Faith Promise Missions Deception

Faith Promise Missions GivingThis article is about a fund raising endeavor used by many Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) churches to raise money to support missionaries.  This fund raising endeavor is called Faith Promise Missions (FPM) giving, and was conceived by Oswald J. Smith.  An aspect of FPM that should be of a concern to IFB pastors and members is its widespread use among other denominations, considering the IFB philosophy of separation. 

Historically, churches would use a portion of the general fund to support missionaries, or take offerings dedicated to missionary support, and use these funds to financially support foreign missionaries.  Many churches still do this, having not bought into the Faith Promise Missions philosophy.  Then, in the late 1920s, came Oswald J. Smith.  In 1918 he was ordained as a minister in the Presbyterian Church of Canada, but resigned from them in 1918 and started his own church in Toronto.  In 1928 he started the People’s Church in Toronto, and became an avid missions advocate.  His history should be enough to keep IFB preachers away, because the IFB teaches that a man cannot start a church without authority from another church.  However, there is so much money to be made through FPM that preachers overlook many things, including the lack of a Biblical precedent for Faith Promise Missions. 

Oswald’s idea was that if people only gave what cash was in their pockets, he was not receiving as much money as he could.  He developed a plan where people would make a promise to God to give a certain amount of money each week.  He found 2 Corinthians Chapter 8, and twisted it to meet his needs.  (More on the perversion of Biblical principles later in this article.)  He began to preach that a man must make a promise to God, based on his faith that God will supply his needs, of what he will give each year for World Evangelism.  The process was simple; pray and ask God what He would have you give, promise that amount each week, and make the payment to the church each week thereafter.  Tithe first, Faith Promise Mission giving next, then any other offerings, and finally pay your bills, buy food, gas, other needs, and then waste whatever is left on your wants; that is the IFB way these days.

Now concerning the Biblical basis for FPM, I mentioned earlier that preachers use 2 Corinthians Chapter 8.  Since the IFB is KJV only, that is the version I will quote from in this article.

1 Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia;

2 How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.

3 For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves;

4 Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.

5 And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.

Then they usually skip to Chapter 9:

1 For as touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you:

2 For I know the forwardness of your mind, for which I boast of you to them of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal hath provoked very many.

3 Yet have I sent the brethren, lest our boasting of you should be in vain in this behalf; that, as I said, ye may be ready:

4 Lest haply if they of Macedonia come with me, and find you unprepared, we (that we say not, ye) should be ashamed in this same confident boasting.

5 Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren, that they would go before unto you, and make up beforehand your bounty, whereof ye had notice before, that the same might be ready, as a matter of bounty, and not as of covetousness.

6 But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.

7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.

8 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:

9 As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever.


In context, these verses are a message from Paul asking the people to give sacrificially to the Saints who have need due to a famine in Israel.  Reference Acts 11:27-30.  Out of context, which is what IFB preachers do in order to preach FPM, we are told that these verses tell of a desire for the churches to give sacrificially for the support of missionaries.  The verses clearly show that this was a onetime gift, but it is preached at Faith Promise Missions conferences as an annual requirement for churches, based on chapter 9, verse 2.

IFB preachers then, teach that we should be in a perpetual state of sacrificial giving in order to support missionaries.  They completely ignore 2 Corinthians chapter 8 verses 13 and 14, “For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened:  14 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”.  This program is lucrative; most IFB churches raise tens of thousands of dollars through this method.  My own church raised around $200,000 in 2012, and that’s less than 200 people.  Preachers now have a way to boast of the amount of money collected, and of those members whose Faith Promise Missions giving is more than their tithe.

