Audio Transcript:

Welcome to Missions on Point, the propempo perspective on Church and missions. Welcome to episode 159 of Missions on Point. This begins a new section of the book I'm working on on the centrality of the local church and missions. In the first third of the book, we basically deal with all of the biblical data and support for the centrality of the local church in missions. There is in fact an argument that it's not just the centrality of the local church in missions, but the centrality of the local church in all ministry. The second third we've dealt with is restoring missions in the local church, and we focused on what difference it makes for a local church to have this understanding of the biblical centrality of the local church in missions. This section of several episodes from episode 150 to 158 could be a mini guide for how to do it within the local church as the whole church body adopts this local church centered missions ministry philosophy.

This last third has to do with key roles for local church centered missions. I'm calling this section Local Church Centered Missions Implemented, and we'll walk through several of these different roles or stakeholders in the whole missions process. You may recall that I've said in some previous episodes that really the long-term goal for this is that there will be a tidal wave of change in the whole missions enterprise in North America or Western missions so that all the people, all the stakeholders, all the roles are correctly thinking about the local church centeredness and role and importance in the whole missions process. For everyone to do this in concert together, we'll produce more effective long-term missionaries for this last push to reach all the unreached of the world, but it will also make it possible to have much, much lower attrition rates among missionaries on the field.

The first role we're going to address, the first stakeholder in this process is the lead pastor, sometimes called the senior pastor or in a small church, maybe just the pastor. It could be the teaching pastor. We're talking about that pastoral role of leadership within the staff of the church and the primary teacher in the church.

I was recently in a church for my usual intensive weekend of training, orientation and teaching the centrality of the local church and missions and the benefit and results of adopting this biblical ministry philosophy. At the close of my time with the church on that weekend, the lead pastor said to me, "This changes the way I think about the rest of my ministry career." That's a small piece of the tidal wave we're praying for. The real tidal wave would be hundreds and even thousands of pastors getting it and saying the same kind of thing.

Here's what understanding the biblical local church centered ministry philosophy, particularly for missions does for the lead pastor. It gives freedom, freedom to not be pulled in a hundred directions, freedom to minister with confidence in God's design for the local church, freedom to clearly see the desired goal and outcomes of ministry. It also gives focus, focus to choose the best over the good, focus to invest in discipleship and equipping for the big picture of planting and strengthening local churches, focus to become more effective because of having a clearer vision. It also gives fortitude that is confident courage. It gives fortitude because of a better understanding of the big picture of God's plan, and it gives this kind of fortitude because of understanding how the local church engages with and owns their role in missions. I should point you to propempo.com and look there for the role of senior pastor.

There's about 10 or 12 articles in there that speak specifically to some of the differences that owning this local church centered ministry philosophy takes in the life of a lead pastor. It answers questions like this. What is the role of the senior pastor and what is the pastor's relationship to church missionaries? What is the pastor's relationship to missions in general from the platform? What is the pastor's relationship to the leader of missions in the church and how can the pastor prevent getting overwhelmed by mission's stuff? What priority should missions have in the church? All these articles are on propempo.com.

There is also a small series on the necessity of pastoral leadership of missions in the local church. It begins with episode number 12. One exciting development on our website we've been praying about for a long time is that now Missions on Point episodes have the transcript of the audio available online. If you go to propempo.com, look to resources and click on Missions on Point series list to get the list of all the episodes grouped by series. Find the senior pastor topic and go to those episodes, you'll find the transcripts as well as the audio on that page. And by the way, we are very thankful for friends like you that make the cost of making transcripts available, possible online.

Now, here are some examples of some changes in the lead pastor's life and ministry if brought into alignment with this biblical local church centered ministry philosophy. The first one is walk the talk, and by that it should affect your life. You are a model for your church family, and you should be engaged, interested, and involved in missions in whatever way you can.

