Missional Church Planting or Misguided? – Describing the Sending Church (Part 2)

-Continued from Part 1

“God spoke to me through a Newsweek article and instead of planting a church our new tool for reaching Furnia is to create a network of orphanages.  There are three thousand orphans in Furnia.  The Muslims don’t believe in adoption so our new strategy is going to make a lot of noise.  We’ll start 30 orphanages around the country and when everyone sees how much God loves the orphan they will come running to you as the architect of the Highway to Heaven Orphanage Network.”  Molly and Martin didn’t know if they should reply to, forward, or delete Jason’s email.

Molly became indignant.  “Orphanage network?  What do we know about orphan ministry?”  “Yeah,” Martin retorted, “I haven’t had any training in that.”  As they felt the pits in their stomachs, their friends Pete and Holly strolled into the Russian-styled café with iron-wrought tables and purple plastic chairs.  “Wazzup guys?” Pete yelled across the room.

“Our church is flippin’ out – that’s what’s up,” anguished Molly.

“What’s goin’ down?” wondered Pete aloud.  “I thought you said your church was pretty committed and focused?”

“Maybe too focused,” said Martin, wondering what he had gotten himself into.  “Our pastor just wrote us with twelve changes he wants to make.  He wants us to open orphanages now instead of CP.”

“On top of that,” Molly interrupted, “the church is cutting our funding back by 25%.  I saw this when I was in management at my former company – always asking employees to do more with less.  I don’t know why I didn’t see this coming.”

Holly sat down and expressed the concern of a sister missionary.  “I remember you guys telling us that your church wouldn’t let you raise money outside of the church or go with an agency.  What’s up with that strategy?”

“Our church wants to control us and our ministry.  That’s the problem,” Molly said, dejectedly.

“Molly,” Martin fired back, “don’t talk about Jason that way.”

“It’s true.  We can’t raise money.  We can’t partner with anyone.  And now we can’t church plant.”

“It must be a misunderstanding,” Pete added, “how well does Jason communicate by email?”

“Too well,” Molly spit up.  “Hey, tell us, Holly, did that miscommunication with your agency get worked out or are you on skid row along with us?”

“Did it!  Our sending church called them and worked through the issue.  Our missions person called us back to say how pleased she was with Sarah at GreatBeginnings.org.  They feel like it is a real partnership,” Holly gleamed.

“Partnership?  What’s that?” Martin wise cracked.

“What do you mean sending church?” Molly asked.

“Well, Green Mountain views missions as a series of partnerships, led by what they call the sending church.  A sending church is a church that sends their own missionaries to the field and gets behind them in every way:  financially, with prayer, special gifts, visits to the field, help on home assignments with housing and transportation, that kind of stuff.  The church really gets behind us.  It’s not just leadership either – they get a lot of the rest of the church involved too.  We feel like they are truly committed to our ministry, our vision for Furnia, and not just to us.  It’s all about community.”

“At the same time,” Holly continued, “they help us to seek out partnerships in funding and ministry, knowing that they can’t go it alone, and trusting God to provide the right partners.  I guess it’s a nice balance between trying to equip us as newbies and enabling us to share our ideas and perspectives as well, all along seeking the Spirit of God for his vision, his plan, and his provision.  It’s like planning well and being flexible at the same time.”

“Flexible – right” Martin mused.

Pete jumped in, “Green Church tries to avoid the two extremes that many churches make.  On one end of the spectrum are churches that throw money at missionaries they don’t really know.  It’s not bad, it’s kind of the system that has evolved over time.  It’s better than nothing but is it God’s best?  We know missionaries who have to visit forty or fifty churches while in the U.S.  Home assignment is supposed to be a time of rest and retooling but often it is the most stressful, most tiring time of ministry.  It seems backwards.”

Pete spoke as if he knew what he was talking about, even though he was ten years younger than Martin. He was reflecting what he had learned in his missions studies at school, his church’s missions preparation program, and his understanding of the Word.

“It seems about half stupid if you ask me,” Martin bellowed.  Pete looked at Martin, seeing culture shock hitting him square between the eyes.  He wondered if this news from their church coming to them during this time of language learning and cultural adjustment would be a knockout blow to their time in Furnia.

“One of Green’s goals is to do mission like the church in Antioch that sent out Paul and Barnabas and received them back after their trips, debriefing them, and hearing their reports.  I love that verse in Acts 14 that says ‘they had been committed to the grace of God.’  Martin wondered why he hadn’t studied like Pete, able to share with conviction, excited about his field assignment.

“Molly, where did we go wrong?  Are we at the right church?  Shouldn’t we be with a sending agency?  Our church is trying to act like the agency but they don’t have a clue what they are doing.”  Martin was in a daze, not sure if he verbalized the words on his heart.

The Green Church was seeking to avoid the extremes of other churches, to a find a blend if you will, between the Blue and Yellow Churches, hands-on (like Blue) and impactful (like Yellow), but also smart about the way they did mission.  They realized that there is no exact model, no perfect way to do mission in today’s world.  But seeking to do mission in partnership in an intentional and realistic manner, they used Scripture as a guide and the voice of God as a beacon, combining seasoned approaches with creativity, rather than merely adopting the latest popular methodology or human whims.

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