Audio Transcript:

Welcome to Missions on Point, the Propempo perspective on church and missions. What would it look like for a missionary training institution to be Propempo certified? This is episode 126, Submissions on Point. It's the last of a concept series, answering the question, what would it look like practically if everyone involved implemented the biblical perspective of the centrality of the local church in missions? Who then are those stakeholders involved? They are the local church, the local church missions leaders, the missionary, the mission agency, the donors and the missionary training institutions. We've dealt with all the previous ones in the earlier episodes of the series. I encourage you to go back and listen to those as well as the foundational insights of the biblical Propempo perspective in the first four episodes of the Missions on Point Podcast. One problem we have with addressing this topic of the missionary training institution is that it is too broad.

There are many types of missionary training institutions in the West. Bible schools, degree or certificate schools that have some kind of Missions major or International or Intercultural Studies program, sometimes blended as a combination with Bible or Theology. Seminaries may have some emphasis on missions in their standard program, whether for domestic leadership or international ministry. There are also missionary prep schools that offer everything from specific modules for pre-field training, linguistics or language learning skills, cross-cultural skills or experiences, classes for church planting, teamwork, conflict management, risk security or crisis management, field or team leadership, et cetera. Modules on some topics can be as short as one week or as long as 10 weeks. Some pre-field training schools may have many of these modules compressed into a one-year program. Some may be relatively informally used for a basic pre-field training orientation, like the Perspectives course sponsored in locations all over the US.

Some short-term, pre-field preparation courses may be connected to a degree granting institution, but most are not. So what I'd like to do is narrow the field to those schools or training entities that are intentionally seeking to train career missionaries for cross-cultural field ministry. The ideas presented here are not expected to be applied to every course in that school. However, these ideas are expected to apply to every student in those courses or those programs who is aiming for career field ministry. It would be really interesting though to see a serious biblical ministry training institution seek to apply these concepts to its entire faculty, staff, and student body, lookout world. Here then are the characteristics of a missionary training institution that wants to become Propempo certified by consistently valuing local church centered principles in their ministry. I have 10 of them. Number one, the instructors consistently teach the primacy of the local church in biblical ministry and the end goals of missions.

What I mean by that is that they teach that the student, meaning the missionary candidate, needs to be properly oriented to and have a relationship with their local church as the primary God-given sending body for them as a missionary, and they need to understand that the end goal of missions is likewise, producing healthy indigenous local churches on the other end of the scale, which then will also multiply in church planting and developing more local churches on their own. The instructors consistently teach the primacy of the local church in that way. Number two, the teachers and students are accountable for having an active and serving membership in a healthy local church throughout the program of study. The teachers need to model it themselves. They need to be a part of a healthy local church and invite students to join them in that local church as members that are serving in the local church.

I know their students, I know most students don't go to post-secondary education thinking that they need to be really involved in a local church, but if they're going to be missionaries, they absolutely ought to be. In fact, no surprise to the Propempo audience. Really, every Christian student ought to be. Number three, the importance of linking the mission strategy of all types of ministries to local church planting and strengthening local churches is pervasive in the teaching. This simply means that no matter what mission's course is being taught, they are linking it back to the proper end goal of planting new local churches around the world in every nation and strengthening healthy local churches there on the field to do the same. Number four, the principle of indigeneity as the goal of healthy missions ministry is taught in precept and in practice. I mean, not just biblically demonstrating that church planting is true and necessary, but also showing illustrations from actual field practice where that showed the value and virtue of having healthy indigenous local churches planted that continue the ministry on far beyond the scope of the missionary's influence.

Number five, students are expected to develop a growing and strong relationship with their home church, or whatever church would become their sending church. The instructors or faculty should actually check up on this. That's part of accountability. They need to show that they are growing in their local church relationship so that eventually before they go to the field, they actually qualify to be leaders in the local church, that's the biblical model. Number six, practical training about the local sending church role is both taught and followed up with whatever training is necessary for the implementation of that role to and through the students, to their sending church. Number seven, appropriate emphasis is given to biblical and practical ecclesiology, which is after all, both the goal and the means of missions. The student needs to understand about biblical leadership qualifications. How can they plant a church if they have no connection with church leadership, if they have not actually grown through the cycle of leadership training in a local church to become qualified to be a church leader?

