A Sending Church or a Supporting Church? YES!!
I recently met with a group of pastors to ask them one question: “What do you think is the reason why so few churches (perhaps one in twenty) are senders who send out one of their own as a missionary despite the clear teaching of Acts 13″? Their answers are instructive to all of us that are committed to missionary enterprise.
While there are many different reasons why a church is not a sending church, it seems that the responses can be clustered in three areas as summarized below with a suggested antidote.
- Lack of a goal or vision for being a sending church. Many pastors have never really thought of this as something they can do relying, instead, on being a supporting church (which is a good thing!). If your church is in this category, consider this: if every church in North America was satisfied by being a supporting church, wouldn’t the supply of missionaries dry up leaving no one for your church to support? A bit of a stretch? Perhaps, but not impossible to foresee. The antidote: prayerfully consider what it would look like if the Lord of the Harvest did raise up someone from your church for the ministry like an Acts 13 church.
- Concern that sending my best person to another ministry will leave a hole in my ministry. It is natural to wonder how the hole left by the departing couple will ever be filled. Just as parents need to believe that their children are gifts from God that, someday, will fly away to have lives of their own, so must those in pastoral leadership view their current leaders. The antidote: consider this emerging leader from the viewpoint of stewardship. They are on loan from God. It’s tough to let go…until you see who God brings in to fill the gap.
- There is no time in my week to train up a new leader. The challenge in ministry is not to select the good things from the bad each day to do but to select the best from the good. It is not possible to get more time; we are all given exactly the same amount each day. The antidote: rearrange your schedule to allow time for mentoring a new leader. I know this sounds easy and can tell you from experience that it is not. If mentoring a potential missionary or pastor is something you want to do, it may mean dropping something you also like to do in order to give more time to mentoring this young man who has shown tremendous promise for pastoral or missionary leadership.
- This was never covered in seminary and I’ve never seen it done. I’m clueless. You just need to be educated and trained on the many ways in which this can be done. The antidote: BMW has a series of workshops that can help you understand how other churches have gone from being a supporting church only to both a supporting and sending church.You can aspire to the same and, if the Lord wills, will so become.
These are representative responses we have heard to the question posed above. If you are not a sending church today, may I ask which of these describe your situation?If you would like to see your church become an Acts 13 church, the first step is to acknowledge what is holding you back and then “pray ye the Lord of the Harvest to send forth laborers” from YOUR congregation.