Missionary Giving – A Biblical Approach by Al Gray, Elder, Brooklyn Bible Chapel
This letter is to bear witness to the grace of God regarding events at the Brooklyn Bible Chapel in Baltimore, Maryland. The subject is our Chapel Missionary Program. However, in order to gain a complete perspective, the related circumstances and events need to be explained from the beginning.
Our Old Approach to Missionary Giving
Years ago, Brooklyn Bible Chapel conducted business in the same way many Assemblies did – an open invitation was given to the Chapel families to attend our business meetings. More often than not, we were unable to accomplish any positive results because we could not reach agreements that satisfied everyone. Sometimes there were bad feelings among the congregation due to indecisiveness and inaction from these meetings. The Management Board at the Chapel at this time consisted of four Elders and one Treasurer, who was not an Elder.
One of the items discussed at our Business Meeting was missionary giving. The Treasurer was of the opinion that we should save for a rainy day. His comment was, “You never know when you’ll need a new roof or a parking lot.” Giving to missionaries was like pulling teeth. The Elder conducting the meeting would pose the question, “Who has the Lord laid on your hearts this month?” This comment would prompt a lot of head scratching and furrowing of the brow, after which a missionary would be selected and a check for $100.00 sent. This whole method was haphazard and certainly not glorifying to the Lord.
Identifying a Problem
During this time period, one of our Elders attended a seminar in which the speaker, Dan Snadden, was asked a question about conducting business in the church. Brother Snadden stated it was often difficult to conduct business when you have the practice of inviting everyone to the meetings. He said you then have a mix of spiritual and non-spiritual people having input into the Lord’s business. He showed us how the Apostles solved a similar problem by appointing Deacons (men who were filled of the Spirit). YOU CANNOT HAVE SPIRITUAL UNITY WITHOUT SPIRITUAL PEOPLE.
Rebuilding With Emphasis on Change
Brooklyn Bible Chapel acted on this premise. We searched the Scriptures concerning the office of Deacons and recognized the men who were already acting in that capacity. The Elders approved the selection of the men to that office and they were made responsible for conducting the business of the Chapel. Interestingly enough, the Treasurer was not selected and later recounted that he was in favor of the selections made by the congregation and reinforced by the Elders. Starting at this time, only Deacons and Elders were present at our business meetings. The difference was amazing. Unity was no longer a problem; decisions were made and implemented and many new possibilities were envisioned.
Missionary Program Defined
The Elders proposed a Missionary program that contained the following points and emphasis: 1. The goal was to have a missionary in every country of the world supported by our Chapel. 2. Each missionary would have a correspondent from our congregation. 3. The Missionary Program would be funded by the first offering of the month taken at our Family Bible Hour meeting. 4. The ratio of foreign to USA ministries would be approximately 75% to 25%. 5. Brooklyn Bible Chapel would encourage believers in our congregation to become active missionaries themselves. 6. The Chapel would encourage and finance our own short-term missionary visits. This new program was submitted to our new Deacons and accepted with enthusiasm. The following facts are not intended as boasting (we don’t know how they compare with other chapels), but to show how God has blessed Brooklyn since these commitments were made.
A Sharp Contrast: In 1975 our missionary giving was $2,080. Our income for the year was $16,400 and Chapel attendance was approximately 130 men, women, and children. Compare the contrast.
In 1976, from January through June, our missionary giving was $1,500.00. The designation of the first monthly offering going to missionaries was implemented in July, and from July through December the missionary giving was $3,500.00 – for a yearly total of $5,000.00. This represents a 230% increase since the program’s inception six months earlier. In 1996, missionary giving was $78,000 and Chapel income was $148,500. Our attendance rose to only 160 men, women, and children.
It’s quite obvious that the increase in our giving is not the result of inflation or increased attendance. Our attendance has increased only 23%, while our Chapel income increased 905% and Missionary giving increased 3,750%. Our congregation has become active participants in our Missionary Program. They give more freely when they see their offerings used in the Lord’s work rather than set aside for a rainy day.
God’s Blessing On Brooklyn Bible Chapel
Why are we writing this? It grieves us to hear some Assemblies make comments such as, “We are more community oriented.” as a justification for refusing to give offerings and pulpits to missionaries. These Assemblies are robbing themselves of a great part of the abundant grace of God. Our Lord has told us that giving is a grace and He loves to give more as we do the same. Brooklyn Bible has experienced firsthand the adage “You can’t out-give God.”. We have not only been able to give to those in our Program on a regular monthly basis, but in a far greater capacity than we ever believed possible.
We have had the benefit of some truly great men and women of God coming to Brooklyn and have been able to share generously with them. We also support national workers and have found this to be very rewarding. The Chapel has sent one of our elders to some of these countries to experience personally the results of our financial support. This has been very encouraging to those serving in the field. We have now commended our own Chapel brothers and sisters to Russia, China, and India, and we look forward to even greater blessings in this area. Our Deacons continue to work well with our Elders, which should be of no surprise, since Scripture tells us this is the way the church should operate.
Does Your Missionary Program Work?
If your chapel is floundering with little or no enthusiasm for missions, try this proven method. Do it the Biblical way and be generous. God will surely give an increase of blessing in all areas.