When we go about support-raising in ministry, we have the tendency to become entangled by the receiving aspect of it all. Yet, the Bible does not state that in support-raising, one should only receive. No, it involves a giving of yourself also.
It is a sad state of affairs when we enter into a church culture only expecting to receive our dose of spiritual jargon to carry us on through the week. When we look at the church in the book of Acts, we see that the church was not designed this way. We see fellowship, selling possessions, and the breaking of bread together (Acts 2:42-47). In this church, there is this obvious union between giving and receiving. In fact, later in the book of Acts, Paul quotes Jesus saying, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
It is a pervasive mindset in our society that says being on the receiving end is always better. Yet in the environment that the Gospel creates for us, this attitude cannot thrive. But why is this so? Why could this attitude not survive in the world that the Gospel creates for us?
It is because when we only look to receive, we are only focused on the gift. We are not focused on the giver. When you give you are more focused on whom you are giving to, but you can only go so far by just giving. You become spent if you don’t receive anything for yourself. By only giving or receiving, you are also saying that you don’t need anything from anyone, which is not only contrary to human nature, but it is also contrary to the Bible. We were not created to be alone. We were created to be in relationship with one another. You see, just giving or just receiving creates independence, but doing both in a balanced union creates interdependence.
We can become lost in thoughts that the Christian message emphasizes independence and cultivating your own being, when in reality, it is about interdependence and cultivating your relationships with one another in a way that is pleasing to God.
Jesus understood this, so in His ministerial work of spreading the Gospel, He had a community surround Him. In Luke 8:1-3, we learn that a company of women followed Jesus and His disciples, and that these women provided for them out of their means, or in other words, financially. The beautiful thing we see in this picture here is the mutually benefitting relationship we see interdependence within ministry create. Jesus blessed these women by allowing them to enter into a relationship with Himself, and with the right stewardship, they were able to give back by supporting Him along the way.
Another picture we see of the Gospel being spread through interdependence creating a mutually benefitting relationship is in how Paul dealt with the Philippians. In Philippians 4:15, we learn that the church of Philippi entered into partnership with Paul through giving and receiving. The church of Philippi aided Paul in his journey, but with this verse, we also understand that they received profit from it themselves. Two verses later, Paul notes upon this profit by saying, “Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit.”
Independence in support-raising was not a Biblical ideal. A number of times in Scripture we see that Paul supported himself through tent making (Acts 18:3, 20:34, 1 Thess. 2:9). But as we study Paul’s statement in 1 Cor. 9, we begin to observe that Paul sacrificed his right to being supported in order to deal with weak believers. It was not his preferred method. His preferred method shines brightly in the text to the Philippians, when in chapter 4 we see his praise towards the church of Philippi’s giving and receiving.
The Gospel creates a world where it is impossible to be completely independent. It creates a world where people of all nations can come and fellowship together. We cannot only give or only receive for the same reason we cannot partake in the world the Gospel creates by ourselves. Interdependence is key in spreading the Gospel. We raise support through reliance on one another, because it is through our relationship in praising God together that the Gospel fully manifests itself to the world.