#17 in a series devoted to sending churches.  The content of this post is adapted from BMW’s 6-hour apoLuo workshop. Numbered articles are intended to be read sequentially for maximum benefit.

Rear view mirrors are very helpful, and not only when we’re in reverse.

Imagine pulling away from your home on the way to your vacation, glancing in the mirror, and seeing one of your daughters in the yard with a look of sheer panic on her face. Or leaving for the airport to speak at a conference and seeing your briefcase posted bravely on the front walk, carefully guarding all your notes and your laptop.

One good purpose a rear view mirror serves is to ensure we didn’t leave anything—or anyone—behind.

Let’s take a look backward so we can surge ahead.

Without apology, BMW advocates Dr. Robert Alderman’s upside-down model of support raising: churches don’t support missionaries; missionaries support churches. They enable churches to work toward fulfilling the non-negotiable Great Commission, which is to make disciples of all nations. Because local churches are confined to their particular geographical locations, they cannot obey Christ fully without sending their own people to make disciples on their behalf. As we say in Spanish, punto. Period. Point made. End of story.

That being the case, missionary appointees should vet the churches that may be potential ministry partners on the basis of their doctrinal and philosophical compatibility. As the sending church pastor, you can help with this process and liberate people in your church to assist the missionaries to select exactly the right churches to contact. The Internet is a huge help here, as most churches have websites. If yours doesn’t, you need to remedy that. Soon.

The upside-down model enables missionary appointees to offer their services to partner churches, not to seek funding for their own agendas. This is a critical reversal for all involved in the deputation process, and more properly reflects the meaning of the word, deputation. We still like that word a lot.

Having embraced this paradigm, what should you do next?

  1. Teach it to your people, especially the decision-making body concerned with your church’s missions ministry. Then, teach it again. And again. Pray earnestly that God would allow you and your congregation to envision the vital role they can play in Jesus’ plan for His Church.
  2. Ensure your church has a missionary vision and goals that support it. Once these are in place, welcome and embrace missionaries—appointees and veterans, and especially your own people—who express the desire to help you to fulfill the Great Commission and meet the criteria you have established for missionary partnerships. You do have criteria, right?
  3. Encourage these potential missionary partners to become as familiar with your church and its people as they can by visiting even when they have no “pulpit time,” developing friendships with families in your congregation, speaking at small group functions, and even seeking your people as individual supporters if your church is not able to support them.
  4. Encourage your people to pray for them often (joining their PrayerForce is a great start) and to be involved with them on other levels–providing expertise, goods and services, accommodations, etc.
  5. Reimagine the fiscal goals of your church. If you can‘t do it immediately, clear space in your missions budget to support compatible partners, even if you have to forgo other things for a while. Examine line items in your budget in light of the Great Commission and their contribution to your fulfillment of it. A new Jungle Jim or marble tile in the washrooms may not yield the “hundredfold” quite like making disciples in a strategic part of the world will do.
  6. Encourage innovation, recognizing that doing and funding missions tomorrow like we did it yesterday simply won’t work. The world has changed, and the rate of change continues to accelerate. We need to keep up, without abandoning clear biblical precepts. The Carpenter’s Guild approach is worth your consideration. You can examine it on the

This website will offer practical, timely steps you can take to use the people and funds with which God has entrusted your church. May He richly bless your efforts in the days ahead!

By the way–isn’t that your wife’s purse on the curb?

Rob Heijermans, Biblical Ministries Worldwide