Is “Faith Promise Mission Giving” Bible-Based?
Updated: Mar 19
Faith Promise Missions Giving (FPMG) is a popular philosophy embraced in baptist circles, especially amongst independent Baptists. It occurs when church leadership implores the congregation to make a faith commitment to promise weekly monetary giving to the missionary fund over the course of the upcoming year, in addition to regular “tithes” and offerings (tithing is naturally always taught in these churches as well, which is unBiblical for the following reasons: Tithing), upon which the church increases its missionary commitments for the next year based on these “promises” and “faith.” Essentially promising to give something that you don’t have. How it works practically, churches put on a missions conference and then during that conference and afterwards, the individual congregants are implored (yes, literally begged) to “step out in faith” and fill out the FPMG form to pledge a promise to give a certain amount of money monthly over the next twelve months to missions, money that God hasn’t promised, over a period of time that God hasn’t promised. This is “stepping out in faith,” they are told. The leadership and missionaries emotionally appeal to the parishioners by claiming they are “sharing in the fruit of their labors through sacrificial, financial giving” as noted for instance by Baptist World Missions (BWM — Kevin Brosnan, Baptist World Mission Field Administrator). The more missionaries being supported by the church, the better the church and leadership appears to the Club. This is how this unscriptural program “advances every objective of the local church’s missions program.” (Ibid). They are considered to be doing well and progressing, since we certainly wouldn’t want to stay small which is a sin according to John R. Rice chapter 4 verse 9 (Exposing the Great Fundamentalist John R. Rice).
BWM makes their appeal to why its Biblical and at “greater advantage over other methods” by claiming it “elevates the church’s mission program to the place of prominence the Great Commission deserves” and “it fosters a more direct and personal connection between church members and missions, resulting in a more mission-minded church.” This is pure pragmatism and popularity that they pursue after. No church member I have ever encountered, including myself, has felt a more direct and personal connection with missions because of promising to give money that they don’t have. The prominence pursued is that of numbers to elevate the church leadership in the eyes of man, especially in the Club. Thats the actual and true prominence pursued after, which is why practically everyone of them place their missionary lists online for all the world to see. It is also noted in this article by BWM, “Tallying anonymous commitment cards often serves as a climax to the conference.” Followed by a guilt run: “The support of missionaries in the conference may hinge on its result.”
The only way these man-centred organizations can achieve a “biblical-basis” for FPMG is to twist and wrest the Scriptures out of their meaning. They do that especially with passages such as 2 Cor 8–9; 10:15-16. For instance, BWM makes the claim that “Faith giving allows believers to give “beyond their power” to the cause of world missions (8:2-3, 7).” The passage actually says “beyond their power” and not “beyond their means.” There is a big difference. If someone was very poor and yet gave from the little they had, that is “beyond their power.” Like the widow and her last mite. That is trusting in the Lord. To promise to give something you don’t have, on a weekly basis for the next twelve months, is not “faith” but foolishness. To force FPMG into this passage is not just a stretch but also heretical wresting of Scripture, of which 2 Pet 3:16-17 warns is an “error of the wicked.” Verse 12, yes that very same context, makes it clear that giving is “accepted according to that a man hath, and NOT according to that he hath not.” FPMG is promising to give “according to that he hath not.” That should settle it right there and right fast. But man-centred lords over the sheep won’t be swayed. They have coffers to fill and buildings to build, and kingdoms to conquer. Their one life to live is to build their own little kingdom upon the earth.
