Welcome to Missions on Point, the Propempo perspective on church and missions.
Thanks so much for being a part of Missions on Point, episode 137. This episode is part of a series on your church missions handbook. This one will deal with missions team functions. We've already dealt with a number of standard mission team functions with regard to structure and how you structure your team, but there are some deeper level and other kinds of things that you might not think of normally because most missions teams, frankly, don't even consider it. If you were to go back to Missions on Point, episodes 121 to 125, you would see that we talk about Propempo certification in several different areas. Propempo certification basically means that the church and these other entities understand the biblical role of the local church in selecting, in preparing, and sending and shepherding missionaries from their congregation. So we talked about Propempo certification for the church, for the mission's leader, for the missionary, him or herself, for the mission agency, for the donor, for the missionary training institution, and then integrating all of those things together.
So now when I'm talking about missions team functions, I'm talking about something bigger than just the role in the meetings and the kind of segments of missions' ministry stuff within the local church that are the normal thing for most missions teams or missions committees. We've already talked about in some form or fashion that the mission team functions include leadership and administration, missions education within the church body, communication on a lot of different levels, prayer, which is essential in missions, finances, missions advocates for the handling of personnel, primarily personnel related to those going on short-term missions trips, missionary candidates and missionaries that you actually support. And then events and short-term missions, those require a lot of logistical coordination. Those are part of the normal function of the missions team.
One of the key principles I want to articulate here is something that we teach and preach a lot in Propempo training within a local church context. We've done training for individual churches, their leaders, but also had group trainings for multiple churches or as part of a conference. It's this: it's a paradigm shift for the missions team to realize that instead of doing missions on behalf of the church, they should be mobilizing the whole church in missions. One of the stated goals of the missions team should be that we do our work so that we can help every church member understand their particular role in world missions and how they can be involved in world missions.
There is a concept that's decades old. It's called being a world Christian. We want every member of the church, every attender of the church, to be a world Christian that is actively thinking about how they guide their life in line with the world mission purposes of God getting glory among all the nations. So for the individual, it changes the way they think about their time, their finances, their talent, and how they put all that together for serving God's purposes and obedience to the Great Commission.
Understanding that underlying principle and paradigm shift makes a difference in how you think about things. So we're trying to educate the whole church from young children all the way up through the Senior Saints about their role in missions and how to think about missions and how they participate in missions. It means that the missions team is on the lookout for opportunities for people to serve missions locally, whether that's through the immigrant or refugee communities or ethnic groups within your metroplex or international students at the local colleges and universities. It's missions at our back door, and we need to take advantage of that, inspire people to get involved in those kinds of relationships. Of course, there's the whole idea of short-term missions, and this is not just a spiritually fun vacation. It is an opportunity to serve and further the work of Christ in our work through special projects and going to do things that the individual missionary that you may be serving wouldn't be able to do on their own.
There are all kinds of missions projects available if you're looking for them. We've had people go to the field simply to help with technology. Of course, they can do a short-term Vacation Bible School or English-teaching class, or even a longer-term commitment of teaching business to small business owners in the Third World. Certainly, as the mission's team recognizes certain individuals that are adept or inclined to love being involved in missions, they should tap them on the shoulder and say, "Hey, maybe you need to take a step further toward being a candidate for longer-term missions," to start missions training, to mentor them, to counsel them, to read books with them, to have church leaders involved in their life as they develop toward the potentiality of becoming a missionary. Every time your young people come back from camp or your college students come back from a college ministry conference of some kind, they should be challenged to report back to leaders, is God calling me in my life in some special way to serve him, and how can the church be a part of that development?
If your church is Propempo certified in your thinking, you're not going to allow someone to come to you and say, "Hey, I've been away at college. I ran into a missionary recruiter. I've already signed up. I'm going to the candidate school. Now, please support me." Even if that does happen, you're going to walk that back with them and say, "Hey, let's bring the whole church into the picture on this. Let's help you as you make these decisions along the way. Perhaps this particular opportunity and this particular mission agency isn't the best fit for you or for what our church would want you to do on the field." Let me tell you a little secret. If the mission agency in question allows it to go that far without bringing the local church leaders into it, they are the wrong organization.
So there's a lot of nitty-gritty shepherding that has to be done along the way. Of course, if you actually do have someone that is a missionary candidate, that's a tall order for probably several years of development in ministry skills, in content knowledge, and in aiming toward the right field in the right place at the right time. So this whole idea of missionary development is part of the function of the missions team. You need to think through how that's going to happen, who's going to be involved, and what sort of resources do you need to pull into the church or connect with this missionary candidate to see them through to be fully qualified in every way biblically, academically, spiritually, health-wise, and in every way to have them be able to go to the field fully commended by the local church.
