Welcome to Missions on Point, the Propempo perspective on Church and Missions. This is episode 166 of Missions on Point. We're closing in on the end of a series that is a preview of a book we're writing about the centrality of the local church and missions. This last section has to do with dealing with the stakeholders, the people who are the agents, the implementers of missions, especially, with regard to their relationship to the local church. So this is Local Church Missions implemented number 25 in the series implemented by the missions mobilizer. Missions mobilization over the past 30 years or so has grown to be a quite often used term.
There's a story of Dr. Ralph Winter challenging a group of college students, and he says this, "Suppose I had a thousand college seniors in front of me who asked me where they ought to go to make a maximum contribution to Christ's global cause. What would I tell them? I would tell them to mobilize, all of them." Phil Parshall, a missionary author and mobilizer of sorts, said it this way, "Someone must sound the rallying call. Those who desire to see others trained, prepared, and released to ministry are known as mobilizers. Mobilizers stir other Christians to active concern for reaching the world. Mobilizers are essential. To understand the role of mobilizers, think of World War II. As a parallel, only 10% of the American population went to the war. Of those, only 1% were actually on the firing lines. However, for them to be successful in their mission, the entire country had to be mobilized." He later said, "Anyone who can help 100 missionaries to the field is more important than one missionary on the field. In fact, mission mobilization activity is more crucial than field missionary activity."
Fred Markert gives this definition of mobilization. "Mobilization is the process of envisioning and educating God's people about his strategic plans for the world, and it is the means of keeping them involved in moving forward until they find their specific place and role in world evangelization." In today's missions enterprise, lots of people are called mobilizers or adopt the moniker of mobilizer for themselves. Almost every evangelical mission agency now calls their recruitment department, mobilization. It's true. Like the wartime kind of analogies, mobilization is getting the troops to the front. Mobilization is getting all the men and material needed to fight the battle on the front lines. It certainly involves training and education and preparation, logistics for those that are going to the front lines.
Often the people who coordinate or sponsor perspectives courses, whether it's in churches or mission agencies or rented rooms, are called mobilizers. Pretty much anyone involved, whether on a local church level or a mission agency level of any kind or trainers could call themselves missions mobilizers because they're involved in the whole process of awakening people to the cause of missions, to stimulate them, encourage them to follow God's heart and God's will in going and being involved in missions, as well as the specific elements of going and sending.
Mission mobilizers are often involved in discipleship or mentoring people who have an interest in missions, to follow the step-by-step process toward finding a field, finding a mission agency that matches up, finding their support, and then actually going out to the field. In our study and in this book, the problem is that most mobilizers have little to no connection with the local church's involvement or ownership of missions. All the definitions seem to leave out the local church. They're completely ad hoc or independent agents or agents of a mission agency, and they don't necessarily understand or foster the role of the local church and its embrace of their own people in preparing them really well to get out to the field. In fact, it's not too much to say, that often mobilizers short circuit the program and the process so that they're trying to get missionaries to the field as quickly as possible, whether or not they are actually best prepared for that hard field out there.
And so, because so many missionaries are doing lots of different kinds of missions work. Not related to an end goal of seeing indigenous local churches planted, and because they're not related to local churches here in the home country, or the sending church, that is taking care of them, and nurturing them, and shepherding them to work faithfully and effectively for the longterm, the attrition rate is terrible. So what difference does it make that, biblically, we must try to repatriate world missions back to the local church.
For the missions mobilizer, it's very similar to the things I've said for the missions agency and the missions donor and the missionary training school. That is, go back to the local church. If there is someone that you have become aware of, whether you're trying to recruit them into your mission agency or whether you're simply a generic mobilizer that wants to encourage people in their pathway to the field, connect them with their local church. Make sure they understand how important the local church is for their long-term sustainability on the field. Sure, it's extra work, but you want to be a good and effective missions mobilizer, don't you? If you're a missions mobilizer for your own church, of course, that's your own church to whom you're connecting this missionary candidate. The point is, to bridge that gap. To not be a missions mobilizer simply encouraging individuals to do their own individual thing and find their own individual mission and go out there, basically, on their own and hoping or assuming that God's people are going to support them somehow.
