Audio Transcript:

Welcome to Missions on Point, the Propempo perspective on church and missions.

We are back now in a short series talking about Church Partnerships in Missions.  Thank you so much for joining us.  I hope this series has been both encouraging and stimulating for you.  This is episode 190 and it’s the fourth in this series.  The first episode considered the biblical necessity of church partnerships.  The second considered church partnerships from the perspective of the missionary.  The third from the perspective of the church.  And now we are talking about another interested party in the great endeavor of missions, one we haven’t said much about, but who often has a lot to say about it.  Church partnerships is an important topic for the missions agency to consider as well. 

Now, you might be asking the question, “I’m not involved in a missions agency, so why should I care what a missions agency should think about church partnerships?”  Well, if you care about missions, and if you are listener to this podcast, then I’m pretty sure you care about missions, then you have to care about missions agencies.  They are not simply a necessary means to an end.  Far more than that, they are inescapable in the world of missions today.  And rather than be critical of parachurch organizations, which I’ll be honest is rather easy to be, we are in fact very favorable to them.  We thank God for missions agencies, because God has used them mightily to help get missionaries to their desired fields.  And after all, Propempo which serves as an arm of MissioSERVE Alliance is a missions agency.  We can’t be opposed to missions agencies because we work for them!  So, let’s be clear.  As much as we talk here at Propempo about the centrality of the church in missions, we are not advocating for a world in which parachurch organizations don’t exist.  In fact, when considering the topic of this series of podcasts, the very idea of church partnerships necessarily implies that a parachurch organization has formed.  Whether they are denominational or non-denominational missions agencies, two or more local churches are partnering together to accomplish the task that God has given them.  So, missions agencies are inevitable, it’s really more of a question about scale, and organization, and how many churches are supported using any one agency. 

So, the main point that I want to make today is this: Missions agencies support the local church.  And following from this statement is another corollary statement.  Because missions agencies support the local church this primarily implies that a missions agency is a means of facilitating church partnerships.  Missions agencies are great because they support churches.  And they are the means by which multiple churches can work together to accomplish their mission.  And it’s this second thought that I think is sometimes missing from the missions organization, if they haven’t lost sight of the first. 

Let’s first consider that first statement: missions agencies support the local church.  I would be willing to wager that if you went in and looked at all of the original by-laws of every missions agency out there, that they would all say something very similar.  They would all make mention of their purpose to support the local church.  But if we asked a few more questions and probed a little deeper we might see a disparity develop.  It’s one thing to say that you’re supporting the local church, but it’s quite another thing altogether to truly be elevating the local church in your ministry.  It’s worth asking a few questions.  When considering whether to go with a particular missions agency, ask them what they believe about the local church and how their ministry relates to it.  Hopefully you will quickly discover whether the local church is truly a priority.  Missions agencies all fall on various places on a spectrum between – simply being an avenue for funneling money on the one hand and truly partnering with the local church on the other.  Now, we’ll talk more in the next podcast about what a partnership agreement might look like between the missions agency, the church and the missionary.  For now, though, I want to just speak to the missions agency.  How can the missions agency keep the local church front and center in their ministry? 

The first step to answering this question is to recognize how we have veered off course.  Where have we succumbed to mission creep?  A good answer to this question can be found in a little booklet that Propempo has published called, “Get Your Church Involved in Missions”.  You can find that on our resourcing website at  That’s sendforward (all one word) .org/store.  And here’s a brief summary of the analysis there.  The local church and missions agencies have diverged for a variety of reasons.  Expediency rules the day for the missions agency.  Over time, the mission grows independent until it no longer expects local churches to help define its vision, to choose financial priorities, to send them qualified candidates or to be trusted with sensitive information.  The local church though is equally culpable.  It has given up its responsibility and assumed that the mission agency is acting with their best interests.  The church and the agency move away from each other.  The agency gets a life of its own and ends up seeking its own interests.  The church neglects its responsibility to train up qualified candidates and to maintain shepherding care for them.  They let the agency assess skills and determine the missions strategy.  And the church practically acts like missions is not something that it is really involved in.  Missions agencies lower the bar on accepting recruits, and when crises arise on the field for when the church needs to be involved, it’s often too late when they end up coming in.  We need a sober evaluation of the situation we find ourselves in.

