This is really a pre-publication draft intro of sorts to a new book having a working title: HERE to THERE for Pastors: Why and How to Lead Your Church in Missions.
The concepts are not new. It is, perhaps, not stretching too much to say that these ideas are as old as the New Testament. However, many good men have articulated the thoughts included here in previous years and times. Some of Andrew Murray’s The Key to the Missionary Problem finds an echo here. Michael Griffiths’ Get Your Church Involved in Missions expresses much of the same thoughts in a different time and context. Numerous missions mobilizing organizations, tools, and leaders have said similar things in many different ways and to many different audiences.
What I'm aiming at is local church leaders in the United States in the 21st century. While my understanding of a biblical theology and missiology gives high and central priority to the local church, I am a friend of mission sending agencies. Most missions, whether denominational, associational, or independent-faith-based, were originally created as a servant arm of local churches. Their original documents show the intent to serve in the shadow of the local church rather than eclipse it.
However, the modern non-profit business environment and a self-serving interpretation of government regulations have pushed missions sending agencies towards independence from the local church. The specter of litigation frightens agency boards away from biblical principles to a self-protection mode, even to the point of adopting secular and unbiblical means of operation in order to survive.
Sometimes, local churches aspire to function as their own sending agency. In so doing, most local churches idealize their vision, often underestimating the complexity and scope of the work and overestimating their ability to do it well. Local churches, too, are not immune to growing independent-minded, thinking, “We can do it all by ourselves.” This, too, is a proud and untenable position.
A foundational axiom of the coming book is that the local church, focused on God and His Word, is God’s design for fulfilling the Great Commission in identifying, producing, and sending forth cross-cultural Gospel workers. Every step of producing effective cross-cultural missionaries is the natural consequence, privilege, and responsibility of the local church. The implementation of this concept touches aspects of missiology as well as ecclesiology.
This is what is I intend to prayerfully set before you, dear pastor-reader. By God’s grace, I humbly desire to scripturally and practically give you a vision for developing missions in your local church. I hope to give you compelling reasons why you, pastor, should be leading your church in missions as well as practical and realistic ways you can do so.