NORTHSIDE BAPTIST CHURCH
Philosophy of Missions
Some Christians believe that missions is the key to receiving the blessing of God. The more money we give to missions, or the greater the number of missionaries we support, the greater our blessing will be from God. This is not true. Scripture emphasizes our walk with God -- our trust in God, the holiness of our lives, our daily communion with Him, etc. In addition to this, not all missionaries have the same level of Biblical knowledge, or the same philosophy of ministry. Note what A. W. Tozer says: "Mere evangelism is not our present need. Evangelism does no more than extend religion, of whatever kind it may be. It gains acceptance for religion among larger numbers of people without giving much thought to the quality of that religion. The tragedy is that present day evangelism accepts the degenerate form of Christianity now current as the very religion of the apostles and busies itself with making converts to it with no questions asked. And all the time we are moving farther and farther from the New Testament pattern."
So the primary emphasis is not the number of missionaries our church can support, but rather the kind of missionaries our church should support. Have they been adequately trained? Do they have a similar philosophy of ministry? Are they truly concerned with "making disciples" (or just multiplying converts)? What is their view on current social issues, and how do they plan to deal with those issues? What mission board are they with and why did they choose that mission board? What is their view on social drinking? What is their view on music (both in and out of church)? What is their view on the translation issue? What is their view (and plan) about working with other missionaries? Do they plan to build a church building with money from their supporting churches or with money from their own congregation?
Knowing what missionary candidates believe about these issues will determine (and most likely limit) the number of missionaries the church supports. This is not "unbiblical." In fact, there may be a great blessing in supporting a fewer number of missionaries. First, the church can contribute a greater amount toward a missionary's monthly support, and therefore the missionary may be able to get to the field in a shorter amount of time. Second, the church will have a better knowledge of every missionary and their ministry. Third, if more churches supported fewer missionaries with greater support, then communication would be much easier for the missionaries -- not to mention the time spent traveling during their furlough.
Not all missionaries have the same focus either. Some congregations believe missionaries should only focus on planting indigenous churches. God does not call every missionary to plant churches. Some go specifically to do translation work. Some may focus on training nationals at a Bible institute (or perhaps teaching English as a second language). Others may want to focus on establishing an orphanage or medical clinic. There are many ways or venues to share the Gospel. Missionaries should not be viewed as "second class" just because they are not planting indigenous churches. Local churches should be willing to consider various kinds of mission work as worthy of their support.
Local churches can also promote missions by recommending some biographies to the congregation. Reading such biographies will put many issues in proper perspective and help individual Christians to grow spiritually.