Use the word strategy in most churches and eyes immediately glaze over. But we see strategy planned and executed throughout the entire Bible.
A few years ago, while studying Paul’s offering for the Jerusalem saints (see Acts 24:17; Romans 15:25-28; 1 Corinthians 16:1-4; 2 Corinthians 8-9), I was surprised to see the clear strategy through which Paul planned and received a missionary offering.
Paul’s giving strategy was based on these principles.
- It was familiar. Jewish communities scattered throughout the Roman world gave annually for the upkeep of the temple in Jerusalem through an offering called the temple tax (see Nehemiah 10:32).
- It was voluntary. Individuals and churches decided how much to give. Paul didn’t demand a set amount (see 2 Corinthians 9:7).
- It was an obligation. “Yes, they were pleased, and indeed are indebted to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in their spiritual benefits, then they are obligated to minister to Jews in material needs” (Romans 15:27).
- It was cooperative. Many churches pooled their resources (see 1 Corinthians 16:1).
- It was accountable. Paul took the offerings, verification letters and people who could assure the funds delivered matched the funds given (2 Corinthians 8:19-22).
- It was systematic. “On the first day of the week, each of you is to set something aside put aside and save in keeping with how he prospers, so that no collections will ned to be made when I come” (1 Corinthians 16:2).
- It was missional. Careful reading of the passages that mention the offering – especially Romans 15 and 2 Corinthians 9:12 – coupled with the Old Testament metaphors in Isaiah 55:10 and Hosea 10:12, reveal that Paul’s offering was a missionary offering.
Remarkably, the principles of Paul’s strategy provide the biblical basis for Southern Baptists’ missions funding through the Cooperative Program.
“Why I Still Believe in the Cooperative Program”