This involves at least coming alongside them with regard to all of their academic training. They need some biblical and theological training before they go to the field. They may need some linguistic training before they go to the field. They also need experience in ministry, so you need to put them to work, helping with the children and the youth and whatever ministries of the church they're inclined toward so that they are fully qualified in ministry experience and skills when they go to the field. I think it's odd, that's a nice term, for young people to say, "I want to go plant churches in an unreached people group," even though they have never been a part of local church leadership or never experienced church planting in the same culture they're from.
We would never hire someone in a skilled position in a secular job unless they had had experience and credentials to do that job. The large task of counseling and shepherding long-term this missionary candidate to really know them well, to know that they are biblically qualified according to First Timothy 3 and Titus 1, to know that they have what it takes to last long-term on the field, that takes a lot of time and commitment on behalf of the missions team or the missions team appointed representative to do that. Most churches who do a mentoring or internship program for career missionaries from their church take at least two years and more like five years from the first time that they learn of the candidate's interest in missions in order to fulfill all the requirements they need for both formal and informal education, mentoring and spiritual growth, preparation for the field and fundraising.
Yes, the local church should be involved with fundraising for the missionary who's being sent from your midst. Part of the point of Propempoing is that the whole church is involved in sending. It's not just up to the missionary candidate or appointee to do it on their own. The local church steps up and fully fulfills their part of the partnership. Then we move down the road a little bit and think about partnership in a larger way. Of course, if you want to raise funds and prayer support for your missionary, then you're going to have to develop partnerships with other churches, like-minded churches within your association or your affiliation or your fellowship. You find churches that think like you within your geographical region and you encourage them to support your missionary, and you perhaps to support their missionary.
You need to help identify what is the best mission agency to use. Even if your church is a part of a denomination, your denominational mission agency may not be the best vehicle for your missionary to go and do the thing that you want them to do. Whatever mission agency you know may not be the best one. You need to do your homework. And I would urge you to consider a mission agency that is Propempo certified in the sense that it is local church centered in their missions philosophy. They understand that the local church is the primary agent of the Lord in fulfilling his plan for his glory in all the nations through the Great Commission. So a Propempo certified mission would give great emphasis on the local church's role in training, developing, sending, and shepherding their missionary, whereas historically, mission agencies haven't acted that way. Whether they say it or not, they act like the church gives the missionary over to the agency and the agency takes it all from there.
I am so happy to say, you need to check out missioserve.org, missioserve.org. This is an agency that clearly has been restarted with the whole idea of local church-centered missions philosophy. Having said that, that means that the local church needs to develop a partnership with that mission agency that you choose. You need to know the key names of people up and down the authority ladder that have anything to do with your missionary, and they need to know that you have permission, probably through a written memorandum of understanding or partnership agreement that the church has with the agency, to allow the local church to enter in, always, even on the field, with the missionary's best interests at heart.
You also need to develop a relationship with any major schooling that they do. If that is a degreed institution for missionary training, then you need to know who their main dean or profs are in that major. If it is a short-term tactical subject matter class like linguistics or language learning techniques or safety and security, it would be nice for your church to know them and they to know you. If and when you have other missionaries in the works, they'll bump into you again.
Certainly, the church has a responsibility toward those who are donors for that missionary's support. The missionary needs to have a certain open-mindedness, openhandedness, with regard to the church, understanding who their donors are and being able to report on them from an objective standpoint. Last but not least, the missions team in partnership with the local church, needs to have a sense of sacred stewardship along with the church members that we own this missionary, this missionary family, their ministry, and the goal of ministry for which they're being sent to the field, the people to whom they're ministering, and the job and the objectives, and the goals and vision for that ministry out on the field.
So in retrospect, we say, while the missions team has all the normal mechanical functions of any missions team, a really solid Propempo-principled missions team is going to have a view to mobilizing the whole congregation in a lot of different opportunities within the church family, ministry life. They're also going to take very seriously their role in developing, sending and shepherding missionaries coming from their own church and praying that God would answer their prayers in sending people from their own midst. Extending beyond the local church boundaries are partnerships with other churches, the mission agency, whatever training schools, formal or informal, the missionary candidate takes part in, the donors, and of course, the church members themselves, as a team focused on what God wants us to do and doing it with a local church-centered missions ministry mindset. We do it all for the glory of God as per his design through the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all nations.
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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