Audio Transcript:

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

Hello. Welcome to episode 151 of Missions on Point. We're in a series called Restoring Missions in the local church, which is part of the bigger picture of a series, which is a preview of a book on the subject of the centrality of the local church and missions. The first series segments were about the biblical case for the centrality of the local church and missions.

Now we're talking about restoring missions in the local church. It answered the question, if the biblical basis of the centrality of the local church and missions is true, then how do we do missions in the local church? This episode is number 10 in the larger series, and I'm calling it answering objections. It's kind of fun, but it might also be painful, and I think you should listen because these answers some of the objections that I normally hear from churches and pastors that have asked me to address missions in their church and help them get a better handle on how to do it better.

I always lead with a biblical basis and then they come back with objections. The same is true for mission sending agencies. We call them mission agencies. They're parachurch organizations. They may be even denominational mission agencies, which are not strictly parachurch, but they have similar kinds of objections and we're going to deal with that.

And then the last part of this episode is a really interesting thing I call the grandfather clause. So the first thing we're going to deal with is objections to the local church's rightful role from the local church leaders themselves. A preface to that is that every time you ask a pastor in whatever context you ask it, is your church missions minded or something to that effect? They always answered yes because they are pre-programmed to know that missions is not just a vital part of the local church, not just a segment, but basically one of the key reasons for existence of the local church.

So they always answer yes. They don't want to answer no. So let's get into a couple of these objections from the local church. The first one is we are missional here. Missional is the key term. Typically, what they mean by that is we're outreach oriented. We love doing evangelism, we love serving our community, and that has now become the term missional somewhat to replace missions.

The way we understand it as being cross-cultural missions to take the gospel where there has little or no access to the gospel, typically pastors like to use Acts 1:8. See, we have biblical precedents here they say, because we go to Jerusalem first and then sequentially we go to Judea and Samaria and the uttermost parts. The problem is Acts 1:8 is not sequential. It is simultaneous.

The words used there are Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria and to the uttermost parts or to the ends of the earth. It's simultaneous, not sequential. In fact, Jesus is teaching itself, basically says you're never finished with reaching the poor among you. You're never finished reaching your Jerusalem in whatever manner.

So that objection just doesn't fly and replacing the term missions with its full meaning of cross-cultural work with another term that sounds like it, that is missional, doesn't really cut it. The second objection I hear is missions funding will decrease giving for the local church ministries. If we give more emphasis to missions and we actually raise funds in whatever means or manner that we do it for missions, that's going to take more money away from the ministry of the local church. I would like to say that's not the case.

I do not have chapter and verse on this, but what I have is a large volume of contradictory kind of evidence that says no. In fact, if you properly balance, promote missions and your vision for missions to reach the world, the Lord somehow multiplies your funding for every ministry in the church.

Many pastors have told me this. Even though they were reluctant to take a big stand for missions at the beginning when they did, the tide was turned, they saw that funding was not the issue. In fact, there is a very common cliche that is said in development and funding circles that funding follows vision. So when the local church has a vision that's bigger than itself, that's actually attractive not just to people but to funds.

In general, the local church will not lack funds for local ministry because of an emphasis or a priority or a proposal of giving more funds to missions. To be honest, I do know of a couple of churches that overemphasize giving to missions to their own detriment. As an example, they gave up proper repairs and updating of their facilities for the sake of missions and we're proud about it. To me, that just doesn't make sense.

Third objection, pardon me if this sounds a little bit humorous, but I've had pastors literally tell me this. I never learned this in seminary. They're talking about a couple of things. One is they never learned the proper biblical view of the local church in missions, the centrality of the local church in missions. They never learned that in seminary and they never learned the practical part of how to do it, how to give proper organization and emphasis to foreign missions as a major ministry of the church.

They say, "We didn't know how to do this. Nobody ever taught us how to do it." Well, guess what? Now, you know, so you got to do something about that. I'm sorry they didn't teach it in seminary. I really believe they should be teaching this in seminary, but they don't. So don't use that as an excuse. You're not ignorant anymore. You can deal with it.

The fourth objection is missions might take our best, most capable people away from us. And I say, right, that's very true. It happened in Antioch. Remember, Barnabas and Saul were sent out commissioned by the elders and the church to go out in missionary work in Acts chapter 13. Were they the best and brightest of the church? Probably they were extremely qualified and gifted and were instrumental in the role of establishing and planting that church in Antioch.

So were they capable people? Yes. Is that a sacrifice? Yes. Is that what the church is supposed to be about? Yes, it is actually. The church should be multiplying local churches, and the way you do that is raise up from within and send them out to raise up other local churches, whether that's locally, domestically, or internationally. Now, let's move on to some mission organizations objections, which I say are likewise futile.

