Going to the Ends of the Earth? Bring Your Church Along!
Don’t go alone. You and your church can go further together.
By Marti Wade
Missionaries once packed their belongings in barrels and coffins. They spent months on the high seas. They knew they might never come back from their distant destinations. Churches and supporters back home provided finances and expected occasional reports from the field, but little more. The sending churches were firmly planted in the soil of the home country, while the missionaries were “over there.” Opportunities for interaction and collaboration were limited.
Today’s world feels smaller and more connected. Some of our missionaries serve closer to home, communicate frequently, or come back more often. Technology and reduced travel costs allow sending churches much stronger bonds with the missionaries they send as well as the ministries they carry out in partnership. At the same time, God seems to be awakening many ordinary believers and local churches to take their place in world evangelization in diverse and creative ways rather than leaving it to the “professionals.” Many churches see themselves as being “on mission” both locally and globally. This is great news!
A Process of Partnership
But what does it mean for you as you consider serving with a mission agency like Pioneers? We see the process of sending out field workers as a partnership between the mission agency and the local church. Your church probably feels the same way. They may have strong ideas about what that should look like. Or they may have no idea at all. So, from the get-go, we want to talk about that. We’re going to ask you: What is your background in the church? How well does your church know you? What do they think about sending you out? What can we all do to honor, nurture and strengthen that relationship? We all need each other!
We see the process of sending out field workers as a partnership between the mission agency and the local church. Your church probably feels the same way.
It’s not just about the money, though some churches are very committed to helping raise your support and may provide a significant amount. Others see their role more as one of encouragement and prayer. Some have a strong focus on preparing and equipping you for the work that lies ahead. Few churches are strong in all those areas. God may lead you to partner with other churches and supporters who can help fill in the gaps.
Responsibilities of a Sending Church
Every Pioneer is required to have a sending church, a fellowship of believers that confirms your character and calling as well as your giftedness for ministry and whatever relevant experience you may have. As they consider these things, your church may recognize the need for further development and may direct you to opportunities to serve and grow. Pioneers will also be looking at what preparation will help you make it on the field. When the time comes, both Pioneers and the sending church will give you the green light to go, and your church will commission you for service.
Your Responsibility to the Sending Church
As you move into your new ministry or make changes along the way, it is your responsibility to continue communicating with sending and supporting churches and maintaining those relationships. You will need them. Your church may have questions about what you’re doing and if you’re really okay. We want to make sure that we’re all on the same page as we seek and trust God for your care and His Kingdom. It takes some effort to work together. Some of us struggle with that! But it’s worth it. You may have heard the old African proverb, “If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.”
Let’s Work Together
Our mission at Pioneers is to initiate church-planting movements in partnership with local churches. We’re convinced that the church, missionary, and mission agency each brings a unique, God-given design, perspective and set of strengths to world evangelization—resources that will only be maximized as we intentionally work together.
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