Welcome to Missions on Point, the Propempo Perspective on Church and Missions.
This is episode 134 of Missions on Point. We're in the middle of a series on your church missions handbook. You might call it something different, but the handbook is basically a collection of ideas, concepts, principles, policies that are consolidated into a simple handbook which all of the missions team can use and the leadership of the church approves of, and the whole church can be educated through reading it. A good charter document is certainly something that should be a part of orientation for new missions team members. A mission's handbook or guidebook or policy book is not a textbook and it shouldn't be considered something that can never be changed forever, but it is a living collection of documents so that everyone has a common understanding of the key ideas that are necessary for a church missions ministry to function well.
Today's topic is number six in the series. It's called the Missions Team Charter. A few words of clarification here. First of all, you can ask questions or make comments to me through email email@example.com. That's firstname.lastname@example.org. Secondly, although I'm proposing this whole Church Missions Handbook series in a particular order, the order for your church may be different. You may decide to not include all the elements, but I'm giving a more comprehensive overview of what might be included and how significant each one of those portions might be. The mission's team charter is like that. It can be a standalone document because it is probably the smallest, shortest version of the church's commitment and vision for missions compared to the larger compilation of the mission's handbook when it's all collected together. So I think the missions team charter is important as maybe the first introductory document to the congregation so that they have the thumbnail sketch of why this is important to us, how we operate in the area of missions ministry and what we think about it.
I've helped many churches through a process that I call guiding principles or guiding values, which are very similar to the team charter. Also, your church may not call your missions team the missions team. It may be called the Missions Committee or the Global Outreach Committee or the Global Outreach Board. You can call it whatever you think is best for your church. I like the word team simply because of the dynamic that it conveys as a group of people coming together to fulfill a common goal. When you say committee, often people think automatically of a bureaucratic or even somewhat political body that is in charge of something rather than a team who is mobilizing the whole congregation to be involved in something. I've chosen as my model for this episode, the Faith Bible Church Missions team charter from Faith Bible Church in Sharpsburg, Georgia. It's a church that I love.
I've had long association and partnership with, and they have done an excellent job of writing their missions team charter. The major parts of this charter on three pages, beginning with a preamble, then the biblical basis, a definition of missions, a purpose principles, and then a description of the mission's team. And finally, the conclusion. It's so well written and the terms and vocabulary used are somewhat nuanced, so I'm going to confess that I'll probably read significant parts of it to you and make comments as we go through. What is in the preamble? It says this, "Faith Bible Church, insert the name of your church here, is dedicated to making disciples of Jesus Christ among the nations in obedience to his command in various scriptures which are collectively known as the Great Commission. We as a church pursue this vision by five things. First, commitment to consistent prayer for our missionaries, for our target unreached people groups, and for guidance in the missionary enterprise."
I love that they start with prayer that is so foundational to all ministry. I love that they also more than hint at a strategic focus, talking about unreached people groups. "Secondly, honoring our missionaries and cultivating relationships with them as significant partners in our church's ministry." Notice the term partnership here. This is tantamount to saying they are a part of our church's ministry. They're not sort of separate just because they're distant geographically. "Third is intentional identification, training, selection, commissioning, and sending missionaries from our own local body of believers." This is a high priority and it is a beautiful biblical priority. It is the whole core of the meaning behind Propempo to send out, to send ahead, to send forward. It's saying our church is so committed to missions that we want to send some of our own to do that ministry. "Fourth, caring for and supporting short-term and long-term missionaries, both from our own local body of believers and from other like-minded churches."
Don't miss the like-minded churches there. That doesn't just mean friendly churches in your community or neighborhood. It means churches that think like you, doctrinally, Biblically and missiologically, and also ecclesiologically as well. "Fifth, mission, education and training for all ages." So that's the first section, the preamble, and it says, we pursue this by these five things. Second is biblical basis, and we've talked about this in a previous episode. This particular charter gives five points for a biblical basis, and each point is filled with multiple biblical references. I think it's important for the congregation to see that even though the references are not specifically written out, but here are the points. Number one, the expressed purpose of God is to bring glory to himself in all the nations. Number two, God's intention to bring the message of salvation to all nations is evident throughout all the scriptures.
