Faith Promise

Faith Promise Card

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Rather than have a centralized mission board like other denominations use, fundamentalists have at last count one and a half bajillion missions boards — most of which are located in an around the South-Eastern United States. Greenville, South Carolina alone has more missions agencies than there are new countries created from the former USSR. There are also some fundy missionaries forgo using a mission board all together, deciding rather to go to the field without the help (or training) of a missions agency. Missionary school? I don’t need no stinkin’ missionary school!

Since there is no requirement that fundamentalist churches contribute to any given person or organization, it’s up to each congregation to decide how much they want to give. In many fundy churches they do this by a process called “Faith Promise.” Basically this involves each person making a wild guess and then putting God on the hook for the funds. Promising to give more money than I can afford and assuming that God will make up the shortfall is apparently a great act of faith. Are you a retiree on social security? Go ahead an pledge $1000 per month. I’m sure God’s good for it.

Based on these guesses, the church puts together its budget for missionary support and promises missionaries that they will be sent a certain amount each month — with no guarantee that they will, in fact, be able to pay it. This is called “living by faith” and allegedly gives the missionary great spiritual maturity and more than a few ulcers when paying his bills.

It’s strange that pastors don’t operate their salaries on this same principle by giving away all the church budget and only living on the extra that God brings in. There’s a fine line between faith and foolishness.

5 thoughts on “Faith Promise”

  1. Way, way back in my Fundie marriage, my ex used to stand up in church and answer those Faith Pledge Calls and then hold “God” accountable, even if it meant I only owned ONE dress for five years running, because the ex wasn’t about to lose face after showing off that HE was going to give $1,000.00 (or whatever) to the building fund. I used to sit there fuming (“submitting”) and watching the Pastor’s wife strutting about in all of her finery. “God” never came through – our already strapped budget was just tightened to the breaking point every time my ex wanted to show off, that’s all. Good riddance, 22 years ago.

  2. You forgot to mention the “testimonies” (some along the lines of the missionary and angel story you mentioned recently) that are shared as “proof” that God will “bless” if you promise to give more than you can afford!

  3. I never quite got how to tell if you were off the hook that that week’s Faith Promise. If you didn’t get any money beyond your regular paycheck? That sounds more like a Wishful Thinking Offering. “God, I can’t give you any of my money, but if You can come up with some extra for the missionaries, You can give it to them.” If you couldn’t squeeze it out of that week’s budget? If you already gave all your savings? If you sold off all your property?

    I love that phrase, “Lord, what you will give through me, that you will not give to me for world missions.” ‘Cuz, like, I know you can’t trust me with the money, Lord, but if you give me the exact dollar amount I ask for, I promise, I’ll, like, totally give it back. Of course, if you give me a penny more or less, I can keep it for myself, because it wasn’t a Faith Promise Offering.

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