Partnership: the New Direction in
The Church as a Sending Agency
- Partnering with Nationals
Abridged from documents by Lorry Lutz and Luis
Church-based teams are another innovative way to harness the involvement
and interest of a larger percentage of a congregation. Led by a highly
committed senior pastor, the church recruits, trains and sends out a team
of its own members to a target city or area.
Advantages for the Sending Church:
- Greater control over their missionaries.
- Greater contact and close family support with their missionaries.
- With increased restrictions for access by career missionaries, tent-makers (those who go in with a marketable skill, i.e., teaching, engineering, etc.) can establish a permanent base.
- The congregation focuses its prayers, gifts, and communications on their brothers and sisters on the front line.
- The prayer power and support to the missionary is unmatched.
Those who have taken the risk and sent out a church-based team have
found the benefits deeply gratifying. The atmosphere in the church resembles
that of a family where a member is serving overseas. Every letter is avidly
shared; personal events and disappointments become intimate matters of
prayer. Family members can share failures as well as successes, so if one
of the team is homesick or depressed he or she doesn't fear revealing that
to the family at home.
Cautions for the Sending Church:
- Requires the total vision of the senior pastor and the ability to mobilize the congregation's long-term commitment. One danger is that if the pastor leaves the church the team could be stranded if the successor does not share the vision.
- Unless a high percentage of the congregation has bought into the vision, many in the congregation will feel left out and frustrated that so much energy in the church is concentrated on one project.
- The strategy is costly in time and energy. Churches must honestly examine the hidden costs of staff time and administration, as well as travel costs for church members who visit the field at their own expense.
- Most agencies have years of experience in church planting, in the customs and regulations of the country, and in how to handle legal matters for the missionaries. An individual church may not have that level of expertise.
- It may be difficult to provide consistent monitoring and supervision of the work on the field and to give support when it is needed.
- A church may not have the developed networks, with others doing similar work around the world, to enable an exchange ideas, successes and failures.
- Generally, a mission agency will assist with business matters, taxes, receipting, insurance, retirement, etc. It has standard procedures for recruiting, and evaluation. For an individual church to provide these services an additional strain may be placed on the local staff.
- Mission agencies have a broader financial base than the local church, enabling them to pool resources. This may be a special concern for smaller churches which would not be able to support even one missionary fully on their own.
In spite of the tremendous benefits gained by the church, the question
still remains, will these inexperienced and isolated teams be able to hold
out in the face of hostility and isolation? And more importantly,
will they be able to plant a viable church in a hostile community?
Click here for original documents from Partnership:<>
the New Direction in World Evangelism by Lorry Lutz and
Luis Bush, 1990, InterVarsity Press.
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