They're expected to go out and plant churches and raise up elders, and pastors and deacons in these new churches. How can they do that if they've never gone through a similar process themselves? Number eight, the training institute seeks relationships with missions ministries that hold to these same values, and seeks to disengage with missions ministries that do not do so. For example, if the school invites or receives representatives or guest speakers to campus to meet students and engage them in some form of missions mobilization or recruitment, they only invite or allow mission agencies that uphold the local church centric Propempo mindset. This is a bombshell for school missions conference weeks, but what I'm urging is that schools be consistent with biblical understanding of the local church's role, and that means that they can't allow just every mission agency to stream in and woo and win students to become missionaries with their group without thinking about the local church and specifically their local church and the sending church. Agencies need to respect the role of the local church in missions and elevate that role to its proper biblical place.

Of course, organizationally, they're eager to sign up any and every living body they can to go with them to some ministry on the field, whether short-term or long-term, but that's not the point. The school was built and founded to assist local churches in developing qualified, well-taught leaders for ministries in the local churches. The mission agency was founded on the principle of serving local churches to send missionaries to the field in whatever specialty ministry they have, so let's get back to basics and be consistent biblically and give the proper role to the local church and insist that all those involved on campus do the same. Number nine, the school holds an annual conference or training, perhaps, as a segment of their missions' emphasis week for church leaders, pastors, missions pastors and youth leaders presenting the biblical case for their role in missions as a local church, and giving practical training and resources to do it in their own church.

I dare say the Missionary Training Institute has a lot of homework to do to complete that assignment, or they could call on outside resources like Propempo to help them. Number 10, the Missionary Training Institute honors and gives visibility to those students and churches which best exemplify these Propempo principles. If you want to get everybody's attention, then you honor and respect, and tell the stories of those students, which are actually fulfilling the principles that you've taught in the classroom and seeing good spiritual fruit for their efforts on the field. When the Missionary Training Institute is consistent and has a good track record, those stories will not be difficult to find. You'll be able to find local churches that are good sending churches because of the institute's influence, and you'll be able to find graduates who are actually doing it as missionaries on the field and showing good results for their labor.

Now, let's reflect a little bit on this series. Some of these ideas seem pretty radical, however, I maintain that serving the local church was always the original founding purpose of churches, mission agencies, and missionary training institutions, so why not get back to the biblical basics and give the local church its proper role? And local churches step up and accept that role eagerly with great confidence in God for fulfilling his purposes through the local church to the local church for the glory of Jesus Christ. I can't resist going back to Ephesians 3 to walk you through this very briefly. Paul tells about his personal commissioning as a missionary, and he had two major purposes. One was to proclaim the unsearchable riches of Christ, that is the gospel and to bring to light for everyone. What is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things? What is the plan?

That's basically the organization of the local church. He says, "So that through the church, the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places." It's through the church. Then almost startlingly, he says, "This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus, our Lord." Paul says, using the church in this way was always God's plan. He concludes this chapter with his fantastic benediction, which says, "Now to him, who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen." Some will immediately think that the church is this anonymous universal church of all time in all places all at once, but I'm telling you, Paul didn't think that way.

He thought of local churches, and I know that because that's who he addressed his letters to. That's all that he did in those cities, is establish local churches and reinforce and encourage, and teach them through his inspired writings to be the church that they were intended to be for God's glory. There is a lot more biblically. I get a kick out of pastors who tell me when I walk them through these things in the scriptures that once you see it, you can't unsee it. It is so obvious. Why have we missed it for so long? Why haven't we been teaching this in all of our Christian institutions and particularly in the local church? Why hasn't the local church stepped up to do all that God intended it to do with regard to preparing, training, sending out missionaries, shepherding them on the field to see the job done for his glory?

I want to urge you as listeners to not wait for the Friday release of a new Missions on Point episode. You can listen to Missions on Point episodes every day of the week. They're available in your podcast app, so please subscribe or follow, and expose your mind and heart to the Propempo perspective on church and missions. Thanks for joining us today on Missions on Point. 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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