Friday, July 19, 2013

Mission boards

A recent trend in missions is for missionaries to be sent out of their local church without a board. Very biblical, I like it. I wish sometimes we just had one church that is really behind us pushing hard, investing in our lives. But we don't, and I am in some ways glad. We go through ABWE, the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism. Yesterday we had our board interview in which the board loved and encouraged us. They made us know that they are behind us. I told them that we loved ABWE cause their structure kept us on the field.

You see, a mission board understands missionaries. Churches probably do to some degree, but it is not their specialty. ABWE specializes in training missionaries, taking care of missionaries, mobilizing missionaries, counseling missionaries and networking in missionary resources. When we had way too many bad boat rides and were ready to give up, our administrators told us we were not bad people for feeling that way. They told us they loved us and we were doing a good job. They told us to take breaks when we needed breaks. They loved us so much. 

ABWE does not take the place of our home church, it aids our home church. The home church is the sender and the board is the facilitator. When one is sent out of a home church with no board, they do not have the networking resources. ABWE has a structure all set up to help with accountability and support on the field. They are also able to get international health insurance at a group rate. They have developed high quality internationally friendly evangelism and discipleship material. They understand how different cultures work and how to prepare for the life of a missionary. 

Before we arrived on the field we were required to attend several training seminars. We were told what to expect. That understanding can save the life of a missionary who will face daunting cultural challenges. 

So yes, be a great home church; and sure, support them for 100%. But make sure that you are connected to the resources you need to make your missionary as successful as he can be.

1 comment:

Nathan Garth said...

Great thoughts Dave. I agree. I believe that both mission agencies and churches have a places in sending and sustaining missionaries but there are significant changes that need to happen.

My challenge to mission boards is to allow the sending church to really take an active role in training and sending. Most boards talk about supporting and assisting the local church, about the church being the key figure, but most boards don't actually function in this manner.

My challenge to the local church and its leaders is to take your rightful place in missions- be the trainers, senders and sustainers you're called to be. Giving sacrificially is important but it is just one part of the puzzle. Local churches need to be about equipping, coaching, missionary care, on-field engagement, etc.

A new trend in missions is for mission agencies and local churches to work together in all aspects of the mission process. My prayer is that this continues!

Hope you, Sarah and the kids are doing well.