I had the privilege of sitting down with two of our missionaries yesterday and was able to converse with them regarding the question that was on our bulletin handout on Sunday morning. “What involvement can and should the local church have in the ministry of it’s missionaries?” The question was framed to both of these men in this way. “What is the responsibility of the local church to it’s missionaries?”.
It was interesting. With this question both Wayne Smith (missionary to Colombia) and Bob Whatley (missionary to Peru) answered by speaking of the responsibility of the church to raise up missionaries! Wayne described it as not waiting for missionaries to come and “beg” the church to send them, but to actively be teaching, praying, seeking, and cultivating young men and women who would be willing to go! Bob shared the changes that he has seen in the past 60 years since He and Betty left for the field. He spoke of the emphasis on God’s plan in regards to missions and the seeming lack of emphasis that many churches seem to place on this plan resulting in a dismal lack of missionaries being sent out. Bob might say it this way. We need to instill in our church family a passion for missions!
Both men spoke of the responsibility of the local church to support their missionaries through prayer, financial support, a shared theology, communication, and even personnel (sending help, encouragement in the form of personal visits to the field). Both men spoke of the need for a better balance between the responsibilities placed on and taken by missions agencies and those fulfilled through the ministry and authority of the local church. Both men also shared the need for the building of relationships between church and missionary (beyond the once every four year Sunday visit), consistent communication from both parties, and participation in ministry together for the “sake of His name”.
How can we as a church ensure that we are fulfilling our Biblical responsibilities to our missionaries as they minister with us in their respective fields? Come on Sunday as we look together at the Word and see what it has to say regarding a Biblical Theology of Missions.