In August a new fundamental Baptist missions effort launched on the Web: Missions Mandate. To introduce this ministry to the SI readership (and because I was curious), I interviewed director Tim Aynes about MM’s history and the reason for being as well as missions matters in general.
SI: Tell us a bit about yourself. What’s your background, and what led to your decision to serve as director of Missions Mandate?
AYNES: I grew up in the Midwest with parents and five siblings who love God. God stirred in my heart a desire for gospel ministry as a teenager and led me to Northland Baptist Bible College (Dunbar, WI), where I received my bachelor’s degree in cross-cultural ministry. I met my wife, Anna, at Northland, and we were married August 9, 2008. My connection with missions goes back a couple of generations: my grandparents were missionaries in Beirut, Lebanon, for nearly thirty years. God used my grandfather to start several churches and train many Lebanese men in the ministry during their tenure. I had the privilege of visiting one of those church ministries during the summer of 2006. The trip quickly ended, however; I was evacuated from Beirut due to the bombing between Israel and Hezbollah. The following summer I completed an urban ministry internship at Inter-City Baptist Church (Allen Park, MI), learning much about Muslim culture, campus ministry, and Student Global Impact, a young adult missions mobilization ministry at Inter-City. I have been on staff as director of Missions Mandate since June 2008 and am thankful for the opportunity to serve local churches by providing resources for God-centered missions mobilization. (Right: Tim and Anna Aynes)
SI: What do you see as some of the biggest issues in missions today, and why are these important?
AYNES: Classifying “biggest” and “most important” issues in any realm is always difficult, but it is particularly the case with missions. One reason for this difficulty is that the term missions (or mission, depending on your persuasion) means so many things to so many people. If I had to narrow down the biggest need today in missions, I would sum it up in the word clarity. If churches desire to fulfill the Great Commission as directed by our Lord, they must possess a clear, concise understanding of what biblical missions is (theory) and be guided by biblical principles in the application of this understanding (practice). In order to pray, support, send, give, go, visit, and plant churches in a God-honoring fashion, we must clearly know what God says.
SI: If Christ doesn’t return in the next couple of years, what do you see as the long-term trend in fundamental missions?
AYNES: As my perspective is limited to a particular niche of fundamentalism, I can only answer for a portion of churches that would consider themselves fundamentalists. What I see from my vantage point is encouraging. More and more missionaries and pastors seem to be stepping back and deeply thinking about “the way we’ve always done missions.” Contemporary youth have models of “missions done right” that have stood the test of time that they can look up to. Many fundamental churches have finally realized the importance of working together with like-minded churches in missions endeavors. Today we have seminaries and training institutions worldwide that were developed and are currently supported by a plurality of local churches. That is exciting! While there are many issues that still need to be addressed, if fundamental churches grasp a God-centered, culturally attuned model of missions derived from biblical principles, we are going to be in good shape in the next few decades.
SI: Your site states that the goal of Missions Mandate is “the unique task of equipping local churches for God-centered missions mobilization.” What do you see MM accomplishing that existing missions organizations are not accomplishing or maybe not accomplishing as well as MM can?
AYNES: The primary distinguishing mark of Missions Mandate, compared to all the missions resource organizations that I am aware of, is that it is under a local church and committed to the local church. While we all ought to be grateful for parachurch organizations, such as schools, colleges, seminaries, missions boards, missions groups, and other such ministries, Scripture is clear that missions is a process conceived in, born out of, and matured by the local church. Missions Mandate is able to address local churches with helpful missions resources because we are a ministry of a local church.
SI: I read that the book For the Sake of His Name is the missions manual for Student Global Impact and also for Missions Mandate. What are some of the distinctives of your approach to missions in this book?
AYNES: For the Sake of His Name fills a niche in missions literature. There is not much available from a dispensational perspective. Also, few missions books walk through pertinent passages in a manner that ensures exegetical accuracy. The book reflects our pro-local-church disposition. We are fans of young adults taking ownership of missions promotion, something that is rarely talked about in our independent Baptist movement. This is reflected in the book. Several colleges and churches use the book as a textbook for their missions teaching.
SI: I notice that you chose the plural term missions rather than the singular mission, the latter of which seems to be becoming increasingly popular. Is there any significance at all to missions vs. mission (besides that the singular sounds really weird to many of us)?
