Local churches MUST train missionaries. A big part of the problem is that local churches don’t understand that, unless they get involved in the training of missionaries, they are giving up their God-given responsibilities and prerogatives to do so. Ephesians 4 makes it clear that churches must be involved in equipping the saints for the work of ministry; that includes missions ministry! Leaders and workers of the church are developed by the church. The Apostle Paul, himself, earned his leadership and missionary role in the context of serving the local church faithfully for years before he was sent out.
Missionary training in the local church is analogous to the education of children in a home. Parents are given responsibility for training up their children. The Scriptures do not stipulate that it must all be done in the home or by the parents. The parents are free to delegate authority and responsibility to whatever resources are best for each child. For particularly gifted parents, that might mean that their children could be completely schooled at home. For most families, it means a blend of home-school coops, public or private school along the way, matriculation in a recognized college or university. For yet others, they may decide that, given the opportunities and needs of their child or their family, they are happy for public schools to provide education under the close care and supplemental spiritual input and integral participation of the parents. In any case, the parents have the responsibility and authority to make the choices and do what is best for their children. Similarly, the local church guides and supervises the education and training of its candidates for ministry in and through the church. The leadership may delegate certain technical or formal aspects of training to sources outside the local church; but, ultimately, the church is responsible for helping choose a path and alternatives that maintain the integrity of doctrine and teaching desired by the “family” of that local church.
There is a somewhat defensive reason for missionary training in and through the local church, as well. Unfortunately, local churches have too long allowed mission agencies and missionary training institutions to assume responsibility for the ministry preparation of their people with very limit oversight or question from the local church. Although most, if not all, of these institutions were founded “as an arm of the local church” or “to serve the interests of local churches”, over time they become an entity unto themselves. If local churches abrogate responsibility in this area, others will take it up. Others may not have the best interests of local churches at heart. They certainly do not inculcate the high regard for and ethos of the local church and spiritual service within the local church, unless they consciously facilitate it. Only a sound local church can instill the value and life-on-life discipleship of “body life”, community, and unselfish service. If you expect your missionary candidate to appreciate and desire to reproduce the dynamic of a culturally appropriate indigenous local church, then they had better experience it and love it well before they ever leave for the field. We want to see reality more than theory, flesh and blood relationships more than paper and ink, practiced prayer more than wishful thinking.
There are lots of churches out there doing an outstanding job of mentoring and training their missionary candidates. See the model documents below. Caveat — Though the terms and conditions of Propempo.com spell it out, we should reiterate it here: Just because an external document appears as a link or download here doesn’t mean that Propempo agrees with or endorses everything about it or its source. Neither does it imply that what we offer here is the most current version available. You’ll have to check with original sources to request more information.
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