A dear friend of mine, colleague and follow church missions mobilized, Mike Pollard, recently wrote this piece, below. Punchy evidence that churches that think they have it all together in missions may not have an accurate assessment. Some details have been changed to protect the innocent :-)
Is Your Church Missionary-Centered or Mission-Centered?
Joaquin pastors a contemporary, missional church in Atlanta. All of the church’s small groups pray for a specific, "adopted" missionary. In fact, their small groups are named after the part of the world they’re praying, cf. “Malaysia Group.” Whenever groups reach 10 people, they divide like cells into new groups. So Joaquin is ready for a new missionary to be assigned to a new group. That’s where we intersected. In setting up a time to talk about the church’s interests, I asked him in an email, “supporting missionaries is so appreciated…but has your church ever thought about raising up a missionary from your own church to be the worker you support?” He wrote back and asked, “could we send a short term team to help on the field?” That’s what we planned to talk about on the phone.
We talked about what parts of the world the church was interested in, and what kinds of skills people in his church could offer on a short term trip. I asked, “how have you decided in the past on what missionaries to connect with?” “It’s based on who needs money,” he said. I asked, “what if instead of focusing on money, you made a choice based on what God wants to do on the field through your church, based on your church’s passions and skills?’ There was a lightning bolt of new insight. A paradigm changed in an instant. He’d never thought about it that way and wanted time to think before we talk again. Today, if a church has an affinity for international missions at all, they tend to be either missionary-centered or mission-centered. The missionary-centered church points to a list of people with whom they're involved through prayer and finances…and that’s not bad. But it can lead people to think that if they give money, their missions job is done. A mission-centered church asks God what He wants a whole church to accomplish globally, given its limited resources and unique “thumbprint.” Joaquin later wrote back and said, “It was all my pleasure [to talk]. Can’t wait to talk to you again soon. I learned so much from you during our conversation.”
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