What is the role of the local church in missions?

Before leaving for the field you should demonstrate a healthy connection with and approval of the local church that’s willing to send you. Your church and missions agency will require it. Your likelihood of surviving and thriving on the field directly correlates to a healthy church that proactively helped you prepare for and get to the field. So, your very next step on the path to your mission field is to bring your local church into the picture.

Many young missionary candidates, with surging eagerness to hurry to the field, short circuit or neglect involving their home (sending) church early in the process. If you’re away from your home church during college years, this might be difficult. However, having a strong local sending church as the core of your support team is essential to your long-term effectiveness.

Get good counsel from mature Christian friends about your choice of a local church. This is an important decision to be made for sound biblical reasons rather than personal preferences
or consumer-oriented reasons. Great churches feature sound teaching, a good shepherding atmosphere, gracious and loving fellowship, and a commitment to know, love and proclaim the Gospel. Check out Mark Dever’s Nine Marks of a Healthy Church (Crossway, 2004).

Here are some suggested standards that would indicate a good sending church:

  1. The sending church has developed clear expectations and a process or path for becoming a missionary sent from the church.

  2. The sending church understands and affirms the obligation of the church to guide and manage the development
    of their missionary in issues such as character, ministry
    competency (including language and cultural acquisition and adjustment), doctrinal integrity, and direction/allocation on the field.

  3. In addition to the elders’ general oversight, the sending church provides a mentor and/or “Barnabas Team” advocate person or team.

  4. The sending church confirms a mutually acceptable comprehensive support schedule and helps the missionary raise those funds through accountability, advocacy and active assistance.

  5. The sending church commits to appropriate communication and shepherding on the field.

  6. The sending church intelligently interacts with ministry decisions and strategy on the field.

      7. The sending church proactively and annually evaluates the health, ministry and working relationships of the field missionary (and family, if applicable).

No church is perfect, and it may be tempting to get to the field quicker by taking shortcuts around a substantial sending church relationship. As the African proverb says, “If you want to travel fast, travel alone; if you want to travel far, travel together.” This is applicable to a sending church relationship. Your impact on the field will be deeper and longer with a great sending church behind you. It may even mean helping your church become the sending church it needs to be. It’s worth the hard work. With some patience and passion, you can be instrumental in helping your church become your most important long-term asset in reaching “your” unreached people group.


We’re excited about this new online resource! Content is in the process of being created and ported. Please check back often and subscribe to our feed at http://propempo.com/rss.xml to be notified of updates. Interact with the content. Post links in email, Twitter, Facebook, etc. Recommend Propempo.com to friends. Prayerfully support Propempo.com and consider contributing to its content.

Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

5.1.11

One thought on “What is the role of the local church in missions?

  1. The Bible indicates that the local church is the catalyst of world missions. Ideally world missions is central to the church’s existence. The local church makes disciples who make disciples; some of them spiritually reproduce themselves overseas. The church’s leaders proactively encourage the most gifted among them to consider serving overseas. The church insures that future missionaries go prepared to disciple the nations. The church serves as a strong partner with the sending agency, with both playing complimentary roles in helping missionaries succeed on the field. The church holds its missionaries spiritually accountable and shepherds them. It provides outstanding care for its missionaries, both on the field and when they are back home. 

Leave a Reply