I had the opportunity to advise a dear friend and mentee about what I wish mission agencies knew about the church.
Here is my reply:
“The church” IS “the local church” — not some nebulous “church universal”. The difference in mindset is HUGE! Agencies that don’t have a relational, personal understanding that the healthy, biblical local church is the only functional, local expression of the body of Christ will always be stumbling along in a fog with respect to understanding and relating to the church. In addition, the local church is what God intends and has always intended to be that nexus of Christian life, including missionary development. Mission agencies should talk about this within their leadership, and especially with their recruitment or mobilization staff.
The church is the primary fishing hole for quality missionary candidates. Partnership with local churches will result, in the long run, with more quantity and quality of missionaries that make it to the field than any campus or young adult event recruitment program.
The church desires (or should be encouraged by the sending agency to desire) a stronger ownership role in guiding and shepherding their people through the whole process, including after they arrive on the field. The church should be given allowances to have that freedom, while also having relationship with and respect for the agency’s framework to do that.
The church has much deeper and broader resources than people (candidates), prayer, and pesos. The church has valuable assets which can assist and help the field in areas of: biblical counseling (both on the field and at home side); human resource talent (e.g. technology, business, childcare/nanny-ing/”homeschooling”); project intelligence and financial support, etc.
Investment in church partnership takes a lot of time and effort, due to the natural organic bureaucracy, but it pays the biggest long-term dividends of any other pursuit.
Recalibrate, mission agency! Look at your founding documents and read these kinds of phrases:
we exist to serve the local church
we facilitate the local church
we are an arm of the local church
If you do not love the local church, you cannot understand Christ’s love for and purposes in and through His Bride. cf. Eph. 3, Eph. 4, Eph. 5, Rom. 12, Rom. 15, 1 Tim. 3, Tit. 1
David C. MeadeDavid C. Meade has been the founder, C-level officer, and consultant for a number of non-profit organizations. He has nearly fifty years of experience with church planting, pioneering field ministry among UPGs, and leadership in international and domestic NGOs. He has a strong biblical local-church-centric ministry philosophy and commitments, serving as an international outreach leader, pastor, and elder in local churches throughout his adult life. He loves teaching and mentoring church leaders and global workers preparing for service to meet the greatest need of the neediest places on earth.
David is an international business consultant, NGO executive, and international leadership trainer. He has a weekly podcast and has authored hundreds of insightful and practical blogs, articles, and several books. David is a well-received speaker and teacher. His experience in non-profit leadership and international NGOs informs his counsel for leaders and workers in challenging areas of service, analyzing corporate strategies, conflict resolution, crisis management, and event leadership. David is passionate about core values based on timeless principles, valuing people, and leadership training. He is an avid family man, reader, fisherman, and world traveler.
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