Adrian’s blog has done a great job of both tracking and encouraging the growth in the number of Christians, churches and ministries that are willing and eager to own the two labels of charismatic and reformed.
The apostle Paul was someone we could describe as being both reformed and charismatic. He wrote Romans 9, and spoke in tongues more than you do (1 Cor 14:8). He was also, perhaps above everything else, a missionary.
Following his example, ministries like New Frontiers are wanting to hold together moving in the gifts and the power of the holy Spirit whilst remaining firmly anchored in the doctrines of grace, all the while seeking to further the mission of making disciples of all nations. It’s how Paul did it after all.
One aspect of the life of Paul that perhaps isn’t being celebrated or advertised quite so prevalently though, is Paul’s economics, namely, how did he fund his mission?
We might expect him to be supported by his church, or perhaps to have drawn a healthy income from the conference or speaking circuit… what we actually find though (for example in 1 Corinthians 9, and 1 Thessalonians 2) is lots of hours of manual labour, tent making actually, to pay the bills. Why did he do it this way?
4 Big Reasons Paul Self Funded:
1) So as not to put an obstacle in the way of the gospel. Paul made it so no one could say to him, “You’re only telling me this because you’re paid to.”
2) To make the medium of the preaching plus the message of free grace match up. He brought a gospel of free, unmerited, unearned and unpaid for grace. He therefore chose not to charge for the bringing of that message.
3) To incarnate into the culture he was trying to reach. Paul wasn’t a weird missionary from abroad in a suit, he was the guy you just bought a tent from. His connections through business were surely one part of his mission, and an easy introduction into the city he was trying to reach.
4) He was giving an example to imitate. For all the young guys in the new church who were still sponging off their parents, Paul said, ‘do what I do’. Graft, sweat, earn your own bread.
There are other reasons we could cite, like not wanting to be a burden on the church, or being able to support others himself. Self funding was key to Paul’s strategy.
Perhaps to complete the Great Commission task, and see our continents of America and Europe re-won, the next missionary surge is going to have to include multitudes of missionaries who aren’t only reformed and charismatic but who also graft and sweat to fund themselves and the mission.
Reformed? Great! Charismatic? Praise God! Missional? Go for it!
Just one thing, who’s paying the bills?