Welcome to Missions On Point, the Propempo Perspective on Church and Missions.
Hello and welcome to episode 44 of Missions On Point. I'm really thankful that you're listening today, and I trust that you will find it helpful to follow or subscribe in your podcast app so that you don't miss anything of this series and of previous series we've done, and even into the future. Thanks for being with us.
We're in the middle of a little three-part series on Missions Committee essentials, and I know if you listen to the first one, you're going to say, why do you call it Missions Committee Essentials when we prefer the term Missions Team. The problem is that Missions Team as a term is a little bit ambiguous. It can be used for other things, as well, but we prefer the use of the word "team" because it has much better positive dynamic overall.
So, last time we talked about some basic foundational concepts, the purpose, operational charter, scope of authority, and I want to expand a little bit on key values of missions in the church this time, as well as a couple of other practical considerations for operations. With regard to key values of missions in the church, you need to make sure that the missions team is within the boundary lines of the leadership of the church and the direction and identity of the church, with respect to what missionaries and ministries you support, and this involves the values of doctrine. There needs to be doctrinal alignment. You would be amazed to find out how many churches never really ask the missionaries that are coming to them asking for support about whether or not they're actually in doctrinal alignment with the doctrine of the church. This is so important. You don't want representatives being supported and paid, basically, by the local church to propagate doctrine that you don't agree with. You have a high view of the Bible and its authority in all the ministries of the church, and you want your missionaries to be in substantial agreement with your own doctrine and distinctives.
Secondly, you want to have a common ministry focus. What is the ministry focus of the missionary and how does that play into the ministry focus of your own local church? There are missionaries doing literally thousands of different kinds of things out on the field, and if the end result is not consciously and intentionally something that you are in agreement with, then probably you ought not to support them. You would want their ministry focus to be the results that you desire to see at the end of the day on the mission field because of that ministry.
In my book, and I think can be substantiated through the New Testament, you want to see it vitally connected to the establishment and strengthening of indigenous local churches on the field. Regardless of the type of ministry, if they're not intentionally moving in that direction connected to that end goal, then you might want to question whether or not you're going to support them. We don't do good just for good's sake. We don't improve the life of people on the field, indigenous peoples on the field, just to dress them up to go to hell. We have a very specific spiritual impact and result that is desired because of our ministry, and your local church ought to follow through and asking those kinds of questions to find out if that's who you should support.
It also goes to methodologies. What kind of methodologies are they using on the field? Especially in today's world where it is more challenging to get in, we'll say restricted access environments, it is important for the missionary to have genuine platform for work and ministry on the field, and not just faking it or utilizing Western funding to create a situation that is attracting people to become Christians for the benefits that they get from saying that they're a Christian.
The really old terminology for that is a ,"rice Christian". The more rice you give, the more Christians you get, or in today's terms it is enticement to conversion. We don't want to have anything to do with that methodology. There are other methodological things we may talk about in other episodes, but for now that'll give you the idea.
We also want the missionaries and ministries to have some actual direct relationship with our local church, not just because they were sent from some denominational office, not just because they were passing through, not just because they looked up our church in the Yellow Pages or on Google and decided to give it a shot to see if they could raise some funds. We want to have some sort of vital relational connection with them so that we have ownership and accountability, our church with them and their ministry.
Over the years, Propempo has developed an X, Y, Z axis of relationship and strategic focus and gospel access to help determine how much we support and how closely we hold the people that we support in this way.
So the first axis, we'll call it the X axis, is access of relationship. The closer they are to center or zero, the closer they are to the church. Are they homegrown missionaries that came out of our local church? Have they had significant involvement for years in ministry in our church as laypeople or as ministry people in some fashion?
The second Y axis would be strategic focus. Are they going to places that we want to go? Are they doing the things that we want to do? It's a strategic focus on the priorities of our church for what we want to see happen on the field.
The third or Z axis would be gospel access. If we want to see the great commission fulfilled, we need to make sure that we are supporting and sending people to areas and people groups who have no gospel access. Approximately one third of the world has never heard the gospel. Some of those, many of those, don't have gospel access in their country, because of intolerance toward Christianity or even a resistance to the Christian gospel, and they just don't have gospel access. They don't have the Bible in their language, they don't have Bible literature, they don't have gospel media, their environment or their country or their religion cuts them off from access to the gospel.
So, on these three axes, the X axis of relationship, the Y axis of strategic focus, and the Z axis of gospel access, the closer the person is to zero point, the stronger the support and relationship is with your local church.
