Welcome to Missions on Point, the Propempo perspective on Church and Missions. This is episode 123 of Missions on Point. I'm thankful that you are listening today when we talk about the Propempo perspective on church and missions. We're using this biblical concept that missions really is local church centric. Biblically, the Bible teaches and demonstrates for us that all of missions ought to be focused on the local church as the beginning and end of missions, that the intention of God in Christ was to build his church, meaning local churches everywhere. That's how the Great Commission is fulfilled. If you don't understand that or you don't understand why you should agree with that, go back to some previous episodes of Missions on Point, particularly the first ones, but even the first ones in this series on Pro Pimple certification and listen to some of the biblical argument for local church centric philosophy of missions.
Certainly, I would encourage you to follow or subscribe to Missions on Point podcast in your podcast app, and if you have any questions or comments, agreements or disagreements, please feel free to email us at the email address email@example.com. Thanks. Now let's get into it. We're in the middle of a special series called Propempo Certification, and this fleshes out what we mean through so much teaching of what it would take for a church or a missions leader or a missionary or a partnering mission agency or a donor or a missionary training institution to follow along with agree affirm and commit to some practical things to become, in essence Propempo certified.
Today's episode focuses on the missionary, so if you have missionary candidate friends or friends that are missionaries on the mission field, you should alert them to this episode and have them listen to it carefully because it will make a positive impact on their life and ministry.
What would it take for a missionary to be Propempo certified, or what would Propempo certification for a missionary look like? This is a really interesting discussion. It's interesting because it cuts across the grain of so many traditionally accepted norms that are not biblically supported, so before we get into actual certification steps, we need to deal with those things. For example, the missionary so-called has been generally accepted as first and foremost the prerogative and right of the individual who claims that they receive this thing directly from the Lord through some means or circumstance. This is wrong thinking biblically on several levels.
First, we don't allow church leaders to lay hands on themselves, so to speak. That is we don't allow a vocational minister to claim that he or she is fully qualified for a particular ministry without external verification of their training, qualifications, experience, and some level of effectiveness before agreeing with them and hiring them. What's going on here? Do missionaries get a total pass on the normal process of developing and affirming someone for ministry?
Secondly, the Bible itself tells us that the Bible is the only complete and singularly authoritative revelation for Christian life and practice. That by the way, includes someone's personal "revelation in" of their personal subjective compulsion to serve the Lord as a missionary. The Bible's special revelation is normative for all believers. What that means is this. A person may feel that they are called to be a missionary. That's a good thing, but they have no biblical leverage to expect that their revelation is compulsory for anyone else. People do not have an obligation to accept that individual sense of call or send and support them on the mission field just because the person says they are called. All parties involved are still under the proper and biblical authority of the local church.
It is the local church that validates and affirms a missionary in much the same process and means as they do for an elder or pastor in the church. Michael Griffiths says it this way, "The individual can express their willingness to be a missionary. The local church affirms their afittedness."
Thirdly, there's another double-sided tradition or accepted norm that runs against our understanding of scripture. It's hugely acceptable and traditional in the West that on one side, a mission agency assumes that they are the master and manager of the whole of missionary preparation and ministry. Once that candidate becomes an official member or employee of the mission. The other side is that the local church so easily gives the mission agency that role in authority. The local church abrogates its biblical role and responsibility to the mission agency. The mission agency grasps and protects that assumed right and authority. Not only is this backward to the biblical norm, it is also backward to the best for the missionary and their ministry.
Fourthly, though we could go on for more the above tradition of flipping the right role and responsibility of the local church with the mission agency is also contrary to the original stated purpose of almost every conservative mission agency. That is most agencies were created to serve the local church. In time, they forget about that purpose. Now that I've stirred up your understanding in your heart a bit, let's go through 11 points of how a missionary might show that they're qualified for Propempo certification.
Number one, affirm and understand the practical implications of a biblical local church centric mythology. That is as a missionary, you'll honor and respect the role of the sending church from the time you first sense a call to missionary service all the way to the time of your departure or retirement from the field.
Number two, you accept and value the role of the local church in your pre-field preparation, the course and priorities of your field ministry and the shepherding of your life and that of your family for long-term service and effectiveness. This is basically a commitment to allowing the leadership of the local church and the local church body as a whole to disciple you and to be your colleague in ministry throughout your ministry from the very beginning of your preparation all the way through to field service.
