Audio Transcript:

Welcome to Missions on Point, the Propempo perspective on church and missions. This is episode 63 of Missions on Point. Thank you so much for listening in today. In this episode, we are starting a six-part series on the VISION of a Sending Church. We're going to use VISION as an acronym that expands the content of what has been given as a two-day seminar to churches and church missions mobilizers using the word vision, V-I-S-I-O-N, as our main points. This mindset, goal, and process for the local church is little understood, little taught, and is extremely important for us to understand. It starts with V of VISION for values. Just to give you a heads-up of where we're going in these six episodes, it is V for values, I for identity, S for strategy, I for implementation, O for ownership, and N for nurturing. It walks the local church through building and implementing the mindset of becoming a sending church.

I would ask you to pray for me as I try to compress two days worth of material into six 15-minute segments. In fact, let's pray right now. Heavenly Father, please help me to be articulate and clear in enumerating these steps of a local church becoming a sending church and sending well-qualified workers to the most difficult fields to reach for Your glory. In Jesus' name, amen.

As we start on this journey of your church having a vision for being a sending church, we're going to talk about the values, and that has four components, awakening to the concept of being a sending church, the leadership roles, the guiding principles, and teaching these values to the church. I've had a number of pastors call me or converse with me about the deficit of training in all of their seminary training and multiple graduate degrees, having never learned anything about leading their church in missions, particularly in being a sending church.

So how does a church become awakened to this great challenge and biblical principle of becoming a sending church? Well, first, they see it in scripture. Or perhaps it's because a missionary left the field, they become become aware of the need to send. It could be through someone else's preaching or reading it from a book. Or it could be someone in the congregation saying, "I'm called to be a missionary. Now what?"

I've had church missions leaders call me and say they just looked at their missions map on the wall and realized it looked like a shotgun rather than a rifle. They had no idea how they became associated with such a variety of missionaries, ministries, and relationships around the world. The church leaders may become awakened to this need because of a challenging missionary personnel issue or because short-term missions is taking over their congregation. Or perhaps they see refugees and immigrants moving into the area and want to know how to reach them and expand that to other parts of the world. I have had churches tell me that they became aware of the need to send people to hard places simply because of Islamic terrorism in the world. Others have said they became awakened to take a greater role in sending because their resources as a church are just stretched too thin. They have to be more strategic and focused in what they're doing.

So the question that follows is, if our church leaders or our church as a whole is not awakened to the cause of growing to be a sending church, what can spur them to become awakened? Can we help cause that awakening? And I say sure, there's lots of means. God uses prayer, information, and engagement with missions leadership, relationships with current missionaries, the pastor actually having exposure to a mission field and ministry on the field. Perhaps it's students coming back from a conference where they're challenged to become missionaries. It could simply be a greater, larger understanding of God's purpose for His glory through missions all throughout the scripture. It is the unique earthly purpose of the church. It could be a growing understanding of the difference between lostness versus access to the gospel. I personally also flip this question on its edge and say, what would it take for a mission-sending agency to take the position that they would not take a candidate unless their sending church takes its responsibility to become a good sending church?

The next step in developing values as a sending church is the leadership roles, understanding the leadership roles. The leaders of the church need to understand the focus of missions and the church's role in equipping and sending. It has to ultimately affect the calendar, the budget, and the pulpit, to understand 3 John 5-8 and the ownership and partnership that the local church is biblically expected to take in sending workers out to proclaim the gospel. So this includes, certainly, the senior pastor or teaching pastor of the church, the elders or the leadership council, and whoever is involved in the missions leadership team, committee, or board, whatever you call it in your church. If these leaders never get a vision for becoming a sending church, it's really difficult, if not impossible, for the members of the church to become a sending church.

So how do leaders grasp their key roles? Well, you need to give them the right kind of information and inspiration to do that, to own it. I would say get them to read Let the Nations Be Glad! by John Piper, or listen to Missions on Point podcasts. Pray that God will work in opening their heart to the biblical support for missions and their role, and to see the local church as the key functional agent for achieving the proclamation of the gospel and the glory of God through the local church, around the world, in every ethnic division of humanity. Don't wait for a crisis to spur them to make a change. Begin to work and pray for it now.