AYNES: The use of the older term missions by Inter-City and Missions Mandate was made based on philosophical grounds. Pastor Doran in chapter five of For the Sake of His Name handled this topic extensively. By dropping the s from the word, missions leaders desire to emphasize a more holistic approach to ministry than the original usage of the term missions implied. This shift muddles the specific definition of “missions” as indigenous church-planting to include a host of other activities.
SI: Tell us a bit about the relationship between Missions Mandate and Inter-City Baptist Church and Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary. Is MM independent of these entities or an extension of the work of one or the other?
AYNES: Missions Mandate is a ministry of Inter-City Baptist Church (the church is located in Allen Park, MI, a suburb of Detroit; its name is derived from the merging of two Baptist churches in neighbor communities back in the 1950s), as is Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary. MM and the seminary are related only in that they are ministries of Inter-City (and the fact that I am pursuing my M.Div. from DBTS).
SI: We’ve recently featured articles at SI on the topic of contextualization. What do you understand the term to mean, and do you have any thoughts on the importance or dangers of contextualization?
AYNES: It is important that we accurately and carefully present gospel truths to people in our contemporary culture. This is my understanding of well-applied contextualization: relating timeless gospel truths in culturally appropriate ways. An understanding of the term that goes beyond this definition to actually alter core gospel truths is unacceptable.
SI: If you could communicate a short message to every Bible-believing local church on the topic of missions, what would it be?
AYNES: Discover through a study of God’s statements about Himself in Scripture that He is primarily about His pleasure in the exaltation of His name. The Bible is centered on God and how He relates to His creation. Allow the Spirit of God to give you a larger view of God and a smaller view of yourself. This is vital to a true understanding of biblical missions. Much has been written on missions with man as the primary motivation to support the cause. While the plight of fellow human beings who stand in a position to receive God’s wrath for their sin ought to be a strong motivation for gospel ministry, the superior motivation of glorifying God ought to guide, guard, and govern the accomplishment of the command to make disciples of all nations. (See 2 Cor. 4:15, which reveals that gospel ministry is important, even essential, but only as much as its ultimate goal is that “the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God” [NASB].) God must be the supreme motivation to communicate the gospel to others. This exalted view of God will not hinder your zeal for evangelism and missions; rather, it will fuel it! You will see that the gospel is good news because the hope of knowing and worshiping God is good news. I conclude this point with a quotation from Dr. David Doran’s chapter on “The Supremacy of God in Missions” in For the Sake of His Name:
How do we balance the supposed tension between seeking God’s glory and man’s salvation? My point is to argue that only one can be the ultimate end to be pursued, and that end must be God-centered—God’s glory rules the pursuit of all other goals. The pursuit of God’s glory is the only pursuit large enough to control all others and to encompass all others into itself. If God’s glory comes first, then there are some things that cannot be done in our efforts to win souls for Jesus Christ. A God-centered focus is the only one that is large enough to encompass all that God calls on us to do—it scoops up and embraces all that God has commanded of us, whether on the mission fields of the world or on the home front. (David Doran quoted in David Doran, Pearson Johnson, and Benjamin Eckman, For the Sake of His Name [Allen Park, MI: Student Global Impact, 2002], 53.)
Second, all are responsible to engage in local church-driven missions, either as goers or senders. It is a sad day when the bulk of the responsibility for promoting the cause of missions falls, not on local churches, but on other organizations and institutions. A primary reason for this transfer is that many church members view missions as a good cause sponsored by a portion of their giving or as an aspect of church life maintained solely by “the clergy” or as a hobby for only “globally inclined” folks. It is a problem when members of the body are not regularly challenged to ponder their vital role as senders. Pastors must train their flock to think biblically about involvement in missions as either senders or goers (see 3 John 5-8, for instance).
Finally, churches would do well not to be so quick to come to conclusions about missions issues; those issues are very complex and ought to be addressed with humility, perseverance, and wisdom. Those who serve as senders must also be willing to be learners and realize that we have an equal obligation to learn and improve in our sending as missionaries do in their going.
|Site Publisher Aaron Blumer, a native of lower Michigan, is a graduate of Bob Jones University (Greenville, SC) and Central Baptist Theological Seminary (Plymouth, MN). He, his wife, and their two children live in a small town in western Wisconsin, where he has pastored Grace Baptist Church (Boyceville, WI) since 2000. Prior to serving as a pastor, Aaron taught school in Stone Mountain, Georgia, and served in customer service and technical support for Unisys Corporation (Eagan, MN). He enjoys science fiction, music, and dabbling in software engineering.|