WHY MISSIONARIES? PART 1
One thing became clear while I was fellowshipping with several others pastors last week: It is not common--in our already-thoroughly-evangelized developed country--for a local church to have missionaries on staff. As one of them expressed: "I've never heard of it."
So it got me thinking: if it's that rare, perhaps I should explain why they're essential to our Mission: Kona Coast (M:KC). Because these Pastor's Perspectives are a "behind-the-scenes" look at the life and ministry of KCN, I will commit to helping you understand WHY we are hiring missionaries and HOW they will impact M:KC. I will do it in a four-part series, "Why Missionaries?" Hope you enjoy.
Begin by rewinding 18 years: My family attended a mature church plant. I use that description because the founding pastor was still leading the church with his original vision, we were not a young church but had characteristics of a church plant still, and we had stable leadership and a strong core of about a dozen families.
While I was there, we experienced healthy growth: our numbers were up, our finances were growing, and full-time staff was hired to reach newcomers to the surrounding community.
Fast-forward 13 years: The church I was at was a heritage church. I use that description because most of the ministerial decisions made were made in light of our heritage. Every couple Sundays was a historic Sunday and every event was, for example, a 20th, 50th, or 75th annual something.
While I was there, we did not experience growth; actually, we shrank (or plateaued, depending on who you asked) in numbers, in finances, and consequently in staff positions.
Fast-forward 2 years: I was helping in the launch of church plant. Every ministry decision was made in light of the convictions of the "core" group, and though small, the church was enthusiastic about its future mission to its community.
While I participated, measurable growth was experienced. No decision about staff or assets were made, simply because there weren't any. All decisions were "mission" decisions.
I tell you those few short stories for these two reasons:
- Churches, as responsible institutions, steward their assets in a way that maximize their reach (ministry influence). This can result in negative and positive outcomes. If a church's assets are shrinking (like in my second example), its reach--programmatic development to fulfill its mission--must correspondingly downsize. Alternatively, as a church grows (like in my first example), its programs, ministries, and reach can be extended. This is a "calculus" that must always faithfully be measured and executed.
- But there is less obvious correlation between what bears on the decision making process and how established a church is. For example, as a church ages, its list of assets grows, and its traditions become more extensive; naturally, its institutional demands play a bigger role in decision making. Inversely, the younger and less established a church the more decisions are made according to the discerned mission.
The first correlation is a material reality for institutions.
- Fewer assets = less ministry reach;
- More assets = larger ministry reach.
The second correlation is an institutionalization norm.
- Younger institutions = fewer decision-making factors;
- Older institutions = more decision-making factors.
Have you experienced these "truths" like I have? Are these your two observations?
Whoa, whoa! Not so fast!
Are these really true? Does it have to be that way?
Here at Kona Coast Naz, WE WANT TO CHALLENGE BOTH . Yes, my experience seems to support them (as does yours, I'm sure). They seem obvious. BUT what appears true is not always true, and in this case may lead us astray from our call to this land...
We believe that when it comes to asset management, churches have largely followed in the wake of big business instead of the trail blazed by the early church, as found in SCRIPTURE.
We also believe that churches have largely ignored the call and role of MISSIONARIES as an important, institutional component of local church ministry.
If this is interesting to you, in my next newsletter, I'm going to challenge the "material reality" mentioned above by looking at the effectiveness and faithfulness of the early church as recorded in SCRIPTURE and the role of MISSIONARIES in enabling the church to do more-with-less.
In the third installment of this four-part series, I'll address the "institutionalization norm" and how MISSIONARIES help us avoid some of the classic pitfalls of aging churches.
In the fourth and final piece on "Why Missionaries?" I will explain some of the specific needs here on the Big Island and why MISSIONARIES are essential in the development of long term solutions.
On mission with you,