Partners in Ministry


Read Part 1 and Part 2.

One of the biggest takeaways from my study of The God Ask by Steve Shadrach (Fayetteville, AR: Via Nations, 2023) and my participation in Via Generosity’s Support Raising Bootcamp was the importance of developing partners in ministry.

This will be my final installment in a series in which I’ve attempted to provide an overview of my experience in this training, sharing some of the most valuable insights I received.

As I mentioned last time, everyone involved in Via Generosity is very intentional about using terms like partner, investment—even return on investment—as opposed to focusing on words like donor.

The support raiser must catch a vision for the fact that there truly is a partnership that begins when someone commits to investing in his or her ministry.

The Apostle Paul apparently felt this way. In his letters, one topic that comes up often is the matter of financial support—and support in general—for his ministry. He used the term partner twice (2 Cor. 8:23; Philem. 17), but the concept is found in many more instances. Paul famously made lists of individuals that he desired to greet or recognize for their service to the Lord and to him. We find the most notable one in Romans 16:1-16. It is certainly plausible that some of these people had partnered with Paul by giving financially to his ministry. At the very least, we know that some individuals certainly cared for his needs in tangible ways (see Philem. 22).

We can also say with assurance that Paul made at least one direct appeal for funding for his ministry endeavors, in Romans 15:24. He also taught specifically in 1 Corinthians 9:14 that there is virtue in being compensated for devoting one’s full-time energies to Christian ministry.

Of course, the Apostle Paul’s greatest treatise on financial giving is the book of Philippians. He spells out in details the great relationship that he and that beloved congregation “shared” (Phil. 4:14, 15) together by this means, and discussed it especially in Philippians 4:10-20.

In that wonderful section, one verse stands out in declaring the heart of the apostle and his relationship toward his support team. It is verse 17: “Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account.”

The ultimate issue, we find, is not the money at all, but the investment that the support giver is making in eternal things, for God’s glory and their own spiritual and eternal gain, as well as for the good of the support raiser and his ministry. After all, the greatest investment on Earth, no matter where it is placed, will ultimately deteriorate. So, Jesus commanded us to “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (Matt. 6:20).

It stands to reason, then, that if someone is investing their funds in my ministry, they should expect to see a return on their investment. After all, if eternal rewards are a motivation for giving, would you not want to distribute those funds—as a wise steward—in the most effective way possible, to be rewarded both for your choice as well as for their productivity?

This has many implications for those, like me, who receive ministry support. First of all, I better be working at least as hard as those who are laboring to supply that support. I had better also make sure that I am a wise superintendent over those investments.

I certainly desire to “[receive] the prize” (1 Cor. 9:24) when I stand before Christ. And I am sure that my supporters do as well. And, indeed, they can—through their giving as well as through their own actions. Sometimes people have told me, in essence, “I can’t do what you do, or go where you go, but I can give to advance your ministry.” That is an awesome responsibility.

I love David’s counsel in this regard, when 200 of his soldiers had already expended their energy and could not be part of the effort that produced the final victory over the Amalekites. He had to confront some of his most myopic warriors and adjudicate the distribution “of the spoil” (1 Sam. 30:22). His response was gracious and wise: “But as his part is who goes down to the battle, so shall his part be who stays by the supplies; they shall share alike” (1 Sam. 30:24).

Truly, there is a partnership that exists between the supported Christian servant and those who give to make the work possible. They are a team in every sense of the word—and the eternal rewards will be shared.

As I stated in the first article in this series, I believe that The God Ask has the potential to transform the support raiser—as well as the support giver. No one will agree with every point in this material, nor will they be able to use every aspect of it. Yet, I think it is extremely valuable and worthwhile. I highly recommend it to all Christian leaders, and especially to anyone attempting to navigate this noble and Biblical enterprise of support raising.

NKJV - Source

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.