Number one, we must be legally and organizationally independent as nonprofits. I've actually heard this. This is what they mean because they're a registered nonprofit with the IRS under the United States government laws, they have to prove that they are organizationally independent. That's true. However, that doesn't mean independent of local churches.

In fact, practically every mission agency that I know of outsources a lot of things in their workings to third parties. That is they contract with insurance carriers to provide insurance for their missionaries. They often contract for outside accountants at least to do auditing if not the actual day-to-day accounting stuff in their mission.

They contract with outside agencies for their web presence, their social media promotions, their development officers. There's many things that they outsource domestically. And then internationally, they partner and outsource with national units overseas to do all kinds of services for them. So it should be no big deal for the missions agency to actually partner with local churches in sending their own people as missionaries.

We'll see later that not only is it possible, but it is really important that that happens because the local church knows their missionary best and they are best able to enter into the shepherding and care and what mission agencies call member care better than the mission agency ever can. Most often, the mission agency shows up when there's a crisis and the local sending church shows up every day, every week, every month before the crisis and helps avert the crisis.

We've talked about it before, but if the mission agency would partner with the local church in a substantive way in caring for their missionaries and being a part of the major decisions of the ministry of that missionary, the missionary attrition rate for preventable causes would drop like a rock. The second objection that mission organizations have is we know how to do this, churches don't. There's actually some truth to that.

Why don't churches know how to do this? Largely, it's because they haven't been allowed to do this. It's kind of like saying, my 15 year old doesn't know how to drive. Well, they have never been given the wheel before. So what do you do with a 15 year old that wants to learn how to drive? You spend a lot of time with them teaching them how to drive, how to operate all the gear in the car and to drive safely and alertly so that they avoid accidents and get from point A to point B reliably.

You teach them how to change the tire, you teach them how to use the turn signals and look both ways for traffic, and pretty soon they do it automatically. This actually isn't rocket science. Churches can learn how to do this stuff. The mission agencies just have to give them the opportunity to do it, and I would argue the mission agencies should insist that the local churches do this kind of stuff for their missionaries.

It doesn't mean that the local churches have to do everything but the things that local churches are best at and need to be most involved in having to do with the ministry direction and the shepherding of their people. They should be allowed to do that. They are better than the mission agency in doing it.

The third objection is churches are too slow and dull to understand missions issues and vision on the field. And I jokingly say the New Testament Greek word for that is baloney. The solution to that is just like the previous one. Give them a chance, help them see the information, help them get in touch with the people who know those issues and strategy and vision on the field, and by and large, churches will grab hold of it and love it and do a very good job.

Okay, fourth objection from mission agencies is we are much more efficient than the local church. And I would say, show me the numbers. Really, I know of denominational agencies that spend in the order of 40% of all income on promotion and marketing rather than ministry. What we're asking churches to do is mostly volunteer. It costs the mission, nothing. In fact, if mission agencies would get local churches involved, their overhead costs should go down dramatically.

There are a lot of things that mission agencies do better than churches and should do group insurance and retirement policies, some field relationships with nationals and national service organizations that help them get the job done on the field. However, there are a lot of things that are basic administrative bureaucracy.

They're administrivia and churches can do some of those things as well. I am not saying that local churches should take over the administration of mission agencies at all. I'm saying let the agencies do what they're best at and let them partner with the churches to enable them to do what they are best at.

And now we come to this last punchline, the grandfather clause. What do I mean by this? This is a legal term. It means to exempt a preexisting regulation from a new rule, law or regulation. One of the objections we get is it's too hard to turn the battleship of our mission organization or our church to move toward having more local church centric philosophy of doing missions.

Of course, you'll never turn the battleship if you don't turn the rudder. You've got to make a change. You've got to actually look at and say, this is what our preferred future is, but you can exempt everything that exists now. It doesn't mean that you have to wipe everything out just because you're taking a turn for the better. And I would say a turn for the best.

If we are to restore missions in the local church, we are going to have to manage some change to view what is that better future and to perhaps grandfather everything that exists now, so that over time, two years, three years, five years, we achieved that better end and all of the grandfathered ones and policies and issues kind of fade away into the background because they're retiring or they're leaving the field, or they're being slowly released over a gracious period of time.

I've seen it happen on the field. Sometimes there is initial bit of trauma, but the blessings that come after the change is effective are enormous and so much stronger in results and in their biblical foundation. I'm arguing that the Bible, the data, the practical experience, the funding, all of those things push us toward restoring missions in the local church. Ready, set, go.

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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