Number three, God commands his people in both the old and New Testaments to be involved in spreading the message of salvation to all nations. Four. The New Testament reveals the role of the local church through example and specific teachings that is in relation to this cause, this purpose of spreading his glory through the gospel to all nations. And fifth, the Bible promises inclusion of people from every ethnicity of the world worshiping together around the throne. This is a beautiful progression scripturally that the congregation probably needs to see or hear about or read for themselves, and it is the core of the need for a specific group of people chartered to guide, manage, and help the work of missions for the local church. The third major part of the charter is this definition of missions. I think I've actually referred to this in previous episodes. This is a really good, simple, clear definition of missions.
It defines missions as any cross-cultural ministry beyond the normal outreach of the local church, which has as its purpose the fulfillment of the great commission by making disciples of Jesus Christ and planting churches and or the training of indigenous leaders to do the same. Let me just say as bonus insight, that last bit about training indigenous leaders to do the same stands in contrast to just supporting national pastors or supporting indigenous pastors. We're talking about training indigenous leaders to do church planting. That is they are missionaries even if it's in their own language group, but they're doing pioneering kind of work to plant churches where they don't exist now. In general, outside financial support for a national pastor almost always ends up having negative unintended consequences. The fourth major section of the team charter is the purpose. The first is to provide a framework for efficient, consistent administration of the mission's ministries of our church.
The second purpose is to promote scriptural missions, education, and commitment for the entire church body. Thirdly, to enable a clear sense of direction in our corporate missions ministries while making decisions in an orderly and objective manner. Fourth, to design the relationship between the church, the missionary, and the agency. This is really important because it means that the church is going to seek to have a specific partnership agreement with any agency through whom they support a missionary on the field. Number five, to make missions team principles and functions clear and available to our church members, adherence missionaries, missionary candidates, and interested friends. So there are no secrets about how the missions team operates and makes decisions. Six and last in this section is to establish principles from which other missions related issues not covered in this policy may be thoughtfully evaluated. One of the keys for any team working together like this is to try to make good sound decisions and direction for ministry without being in the heat of an emotional battle over a particular issue, and then not having to revisit that battle every single time it pops up across time.
The fifth major section of the charter is principles. Here's a summary of what they say In this model charter, all the ministries of our church are under the authority and watch care of the elders, so it's very clear that they have an accountability board and it's under the major direction of the elders. It also says that missions ministries should be evaluated in light of our known doctrinal position. It also says, as a principal, since missions ministries almost always deal with precious human lives, we should take great care to include direct communication with those persons directly involved in any decisions. It says that our church gives priority to involving and sending our own members. It also talks about emphasizing strong, supportive, mutually accountable relationships with its missionaries and respective agencies, and then it makes explicit in the principles that we will prioritize deeper spiritual, financial, and pastoral relationships with fewer missionaries rather than the converse.
The six major area of this charter basically describes the function of the missions team with some details. It talks about the composition and the qualifications, what subcommittees, what kinds of goals the missions team will have, what kinds of training and responsibilities, giving oversight for the following areas of missions ministry within the church. Interestingly, one of those responsibilities is to encourage the growth and leadership of our church's pastors and elders in the area of missions. Of course, there's oversight in developing policies and practices and objectives, but also leading the church in modeling and encouraging informed specific prayer for missions and ministries, recruitment and shepherding of missionaries, maintaining a process for screening and acceptance, planning approval, and monitoring of short-term missions in relation to the whole. And as many churches do basically organize an annual mission's event that celebrates and educates and encourages and inspires the church to be involved in missions.
Last but not least is the development and management of the mission's budget and finances. The last section of this model charter is a conclusion, and it says this, "Faith Bible Church believes in the scriptural priority of discipling all nations. We also affirm the centrality of the local church to the fulfillment of the great commission. We believe that according to God's own plan, the Lord is most glorified when people from every tongue and tribe in nation are drawn to worship Him. It is our desire on behalf of the whole congregation to establish an orderly missions policy and leadership so that we might more effectively fulfill our obedience to the great commission."
One of the great things that a missions team charter does, even without saying it, is it plants a flag for the beauty and the effectiveness and synergistic value of doing missions corporately. That is as a church body, a lot of people have come to me and said, "I prefer to give to missions personally." And it's true that you can personalize giving and partnership to a missionary or a ministry that has great value to you personally. But there's something very special about drawing the guidelines and having the framework for a mission's charter that explains, this is how we do things corporately, and corporately we can do many great things better than a bunch of individuals doing the shotgun on the map kind of thing. All of this is part of the big picture of doing things excellently in obedience to the scriptures for the glory of God. May it be so.
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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