Secondly, learn the language of missions. Every specialty profession has a lingo or a language that goes with it, vocabulary, and the vocabulary of missions is a little bit different. Lead pastors learn special vocabulary for biblical topics and languages of the Bible and theology. So pastor, you might find a trusted friend who knows the lingo and is able to help you interpret some of it.

Third, pray for missions. Make missions a regular topic of your prayers, both in private and in public, and by that I don't mean just the generic Lord, bless all the people of the world wherever they are, whoever they are, but be more specific about needs as you grow in your interest and information about specific missionaries and ministries that are connected with your church.

Another way that your lead pastor role is affected is that you realize you're a gatekeeper, i.e. who you allow to address the church, who you allow inside the church, who you allow to influence the people of your church, makes a difference. You want those voices to be in alignment with your church in every way. You also want them to own a local church centered mindset or ministry philosophy for missions, so learn how to say no to sentimental appeals and tangential connections. You and your church will be thankful over the long haul that you have become a good gatekeeper.

The next one seems obvious, but it's not obvious. You need to learn how to see and to teach and preach missions in the word. You need to see how God's heart for the nations is expressed throughout the Bible. The testimony of the entire span of scripture is clear. God desires to bring glory to himself in all nations. When you model and talk and pray and preach in these ways, it's actually magnetic in its appeal to people who join in with a leader and ministry that is not consumed with themselves.

In addition, learn to adopt the perspective that missions is not a competition with your local ministries. It is an addition. It is an exponential multiplication of your local ministries. It's not a competition for funds, attention, people, other resources. Also, have the sense that you need to engage the whole church. Pastor, you don't have to do this all yourself, you're delegating to good people. You're doing Ephesians for equipping of the saints for the work of ministry. You're allowing them to wrap their hands around it and take responsibility for it and to do it on behalf of the church. So your delegation means you're trusting people. It doesn't mean you don't verify that they're doing the right things or challenging them to excellence in how they do it. Engage the whole church and delegate.

Then lastly, for yourself, go touch, see, feel, taste, smell missions for yourself. Do a field visit that's not wrapped around you being in the limelight, but you being the shadow in the learner and the shepherd of the workers that you're visiting out on the field. Learn what their life is really like.

Your influence as the lead pastor is incomparable. No one else can do it. Missions may be limited by your lack of leadership and interest in missions. No one wants the lead pastor to be overwhelmed by doing so many different things, but you do need to own it and embrace it in order to give it away and delegate things appropriately to other leaders and doers in the church. In so doing, you're giving them great opportunities and vision for how the Lord may use your local church in his great commission.

So from your unique role in ministry in the church and your encouragement, don't block mission's programs, don't view growth in mission's vision as a competition for local ministry growth. Encourage excellence and mobilization through the mission's team and the mission's leader. Speak often in global terms of God's glory and the exclusive claims of Jesus Christ and his gospel among all nations. Pray publicly and privately for missionaries and their work. Read selected quality missions materials in balance with your other reading. Ask for help in understanding missions. I could say listen to Missions on Point podcasts regularly.

You can invite propempo staff to come and consult with you and your leaders. Open lines of communication and relationship with your supported missionaries and ministries. I think every lead pastor should preach a world missions message at least annually. Enthusiastically, participate in your church's missions, events, whatever those are. And then continue to challenge your people to consider missionary service as a legitimate vocational calling.

That same pastor I mentioned earlier said, "Nobody ever taught this in seminary. There was no class that even came close to mentioning or teaching the biblical local church centered ministry philosophy for missions." But now that you know and if you embrace this biblical philosophy of ministry for missions, it should make a difference in how you conduct yourself, how you conduct your ministry, and what the end goals of your church's ministry should be. You're the leader, so lead. You can contact me through an email address ministry@propempo.com.

Thanks for joining us today on Missions on Point. We trust that you'll find more help and resources on our websites at propempo.com and missioserve.org. We are so thankful for those who support us, enabling us to produce this podcast. Now to God be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus forever and ever. Amen.

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