The Supporting Church

September 08, 2023 Brian W

We have learned about sending churches which are assemblies of believers called along with a missionary to send and aid them in accomplishing their mission. What about supporting churches? Is there a Biblical precedent for them? Is a supporting church less than a sending church? Do supporting churches have less responsibility than sending churches for the Missio Dei?

We start at the first church-sent missionary we know of, the famous missionary and trainer, Barnabas. In Acts 11:22, Barnabas is sent as a missionary to Antioch by the Jerusalem church. He then recruits a certain Saul to join him on his mission; we see both Barnabas and Saul joining the Ekklesia at Antioch. In Acts 13, Barnabas and Saul are sent on an epic missionary journey where Saul follows Barnabas’ lead and acquires a new name, Paul. In Acts 14, Paul and Barnabas return to Antioch and report on their mission and many accomplishments. Being sent again to Jerusalem, Paul and Barnabas help resolve an early church dispute. The Jerusalem church sends Judas, called Barsabbas, and Silas back on short-term mission trips to Antioch. There, Silas joins Paul’s new missionary team again sent out from Antioch. The Jerusalem church has become a supporting church of Paul’s mission from the Antioch church. Paul’s many epistles are a roll call of supporting churches in Paul’s long missionary career along with the entire book of 3 John, which is a brief meditation on supporting churches.

One thing to remember about all the Ekklesia in the Kingdom is that they all share the same King. The Missio Dei is the mission of our King, and all churches are called to support it. Supporting churches did not send the missionary they aid, and the missionary is not a member of their assembly, but the mission of the King is still important to them. As we see in Philippians, the church in Philippi was the only church left actively supporting Paul, and it was to their great credit to Jesus. They were not Paul’s sending church but were one of his supporting churches.


A supporting church needs only aid a missionary in some way; giving a missionary in need a place to stay and a warm meal makes one a supporter, at least for the night. At the same time, there is no reason why a supporting church can’t fully join a mission and become co-laborers in the ministry as Jerusalem did for Paul. When a church decides to support a missionary, they recognize that the mission of the King is of great importance, and they approve the missionary’s participation in the mission. They enter a partnership with the sending church and the missionary in terms of the specific mission. That partnership honors God, glorifies His name, and is an actual act of worship. As they are able and called, every church should be both a supporting church and a sending church. We are many assemblies, but we have one King, and He gave us one mission.


Brian W
Brian served 14 years in the Republic of Georgia, where he started a youth ministry, discipled new leaders, and planted over 15 new churches before serving in leadership of another missions organization. Brian is married to Maia and they have two children.