Normalize the Relationship Between Churches and Mission Agencies

Because Ten Times as Many Missionaries Can Thereby be Sent to The Regions Beyond

The Holy Spirit set in motion two kinds of structures of God’s redemptive mission; we are calling them Lighthouse and Flint. The church is a lighthouse; it is stable and durable if members pour a lot of money and time into maintaining it. Missionaries are mobile; they carry flint to places where there is no light. The lighthouse cannot say, “I have no need of you.” Nor vice versa. Before there were churches, there were traveling missionaries. Churches do not establish new churches among unreached non-Christians; this is a special grace given to missionaries. This is the “grace to go.” Paul wrote about this grace: “We have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among the Gentiles” (Romans 1:5). Paul wrote, “Though I am the very least of the saints, this grace was given to me to bring to the Gentiles the news of the fathomless riches of Christ” (Ephesians 3:8).

Churches and mission agencies. These are the two structures of God’s redemptive mission. Some are of the opinion that if churches were healthy, there would be no need for mission structures. Paul Pierson comments, “That is clearly wrong:”

A healthy church will constantly form teams that are called to specific projects, whether at the local level, focusing on special groups in its own area; or at the international level, focusing on distant culture.[1]

The Church is the entirety of the people of God, but a missionary band is a small group of men or women, or men and women, who pledge to go as missionaries. Bruce Bauer says that leaders of mission structures and leaders of church structures would do well to accept the difference in their tasks:

If mission structure leaders could understand and accept the fact that the congregational structure is an organ of coordination that is primarily concerned with organization, unity, worship, nurture, and service for existing members, and if congregational leaders could understand that mission structures largely consist of action and mobility in order to fulfill their specific tasks, then perhaps each structure could be more accepting of the other. With acceptance and understanding would also come a favorable reduction in tension between the two.[2]

Let us, then, study the Bible like the noble Bereans to see what is really there. The Bible and history are our teachers in the matter of normalizing the relationship between church administrative boards and mission agencies. Now, at the last hour, when the angel waits the command to raise the trumpet to his lips and sound the blast that will be heard around the world, let us organize for the task remaining. Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God.

[1] Pierson, Paul, The Dynamics of Christian Mission: History through a Missiological Perspective. page 33. Pierson also says, “I do not want to denigrate the institutional churches. We need them. They often provide stability, continuity and a system of checks and balances needed in every enterprise. However, even while we recognize their importance we must also be open to the Holy Spirit, who constantly surprises us and works outside these structures.”

[2] Bruce L. Bauer, “Congregational and Mission Structures” (D. Miss. Dissertation, Fuller Theological Seminary, 1982), Chapter 2, page 11.

Next: Christian Renewal is Coming. But Maybe not in the Way you Think. (1st of 10)