According to Baptist World Missions, “most people credit the Canadian preacher A.B. Simpson (1843-1919) for developing the faith promise program. He claimed he got it from the Bible, and we agree.” Sure they do. He didn't get it from the Bible. Nothing like bending scripture and privately interpreting scripture, to fit the agenda. What agenda? Filling the coffers. Popularity. Growth. Building back better. That A.B. Simpson is the founder of it, speaks absolute volumes. A.B. Simpson was a blatant heretic that followed after mysticism, was absolutely loaded with Keswick heresy (e.g., false faith, false and heretical sanctification and holiness, pursuing after a crisis experience, endeavoured to be “wholly sanctified” by entering into this through a “crisis experience,” Quaker quietism, false union with Christ, false stillness such as “Let go and let God,” two-tiered Christianity, two-rests, etc, etc), habitually put the experiential above the Word of God, a master of pragmatism (which included having woman teach men, since after all “God is calling His Church to use all her resources and agencies” — A.B. Simpson, “Constitution of the Evangelical Missionary Alliance, 1887 — the high profile that women held in the Keswick movement and the Alliance reflected the influence of the Holiness thought, which is very unbiblical), extremely ecumenical knowing no ecclesiastical boundaries, false and anemic gospel, etc. In this, Charles Nienkirchen’s book “A.B. Simpson and the Pentecostal Movement,” is absolutely right, Simpson was a proto-Pentecostal in both theology and practice. For all his life, Simpson was pursuing after that which is only received at and through true conversion. Instead of repenting and turning from his false faith, he sought to replicate what the new birth brings through a sanctification experience. It’s the classic example of putting the horse before the cart and its what makes Keswick theology so attractive. It is the end result of many who attempt to live the Christian life without being actually, genuinely, born again. That is why only those with very weak or false testimonies of salvation, who demonstrate a lack of understanding of scripture, will embrace Keswick theological heresy. True born again believers reject it. It is unsurprising that the Christian Alliance Churches, which Simpson started, are so heretical and apostate today. They were already of that nature when they began, noted in this statement alone, “The Christian Alliance is designed to be a simple and fraternal union of all who hold in common the fullness of Jesus in His present grace and His coming glory. It is not intended in any way to be an engine of division or antagonism in the churches, but, on the contrary, to embrace Evangelical Christians of every name who hold this common faith and life…” (Preamble, 1887 Constitution of the Christian Alliance). That completely contradicts true salvation as found in Scripture and what it produces: 2 Cor 6:14-18; Eph 5:5-11; 2 Jn 1:9-11; 1 Tim 6:3-5; 2 Tim 3:5-9; 4:1-4; etc.
When you submit to making a resolution for a whole year in the house of God, based upon something you don’t have, you are biting off more than you can chew and setting yourself up for failure. I have seen the failure. I have heard pastors encourage their members to forsake paying their bills rather than forsaking the "faith-promise missions giving.” Not only is it often unattainable, worse, it is unscriptural and sinful.
Please allow me to prove this to you from scripture:
1. FPMG is contrary to Scripture in that we are to give according to what we have, not what we don’t have.“For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not. For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened: But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality” (2 Cor. 8:12-14).
2. FPMG plans for the morrow and relies on employment that might not even be there on the morrow, never mind in a year! Yet God’s Word warns, “Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth." (Pr. 27:1). The irony there is that "faith-promise missions giving” is often a matter of boasting (e.g. numbers, money amount, look how many missionaries we support, etc). It represents “bigness” and all man-centred churches want “bigness.”
3. FPMG creates bondage. This goes along the same lines as the bondage of tithing. It’s not giving with a cheerful heart, but “grudgingly” and out “of necessity” (2 Cor. 9:7).
4. FPMG lends to compromise. Instead of being faithful witnesses at work, believers will be tempted to say nothing out of fear for losing their job and thus not able to keep their committed "promise.” Thats just one example. Integrity to ones promise is therefore exalted as a greater and more important doctrine than obedience to Gods Word. Furthermore missionaries are promised a year in advance of money, but what happens when they compromise and become heretical over that year? Is the promise then broken? Then they become superstitious, about not breaking vows. And this doesn’t even address the whole problem with supporting heretical missionaries. Numbers and sentimentalism is more important than carefully scrutiny and testing of doctrine, beliefs and practice.
5. FPMG lends support to other erroneous teachings. For example, erroneous teachings such as tithing and paying the church rather than paying your brother whom you owe money. Tithing for NT believers is unBiblical, plain and simple (see here for reasons why: Tithing). In the two chapters in 2 Corinthians that are essentially all about giving, we see nothing about tithing.
