Welcome to Missions on Point, the Propempo perspective on church and missions. Thank you so much for listening to episode 162 of Missions on Point. We're talking about local church-centered missions implemented by key stakeholders or players in this whole enterprise of missions. Today's episode, number 21 in the series of the preview of a book I'm writing on local church-centered missions, is implementation by the missionary candidates and missionary. Certainly, the missionary candidate or missionary is at the center of the stakeholders in missions ministry around the world.
As we look at their role, we want to examine this key truth that we've seen biblically, that the local church is at the center of God's program. The local church is both the means and the end of missions. Biblically and practically, the magnitude of the role of the local church is huge. Right off the bat, I wanna say missionary candidate, don't go to the field unless you are sent. Missionary sending church, don't send the missionary candidate unless they are well-qualified, and missionary already on the field, please go back and reestablish deep roots and relationships with your home-sending church.
Missionary candidates and missionaries need to realize that the church is not an abstraction. It's not a convenience. It's not just a source of funding and prayer. It's not simply a human establishment filled with foibles and politics. It is certainly not just a compliment to your individual pursuit of your relationship with God and personal holiness and ministry calling.
The local church is not less than the center of God's plan for maturing and equipping believers, and proclaiming the glories of our Lord to all nations. I've been involved both in field work overseas and in leadership of a home site administration in a mission agency. I've counseled, discipled, recruited, raised funds, promoted, mobilized, and otherwise been intimately acquainted and involved with our mutual global enterprise at every level. I've seen who or what entity serves best in development, launching resources, counseling, shepherding, and rehabilitation of overseas missionary workers. While the sending agency may have an irreplaceable role, it is the worker's relationship with their sending church that really matters.
If that relationship exists, it provides wisdom, perseverance, and resources otherwise unavailable through any other means. It is so important that the local church relationship accountability rises to the top level of the top two things that keep missionaries on the field. One is having realistic expectations, meaning, proper preparation and qualification for that field ministry, but the second one is this relational accountability with the sending church. It is one of the two key factors that are gonna keep the missionary effective and faithful on the field for the long-term. Ask yourself this question, "When something goes wrong on the field and the missionary comes home, whether for good reasons or bad reasons, whether for avoidable reasons or unavoidable reasons, who helps the missionary put the pieces back together and reestablish a life back in their home country?"
While it is thought that the mission agency has some responsibility, they always throw the trump card of legal limitations to their longevity of help because they are a nonprofit. In the end, it always ends up being the home church of the missionary. That is the sending church who has to pick up the pieces and work with that individual whether they are joyously returning from the field, or they are seriously broken in heart. Missionary candidate, you have to allow your home church to seriously get inside the surface in your life and speak into your life to better prepare you and qualify you for the mission field. As a missionary, you reserve no personal rights.
You have no area of your life that the church cannot speak into to help you be focused on that gospel end goal. So if you feel called to missions, you need to go to your church leaders and ask them. Beg them to send you. If they need help in learning how to send you Propempo, can equip your church to equip you and to send you to the field. If you are a friend of someone who thinks they might wanna go to the mission field, as a missionary, then go with them to your church leaders and ask them to get involved very early in the process.
The earlier, the better. If you've listened to Missions on Point at all, you've probably caught that it's not up to the missionary candidate to figure out how to be equipped and what mission agency to go with. We don't allow people to lay hands on themselves. Just because you think presently, that you have a call to the mission field doesn't mean that it's so. It is to be tested and verified by your local church.
Over a period of time, and observation, and experience, the wisdom and collaboration, or ownership of your church leaders in the decisions leading to you go to the field is invaluable. When everyone has been a part of the decision, everyone owns some responsibility for the decision. It will go better for you, as you develop as a missionary, if you've included them in from the very beginning, but what if your church doesn't know how to do that? What if your church isn't even aware that they should be doing that? Well, call for some outside help.
Spend some extra time tilling the soil and planting the seeds of the right kind of biblical understanding so that everyone is on the right page. It may take you some extra time to do that. That's okay. It's worth it. Almost all of the missionaries training before going to the field is done with the local church, under the authority of the local church, and in concert with the local church.
It doesn't mean that the local church does it all. Certainly, the local church needs to be a part of it and part of some of the choices involved, whether the training is outside the local church, formal or informal. Who is it that's going to see and build up your calling and character? It's people in your local church that are going to observe your personal, spiritual life and how it exhibits itself in relation to others in the context of a local church. Your local church should be able to observe and really know your biblical qualifications for leadership and integrity.