The next step in this values development is what I call guiding principles. It could be referred to as values by consultants, but what I mean is, those statements that form the boundaries or framework in which the missions ministry of the church operates. Guiding principles are values statements. What is of most importance to the leadership and to the church? I'd say the first one is doctrinal alignment. Has the church even asked the missionaries and ministries that it supports if they are in doctrinal alignment with the affirmation or statement of faith of the church? It is absolutely okay for the church to insist that the missionaries and ministries they support agree with the doctrinal position of the church. Those ministries are, in fact, an extension of the local church, and they must represent what the church would do if the church was in that situation.

The second guiding principle I highly recommend is that the missionary's ministry, the agency, or organization that you're supporting ministry is connected to the end goal of seeing local churches started and developed, that is, indigenous local churches started and developed. I worked with a large church in a large city that discovered that they had one-third of their support going to campus ministry organizations that had no relationship whatsoever to the local church. There are so many ministries that use the means as the end instead of viewing the local church as the end itself, things like well drilling, medical ministry, and youth sports outreach. I say those must be consciously connected to developing, growing, starting local churches.

A third value is that the missions team or the leadership group of the church focused on missions should be aimed at enabling the involvement of all the church. Every member of the church has some role or part to play in world missions. This is a paradigm shift for most churches. The missions committee's job is primarily to mobilize the whole congregation through informing them, giving them opportunities, inspiring them to step up. This also has a wonderful shift in responsibility of the activity and work of missions to the congregation. It's not the missions team doing missions on behalf of the congregation. It's the missions team getting the whole congregation to do the work of missions.

The values statements of the church should also include a guiding principle having to do with relational priorities, that is, people who come from the church or directly connected to the church have a higher support level in every way from the church. There should be a binding connection to the church other than finances. Too many missionaries are supported simply because they were friends of the pastor at some point. So the sending church is looking to raise up missionaries from among their own congregation.

The best sending churches in my book are those that more or less require a missionary being sent from their church to have served in the church for a number of years. Generally, that's three to five years to be observed, to be trained, to be mentored, to be qualified as missionaries in every sense of the word before they're sent out from the church. Just the interpersonal relationships and interaction of the church with that missionary puts the church's fingerprints on that missionary and develops channels of long-term communication and accountability that can only be achieved by that missionary candidate having worked in and with and through the church over some period of time.

Another guiding principle that I teach is that the church decides that fewer missionaries and ministries get more funding rather than spreading the funding all over the world to pins on the map that are relatively anonymous to the church. You want to go deep in relationship and have substantial ownership and commitment to this person and the ministry. There are a couple of handfuls of churches that want to supply 100% of the missionary support of those that were developed, grew up, and came from their sending church. Even if the missionary is just supported and not sent from the church, we want to cultivate the kind of relationship that earns the right of your church, as a supporting church, to become their favorite or most-loved church.

This last point on the values section is teaching. So our church leaders get it. They've studied, they've read, they've been informed, inspired. Now they understand that the local church should be a sending church. What is it that they teach to the congregation in order for the congregation to also get it? Well, first of all, the Bible is our authority, so start with good missions teaching from the Bible. Missions is woven throughout the Bible, and it's not too difficult to make the connection between God's heart for the nations and what you're reading in the Bible almost from wherever you're reading it in the Bible. It's essential for the congregation to understand how it works here. How do we do missions in our church? How do we look for and raise up missionaries in our church?

So there may be some written documents or simple guidelines for how do we look for, identify, and train up missionaries in our church and teach this to the whole congregation so they're on board with you and not pulling something from way outside the church to try to plug in. Teach all the members constantly about the values and guiding principles that shape the decisions and direction of missions at your church, and then continue to teach that through all the possible avenues, through ministry leaders, through classes, through platform moments or presentations, through missions events, through all of the Sunday school classes, small groups.

Find ways to have a touchpoint for missions and your church's vision for being a sending church in those venues. Tell kids and youth that it's okay to aspire to be a missionary and to be a missionary sent through our church. Teach the leaders of all the ministries of the church that missions is not just a slice of the pie, but it's central and a core to every ministry that the church does to reach people for Christ and draw them in to a dynamic fellowship of Christian growth through the body and ministries of the local church.

Hey, in these final words, I just want to encourage you to please listen to all six episodes of this series on the VISION of a Sending Church. Tell other people about it, subscribe, and follow the podcast. We would really appreciate it. Also, you should know that we appreciate your support. We do need support to keep on doing this, so please preferably consider supporting us.

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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