Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Missions on Target

The Lord started His church with His disciples and gave to them the Great Commission to make disciples, baptize, and then instruct them in all things. Our Lord instructed them in Matt. 28 saying:
All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsover I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Then in Acts 1:8 before His ascension he said again,
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you; and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

These things are important in regards to missions. Our Lord traveled 60 miles to be baptized by John the Baptist. His disciples were also baptized of John the Baptist. It was to this first church that He gave the authority to go and evangelize, baptize, and instruct in all things. This Authority wrought power, and this power wrought results. The entire world was turned upside down (Acts 17:6) as a result of this Authority, power, and obedience to this command.
He had earlier given to the church the authority to discipline (Matt. 18), to administer the Lord's Supper (Matt. 26), and now to baptize (Matt. 28). From this point on, all examples of mission work was done through the local church. It was the local church that sent out its missionaries (Acts 8 & 13). Paul's epistle reads:
Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Eph. 3:21

That church Jesus started began other churches to which was passed the Authority and Power to start other churches. Thus in a relatively short time, there were churches at Antioch, Galatia, Ephesus, Babylon, Corith, Pergamus, Rome, ...Cincinnati, Ohio; Loveland, Ohio; Goshen, Ohio; Hillsboro, Ohio; Bullhead City, Arizona; Magdellena, Mexico; Tata, Hungary; etc.
I am not one that holds to the thought that you have to be able to trace back your church to the Lord's; but I am one that believes that your church ought to leave the same 'print' as the Lord's. I don't know that it is humanly possible to trace back every church's history today...I've tried with ours, but hit dead ends very quickly.
I'm getting off track....back to missions. It is the church's responsibility to send out it's missionaries. I have heard and read of all the reasons why a 'mission board' or 'clearing house' are 'necessary;' but I can't find those para-church organizations in the Bible. The church was given the authority and power and I believe that a church under that authority, with that power, is more than capable to handle the missionaries God calls from that body. To think otherwise is to doubt the omnipotence of God, the promises of God, and the calling of God. Why would God call out of your body a man to send to the mission field that a church was not able to send forth? God will never ask from us what He does not supply for us.
I know that the clearing houses and boards are of mostly good intention and are seeing people get saved and works being established. Yet, we still read in 2 Timothy 2
And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully
In order for there to be God's reward, there must be obedience to God's law.
I believe we have in our churches strayed away from God's plan somewhat. In His Word we read:
Jesus started a church, gave the authority to that church which started another church there at Antioch. That church sent out with the authority men like Paul who started other churches which continued this process. Paul was sent by his church. Other churches sent gifts (2 Cor. 8:2) of which Paul was greatly thankful.
We have developed a system where 'Church A' supports 50 missionaries at $60 a month ($3,000 month). Church A has a man in their church called to the field of Somewhere Out There and prepares to go. The church does not have the 'time, means, or finances to send that missionary out'. So, that man spends the next four years traveling around the country exposing his family to church atmospheres he normally would not attend for the cause of support. He will expand his waist line 6 inches from the lack of exercise and eating out constantly. Will struggle to properly educate and train his children from a lack of time. Could experience some 'spoiling' as he travels. Drifts away from his home church and pastor's heart. Picks up some unfortunate habits along the way. Finally reaches his goal, returns to his home church and meets the 1/4 of the church he does not know. A portion of his support from other churches now goes to a mission agency outside his local church. He is 'approved to go' by that board and heads out to the field, only to find the field has gotten much harder (or he has become somewhat weaker), his children have become some what rebellious (from a lack of time and investment from parents), and he just doesn't agree with his pastor on some 'minor issues' any longer.
Unfortunately these things do happen. We have gotten off target!
How I praise the Lord for the three missionaries Cozaddale sends out. How I look forward to the next missionary we are able to commission and send out. But wouldn't it be great if we were able to send him out and take care of the greater part of his needs? Wouldn't it be great if he need only visit a few very like minded churches who can send 'gifts' to help his needs? Wouldn't it be great that his pastor and he share a heart, vision, and doctrine?
We wouldn't be able to 'glory' in the 50-100 missionaries OUR CHURCH SUPPORTS, but we just might find that a greater work gets done and at a quicker rate, and by a means that glorifies our Lord.
Just something to think on.


CAW said...

I agree with much of what you are saying and the method that independent churches use to get people to the mission field has it's share of weak points. The same could be said about a Mission Board or sending agency.

I know that the Southern Baptist Mission Board does an excellent job in helping men who have been called to a foreign field get there in a timely fashion and make sure that they are adequately supported. They also make sure that a man is truly qualified and prepared to go to the mission field - this is a weakness of the independent churches unfortunately I've seen churches send people out who obviously were neither prepared or equipped for the mission field. As a pastor I've had far too many potential missionaries come to our church looking for support who obviously weren't ready for the mission field.

I agree it would be wonderful if every church had the capability of sending out their own missionaries fully supported. But the reality is with the average church size in America being only 75 people that makes that very hard to do. That is where a mission board or sending agency is helpful because it allows any church regardless of it's size participate in the Great Commission.

Thanks for your thoughts on this issue

Travis Burke said...

Thanks CAW for the comment....
First, in no way do I believe that "independent churches" have any weak points....if we do it God's way. There are no weak points following God's pattern. My point in the post is that I do not believe "independent churches" are fully following God's pattern.
There may be many well meaning and helping mission boards out there, but they all share one thing: they are unScriptural. Therefore, despite what 'results' we believe they produce, if it is contrary to God's Word, it is wrong. I do not believe that just because Scripture is silent on an area, that a subject is automatically wrong; but in matters like the use of a mission board or parachurch organization-Scripture is clear that the authority was given to the local church and that the glory is given to our Lord when operated through the local church.
I too have seen churches send out some who were neither prepared or equipped, and I have also seen churches that do not preach the whole counsel of GOd in areas of separation, salvation, and other doctrines-but that does not mean we do away with the local church. Man's failures do not negate the plan of God.
Lastly, I do not think it feasible that all churches in America send out there men alone, for I too agree the average size of church is not adequate. But, if those churches instead of supporting 30 missionaries, supported fewer and greater supplied the need of their own, and other churches gave gifts as Paul received, I cannot help but think that God's way would be much more efficient.
I do appreciate and welcome your thoughts.