Another aspect of FPM preaching that I find disturbing is the effect of the guilt trip.  The preachers always say things like, “There is no faith in $5 a week, or $10 a week.”  You will often hear them say to give up your sodas, coffee, or dining out, and use that money for your Faith Promise Missions giving.  You will hear how someone, usually the preacher, received a check in the mail that was exactly the amount needed for FPM gift, and how that if he hadn’t given his FPM gift he wouldn’t have received that check.  Many preachers also use 2 Corinthians Chapter 8, verse 8 to help with making the congregation feel guilty.  That verse states, “I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love.” Preachers use this verse to guilt the people into giving according to their love for Christ and others.  It’s a ‘Give little, and you have little faith and little love’ message.  In context, this verse is Paul once again exhorting the church at Corinth to cease being selfish and prideful.  While it is entirely possible that Christians today can be selfish and prideful, and often are, a preacher’s use of this verse to guilt people into giving is wrong.  The preachers always say that you don’t give to get, but then in the next breath they say that God will give it back to you and bless you for giving – just as they do for the tithe.  Nowhere in the Bible do we find a basis for FPM giving, which is to say, give by faith more than you can afford.  2 Corinthians 8:12 clearly states we are to give of what we have, not of what we don’t.

I hope you as a reader have found this article informative and helpful.  I personally struggled for many years with the concept of Faith Promise Missions giving because I never received an amount from God when I prayed, and so gave an amount that seemed to ease the guilt I felt after the mission conference was over.  I suffered many financial problems due to tithing and FPM because I took the preachers at their word, thinking they had some special message from God.  Fortunately I decided to start doing some self-studying, and found that both tithing and FPM are invalid programs for the New Testament Church.  I still struggle at times with guilt because for various reasons I still attend an IFB church, but I am able to give, or not give, based on my own convictions, and not some commandment to give 10%, and some amount I expect God to give me in order to support missions.



Additional reading, sources, and references for this article: – Steve Van Nattan gives an excellent history of Oswald J. Smith, the Faith Promise plan in comparison to true Biblical principles,  and a personal story of how he “fleeced the sheep” in regards to Faith Promise Missions. – This bible study course covers Faith Promise Missions very well.

“Contra the ‘Pray and Pay’ Model of Giving”, by Jason Dulle – An excellent article, though I am no longer able to find a link for it, but you are welcome to search for the author for his contact information. 

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My father was a Missionary Baptist preacher in the mid-1960s to mid-1970s, so I was therefore raised as a Missionary Baptist. He ceased preaching when his mission work in Virginia failed, and we attended church regularly after that, but I do not remember which denominations. Most likely they were Missionary Baptist and Southern Baptist. At that time Southern Baptists were still pretty conservative where we attended, though I admit I didn’t pay much attention to those things as a child. I knew the Bible stories well, and was able to understand the deeper things of some of them, and was saved at the age of 10. Unfortunately I was raised to believe that God would get me if I did wrong. I knew of His love, but I was always afraid that if I did wrong, He would punish me in some horrible way. I was always very shy as a child, and as a teenager I felt out of place in and out of church, I didn’t fit in with anyone. Because of this, I stopped attending church when I turned 18, figuring if people in church treat me no differently than people out of church, and sometimes worse, why bother. Fast forward a few years, I was now married, and had a friend who told me one day that he had just gotten saved. I congratulated him, and he was surprised that I knew what he meant. He and his wife invited my wife and me to attend their newfound church, which happened to be IFB. Knowing that I really needed to be in church, we began attending regularly. Once again I began to have those feelings of guilt and fear that God would get me if I didn’t do certain things in the church, or if I did things contrary to the church teachings. These included tithing, dress standards, attending service every time the doors were opened, doing work around the church, etc., the usual IFB things. This was the late 1980s, and we attended a few different churches of like faith (IFB) as we moved around due to my job. From that time through about 2009 I continued to be a good and faithful IFB member, tithing and giving to Faith Promise Missions (FPM). Throughout this time we had many financial woes brought on by my feeling that I needed to give to the church even if I couldn’t afford it, because we were taught we couldn’t afford not to give. The whole time I expected God to bless me and give me money like I had heard so many others say had happened to them, but it never happened. Others would say, and preachers would preach, that God wouldn’t always bless with money, but sometimes with good health, or by helping you save money on things, and by keeping my car from breaking down, etc. I bought into it because my family did have good health, and I had a couple of old cars that were very reliable, but broke down on the person I sold them to. However, I failed to look at all of the other issues without rose-colored glasses, believing that God was testing me, and I needed to remain faithful to give. Every time there was an unexpected expense, I would pull out the credit card to pay it since I had no spare money. I remember on occasion telling my wife that I felt like I needed to stop giving so I could pay off bills, but I was afraid not to give. I always felt so self-righteous believing that I belonged to the only true church, that all other churches were preaching heresy, and didn’t believe the Bible, KJV of course. In 2009 I began to really question some things, though I don’t remember why. I think it was because of some things that seemed contradictory, so I decided to study out tithing and FPM giving. I discovered these are false teachings, and felt very liberated, as if a heavy weight was lifted off my shoulders. I believe I still have a long road to recovery, but my wife is not yet ready to leave our IFB church. So I go along, and am a bit overly critical at times of the things spouted from the pulpit, knowing that things are taken out of context, and that I am out and out being lied to about some things.

