The Ministry of Deputation

“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

Ministry Of Deputation

It is true that deputation has been influenced by our American business mindset. To illustrate my point let me pull a quote from a popular deputation manual: “The two main problems that missionaries struggle with on deputation are laziness and a lack of personal discipline. Set a goal and work steadily toward that goal with all that is within you. Determine to spend eight hours a day on the phone, to book thirteen meetings a month, and to drop in on as many churches as possible. Then follow through!”

I understand the point the authors are making in the above quote and even agree with it; nevertheless, it smacks similarly close to a charge that you could get in most sales meetings. Because of this mindset many have become disenchanted with deputation and have begun to doubt the spirituality of this important aspect of missionary ministry. Therefore, I would like to address the ministry of deputation.

Missionary’s Rest

First of all, we must notice a missionary’s rest. Many hold to “Pauline missions” as a missionary standard; therefore it is important to see that Paul rested in God as his Provider. His encouragement to the Church at Corinth in 2 Corinthians 9:8 indubitably came from his own personal experience. He writes, “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.” Paul did not assume that the Lord’s provision resulted in a comfortable standard of living. In fact, it was often the opposite for Paul according to 2 Corinthians 11:27, “In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.” Yet, Paul was confident that what was needed would be supplied by Christ.

First and foremost in regards to a discussion on the ministry of deputation, a missionary on deputation must possess the same conviction that was Abraham’s when he said, “My son, God will provide…” and then be content with His provision.

Missionary’s Responsibility

Secondly, we must notice a missionary’s responsibility. Once again, it is important to observe Paul and his responsibility. We will not necessarily look at Bi-Vocational Missions, but rather Paul’s attitude towards meeting his needs and the needs of those who served around him.

Paul was not afraid to get his hands dirty. He was a tentmaker according to Acts 20:34, “Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me.” While Paul was ministering in Corinth he stayed with Aquila and Priscilla because they were also tentmakers. I like the way Luke expressed this in Acts 8:3, “And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers.” Paul wrought! He toiled! He worked!

I realize that many countries place restrictions on what work a foreigner can or can’t do. The point is, however, that Paul shouldered the responsibility of providing for himself and for his team. In another place Paul said, “And [we] labour, working with our own hands…” A missionary must realize that God does provide, but that the responsibility to provide is his first and foremost. “For every man shall bear his own burden.” (Galatians 6:5)

Furthermore, Paul did not assume that it was the responsibility of those he was serving to take care of him. Principally Paul acknowledged that a minister of the Gospel has a right to “live of the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:1-15), but as a missionary church planter he boldly declared, “I have used none of these things…” Neither did he assume that his needs were the responsibility of those who supported him. When the Church at Philippi graciously sent Paul their support “once and again” Paul expressed his sentiments in Philippians 4:10-18. Verse 17 says, “Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.” Paul as an apostle set the example.

Paul sacrificially saw to it that his own needs were met and the needs of those around him. Therefore, we can conclude that it is the responsibility of each missionary to see that their personal needs are met whether those needs be daily provisions, medical insurance, or retirement planning.

Missionary Fundraising

Now that we have looked at the missionary’s rest and the missionary’s responsibility pertaining to the ministry of deputation let us observe missionary “fundraising.” We must look at Paul again. There is little doubt that Paul did and could raise missionary money quite effectively.

Support from Churches

Observe that Paul received money from other churches as a church planting missionary. Paul acknowledged receiving regular support from the Church at Philippi in Philippians 4:15-16, “Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity.” Later Paul informed the Corinthians that he had several supporting churches that aided him in his ministry to them, Paul said this in 2 Corinthians 11:8: “I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service.”

Communicating the Need

Moreover, Paul communicated his needs boldly and expected God’s people to carry part of the financial burden. Look at how Paul urged the Church at Rome to help him in Romans 15:24. “Whensoever I take my journey into Spain, I will come to you: for I trust to see you in my journey, and to be brought on my way thitherward by you, if first I be somewhat filled with your company.” The phrase “to be brought on my way” is translated from one Greek word; that word is propempo. It means to escort or aid in travel; to conduct. Paul boldly expected the Church at Rome to help finance his missionary trip to Spain. In the same way Paul urged the Corinthian Church to help Timothy in his ministry in 1 Corinthians 16:10-11, “Now if Timotheus come, see that he may be with you without fear: for he worketh the work of the Lord, as I also do. Let no man therefore despise him: but conduct him forth in peace [propempo], that he may come unto me: for I look for him with the brethren.” Do a word study. This word propempo is used nine times in the New Testament with the obvious nuance of financial aid in at least seven of those instances. Surely Paul had no problem communicating a need and raising funds for his missionary work.

Finally, the Apostle John gives us the biblical philosophy behind deputation (i.e., missionary fund raising) in his third epistle of which Paul undoubtedly embraced. John writes in 3 John 1:5-8:

Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers; Which have borne witness of thy charity before the church: whom if thou bring forward on their journey [propempo] after a godly sort, thou shalt do well: Because that for his name’s sake they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles. We therefore ought to receive such, that we might be fellowhelpers to the truth.

Each believer and every local church is to be involved in the Great Commission. It is the marching orders of the church. Not all believers should go abroad, but all should pray for and give to those who do! All should be fellowhelpers! A missionary, therefore, having his rest and responsibility in mind, is on solid biblical footing when he communicates the need of his people and what it will take financially to reach them. This he does through the ministry of deputation.

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