5 Benefits of Living on Support
One of the greatest hurdles to people saying “yes” to God’s calling on their life for missions is raising support. People don’t talk about money, let alone ask for money. It’s awkward, people think.
I once thought that, too.
Is that a biblical response? Emotionally, it makes sense to avoid talking about money. But theologically, do we have so little faith to think the God who owns the cattle on a thousand hills will not provide for our needs?
My wife and I live fully on support. While it has its challenges, we’ve experienced many beautiful benefits that often go neglected.
1. Deepen prayer support
“You can tell which missionaries came with organizations that pay them and which ones raised their own support to serve here,” a missionary friend told me.
“How?” I asked.
“The ones who raised their support have far more prayer support than those who didn’t,” she answered. My heart dropped, but I knew it was true. And it makes sense. If you see a bank statement each month with $100 – Greater Europe Mission written on it, you are much more likely to remember to pray for that global worker than if you don’t. We put our money where our hearts are. Financial support fuels spiritual support.
2. Lift a burden off the local ministry
In much of the world, churches and Christian charities struggle to pay their own staff. Many pastors globally work bi-vocationally to support their families and fulfill their calling. In Europe, while the ministry needs are great, the people and resources to meet these needs are lacking. Raising support allows cross-cultural workers to serve in places where the needs are greatest without financially burdening local churches and ministries.
The earliest Christian missionary, Paul, modeled this by not relying on the support of the church in Thessalonica for finances.
“We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you to imitate.”
2 Thessalonians 3:7b-9 (NIV, emphasis added)
3. Focus on the ministry God has called you to
Throughout Paul’s missionary journeys, he worked to provide the funds for his ministry at times and on other occasions received gifts from churches to take the gospel to other cities. While there may be circumstances or locations where working bi-vocationally is strategic and necessary, the chance to live on support frees global workers to dedicate themselves fully to the work of relationship-building and disciple-making.
4. Live interdependently and walk by faith
For many followers of Jesus, we say we need each other, but we often live like we don’t. Support raising forces us to live out what we theologically believe but practically deny: we need each other. There are few things as humbling as approaching a sister or brother in Christ saying, “God has called me to serve overseas, and I cannot do it without your help.” To serve on mission takes a team. Missionaries don’t go, they’re sent. And living on support is a way to see who is in your corner praying, encouraging, and giving to make God’s work in your city possible.
5. Imitate Christ, relying on the hospitality and generosity of others
“After this, Jesus travelled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women…These women were helping to support them out of their own means” (See Luke 8:1-3). If the eternal Word of God, creator of the Universe, and one who sustains all things by the power of his word, isn’t too proud to live on the support of others, neither should we be.
Living on support allows us to share in Christ’s life in a new way – knowing it is God who meets our daily needs. If God in Christ modeled humility by living off the generosity of others, might we, too, learn to live like Jesus by receiving gratefully what others give to do the work God has called us to do?
He Will Surely Do It
To those living on support or seeking to raise support, stay encouraged. “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:24 ESV).
To those living in your home countries seeking to steward your resources for kingdom impact, consider joining the support team of a missionary you know or asking someone you currently support how you can increase your regular giving. Your giving has a big impact on a missionary or ministry family beyond just their expenses. You are a part of God’s work in that city where they serve.
Whether it’s a large amount or a small amount, your generosity has the chance to encourage global workers and meet pressing needs.
About the author: Grant Klinefelter is a storyteller with Greater Europe Mission and serves in Birmingham, England.