6. FPMG goes against the Biblical teaching of giving under grace as God prospers us. We give according to what we have, not according to what we hope we have. “For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.” (2 Cor 8:12). We are to give “as God hath prospered” (1 Cor. 16:2). This is according to grace. Whatever we give must be from a heart of love for Christ and His servants. Nobody should put pressure on any saint to give, which is exactly what FPMG does: “For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not. For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened: But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality” (2 Cor. 8:12-14). Paul correlates giving according to what you don’t have with being “burdened.” That might’ve only been implied as once giving, so what about giving weekly for a whole year!
7. FPMG reveals hypocrisy. The very same proponents are typically preachers of the heretical Keswick faith, preaching and parroting, "give in faith, give in faith, give in faith!" to those who have gone to other lands for ministerial purposes, but these preachers fail to see that the missionary whom God has supposedly called to a foreign land does not apparently have enough faith to rely on and trust the Lord for his provisions (as Matt 6 teaches) but must first go on "deputation" and ensure he has the necessary funds to support his family for the rest of his life, to the same degree he would if he worked a professional job in his home country (unfortunately, even the most secure jobs don't even give that kind of guarantee!). And then they put the onus on the back of the people through the unscriptural "faith-promise missions.” It's terrible hypocrisy. I once heard a Keswick heretic preach who had returned from Cameroon to go on deputation, for nearly an hour about "faith" and how desperately we lacked it here in North America and how he went all over the jungles of Cameroon to preach the gospel and was helping plant churches, minimum of one a week. Wow, even the apostle Paul didn’t have that kind of “success.” These are churches full of “dead mans bones,” the product of a false gospel of easy believism and quick prayerism. And there he was, at our church (Victory Baptist Church of Sherwood Park, AB) on deputation begging for money. How ironic and how hypocritical. After his sermon I asked him how it came about that he preaches on faith so much but doesn't trust God for even the most basic necessities, which He has promised to give us (Matt 5)? He, along with our pastor, developed an immediate hot reaction with a clear change in countenance (both in colour and demeanour!) while a few of the brethren chuckled under their breath. But the missionary and the pastor both had straw men arguments prepared for this kind of "foolish" thinking. They put the part of "faith" on the back of the lowlies sitting in the pews, that ones that have to listen to these broken records that give off “an uncertain sound” (1 Cor 14:8) and then work by the sweat of our brow so we can contribute to the "faith-promise missions giving.” Thats our job, while the “men of faith” go out and fight mighty battles in the jungles of Cameroon. They walk by sight, but we are to walk by faith.
Am I against “faith-promise mission giving”? Yes indeed. Why? Because God is against it. God's pattern for giving is laid out in His Word, from a cheerful heart and not by necessity. Please don't get me wrong; I'm all for giving and helping other brethren. Indeed we must do that. But we must practice it according to the Scriptures. There I see each churches taking care of their own people and their own missionaries, and not laying aside for missionaries of other churches, unless of course there was an urgent need that couldn't be met. We see examples of this in Scripture with Paul collecting offerings from local churches for other local churches but the principle of “faith promise missions giving” is wholly absent from the Word of God.
The Bible does not teach "faith-promise missions giving.” Regardless how man-centred politicians pretending to be preachers stretch the Scriptures and regardless how eisegetically (which is ungodly interpretation methodology versus the God-honouring method of exegesis) they interpret the Scriptures, it is impossible to find true Biblical support for this erroneous teaching. One such passage is De. 23:21-23 which is seriously taken out of context: “When thou shalt vow a vow unto the Lord thy God, thou shalt not slack to pay it: for the Lord thy God will surely require it of thee; and it would be sin in thee. But if thou shalt forbear to vow, it shall be no sin in thee. That which is gone out of thy lips thou shalt keep and perform; even a freewill offering, according as thou hast vowed unto the Lord thy God, which thou hast promised with thy mouth.” This is a promise or vow to give something, once at that time, but its not based upon vowing to give something that you don’t have. To twist this passage into "faith-promise missions giving” is not just a stretch but corrupting Scripture. Its no surprise that those who hold to this unBiblical teaching, will also twist the tithe and force NT congregations to tithe, something that is done away with along with the Levitical priesthood (Heb 7:11-19).
Faith Promise Missions Giving is the very epitome of pragmatism and proof-texting scripture, and advancing man-centred worldly philosophies on the back of the Bible. Reject it. Hit the eject button.