Audio Transcript:

Welcome to Missions on Point, the Propempo perspective on Church and Missions. This is episode 124 of Missions on Point. If you're just joining us on the Missions on Point podcast, I would encourage you to listen to the first three episodes of this series. It is a series on Propempo certification and you need to understand what Propempo means biblically and the local church centric philosophy of missions that is taught in the Bible and taught in this series. Today we're going to be considering Propempo certification for the mission agency or the mission's agency. What would Propempo certification look like for a partnering mission agency that is an agency or organization that comes alongside the local church that is sending the missionary in order to receive them, prepare them, get them out to the field, sort of supervise their ministry on the field and be the conduit for communication, funding, prayer, all of that stuff for the missionary.

In most general terms, the Mission Sending Agency is a nonprofit organization that is incorporated to provide the legal sponsorship of missionaries going into ministry service. Legally, the mission's organization receives tax-deductible donations through various income streams for the qualified work of their ministry. The ministry and employee members of a mission receive salary and benefits as well as the expenses of their ministry "in the field" through the mission. The things we're talking about today apply primarily to a foreign mission or an organization focused on cross-cultural missions outside the boundaries of the United States, but it could be cross-cultural anywhere, and it has some application to all sorts of mission agencies everywhere. Now, the mission's agency may be an expert or focused on some particular area of ministry, and you know the names of ministries around you that you're familiar with having these specialties. It might be the type of ministry they focus on, evangelism, discipleship, bible translation, church planting, pastoral training, short-term missions teams, medical related, disaster relief, community development, anti-human trafficking, infrastructure development for water or power to rural villages or communities, children's ministry, youth camps, publication and literature, internet and websites.

There are missions agencies for all of those things, and many agencies cross over into a variety or a handful of those things. You get the idea. The mission's agency might be focused on a particular geographic area or demographic of the world, a specific country or region, an island, tribal ministry, Muslim, Hindu or Buddhist focus and so on. There are other episodes of Missions on Point that explain why every Mission Agency's goal should be to see indigenous local churches planted and strengthened no matter what means or strategies they use. There are hundreds of missions agencies out there, whether denominational or non-denominational. I've been a mission sending agency CEO in times past. I know that there are obstacles to a missions agency implementing a local church centric philosophy. Here are a few of the top obstacles.

First, willingness to change toward more biblically based understanding of the role of the local church. It has sweeping implications organizationally. Change is hard. Most leaders resist sweeping change like the plague. Second, false assumptions regarding the organization's legal liabilities to allow local church leadership to have the open relationship with their sent missionary that we are recommending. I know this is true. I've had mission leaders give me that excuse. It is a false assumption. The mission agency or organization often delegates and shares partnership responsibility with other organizations outside their own in doing finance, in legal work, with immigration concerns or human resource type of things like insurance and retirement funds. There is not an actual legal risk to partnering with a local church. Third, natural reluctance to an open partnership with the sending church. This is an uncomfortable sense of loss of control. It's bound to be messy simply because there are more sinful humans involved, but messiness doesn't mean it shouldn't be done.

Fourth field staff resistance to the sending church's involvement on the field and the effort it takes to include that in their thinking. Everybody involved would prefer to be autonomous. This short list of obstacles is just representative of many that might be thrown in the air, but here are the evidences or the requirements, if you will, of adopting a Propempo local church centric value. This is what it would look like for a mission agency to be Propempo certified. One, the mission agency would insist that every candidate, every missionary and every ministry staff member in the administration have an active serving membership in a healthy church and a vital relationship to that church leadership. What does this mean? If local church centric values are biblical, doesn't it make sense that everybody involved full-time in this mission agency should have a vital relationship with a local church? Yes, if it's a missionary that's doing church planting, maybe that church hasn't been planted, but their sending church is the church that they relate to.

Number two, the mission agency would work with the sending church to establish a pathway or program of pre-field training and qualification tailored to the missionary's projected ministry type, focus and location. This includes the candidate becoming biblically qualified as an elder or deacon, whether or not holding that office in the church. Number three, the mission agency would inform the sending church and be informed by listening to the sending church with respect to all the qualification areas of the prospective missionary. So here's a general template for those areas, and I call them the six C's in other training we do in Propempo.

