Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Missions and the Local Church: Part 1-Introduction

I hope to begin a series of posts related to missions and the local church. My overall goal in these posts will be to spell out what I hope would be a change in the way missions is related to the local church. This will require some rethinking (not bashing) of the IMB's functions and other mission sending organizations functions. I will call on my other two compadres to add their comments and posts as well during this time as they are more qualified. I also ask for a great deal of grace in this matter as I am not privy to the private things of the IMB. I do not know them, nor is my goal to expose them.

Mainly, I'm looking at how its ideology functions. What is the philosophy or purpose of the IMB as a missionary sending organization? I'm not asking, "How bad are the practices of the IMB?" My overall goal is to suggest a slight change in thinking where the local church is the primary mission sending organization. I would also like to change the IMB mission statement which says they hope "to lead Southern Baptists in doing missions." I would rather it read, "to serve Southern Baptists in doing missions." This is a slight change in terms, but a huge change in philosophy.

The essential problem is this. Why in the past have missionaries been so disconnected from their local church? Sure, the efforts have been made by some, but not by all, to keep the connection between the missionary and the sending church, but this has not been done successfully. I believe that this is due to the philosophy of both the local church and mission sending organizations. It separates the mission of the church and puts it in the hands of boards, and organizations. This is what we'll be looking at for the next couple of weeks. I hope to lay out what I think the fundamental misstep has been and then suggest some changes. Then, I hope to give a picture of what this might look like in the future for the SBC if the IMB were to serve and the local church were to send.

Finally, let me say that the local churches need to get in contact with their missionaries on the field. We have recently done so at my church and we are beginning a campaign to "Hold the Ropes." It is my hope that we will also become the primary missionary sending organization of for our church members. In short, we hope that churches will be truly planting churches, and not organizations planting churches (I am indebted to Wes Handy for this idea, though he might say it differently or say it in a different context). The mission of the local church is missions. Thus, the name of this blog: Missions as Ecclesiology. The two are not separate. As one of the bloggers that I read has said to me in conversation, "We're on a mission trip right now!" We end that trip when we die. And now I have officially slipped over to rambling.

With that said...Through Christ,
Dougald

2 comments:

IsaTengir said...

Hey, who gave you permission to use my name in this post. Wes Handy is copyright material of Roundhouse Productions.

Ok just kidding, but I would say. CPM, which is not totally a bad idea, May the Lord bless his church with exponential growth, Amen. (Yes, a fragment sentence). CPM is defined as a rapid, exponential growth of churches planting churches within a given people group, population segment or geographic area, roughly defined.

NOTICE: CHURCHES PLANTING CHURCHES. Of course, everything must start somewhere, but why with people disconnected from local churches. Should we not see churches planted in a CPM as sister churches?

Sure, we would say their sisters, but do we in practice treat them as such? I think we are treading on some three- (or four) self formula thin ice here. How so? If we can not treat a church as a sister, in ways that churches should interact, I mean between the sending church, most likely in the US, and the planted church, most likely not in the US, then are we seeing these as true and equal churches? The three-self formula was originated to see churches planted that were not dependent on foreign subsidies, so that they could become equally sustaining, governing, and supporting churches as a sending or established church. Though, the focus has been on the autonomy of such three-self churches, the result of such autonomy would be fully equal bodies. Bodies that could commune with other congregations much like the churches in Macedonia and Asia could commune with Jerusalem through Paul's gifts and through mission teams working together to plant other churches around the empire. COOPERATION.

We have some sort of cooperation in the US through the SBC and other organizations, but cooperation prima facie . It is only financial (yes, oversimplification of the situation, there may be some exceptions). Cooperation has to do with service. Paul, Luke, Barnabas, Silas, Epaphroditus, Onesimus: Were they all from the same local church, or even region? No, but they cooperated in service, as equals, sometimes Paul labored as a tentmaker, sometimes Silas and Timothy worked so Paul could preach. But churches planted had stakes in all future churches planted. Is this the case with the situation between SBC churches, the IMB and churches on the field?

Perhaps we can work in this area! Seeing the local church, not the IMB or Campus Crusade or Navigators, or whatever, as the primary missionary sending agency.

dwmIII said...

Isatengir,

Gee, now everyone can connect the dots! Also, thanks, your single comment has decreased my series of posts. I guess that is something we'll do from time to time since we are good friends.

Also, I have a question. How can we consider the churches we are planting in other cultures as churches that aren't dependent on western churches if we don't teach them the biblical languages? Have we lost the true meaning of discipleship for the sake of making a foreign church, a foreign church?

Just some thoughts.

Dougald