The Local Church… And World missions
By Daniel Scott, Sr.
The Total Church
In the real world we have some things working in crossfire. One of these major issues is world evangelism. To establish a local church in a community of one of our North American towns or cities is a wonderful achievement. However, the maturity of the local church in North America is many times determined by the attitude it has toward the lost of the entire world. Many churches are miraculously brought to birth, and the congregation is to be commended for its ability to become a lighthouse for the local community.
But for too many people, the cause of world missions yet remains an obscure responsibility. The evangelism of the whole world is the principle reason for every church to exist. Upon receiving the Holy Ghost, the disciples were commissioned to not only become witnesses to their immediate surroundings, but to reach around their own cultural walls to others beyond, even to the uttermost part of the world. Therefore, that same promise of power to energize the believer to become a witness to God’s saving grace also sends them beyond their own local assembly into what is commonly called the regions beyond, or the foreign cultures of our world.
“Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature…” -Mark 16:16
…a gospel that saves individuals from an eternal separation from God depends upon the gospel’s effect upon the hearers…
He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, and he that believeth not, shall be damned….” -Mark16:16
The question does indeed have an answer! It is the responsibility of the church at large to evangelize the world. When God calls the missionary He has merely selected the man to represent the church to another culture. When the prospective missionary accepts the responsibility to uproot his family and in many cases turn over to another pastor a church that represents his life’s work, he has expressed his willingness to answer the call of God to serve missions. This does not transfer the commission totally to his shoulders! He and God depend upon the local church to be willing to send them.
We could pass over this lightly by observing that a great number of our churches are sacrificially supporting the world evangelism program. But it is important also to acknowledge the fact that the job is not yet complete. The number of faithful churches providing financial support must increase because the missionary remains an indispensable part of the partnership in God’s plan to save the lost of His world. Without every member possessing a sacrificial mentality, the church cannot accomplish the task the commission implies. To expect apostolic results, we must first demonstrate apostolic sacrifices. This is true both on the part of the local assembly and the missionary on the field.
Every local assembly, according to their financial ability, should form a partnership with those who are called to perform the task of world missions. God gave us the example by calling Barnabas and Saul and explicitly displays the expected character of the church who sends them. Such was the church of Antioch. As a result, Saul and Barnabas went to people of another language and custom, with other religions, and evangelized them. The churches at Ephesus, Thessalonica, Corinth, Galatia, Philippi, as well as many other communities, came to birth as a direct result of the local church partnership with the missionary who was called.
The local church first has a responsibility to evangelize the community into which it has been established. When the congregation has matured and growth has given it the stability sufficient to lift its eyes beyond the walls of the local sanctuary, God expects the membership to share in the responsibility of world evangelism. Is it possible that a local assembly can divorce itself from the missions program while God�s creation is dying without hope? Is there any plausible reason why a congregation is privileged to hear the gospel from the local pulpit until the message becomes common to them, and deprive others that have never heard the name of Jesus mentioned once? Many of the North American churches have not been impacted to think of the gospel in this manner. Every local church pastor must consider himself as the necessary key to a successful world evangelism program.
Many churches think of local finances as personal property. They feel that they have made their mark on their local community and if other cultures need the gospel, it becomes the responsibility of the culture to create the opportunities necessary to provide an open door for the gospel. This attitude is not compatible with the commission.
An attitude of directing finances to world evangelism is connected to proper management. A mentality of this nature epitomizes ownership of God’s blessings upon a local church. Confidence in the organization’s elected officials should underline their ability to keep the financial program of missions sufficiently fine tuned to exact a premium return for every missionary dollar. It is not enough to say that a difference of opinion on how the job should be done be related to Foreign Missions giving. That excuse will change with whomever is directing the activity.
Sometimes world evangelism comes at a very high price tag. That is, for some! It is precisely when the cost is high and the pain is keenly felt that there, is a tendency to defend the work by casting blame upon another. It is wrong and ultimately self-destructive for any to cast blame. A missionary accepts the call of God and in many cases places himself and his family at great risk. This risk includes not only the danger of bodily harm from the forces who would resist the gospel, but also from health hazards totally unknown by the usual North American church family.
As a missionary, please allow me to convey to the church at home that while much credit is given to us for the multitudes that come to know God, the personal price tag at times is incredible! We owe a great debt of gratitude to the many local churches that have enabled the foreign missionaries to perform the many important tasks of missionary work. Without you … all of you … the responsibility would be overwhelmingly difficult. Missionaries know that the call of God is to obey, even if there was no missions program to underwrite them.
However, the church family makes it easier for missionaries to apply themselves to that calling. A frank communication is usually the better way to speak truth. Foreign Missions is a fulfillment of the Great Commission. That commission was given to the church, in fact to every believer. Better said it is a Partnership In Missions between the called missionary and the church who sends them. Every member of the United Pentecostal Church International should work into his or her personal financial budget a goal to provide at least a $25 Partner In Mission commitment monthly to foreign missions.
For those more financially capable, the contribution should reflect a prayerful consideration in their commitment. If this could become an attitude of the total church, our missionaries could be spared months of unnecessary deputation travel. After a short time, the blessings of God would rest upon the local church membership and produce the attitude that this commitment should not only be looked upon as a partnership in world evangelism, but also as one of the greatest opportunities ever to serve the body of Christ. It is the church at work around the world. If no other argument persuades the United Pentecostal Church International to incorporate all our local assemblies into the program, please understand that the end result will be untold thousands unprepared for eternity, and the responsibility Jesus left for the church incomplete. God is entitled to expect better from those He has blessed with abundance! Don’t you agree?