Another key value has to do with accountability, and this is communication with both directions of the missionary on the field, their ministry, and your local church, but also a sense of accountability to simple things like spiritual health and health of their marriage and family. Being able to get sort of beneath the surface and understand and communicate with them in a loving way to put your arms around them and say, "Hey, we're with you in the tough times. We want to help you make it through to the long term."
The last key value is long-term goals, both of the church and of the missionary. Is the long-term goal of the missionary to serve two years and out, or five years and out, or stay for a career, a lifetime, stay until they see a church planted even in a resistant environment? These are the kinds of things you need to talk about and think about. What are the long-term goals of our church? What are the long-term goals of the people that we support?
One of the natural values that comes out of this thinking is the idea that the local church should probably support fewer missionaries and ministries at higher dollar amounts, rather than more. There's only one church I've heard of, a relatively small church, that said they wanted to see how many pins they could get on the map so they stay in touch with everything God's doing around the world, but I'm just telling you, the thinness of that relationship makes it such that it's only a news report and not an ownership of ministry as an extension of the church.
Moving right along in this episode, I want to talk a little bit about the meetings of the Missions Team and the monthly agenda of the Missions Team. Often Missions Team give 90% of their time to financial management and the annual missions event, missions conference, or whatever it is. Really that is not doing half of the breadth and scope of things that ought to be done by the Missions Team in order to mobilize the whole church for missions. Yes, there are reports of missionaries and prayer for missionaries in their ministries as one of the priorities of every team meeting, but there shouldn't be a division of labor among the Missions Team so that everybody's not doing everything, but there are certain specialties among the members of the team, or little sub teams of two or three each, to handle the different areas of finance, of personnel, of events, of what we call mission advocates in the church and in small groups in Sunday school classes or Barnabas teams for those the church actually sends from among your own. Just general communication among the body and communication with the missionaries you support, and of course, circling back around full circle then to prayer. Receiving prayer requests sort of gleaning from them, reporting to the congregation the most important prayer request on a regular basis, and having instruments for regular prayer within the body and within the Missions Team.
Financial reports, whether designated funds for missions or budgeted funds for missions or some form of faith promise funds should be regular and should be kept separately, in a sense, from the general funds of the church so that the Missions Team knows exactly what they have to work with and can administrate that properly.
Of course, there are going to be updates and plans for short-term ministries, if your church does those, both creating short-term missions teams or projects, fulfilling them, all the fundraising involved with that, the actual field ministry.
Then ultimately, the results of the participants on short-term missions heading toward the possibility of becoming long-term missionaries. There's also updates for events planning, and testimonies or reports from missionaries, field visits, and candidates.
The Missions Team also needs to keep a finger on the pulse of any pre-field missionary training and preparation that's being done from those that you support, but those especially that are being sent out by the church. Bottom line, there's a lot to do in regular meetings of the Missions Team.
The last idea for this episode is building real ownership of your missionaries, including shared expectations. There is a distinction between those missionaries that are sent from the church that are home-grown, or just those that are supported because of relationship with the church as partners in missions ministry, and those that we might call missionary friends, people that we know of, but we don't regularly support, but we do love them and encourage them along the way from time to time, especially as there are special needs. A real sense of ownership of your missionaries by the local church is very significant. In fact, in my own local church, the most common thing I get back as comments from people through the year and around the time of our annual missions event is, "We've never been in a church that really knew their missionaries and had ownership of their ministry on the field like this church." That's the kind of ethos that you want to have in your local church.
So, I pray that as your missions committee or your missions team grows and develops, that you will find lots of resources to do the whole scope of things that you ought to be doing. There is a lot available on propempo.com, and if you go to the Missions Paths, you'll find literally hundreds of articles and resources available to you to use in developing your missions team ministry.
I'm excited about this little series, because although it may seem mundane, it is such a game changer for missions in the local church, and this is a lot of what Propempo Ministry does for churches. If you have a need or concern and would like to find out more, check out the propempo.com website. You can email us, email@example.com. Ministry at P-R-O-P-E-M-P-O dot com. Ask a question. We'll answer.
As I wrap up this episode. I'll bet that you know somebody in a local church that is part of a missions committee or missions team that can use this information. Please share it with them. Thanks.
Thanks for joining us today on Missions on Point, the Propempo Perspective on Church and Missions. I trust that you'll find more help and resources on the website, propempo.com. Please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry. Now to God be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus, forever and ever. Amen.
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