Do you believe in missions? Do you believe in people from the US and other countries going into all nations, making disciples of people of all races and ethnic groups, baptizing new believers, and planting and growing churches? Do you believe that those of us who have been blessed by God with financial resources should be generous with those who leave family and the comforts of home and give of themselves to reach others who have yet to be reached with the Good News of Jesus Christ?
Does God believe in missions? Does God call people from the US and other countries to go into all nations, to make disciples of people of all races and ethnic groups, to baptize new believers, and to plant and grow churches? Does God bless us with financial resources so that we can be generous with those who leave family and the comforts of home and give of themselves to reach others who have yet to be reached with the Good News of Jesus Christ?
If we answer yes to most, if not all, of these questions, then we can be assured that Faith Promise will work. Faith Promise is a way to allow God the freedom to move in us and through us to supply the financial resources to evangelize the yet to be reached world for Jesus Christ. Faith Promise is a way for us to give God the right to finance His own missions program.
Faith Promise is not the only way to finance a missions program. In fact, Landstown Community Church uses a number of different ways to finance missions. As a member congregation of Restoration Network International, we use Faith Promise to finance church planting and support missions literally to the ends of the earth. As an autonomous congregation, we also designate a portion of our general income, our tithes and offerings, to finance missions, both local and international. Members of LCC also donate toward various ministries as individual believers. One thing that I learned early on six years ago is that LCC is missions. Let me put it this way, LCC is all about reaching out. LCC is all about loving God, loving people, and making disciples. Are we always successful in what we put our hand to? No; but we, as a local church, are committed to taking the message of Jesus to anyone, anywhere who needs to hear it. Some of us have gone and will continue to go ourselves. Others are committed to pray and give for those who go.
So, what is Faith Promise? Faith Promise is giving what we don’t yet have to give. Unlike the popular notion of sowing a financial seed, we are not giving to missions what we ought to be paying to Dominion Virginia Power. We are not making a pledge to give a certain amount “come hell or high water.” We are not looking to rob Peter to pay for Paul’s missionary journey.
The apostle Paul describes Faith Promise in II Corinthians 8:1-4. He describes the desire of the Macedonian believers to participate in an offering that was being received for the support of fellow believers in Judea. He says to the Corinthian church, “We make known to you the grace of God poured out on the churches of Macedonia: that in a great trial of affliction the overflow of their joy and their deep poverty overflowed in the riches of their generosity. For I testify that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing, begging us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of ministering to the saints.”
Did you hear what Paul said? They were freely willing that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability. They were willing to give beyond their ability. They were willing to give what they did not yet have. How do you give what you do not yet have? Do you write checks even though your account has no money in it? I’ve actually heard ministers of the gospel encouraging people to do that! “If you write this check, God will put the money in your account to cover it.”
What we need to see here is not that the Macedonian believers gave what they did not yet have, but that they were willing to give what they did not yet have. This is the heart and soul of Faith Promise. We ask the question, if God releases finances to you, are you willing to give it to missions? That’s why we encourage people to pray and ask God what He wants to supply to missions through us. That is the faith part. What am I willing to give should God release it to me?
Now I want to be practical about this. If your annual income is $25,000, I sincerely doubt that God will release $1,000,000 through you this year for missions. I’m not telling God what He can or can’t do. I do believe, however, that God is able to release through you and through me more than I am able to believe Him for. His ability is always greater than my faith.
Actually, the difficult thing about Faith Promise is not hearing from God what He wants to supply to missions throughout the world. He is very willing to reveal His will for what He wants to do in our lives. The difficult thing about Faith Promise is to give what God supplies. You know, if God says that He wants to release $3,000 through you for missions, we might be willing to agree; but when the $3,000 actually shows up, am I still going to be willing to give it? That’s the promise part. When God releases the finances to us, are we willing to promise to allow Him to release the finances through us?
Faith is asking God for His best and believing that He wants to give it. Promise is to follow through when God comes through. God always keeps His promises. Are we willing to keep ours? The Faith Promise card is the offering. When I hear from God what He wants to release into missions through me and I promise to give it when He supplies it, then I write it on the card and I submit it to the Lord.
We didn’t consider verse 5 earlier when we looked at II Corinthians 8. Let’s look at it now. “And it was not as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and to us by the will of God.” Faith Promise is primarily a response to God. Church and network leaders administer the finances but Faith Promise is not primarily between us and the church or between us and RNI. Faith Promise is first of all a giving of ourselves to the Lord. It is a promise to God that you will follow through when He keeps His promise to us. The promise is between you and God. No one from the church will contact you to find out when you are going to give. No one from the Restoration Network will be contacting you to find out when you are going to give. In fact, no one from the network will know what your promise is.
On Sunday morning, September 30, we will give everyone an opportunity to fill out a Faith Promise card and turn it in as an offering to God for missions. When we have everyone’s card, we will add up the total and submit the total for Landstown to Restoration. The total offering from Landstown is then added together with the offerings received from the other stateside Restoration churches. The grand total of all the offerings from all the churches will be the budget for missions for RNI for 2012-2013.
After we receive the total from all the churches, we will send each person/family who made a Faith Promise offering, a letter informing them of their part in the overall missions program for the network. At that time, your Faith Promise card will be returned to you. No record is kept of your individual offering. It is totally between you and God. You will have the card as a reminder of what you heard God say that He wants to do through you. Ultimately, it is up to God to make it happen.
To me, it is a great advantage for us to be part of a network of churches that supports missions. Through Faith Promise, we have the opportunity to participate with our sister churches in work that would not be possible as a single congregation. But as an autonomous congregation, we can designate a portion of our general fund to go toward work that we feel is important to us. So it is the best of both worlds. We’ll talk more about that during our World Outreach Weekend September 29-30.