The first is calling. That is testing over time the nature of the individual's faithfulness and commitment to their missionary calling. The second is character that is confirmed. Character traits matching those in first Timothy three and Titus one. This seems to be the biblical ideal for church leaders. Thirdly, conviction. That is specific grasp of biblical and theological truth, whether through formal or informal studies. Fourth is competencies. That is specific ministry skills development and experience related to local church ministries and the projected field ministries. Just an aside, I get a kick out of young people who want to go to an unreached people group to do church planting and they have never been a part of local church leadership and they've never had any experience in church planting. You would never hire somebody in the real world for things like that. Why would you do it in the spiritual world where the stakes are even higher? Fifth, chemistry that is solid observed interpersonal relational people skills, which should include biblical conflict resolution skills. People who work as missionaries on the field must have people skills. Missionary work is intensely people related, both with the people you're working with and the people that you're targeting in ministry.

You've got to have people skills. Lastly and not surprisingly is cross-cultural capacity. That is exhibiting a personal ability to value other cultures and languages, people different than themselves, and a willingness to learn and adapt to another culture. This probably needs to include exposure to the target culture and, or a field trip. So this is the third value or Propempo certified element. The fourth one is, number four, the church relations or church partnership department of the mission agency becomes a primary, if not the primary source of identifying, developing and securing candidates as members of the mission. It's very interesting to me that really good minded, good-hearted mission agency administration people don't realize that if a church has produced a really solid missionary for you that's already out on the field, why wouldn't you go back to that church and say, "Hey, give us some more. We'll help you develop some more out of your church" because the dynamic and the elements that it takes to develop a good sound, hardworking, faithful, fruitful missionary on the field are evident in that church.

Let's get some more people like that out to the field. Let's use the church as the basic recruitment grounds for new missionaries rather than missions mobilization of individuals by often fickle and flighty whims of college students at some sort of weekend or week long missions' event at their school. It doesn't mean that you never go to schools or conferences to recruit. It does mean that you immediately like lightning, go right back to their home church and start working with them to develop that person as a candidate. Number five, the mission agency stands prepared to sign a partnership agreement or memo of understanding between the agency and the sending church, which outlines and clarifies rights, roles and responsibilities of both sides, both parties, and gives the sending church specific partnership in caring for and guiding the work of their missionary throughout that missionary's career. Number six, the mission's agency seeks to help churches step up to their biblical role by teaching, training and encouraging them to do so.

This flips the table on most mission agencies understanding of their role in ministry. Instead of going to the church and asking for all of their resources, their people, their prayers, their pesos, their platform. Now they're going back to the church and they're saying, Hey, we want to help you become all that you can be as ascending church, and we're going to provide resources to do that. Frankly, most mission agencies don't even know how to do that, and they will have to learn and train their mobilizer recruitment church partnership people to do that. Number seven, the missions agency recruitment and mobilization personnel, including appointee and support raising coaches are oriented, taught and given resource tools to coach the appointee and their sending church in the church's role and responsibilities for the missionary as a candidate and appointee and a field missionary. So this answers the question raised by number six about doing that training and says, the mission agency needs to actually train their people to do it.

We're almost out of time. I know these ideas may shake some missions leaders up, so I'm compelled to list a few of the magnificent benefits of adopting this concept. First, conformity to scripture that seem simple enough. If you want to really follow the Bible's instruction and model for missions, then you need to be local church centric in your values, your ministry philosophy. Second, larger ownership of the responsibility for missions. In other words, it's not up to the mission agency to generate hype and visionary campaigns to fulfill their agenda and their goals and their financial commitments. At minimum, it's a shared ownership with the sending churches. At maximum, it means that the local churches sending missionaries often have initiative that the missions agency needs. Third, less administrative stress for the mission agency because the missionaries are better qualified. They handle stress and conflict better, and they're sending churches right there beside them, so to speak, to hold the missionaries accountable and shepherd them through the rough spots.

There's less administrative stress for the mission agency, maybe even less overall overhead of administration. Fourth, remarkably lower statistics of missionary attrition. For example, roughly speaking for those sending churches and their scent missionaries I've mentored in Propempo, there has been close to zero attrition. For comparison the standard attrition rate of missionaries over a course of five years time is something like four or five times higher than the attrition rate of Omaha Beach on D-Day at Normandy. Fifth benefit, fewer missionaries are sent, but they are better qualified missionaries. Missionaries that stay longer term and are more fruitful. Missionaries that see healthy indigenous local churches planted and strengthened, which themselves carry on ministry far beyond the capacity and tenure of the individual missionary, what is not to love about those benefits. 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 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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