Yet, we should not lose hope.  God has ordained both the end and the means for accomplishing his purposes in this life.  It’s never too late for churches to step up and take their God-given responsibility in missions.  And this is the second step.  As churches need to go back to the scriptures and see their role in missions, this is something that missions agencies can help in.  They can have a church engagement arm in their organization which is focused on helping churches own missions, helping them to know their role in sending qualified missionaries to their strategic field assignments and to sufficiently support those they have sent.  Churches need to be equipped.

The third step is that missions agencies need to back up this initial help with prioritizing the local church in missionary training, the ministry objectives and in caring for the missionary.  It’s good to see agencies educating and equipping churches, but now they need to let go of these aspects of ministry that rightfully belong with the church.  While the agency offers some expert support, the church should still remain in the driver’s seat.  The church should test and affirm a missionary’s call, just like they would an elder or deacon in their church.  The church should set the vision for ministry, because understanding biblical priorities is what the church specializes in.  And finally, the church should shepherd and care for its people, whether they are home or abroad.  Shepherding, counseling and even making the hard decisions about when to come home are ultimately the responsibility of the church.  And this is hard for the missions agency to let go of some of these things, but it’s so worth it.  For everyone involved in missions in your church, don’t just sign over your people to the missions agency.  And for everyone involved in a mission agency, don’t tempt the church to do that.  Instead take a submissive posture of serving the church and deferring to it’s leadership in the missions endeavor.  We will talk next week about one of the key ways that the church and the missions agency can help define their relationship.  For now though, these are my three recommendations for the missions agency for how they can keep the local church front and center in their ministry.  Recognize the problem.  Equip the church.  And prioritize the church in the practical outworkings of ministry. 

This is the first and main point today: Missions agencies support the local church.  But there is also a unique motivation here that I don’t think many people have considered.  And this is the corollary point that is downstream from this main point.  In our previous three episodes, we have been making the case for value of church partnerships.  And this is the reason we are talking about missions agencies right now.  Missions agencies facilitate church partnerships. 

And maybe you work in a missions agency, and you’ve never thought about it this way before.  I want you to be encouraged.  Your work is helping to bridge gaps between churches.  As we’ve already seen, churches need other churches to be able to accomplish their mission together.  We’re not in it alone.  Yet, it can take a lot of work to create an organization for churches to partner together.  One of the great unspoken benefits of missions agencies is that they make church partnerships so much easier.  A missionary from one church is now supported by another church and the organization that makes that possible is the missions agency.  This is not a trivial matter.  As 2 Corinthians 4:15 puts it, “as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.”  The great value of church partnerships is that it facilitates the increase of thanksgiving and therefore God’s glory is more evident to more people. 

And so, as a missions agency, how can you work explicitly toward this end?  How can a missions agency foster church partnerships?  I have two pieces of advice here.

Number 1 – make a significant component of your ministry to be all about prayer.  Help missionaries to proliferate their prayer requests.  Many of them may need to keep their newsletters private and secure.  But there are many ways that we can make it easier for missionaries to get their requests and praises out to their supporters.  Hearing about good news from a far off country will be like cold water to the thirsty soul. 

Number 2 – help churches to connect with each other.  Supporting churches are gathering around the sending church like Aaron and Hur supported Moses.  What if we could make our unity in missions more tangible?  Perhaps that could happen with a collective missions event at a church, whether it’s a fund-raising event, or a missions training event, or simply an opportunity for Christians to pray for the missionaries that they support together.  As a missions agency you can help to spark these churches gathering together around a common cause. 

I’m sure there are many more ways we can foster church partnerships.  So, I hope this has ignited your thinking and that you begin brainstorming with your missions agency about how to support churches and their partner churches in fulfilling their mission together. 

Thanks for joining us today on Missions on Point. We trust that you'll find more help and resources on our websites at and 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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