Dear Pastor, Missionaries are not Your Competitor
Dear Pastor, missionaries are not your competitors, they are your enablers. I know that the form of ministry has created a false dichotomy between pastors and missionaries. Somehow the created perspective is that purposes of both are different enough that they must ‘compete’ for the same resources in order to complete God’s will. The mindset has created a battle for time and opportunity between pastor and missionary, but it does not have to be this way.
The truth is that function and purpose have been distorted. The functions of pastors and missionaries are different, but the goal to glorify God by making disciples remains the same for both. Therefore, no conflict exists but instead the two serve together for the same leader by fulfilling different roles.
As a missionary, this perceived conflict becomes difficult because the natural inclination of pastors and church leaders is to decline requests to share ministry in the church. Certainly, this must create difficulty for pastors as well as missionaries seek to avoid this perceived conflict by not disclosing their full needs or purposes. Instead, pastors and missionaries exist in a unique relationship with an often-unused potential for accomplishing the Great Commission.
Missionaries have a genuine need for support (whether financial, prayer, or spiritual), they have a genuine desire to serve, and a genuine love for people. The hope to visit your church is not meant to subvert your authority or steal resources from church body but is born from the hopes of impacting God’s kingdom through a mutual partnership that will not only enable their ministry but enable yours.
More than asking for money, missionary visits are constructed (or should be constructed) in a way that imparts truth and teaching into the lives of those they are presenting to. They share God’s Word and work in a way that ministers to you and your congregation. The result is the following:
- It enables you and your church body to minister: These visits provide an opportunity for you and your people to minister to someone in a unique way who has unique needs.
- It enables you and your church body to show love and compassion:Few forget the Great Commandments and so, the opportunity to minister is an opportunity to obey the Lord by showing love and compassion.
- It enables you to obey the Great Commission:Additionally, this is an opportunity to contribute to God’s Great Commission by aiding the missionaries on the field.
- It enables you to be ministered to: As the missionaries share, they provide assurance that God is at work and encourage you and your people to be involved locally and globally.
With this type of impact, we should expose missionaries to more churches and more churches to missionaries.
Does this mean that you must invite all missionaries who request the opportunity? Of course not. As stewards of God’s resources there are legitimate reasons to turn missionaries down. It may be a difference in doctrine, unfeasible timing, or the best reasoning of all, because you are devoting more resources to your own missionaries.
Missionary visits should be a blessing (add value) not a burden for everyone. Certainly, not every church is in the position to financially support a new missionary, but perhaps individuals might have a burden for this particular vision. Or consider something else: a missionary visit does not have to be about financial support. It can be a simple way to pray, encourage, and impact one another for the purposes of God. Therefore pastor, I plead with you to serve God by reaching the lost by serving missionaries.
This article is intentionally focused on pastors. However, missionaries must play a role in this as well and this is something I plan to address in a follow-up article.
Picture: courtesy of www.searchenginepeople.com