Riding a Space Shuttle into orbit is a wild and exciting ride! It would have been sad and shortsighted indeed for NASA to build a Space Shuttle while never thinking about how it would get the craft into orbit. It is well designed to accomplish its mission, but it would struggle to get up into orbit on its own. It needs something called “solid rocket boosters” to get it off the ground and give maximum thrust until it reaches its breathtaking momentum.
For a missionary, the sending/commissioning church is the solid rocket booster. As a church equips one of its families for vocational ministry in missions, one of the most meaningful steps it can take is to launch and push what is commonly called the “deputation process” – when missionaries raise prayer and financial support from independent churches.
Often missionaries without this boost take months to get off the ground and years to get up into orbit. The reason many families don’t even try to go into missions is the trauma of the deputation process. A sending church can make a huge difference. How can church leaders help?
No Fuel Without Familiarity. People and churches really get behind people they know. If the missionary has been trained in your church, this is not a problem. If the missionary was trained elsewhere, bring him onto your staff for an apprenticeship lasting at least 6-12 months. This will give him experience in ministry, expose the strengths, and build enthusiasm as the church prepares to send one of its own to serve the Lord overseas.
Conserve Fuel For Your Mission Lineup. What missionaries are you planning to send out in the next five years? In order to give them a meaningful boost, you may have to decline support to new missionaries whom you don’t know. When your own people are ready, you can pick up a greater percentage of their support because you haven’t been giving out fuel to every shuttle passing by.
Develop A “Missions Fuel Co-Op.”
Spearhead a mission consortium of like-minded churches in your area (within 50 miles). To start a co-op, a pastor can write to as many contacts as he has and recommend the missionary. A church can also throw a get-acquainted luncheon for area pastors to meet the couple. A missionary’s travel costs, time, and fatigue during deputation and furlough will be greatly diminished, and the pool of churches will actually see far more of the missionary family since they’re not out on the road all the time.
Call On Known Fuel Suppliers To Get Help. If you don’t want to start a co-op, a pastor can write to as many contacts as he has and recommend the missionary. A church can also throw a get-acquainted luncheon for area pastors to meet the couple.
THE STROMBERG MISSION:
By way of illustration, we would refer you to Covington Bible Church in Covington, Virginia. After Fred and Cindy Stromberg completed their Bible College training, Pastor Howard Merrell asked Fred to serve as an intern at the church. The couple was clearly committed to missions, and in July Fred and Cindy joined Biblical Ministries Worldwide bound for our church-planting ministry Honduras.
Covington Bible Church then created the position of Assistant Pastor/Missionary On Deputation, in which Fred began to serve. Pastor Merrell almost immediately sent out letters to a number of area pastors inviting them to a luncheon in October, explaining Covington Bible Church’s vision for reaching Honduras and introducing the Strombergs to those who attended. They provided a booklet enclosing relevant materials with the cover letter on the next page.
By April, the Strombergs had raised well over half their support, and in that month, Pastor Merrell again called on area pastors to examine Fred and ordain him for the ministry. The Strombergs intend to leave for their language training on the field in early the next year. With the boost their church and its leaders have given them, they are well on their way.
Churches are solid rocket boosters for missions. What might your church do a little better in its missions program to provide maximum thrust for your people that God calls to the mission field?