The local church is gonna be able to guide you and help you in gaining the biblical and theological training you need in the knowing component of your qualifications for the field. They may be able to help you and give you resources for Bible knowledge and theological knowledge, put you in contact with the right kind of resources for church planting, and missions, and global awareness, and timeless missiology. Certainly, the whole area of competence that is ministry skills and experience, the doing part of your qualifications, is done under, and with, and in the context of the local church. It's through that ministry experience, in and with the local church, that you're going to expand your horizons of ministry competence that will enable you to be qualified to do similar things cross-culturally on the mission field. It's true that a lot of this has to do with your initiative and diligence to pursue qualification to study, and learn, and apply yourself intensely to getting ready for the field.
It is not simply a checkoff of, "Do you think you're called?" "Yes." "Fill out this form." "Okay." "Go to candidate orientation." "Okay."
"Pass the minimal kind of requirements and interviews that are necessary to join a mission agency," and then boom, "Go to the field." Statistically, that works great if you wanna head for burnout and leaving the field much earlier than you think and feeling terrible about it. Take your time, involve your local church, get them behind you 100%, be really well-qualified to go to the field, and you won't regret it. What about the missionary that's already on the field, and you didn't get to do that, and you're wondering, "What is your home church doing, and how are they ascending church?" You did all or almost all the work to get to the field yourself, and yet, you may feel that you're in an emotional vacuum, that you just don't have the prayer support that you wish you had.
You don't have the solid relationships of people who are encouraging you to persevere. When you go home for home assignment, you don't have soul care. You don't think that people even identify with you very well. Everything seems up to you. Well, what do you expect?
You think you got to the field on your own without your sending church, so how are they gonna enter in? You've got to help them enter in. You've got to prompt them. You've got to train them, if you will, by guiding and encouraging, and enabling them to enter into your life in a fresh, new, deeper way. Let them know you need them.
They are not just financial prayer partners with you, they should have a sense of ownership. You're doing this on their behalf. You are an ambassador sent out from their local church to do work that they can't otherwise do. So adopt a position of humility, and need, and let them know that you really want them to enter into this missionary work with you. Encourage them to visit you on the field.
Let them know your concerns and the crises that you're facing on the field. As you foster this deeper channel of communication, transparency, and fellowship with you and your ministry on the field, you will cultivate more sense of ownership and partnership with you. The next time you go home for home assignment, it's probably gonna be very different. You'll have people actually asking you questions because you've opened the door for that. When I've presented these concepts on the field with field missionaries, there's been a divide among the audience.
So some missionaries say, "Yes, my home church does a lot for us. They take it seriously. They have a sense of ownership and partnership with us in the ministry. They communicate a lot. They send us gifts."
"They do more things for us." The other side says, "Wow, we're kind of jealous of those missionaries that get that kind of attention. We wish we had that too, but we just don't have that kind of home church." In fact, a number of times when I've made this presentation on the field, missionaries that don't have that kind of sending church end up in tears. They've never known that that was even possible.
They felt lonely, isolated, almost cut off from the vibrant fellowship that they have enjoyed when they came up in the church and were sent off by the church originally. Let's invest some prayer in making this happen. Let's talk to some trusted friends and confidants within your home church, that this is the kind of thing that you would love to see happen for you, your family, and your ministry. Now, let's flip the table a little bit and look at the other end, the goal and intent of your ministry. If our biblical principle of local church centeredness is correct, and I think it is, it means that missionary candidate, you need to shape and refine your ideal vision of your goal on the field to fit that ministry philosophy, and that is you need to be involved in planting churches where they don't exist or encouraging and strengthening churches to plant churches.
If you find that you've been recruited or mobilized to do some other kind of ministry that does not have that in view, you may need to change the direction of your ministry or the choices with what agency you go to in order to fit that biblical goal. Certainly, your local sending church has a say in that, even if you're planning to do something that you might consider to be an ancillary ministry, or a supporting ministry, or a preparatory ministry for some of those things. If you're involved in evangelism or discipleship, it needs to be evangelism or discipleship that is specifically aimed at planting churches or connecting with existing churches to strengthen them. It's not just evangelism and discipleship for its sake alone. Similarly, if you're a missionary already serving on the field, you may need to rethink or evaluate, "How does my life and ministry move toward that end of seeing churches planted and seeing churches strengthened to plant churches among their own people group?"
These may seem like radical adjustments, but if you think about it, pray about it, and work with your church leaders step by step, you can move in that direction and see God bring it to pass. May He do so for His glory in your life and ministry. Do you have questions, comments, concerns, maybe ideas for more podcast content? You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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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