I had the opportunity to advise a dear friend and mentee about what I wish mission agencies knew about the church.
Here is my reply:
- “The church” IS “the local church” — not some nebulous “church universal”. The difference in mindset is HUGE! Agencies that don’t have a relational, personal understanding that the healthy, biblical local church is the only functional, local expression of the body of Christ will always be stumbling along in a fog with respect to understanding and relating to the church. In addition, the local church is what God intends and has always intended to be that nexus of Christian life, including missionary development. Mission agencies should talk about this within their leadership, and especially with their recruitment or mobilization staff.
- The church is the primary fishing hole for quality missionary candidates. Partnership with local churches will result, in the long run, with more quantity and quality of missionaries that make it to the field than any campus or young adult event recruitment program.
- The church desires (or should be encouraged by the sending agency to desire) a stronger ownership role in guiding and shepherding their people through the whole process, including after they arrive on the field. The church should be given allowances to have that freedom, while also having relationship with and respect for the agency’s framework to do that.
- The church has much deeper and broader resources than people (candidates), prayer, and pesos. The church has valuable assets which can assist and help the field in areas of: biblical counseling (both on the field and at home side); human resource talent (e.g. technology, business, childcare/nanny-ing/”homeschooling”); project intelligence and financial support, etc.
- Investment in church partnership takes a lot of time and effort, due to the natural organic bureaucracy, but it pays the biggest long-term dividends of any other pursuit.
Recalibrate, mission agency! Look at your founding documents and read these kinds of phrases:
- we exist to serve the local church
- we facilitate the local church
- we are an arm of the local church
If you do not love the local church, you cannot understand Christ’s love for and purposes in and through His Bride. cf. Eph. 3, Eph. 4, Eph. 5, Rom. 12, Rom. 15, 1 Tim. 3, Tit. 1