Audio Transcript:

Welcome to Missions on Point. The Propempo perspective on church and missions. You have found episode 90 of Missions on Point. Thanks for listening in. We're on episode three of a 14 part series on church-based missionary training. In this particular episode, we're going to work on defining goals for your missionary candidates. For anyone involved in missions in the local church, what we're going to talk about today applies also to defining a strategic focus for your church. How is it and what are the parameters that you arrive at a place where you say, "Our church's ministry is going to particularly focus on such and such kind of ministry or in such and such kind of place." Thinking through those things allows you to be discriminating and make wise choices as you move forward. This is particularly true when you're working with a missionary candidate. How do you guide them in a way that brings them into alignment with the whole church's focus and ideals?

It also has this wonderful dynamic for pastors and church missions leaders to be able to have a clear conscience with regard to who you say no to and who you say yes to. It is a tremendous relief to be able to have a grid that you work with that is well-defined and that helps you understand this is what we support, this is the kind of ministry that we support, and therefore it is better for us to say no to many good things that are out there. There are many good things out there in order to say yes to the very best things for our church. To help us think through this, I'm going to use a graphic that has been much used in our Propempo training over the years. It's a very simple X, Y, Z axis. So yes, it sounds like school, but imagine the X-axis starting at zero and going toward the right. The Y-axis starts at the same zero point and goes up, and the Z-axis literally comes off the page starting at zero and gives this third dimension coming towards you.

Admittedly, there are other kinds of things that come into play as you think through the elements of defining goals and priorities for your church, but we're going to focus on these three things in this particular episode. That first X-axis is relationship to the church. So the starting point is the core, or the center of relationship to the church is someone who is a missionary candidate, who's literally been raised up in your church. They know your church very well. Perhaps, they've grown up and gone through the youth group in your church. They've gone through college years while being a member of your church, or in their young adult years, have spent time of years of active ministry in your church serving wherever they can serve. That is a person that has the very first level, tier one level of relationship to the church.

Now, maybe this candidate hasn't had the opportunity to literally grow up within the families of the church, but if they spent significant time, some churches mandate that it be at least three years, others five years in order to get the maximum amount of support. Tier one people are people that are members of longstanding, have been integrated into the church family. The church family knows them really well. They've served well over a period of some years, and now they feel that God is calling them, moving them, training them, preparing them to go to a mission field. Tier two is farther away from the origin from tier one, and these are people that have been grafted in. Maybe they're more recent relationships to the church. They've come from another church or due to a job move, have moved into the area and joined your church, and they haven't been quite as active as the tier one people.

Tier three is even less so. That is people who are just acquainted with the church. Maybe they're newcomers, and it's possible for them to grow in their relationship with the church and move toward tier two, tier one as they become acquainted with the church and get involved in ministries, and the church family knows them well. The tier four people and on would be people that really don't know the church. Every church missions leader and pastor probably knows of those kinds of people. They're people that will call you out of the blue after years of no contact after school or grad school or seminary and say, "Hey, I'm going to the mission field. I want to drop by and present my ministry and, perhaps, get support from your church." They are probably very well-intentioned. They probably actually need to raise support, but they may not know your congregation at all or have any potentiality of having a long-term relationship where the church knows them really well and they know the church, unless they are from your immediate geographical area and find it easier then to stay long enough to develop that kind of relationship.

While it's fine to wish tier four people well and encourage them on their way, I think it would be a mistake to accept them as a key supported missionary from your church unless there is the potential for a longer term expanding relationship with the church. So we literally give more priority and more funds to people that have a stronger longer term relationship with the church. The Y-axis, the second axis is this access to the gospel. What we mean by that is, are they going to a ministry that is particularly focused on bringing the gospel and doing church planting kind of work amongst people that have little to zero access to the gospel? And so the four markers along that, starting at the closest marker, the highest priority marker are unengaged, unreached people groups. That's a little bit of a technical mythological term, but what it means is that it is a known language group that has no resident missionary there telling them the gospel and sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ in that language.