Thirdly, you consciously aim your personal ministry at the end goal of planting and strengthening indigenous local churches from evangelism to discipleship, leadership, training and church development. It doesn't mean you have to be a church planter per se. It just means that whatever ministry you're doing on the field needs to be intentionally aimed toward that goal of planting and strengthening indigenous local churches. And let me just add, if it's not right now, it doesn't take too much effort to figure out how to make that connection. You may have to make some adjustments in your relationships in your ministry, but you want to aim your skills and ministry activity on the field toward that end goal.
Number four, you commit to communicate well with your sending church and seek their counsel in all matters of concern to you before making significant decisions affecting your life and ministry, your family and marriage or key factors affecting your ministry and your effectiveness. All too often I get calls or emails from local churches or from missionaries who say, "I'm in conflict with the local church or missionary because I didn't communicate well or they didn't communicate well, and all of a sudden there were big changes which affected the life and ministry of that missionary that was completely different than what the church expected." You'll see how each one of these affirmations or qualifications build on each other.
Number five is like that. Number five, you allow and fully cooperate with your church's role in shepherding you and your family. There's some very practical aspects of that, most of all having to do with communication and trust, and as you build trust over a long time of communication, it's so much easier to deal with problem issues or face crises in your life and ministry or your family with the church alongside you as your Barnabas as it were.
Now we turn the corner a little bit and talk about the missionary's role on the field. Number six is become an active voice for local church centric thinking inside your field ministry team, your field, and even your agency. It's okay for you to have a voice to persuade and convince people of the biblical role of the local church in missions and in your missions' ministry in particular, and what a great gift that is to you for your long-term sustainability and thriving on the field.
Number seven, teach and stimulate missionary sending within the indigenous field church or churches to which you are connected. Now, this seems like a no-brainer. Hey, I'm a missionary. When I go home to my supporting churches, I preach missions, but guess what? A lot of missionaries fail to teach missions in the churches with which they have relationship with on the field. The essence of missions is church planting. That is the establishment of viable, healthy congregations that worship together, learn God's word, obey God's word, and spread the gospel in their community. So church planting both locally, domestically and cross-culturally should be on the teaching agenda of every church, even missions churches.
Number eight, promote and encourage your fellow missionaries to engage their own sending churches and actively pursuing a biblical sending church role for themselves. This was one of the delights of my field leadership on the field years ago. That is to encourage the missionaries to engage their local church and challenge their sending church in particular, to have this special kind of relationship of ownership and guidance and shepherding for them on the field. What a difference it makes when the local church, the sending church turns the corner on that and becomes an active partner in the ministry on the field.
Number nine, if your agency does not already have one, help them develop an active church relations partnership office within the mission sending agency. Often, mission sending agencies will have a church relations department, but primarily it's for recruiting and developing finances, not so much for developing partnership with the local church. You want them to see the difference and turn the corner themselves.
Number nine, you welcome field visits within Mission agency and reasonable limits and help encourage, facilitate, or otherwise enable short-term missions trips that would enhance your ministry or your sending church's goals. This is possible even within limited access countries. Just strategize and design the short-term missions trip to be what is doable. Maybe it is a visions trip, maybe it's a prayer trip. Maybe it's not so much being involved directly in ministry, rather being intentional about encouraging the missionary staff.
Lastly, number 11, you commit to giving significant segments of home assignment times to report minister, give accountability and develop relationships with your sending church leaders and members. This is no small thing. I realize that most missionaries have multiple supporters and multiple sending churches, but just like we encourage sending churches to give more to fewer missionaries in order to have deeper relationships, the same is true for missionaries on the flip side, that is missionaries need to commit to having fewer church relationships in which they develop stronger, deeper relationships with the people and the leadership and ownership of their ministry. So when you go make sure that you're sending church gets plenty of time so that you interact with them at all levels on a casual basis and on a more formal basis so that you enter into the ministry of the church, you give value, add back to the church in teaching them about missions work and the life of a missionary and encouraging others, maybe even mentoring missionary candidates to prepare for the field.
Wow, I wish I had had that talk before I went to the field as a missionary. I wish that every missionary would have this talk before they leave for the field, and I have heard and know from field experience in ministering the missionaries on the field, they wish they had had this talk sooner so that they could act on it sooner and reap the benefits sooner. This is so significant that the missionary have this mindset as well as the church and the church missions leader and the partnering mission agency and the donor and the missionary training institution. It's going to make a world of difference for fulfillment of the Great Commission.
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 preferably consider supporting this ministry.
Now to God be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus forever and ever. Amen.
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