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Our perspective on missionary management
The need is great, inside the church and out. There has been a great movement towards "open door" churches that appeal to the sinner by toning down the message of repentence. There are advantages, not only to attract more money into the church. But, if churches admit the unrepentent and non-growing people as members, these immature believers will have the votes necessary to affect the quality of leaders selected as elders, deacons, and pastor. If they are permitted to serve in committees, the direction of the church changes. This is exactly Satan's plan. The Bride's desire to become bigger and wealthier works right into it. Once in the Body, the cancer of unwholesome influence grows and metastasizes.
The world infiltrates the churches and ministries through the unsaved people to whom it is called to minister and through worldly desires and temptations in the saved people that form its membership. As Romans says, we are doing battle with spiritual powers in high places, combating greed with love, sorrow with joy, division with peace, worry with patience, selfishness with kindness, "what's in it for me" with faithfulness, spite with gentleness, indulgence with self-control and "whatever" with excellence. At least that is what we should be doing.
The evil spirits are at least as much in the church than in the world. How can I say that? Divorce rates are equal. Pastors and missionaries are more overweight than the population at large. Church debt climbs in order to have the plushest carpet, the biggest sanctuary, the nicest lightshow, the fanciest fellowship hall, and the chushiest pews. The idea often voiced in the leadership councils is, "our members are in debt on their houses, so why shouldn't God be in debt to the bank on His house?" As in the time Jesus walked the earth, the religious leaders are at least as far from God as the world at large.
This is a generality, not a universal truth, but the fact remains that in order for us to be effective at reaching the world, we will have to experience a revival. We must prune away the fruit of the Evil One and so that the Fruit of the Spirit will receive more nutrients and grow. Jesus said that the world will know his followers not by their doctrine but by their love. From discussions I've had with brothers and sisters this year, it seems like I am the last to realize that, for this revival, we need to look less to the religious leaders like myself and more to Jesus.
Whereas some missionaries seek a religious institution to be main support, we don't agree. Consider:
Three quotes that I never would have believed in my naive days but that are lived by virtually all churches and ministries and breathed only to insiders:
This doesn't mean that the Apostles were dictators without accountability to others. Indeed, if the missionary understands his role as leader, he knows that his lifestyle will be held to higher standards. He will have to be of greater character than the followers. With the presently popular paradigm, the missionary sees his "leadership" (the church) living as the American church does today, and he follows along into materialism, hedonism, obesity, illicit affairs, and divorce. Protestantism was founded on the idea of the priesthood of all believers meaning that all can approach Jesus without the need for a religious leader. Somehow, this has mutated into the lowering the bar for those less important religious leaders. Ask an evangelical missionary today if he is a spiritual leader and he will often "humbly" say that he is like anyone else. The problem is that it is usually more than "humility" but is reality. In contrast, we believe that a missionary should be picked based on his exemplary character and held to it. (See my essay "The character of a missionary") We also think that the individual should be held accountable by local Christians who know their culture, more than by Americans. But, that is another discussion for another time.
We want to pioneer a movement back to Biblical precedent in the faith missions. For this reason, we have a board of Advisors. Who are our Advisors? We pick our Advisors for their orientation towards God, their interest in our work, their knowledge of us, and their knowledge of ministry. Our donors and we want the most spiritually mature people to lead the way. We have benefited from the advice and intervention of these Advisors (the Brimers (top), my parents (above), and the Leacocks (not pictured)) We may not be any better missionaries than others, but we definitely have a different perspective than many. We believe our team is unanimously standing with us on this. They are always available to speak with our partners and stakeholders. Write me at the address below, and I'll give you their contact information. We believe this model makes Biblical sense.
As you consider moving to this model, expect resistence from those who like to exercise their power and ego by the feeling of being in charge. But examine their lives to see if this is godly. Our experience has shown that the power-hungry are also the ones who usually try to avoid taking responsibility for their decisions. My home church directed us to do many things that incurred financial hardship and then did not take financial responsibility for those decisions. But, it was from them that we got the idea for this paradigm.
Contact me if you have questions or comments.