The point is, bridge the gap, so that the local church is a part of it from the very beginning, from the earliest moments of the inklings of a missionary candidate, thinking that God might be calling him to the field. Yes, help provide discipleship for them, and encouragement, and good books to read, and good websites to visit, and good videos to watch, maybe even good podcasts to listen to, but don't fail to open up the Bible and show him the biblical support for the centrality of the local church in missions. Coach him or her to develop those relationships in the local church and their ministry in the local church. It is a shame to the missions enterprise that young eager adults who really want to serve the Lord and give him glory on the field, go to the field with practically zero actual church leadership or formation kind of ministry in their toolbox.
Honestly, it's incumbent on the missions mobilizer to study the church, have a good ecclesiology, understand how the church makes decisions and moves forward. Use your mission's mobilization to mobilize the church body to accept their role and responsibility in the Great Commission. This, I propose, is the better solution. Not only do you mobilize the individual, but your focus is on mobilizing local churches. Lots of them. Find the ones that are the most agreeable to being missions mobilizers themselves to sending themselves and work with them to help them be the best possible sending church and from them, you'll get the best possible missionaries.
In the new paradigm we're trying to describe, the lead pastor is the lead missions mobilizer of his church. The missions leader is a missions mobilizer for all those interested in mission at whatever level and whatever engagement or involvement they may have. The missionary mentor is certainly a missions mobilizer for individuals that they're mentoring along the pathway to be fully qualified to go to the field, sent by the local church. The mission agency begins to focus more on local churches as the source and seedbed for missionaries and uses their missions mobilization ministry to help those churches become more and more effective at identifying, raising up, sending and shepherding their own people out to the field. Missions donors are asking the right kinds of questions so that they become missions mobilizers using their generous stewardship of resources to enable that to happen. The Missionary Training School is a missions mobilizer on the training side, but connects back to the sending local church to enable them to be the best sending church that they can be and help prepare the missionary in other ways than the academic institution cannot do on their own.
In a sense, it's true. The missions mobilizer is like the capstone of all of the mobilizers out there. They're very specific and they have skills. Missions mobilizer needs to learn more about local church engagement in missions and focus more on helping the local church identify with and come alongside them in preparing their own missionaries to go to the field. No matter where the missions mobilizer gets their initial contact with a potential candidate, whether it is in a missions conference, whether it is at a college campus or a church, or perhaps on a website oriented toward missions, or a training program, they need to reconnect that candidate with their local church and assure both the candidate and the church that their relationship and role together in preparing the candidate for missions, is by far the most long-term effective factor in this missionary actually being well-trained to stay long-term, faithfully serving the gospel of Jesus Christ wherever they may go in the world.
I've said it before in this series, but I'll say it again. I've had missionaries on the field in tears come to me and say that they wish that had been the situation with their local church and their missionary development, the missing piece in the missions enterprise today, and for some time in the past, all the stakeholders in the missions enterprise, repatriating world missions back to the local church's ownership.
It will take a lot of patience and grace. It will take learning together how to do this and how to lift up the local church, for whom Christ died, to take its rightful place in world missions. By God's grace, let's work and pray to that end. The next episode of Missions on Point will be the conclusion of this particular series. If you have comments, questions, or suggestions, you can email me, email@example.com.
I also want to take this opportunity to thank the people who support us enabling us to do this ministry. In the notes for this episode, I'll put a link for you to express your interest in the publication of the book when it comes out. Also, I will include a link so that you can see the transcripts of all the Missions on Point episodes.
Thanks for joining us today on Missions on Point. We trust that you'll find more help and resources on our website 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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