Question: "What is faith promise giving, and is it biblical?"
Answer: Faith promise giving encourages believers to give beyond what they think they can give in order to increase world missions. Many churches and parachurch ministries use the model to promote sacrificial giving. Faith promise gifts differ from regular offerings in that a faith promise requires the giver to commit to giving what he or she does not currently have—a promise requiring faith that God will provide.
The faith promise approach to giving is often credited to A. B. Simpson, a 19th-century Canadian preacher and the founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance. Simpson based the model on 2 Corinthians 10:15–16: “Neither do we go beyond our limits by boasting of work done by others. Our hope is that, as your faith continues to grow, our sphere of activity among you will greatly expand, so that we can preach the gospel in the regions beyond you. For we do not want to boast about work already done in someone else’s territory.” Some churches base their faith promise giving on 2 Corinthians 8–9 and the way churches in the New Testament gave money to help other churches.
Not all faith promise models are the same, but here are several components that are often used:
• Church members are to prayerfully consider the amount to promise.
• The giving is to be in addition to a person’s normal offering (or tithe).
• The promise is a faith commitment, often a one-year promise. For example, a church member will commit to give a certain amount weekly to the church’s missions program. Oftentimes, the church will support missionaries based on the commitments they receive from the church members.
• Faith is to be placed in God, not the giver’s own power. The church members are encouraged to commit to give as much money as possible while trusting God to meet their needs. The whole process is to be carried out in faith, trusting God to supply.
The faith promise giving model is often used effectively to support missionaries and various parachurch organizations around the world and to increase the mindset of missions in the church.
The faith promise method can become a problem if misused. A faith promise should never be presented as a guilt-driven, pressure-filled vow made to God. The Bible calls believers to give cheerfully, not grudgingly. A manmade method of doing anything should never be raised to the level of a divine command.
Many churches that use the faith promise method are not associated with the false Word of Faith movement. However, the vernacular used to promote faith promises can be close to what’s used to promote seed faith offerings. The two concepts are not to be confused. A seed faith offering is money given in faith that God will multiply the money and return it to the giver. The more money you give—and the more faith you have—the more money you get in return. In contrast to the deceptive seed faith teaching, the faith-promise method does not promise to enrich the giver; it simply calls for the giver to trust God and for God to bless a certain ministry through the giver.
If your church uses the faith promise giving model and God calls you to give to the fund, give faithfully, cheerfully, and sacrificially. If you are uncomfortable with giving a faith promise, you can still give faithfully to support missions. When we give generously and with a willing heart, God assures us He will watch over us and provide for us (Isaiah 58:9; Psalm 41:1–3; Proverbs 22:9; 2 Corinthians 9:8, 11).