This title may be a shock to some of you, but we have been saying this for years. Neither Jesus or any of the New Testament Apostles ever advocated support by foreign funds to indigenous pastors or churches. John was the last of the Apostles to live, and one of his closing word to an elder was, “Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul” (3 John 2). There was no promise of monthly support or large sums of money being sent. For Jesus, Paul, John and others, the greatest concern was their spiritual prosperity.
To the same point, Oswald Smith says, “The work should be self-supporting, self-governing and self-propagating, and that from the first. No one can be healthy and strong while leaning on another. And, the habit once started is hard to break. Churches have become weak and indolent rather than aggressive and powerful as a result of foreign support. The vision of evangelism and its responsibility has been lost, and the outcome, in many cases, has been most disastrous.” (1)
If the habit of promoting foreign support is not supported from Scripture, where did it come from? I firmly believe that it is rooted in our lack of understanding the power of God’s Word and the Holy Spirit. If it were our constant desire to allow these two divine resources to motivate, guide and supply what is needed, we would see expansion that copies the Early Church.
Just so I am clearly understood, I am making a distinction between support for the indigenous work and freedom we have in Christ to help messengers of the gospel plant the seed and start churches. Philippi was a great encouragement to Paul in this way, though Paul worked with his own hands to supply his needs. But there was never a long-term supply network for the indigenous church. Let us make sure we promote a biblical approach to missions that will have this biblical factor in place.
(1) Oswald J. Smith, The Challenge of Missions, page 133.
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