For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.
God did not create the Lone Ranger. The Long Ranger is a myth…a man-made dream of self-reliance and independence. And unfortunately that has become the idea of far too many Christians especially when it comes to World Evangelization. This is not the responsibility of individuals but it is the calling of the church…specifically the local church. Dr. Jerry Kroll once remarked, “It takes a team to realize the dream.”
But that is not what I’ve experienced over the past 15 years of being involved in World Missions. What I’ve seen is a few “Lone Rangers” who’ve established out-posts in various parts of the world. And very often those outposts have little support from any sending local church. The results are quite familiar. High missionary attrition, and low missions involvement from the local church. Quite honestly what I’ve seen is a sneaky kind of selfishness. Local churches selfishly caring for those all-important needs such as new paint in the Sanctuary, state-of-the-art technology, and leather office furniture while the missionary seems to have the idea that he is alone in the work. Furthermore, missionaries seem rather satisfied to keep to themselves.
During the past decade we have sought to establish a more Biblical paradigm and strategy in order to accomplish our calling to spread the Gospel of grace to the world. Local Church World Evangelization is the effort of each local church to effectively spread the Gospel of grace both locally and cross-culturally. It involves the intentional, prayerful, and responsible equipping, supporting, and sending of all kinds of missionaries into the world for the sake of spreading the grace of God.
The Local Church must intentionally endeavor to evangelize the world. This requires the concerted effort of a God-ordained local church, not simply of an individual. Moreover, the missions agency is no substitute for the the local church. Simply put, God did not ordain an organization for world evangelization but an organism–the Church of the living God.
There must be dependence on the Lord. Missions is a work of eternity and for eternity. It is the front lines of the spiritual battle…the place where the heat is often the hottest and the needs is greatest. This is not the place for the weak-kneed or small-prayer. It is the the occupation of the worldly, selfish, or unholy. And therefore it is only accomplished through a God-focused prayerful and desperate army of God-lovers.
There is a necessary and mutual responsibility demanded in the work of missions. The local church takes responsibility for the origination, direction, and provision of the work and the worker. The local church must stand up and take a much more significant role in the support of missionaries…financially, spiritually, physically, and emotionally. The missionary must learn to submit to the elders of his local church and to contribute to the spiritual health and vitality of that local church. Responsibility equals accountability.
Local Church World Evangelization means that the local church equips missionaries. The best training ground for the vital work of equipping missionaries is the local church. Of course, the local church may choose to join together with others to provide specialized training in one form or another, but the responsibility for training lies squarely on the shoulders of the local church. It follows then that the servant who is equipped in the local church must also be supported by the local church. Support is not limited to financial support, but that certainly is important. The days of one church supporting numerous missionaries at gumball machine amounts should be a thing of the past. And the local church must send the missionary (cf. Rom. 10:11-17).
May the Lord fuel a new generation of missionaries who come from the local church by the local church and for the establishment of the local church to the glory of God.