What Should We Do?
The first thing that should be done, as a movement, is to step back and take a good look at the statistics. When the study is complete it is apparent that approximately 20% of the churches are carrying the weight of world missions. In light of the Great Commission and the purpose of the church in the world, the total church must sincerely decide if this ratio is equitable. While some are doing an excellent job reaching their own community and the walls are bulging with new converts, yet comparatively little of the additional finances generated as a result are flowing outside the projects designed for the benefit of the local assembly. Sometimes this is an oversight. However, when opportunity is given the membership to become personally acquainted with the world missions program, there is generally an overwhelming response that greatly increases the church’s investment in missions.
Pastors, almost without exception are sincere and sensitive men God has chosen to lead a local congregation of believers to acceptable spiritual heights. Christian virtues are taught with diligence, and provide the surrounding the Local Church… And World missions community a good example of godliness. The church blesses the community! Men and women find security in life by the transforming power of the gospel. Economical security develops as people become involved in God’s financial plan of tithing and sacrificial giving.
Therefore, their hearts are always open to ways that they can help others access the same doors of opportunity. Many constituents of the church who are now financially secure, were at one time doing a balancing act with success and failure. Local pastors have led these precious hearts to become great citizens and responsible leaders in the community. They should also teach their people that the heartbeat of God is world evangelism and that financially providing for its operation attracts His blessings. Any church who gives sacrificially to missions becomes a prosperous congregation.
Usually the members of local assemblies who are not participating sufficiently in the world missions program are those who have not been impacted to the real purpose of the total church. If they could but feel the heartbreak of men and women worldwide who have not yet heard of the grace of God or that His love is available to them, they would sacrifice unreservedly to see that the message was heard. The missions program would be propelled forward by the commitments of the masses. The total church community would not feel an intense pressure related to missions giving if every local church in every part of the world would give missions’ support according to their ability.
Instead there are men God has called to serve the purpose of missions waiting in the wings of expectation because of the lack of finances. However, the casting of blame upon churches or leaders because they have not participated in world missions with a passion is not the answer. The answer is to awaken the local church pastor to the amazing possibility that the church he pastors can become an active partner in missions by extending, not of their financial surplus, but of sacrificial giving.
Missionary reports only arrive to the bulletin board of the churches that are supporting the mission project. There is a feeling of extreme pleasure on the part of the church that they have been the underlying resource that has enabled the gospel to generate such a report. Down deep in the hearts of the local membership, there is a prayer of thanksgiving that they had been a small part in the program that has accomplished so much for so little. All of God’s people should be given the opportunity and the privilege to participate! Pastor, you can be a major part of world missions! Your people will rise to call you blessed, and that is only a small part of your remuneration. Think of what a lost world beyond will think of you.
Not every local church can increase their giving. Not every local assembly can support missions as they would like to, but every church can respond to missions according to the ability of the congregation. Not only that, but also every member deserves the opportunity to decide for themselves if they wish to be a part of God’s plan to save the world. Many have never been given the opportunity to choose. When an international company expands to another nation, there is an investment involved. Finances that are on reserve are used to establish the door of opportunity, and when returns subsequently result, the newly established part of the business begins to financially bless the company.
All of this becomes a reality because the company possesses the confidence that the target nation will buy into its product. What secular company has a product that can transform lives? It establishes its product on the international scene for gain. What secular company can report the tremendous successes the gospel has been at Deal Church… And World missions
able to provide? What a lesson for the church! Dollar for dollar, world evangelism is the greatest investment one can make!
The church has the ability to transform every nation in the entire world yet we delay those men and women who would willingly represent us to other lands by withholding the finances that would send them. We reduce these prospective missionaries to pools of tears as they weep for a people to whom God has sent them. Sometimes their lives are torn apart knowing that God has called but they cannot go until they have a sufficient budget to carry them through. Sometimes these men are not capable to articulate their burden sufficiently as they appeal for funds but if they were on the field they could, and would, step to the front of the battle and serve as fantastic missionaries. Somehow, we as a church must come face to face with ourselves until we see that He is depending on the total body.
The bottom line is clear. World missions is the mission of the total church, and missionaries who are divinely called by God to serve will accomplish the task. A proven method to get the missionary on location is to send him on deputation in order that the local churches can financially share his burden. The Faith Promise Plan produces the adequate finances to assist the missionary with a monthly commitment, and that commitment unites the local church and the missionary as Partners in Missions. The local church and the missionary become a team … an unbeatable team destined to win, and blessed of God.
This teamwork must be recognized as a clock that tells the time. While the face of the clock and the hands are the elements that gain the attention of the viewer, it is also the mechanism behind the scenes that performs the service that is indispensable to the action. The missionary many times gets the credit for evangelizing his field of labor, but without the local church behind the scene his ability would be seriously limited. The missionary is the key to keep the church involved in the partnership. With newsletters and systematic reporting, sharing with the local church family the progress of the work, the missionary will provide the enthusiasm the congregation will need to continue what many times is a sacrificial monthly financial commitment.
This article �The Local Church�And World Missions� was taken from �A Divine Partnership� by Daniel Scott, Sr. and may only be used for research and study purposes only.