6 thoughts on “Faith Promise Missions Deception”

  1. Wayne,
    This is an excellent article! You wrote:

    “Another aspect of FPM preaching that I find disturbing is the effect of the guilt trip. The preachers always say things like, “There is no faith in $5 a week, or $10 a week.” You will often hear them say to give up your sodas, coffee, or dining out, and use that money for your Faith Promise Missions giving.”

    I completely agree. My pastors were always urging us to give bigger and better than we had the previous year. We were also encouraged to give up soda, starbucks, dining out, etc. They always had a Missions goal that we were expected to meet.

    1. Yes, I have been in churches that set a goal each year, but my current church only expects us to exceed the previous year. It is phrased to say, “Do more this year than ever before for missions”. One thing I didn’t mention in the article is that we are expected to increase our giving each year. Giving the same or less means we are not increasing in faith.

  2. Wow…..Excellent! I have never seen FPM broken down like this, and didn’t realize this tracked right back to Oswald Smith.

    We had missions giving month and was in Oct each year. I would take the phamphlet they handed out, and would try to go through it, and it never made any sense to me! I would actually get frustrated about it, because it SEEMED that everyone else was GETTING it, yet I wasn’t! I was always reluctant to PLEDGE any amt, because I didn’t want to lie, if I wasnt’ able to afford it one month, but the pressure was on because they had to budget for the missionaries (so did I for my household) so I would feel guilty about it, I would pray hard about it , the MOG said to pray about it and the Lord would place a figure in my head that I could afford. This is starting to make me sick as I type this. You want to know something? MOG in the U.S. are gonna have an awful lot to answer for, guilting folks into making, in some cases, horrible financial decisions, forcing them into financial ruin.

    Wayne thanks alot, I learn alot on this site.

    God BLess!!

  3. I strongly believe in tithing and willingly and generously giving. After all, every church has bills to pay if they are to stay open and function adequately. However, I too have heard many misuses of scripture to coerce people to give more and more whether or not they could afford it. The old “give ‘til it hurts then give ‘til it quits hurting” bit.

    I am a pastor and I have never encouraged people to give more than they could afford. I have never made people feel guilty about the amount they gave. I taught what the Bible really says about giving and left it up to them and God.
    From childhood I have been a thither and a giver. I have often triple tithed. I have also had my power turned off and had late fees and other expenses related to not paying bills because I had given my money to the church. I have gone without food and other necessities for me and my children because God doesn’t always pay us back dollar for dollar each time we give. I still love to give, but I don’t rob my family or the people to whom I owe money. God doesn’t expect or command me to either.

  4. Pastor Ken – You said “I strongly believe in tithing” and being a pastor, I’m assuming you teach tithing to the congregation. I was wondering what portion of the NT you might refer to, in order to teach tithing?

  5. Very interesting… I never understood where Faith Promise started. At the IFB I was at, they based how many missionaries they were going to support based on the Faith Promise of the year. They said the money would go directly to the missionary, not to a central office where admin fees would be taken out before it went to the missionary. This was the selling point they used for Faith Promise. On, the other hand, I see how a pastor can take advantage of this system. I believe in supporting missionaries, but, as alluded by the article, is this the best way to do it?

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