The best definition of God’s mission is to restore God’s image in lost man by means of salvation. Therefore, the definition of “missions” is simply the fulfillment of God’s mission by means of His people. So “missions” is all about making disciples of all nations who will ultimately become responsible members of local churches and participants in God’s mission. Here are some parameters that we have landed on at First Baptist as we seek to partner with others who are participating in God’s mission. These are practical issues based on my personal experience from 14 years in Albania as well as my understanding of the Bible and what I believe God expects us to look for. So when we look at missionary partners at FBC, we are looking for these things:
1. Aggressively evangelistic in a culturally relevant way.
2. Effective discipleship that results in fruit that remains. (John 15:16)
3. Involved in starting churches. (Eph 5:25; Acts 14:21-23)
4. Target of becoming truly “indigenous” (self-governing, self-propagating and self-supporting).
5. A desire to be true partners in ministry.
6. Reach the least-reached.
Our goal as an American church is to live within our means and to invest in things that matter. In other words, we strive to limit our spending on ourselves and to make more available to those on the front lines of ministry service. I believe that it is our responsibility as wealthy Christians to significantly finance the gospel around the world. (1Tim 6:17-19) We prefer to support fewer men/ministries but to invest more substantially in each. (Phil 4:10) For us, supporting 100+ missionaries but giving each very little would make it difficult to really feel like true partners with each of them. Since our hearts follow our treasure (Matt 6:21), the more treasure we invest in a particular ministry, the more “connected” our hearts will be as well.
In order to facilitate all of the above, we desire to take people to visit missionaries to “see the fields” (John 4:35). Since the Bible says that “my eye affects my heart” (Lam 3:51), we find it strategic to go places where our eyes see God working in new ways. We also plan a missions conference every year and invite missionaries in to share their ministries with us. We get to know them personally and therefore feel more connected to the partnership. It is an annual time of celebration and focus on the nations needing the gospel.