So unengaged, unreached people groups are not just because they don't have a western missionary there, but they have no one of any biblical Christian persuasion that is resident and speaking their language, telling them the gospel and helping to develop churches. The next one are unreached people groups, and unreached people groups have a much broader scope, and there may be Christians, national vernacular Christians in that language group that are Christians, but they're weak. They're so small. They're so oppressed by their existing culture or the prevailing culture that they are unable without outside help to persist and grow, and develop to be more self-sufficient. So unreached people groups are those. Thirdly, the third tier would be new initiatives in pioneering, in some way. It may be pioneering into an area that has been post-Christian, for instance, and they have had the gospel in centuries past, but in recent times they have rejected Christianity and they're opposed. Perhaps, their prevailing culture and government and religious persuasion is atheistic. New initiatives to launch gospel ministry and indigenous church planting would be that kind of third tier.

The fourth tier are what I refer to as Timothy or technical, or institutional kinds of ministries. Timothy ministries would be those that follow along after the pioneering and they helped to develop and expand, usually in concert with a national church organization or association of churches of national churches. Technical ministry can have anything to do with related to the web, to marketing, to broadcast ministries, to internet-based ministries that are teaching and training. Those are more technical kinds of ministries coming alongside to help reinforce and teach and expand. Institutional ministries are all kinds of institutional ministries. Everything from remote medical clinics to hospitals, to teaching, training, Bible Schools, seminaries, those kinds of things. Anything that is an institution that requires usually a significant staff and ongoing, passing the baton from one era of staff to another in order to maintain that institution's ministry.

It could have something to do with other kinds of things. It's a blend of technical and institutional, where you may be doing community development kind of work that is institutional in nature, but technical in effect, in its practical application. So anything having to do with agriculture, animal husbandry, reforestation, water supply, electrical supply, all of that kind of stuff is technical and institutional. The third access is that Z-axis, and that is ministry priorities. It's very important for the church leadership to be involved in setting the priorities of ministry for your missions ministry so that it goes along and works in concert with what you believe and what you value in ministry. In most conservative evangelical circles, the priority one ministry would be teaching, proclaiming the gospel to those who have never heard, and then forming them into groups of disciples that become a church with biblically recognized leaders.

So the kinds of things that go along with that are Bible translation, church planting, original of evangelization, discipleship kinds of ministries. That is priority one. Priority two are ministries that come alongside that or come after that to work more in development, developing church ministries, Bible teaching ministries, perhaps, youth camps or children's ministry or music ministry, but they serve the strengthening of the church. So priority two could be things like a higher level of training for ministry and pastoral candidates, and helping people to understand better a discipleship program to reach their community. It could also involve adult training or seminars, that kind of thing. That would be priority two. It's bible-based. It's focused on helping establish healthy churches and growing them to be solid. Priority three would be ministries that relate to that, which could be printing publications, whether that's physical or digital. I would probably put things like missionary children education on the field as a priority three kind of ministry.

It's very valid, it's needed, but that's usually after a field is pretty well established and has families with children that need educational assistance. Priority four are those that are more ancillary. They're less of a priority. There's lots of kinds of ministries out there that work with priorities that are not the highest level priority, and yet they still may be valuable, particularly if it's for a person that is closely related to your church. So all three of these things work in a sliding scale dynamic to help identify what is the very best, the center, the core of what's most important for our church mission's goals, and from that you work backwards to the individual to see, "Where do they fit on these scales and what impact does that have on how much we will support them and encourage them? What difference does it make in their missionary training as we guide them and help them fulfill not just their personal goals but the church goals?"

It may also mean that you have to have some pretty good discussions with your missionary candidate to guide them and nudge them into a priority that is a better fit for your church than what they originally started with. That kind of conversation is a very valuable conversation to have. After your leaders have processed and come up with what the scales are and these three axis, but to have it with your candidate and pray with them and talk to them about how they feel about these things and how they fit into these kinds of things, because it will make a difference long term in how the church supports them and encourages them, and adds to their number as other candidates come through the pipeline, you want to add teammates to those high priority ministries so that you can see it grow as it has more personnel assigned to help with that specific ministry goal.

Our goal, as should be a biblical goal, is to see vital biblically healthy churches established for every people group on earth. That is that ultimate fulfillment of what we understand to be the great commission. It's hard work for a church leadership to come together and think through these things and actually write it down, what are their tiers of relationship, what is the understanding of access to the gospel and how that affects who you support and how much you support them, and what are your ministry priorities? But it is so worth it for the church leaders to understand those things and be in agreement as you move forward with helping your missionary candidate train and get to the field. May the Lord bless you as you do so. 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, 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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