction emerged: God considers those who contribute financially to ministry to have a share in that ministry! Consider, for example, 3 John 8:
Therefore we ought to support such people, so that we may become co-workers with the truth.
Echoing the same theme, Paul says the Philippians are sharing in the gospel (Philippians 1.5).
This is why we talk about building a support team rather than raising funds. The emphasis is on the relationships and not on the money.
Even more significantly, however, it forces us to remember that those who decide to aid us financially are, in actuality, joining us in our ministry: they become co-workers with us.
How so? Think of it this way: your money is a representation of your life: it is what you get in exchange for time at work. By giving of that, it is as though you were taking time and serving on the mission field!
It’s kind of amazing when you think about it. We all have a part to play in the Kingdom of God. Some of us work in office buildings, some of us work in homes, and some of us work in churches, but we all work together. All are necessary for God’s work to go forward.
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.
Answers to common questions about support-raising.
Assemblies of God missionaries are not allowed to begin their mission until they have assembled a team of churches and individuals willing to fund their ministry. This often confuses people, so I thought I’d answer what I perceive to be the common questions.
Can You Just Give Me a Quick Explanation?
There is a consistent principle taught in the Scriptures: ministers should be paid by the people of God. In this regard, there are two broad categories of ministers: pastors, who are paid by the local congregations they serve, and missionaries, who are paid by others than the ones they are ministering to.
Chi Alpha campus workers are missionaries. The reason for this is very simple: college students don’t have any money! In addition, the college scene in American is as pagan as any place on earth, so there are few who would be willing to pay Christian workers even if they did have the resources to do so.
For this reason, then, Chi Alpha campus workers are required to build a support team to aid them in their ministry. Part of that support is prayer, part of it is emotional support, and part of it is financial support.
Is this Biblical?
Yes! For more detail, read our essay on The Biblical Basis for Support-Raising.
Why doesn’t the church pay you?
The church is paying us. The church is not a building; the church is people!
Ha, ha. So why doesn’t your denomination pay you a salary?
- If the denomination salaries missionaries, the money has to come from somewhere–and that somewhere is the churches. Effectively, it becomes a tax on churches.
- Historically, denominations that tax churches this way have very few missionaries–nobody likes to pay taxes, not even churches. Raising support by contacting friends and family is a far more effective strategy. Plus, it’s the Biblical method!
- It’s a scalable system. Every new missionary is required to go and generate the funds necessary for their own ministry. No matter how many missionaries we have, we can always have more because there’s no fixed allotment that all the missionaries have to compete for scraps of.
- Raising support requires that a minster build a network of relationships which keep him accountable and motivate him to work diligently. If you know that your best friend is paying part of your salary, you’re much less inclined to goof off.
- Missionaries beget missionaries! Most missionaries become missionaries through contact with another missionary. Support-raising forces missionaries to develop relationships that ultimately result in the production of new missionaries.
Why do you have to raise your full budget first?
Because the Assemblies of God wants long-term successes, not one-shot wonders. If missionaries reach their fields before they raise their full support, they are much more likely to fail their task. They become consumed with their work, and they eventually reach a point where they must either quit, get a part-time job, or live in unhealthy conditions. None of these things is conducive to long-term ministry. By forcing missionaries to raise their budget in full, the A/G contributes greatly to their longevity in ministry. By contributing to longevity they contribute to effectiveness.
Longevity aside, insufficient funding has immediate implications. Without a full budget our ability to minister is literally compromised. Our missionary budget is not just our salary! It’s actually the full organizational budget for our ministry. Out of that budget, a certain amount goes to our salary and the rest goes toward work expenses: without those funds ministry opportunities have to be passed up. Like everything else, ministry requires money.
Who oversees the finances?
We are accountable to Assemblies of God US Missions. All funds are routed through them in order to provide financial oversight for the missionaries.
How do I begin supporting your ministry?