Are mission boards Biblical?

Well no....I don't believe so...They are taking place of the local church.

Mission Boards Generic Philosophies:
They typically are arranged to provide accountability financially and doctrinally?
They are there to help with the legalities of starting a mission work or church plant?
And to communicate with the sending and supporting local churches!

Truthfully these generic philosophies confuse me! Why can't the Local church do this. Acts 11, 13, 14 depicts all of these issues. The Local church in those passages takes care of all those issues?

Certainly, the intimacy is taken away from the local church and supporting churches when the missionary constantly has to go through the mission board for permission or communication. On top of the the board takes a cut of the support to take care of their own needs? If the there were no cuts because the Local church was there to keep accountable with finances then that "cut" could be used to help that missionary in great ways. Let say an average of 10% of the support of a missionary goes to the board, I do not care what country or field that missionary field, that 10% of the total support could be a HUGE blessing. In some countries that could be an Amazing amount of money that could get the extra emphasis in reaching people for Christ!

I am not venting...more or less stating my position from ACTS 11, 13, and 14....whats your thoughts....Biblical thoughts please!

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Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

On the "biblical" question, may need to clarify.
"Biblical" as in "required by Scripture"? Certainly not.
"Biblical" as in "forbidden by Scripture"? I think this is also a pretty clear "not."
"Biblical" as in "allowed by Scripture"? This would be yes. There is even some precedent. That is, you do have more than one church involved. On one journey (first?) Paul is sent from Antioch I believe in Acts 13. But he is supported later by Philippi (says so in Philippians 4). Maybe not the same journey. Probably a stronger case can be made, but the idea of multiple churches working together to further the work is fairly evident in Acts.

Can a local church do what mission boards today are doing? This is where I'd suggest visiting or having a conversation or two with long-time reps of a few major boards. Talk to BMM and BWM, maybe GFA. There are lots of them.

Do some missionaries go out with the aid of a board who could go out with only the aid of their local church? Probably. I think it has much to do with where they're headed and how complex the process of getting and staying there is. But the teamwork boards facilitate on the field is often priceless as well.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

I think the issue becomes where they draw the line. If a board wants to assist local church ministry by helping get visas and providing group health insurance, I'm all for it. However, when the board becomes responsible for recruiting and vetting the missionaries, and when the missionaries become accountable to the board who can dictate when and where they serve, I think the line has been crossed. Far too many groups refer to themselves as parachurch ministries, when in fact they have actually usurped a portion of the church's mission; they are not haling the church as much as functioning in place of the church. A biblically accurate model of parachurch ministry would be one that assists the church in accomplishing her mission, not one that takes over some portion of the church's mission.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I think churches can delegate some accountability, vetting etc to boards if they view the board as an extension of their own ministry as a church--and really behave that way (feeling some conviction on this point in regards to our own church just now!). If we're sharing a missionary, I don't know why we can't share--with other churches--the oversight. How to do that without using some third party that is neither my church alone nor any of the other churches alone? The board seems like a good concept for that.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
I think churches can delegate some accountability, vetting etc to boards if they view the board as an extension of their own ministry as a church...

How can they be considered an extension of the church ministry when there is no leadership provided by the church and no accountability to the church. They are not an extension but a replacement - an entirely separate, independent organization. When I partner with another church in an endeavor, they are not an extension of my local church ministry. They remain their own, unique, independent ministry. Only, they are biblically recognized as ministries, unlike mission boards et al who are trying to do the work of the church in place of the church.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I don't have really good answer on how these groups can be accountable/lead by local churches--other than to answer the question with a question. How did multiple churches cooperate in Acts? How did accountability work then? The answer is that you had apostolic oversight of multi-church efforts. So the "third party" (between churches or between a church and the missionary) was an apostle or the apostles collectively.
So what happens when they all die off? If you believe in apostolic succession or even that their authority continues in the true church as a whole, the answer is that your denomination takes on that role.
So if you believe in local church autonomy what do you do?

It seems to me you have three choices:
a. Do missions with no third party at all and no interchurch cooperation.
b. Do missions via a body that has some authority but intentionally seeks to honor the primacy of the local church
c. I forgot that one... it'll come back later. Maybe.

So which is better, no cooperation among churches or cooperation via an awkward middle entity?

As for lack of accountability, there are some ways to mitigate that. For one thing, I don't know of any mission boards that could continue to exist without a good bit of financial support from participating churches. So there's always the "Listen to us because we pay your bills" kind of accountability.
Secondly, I don't know much about how these groups are structured, but I can't think of any reason why the board that operates the ministry could not be composed of all or quite a few of the pastors (or other leaders from) the participating churches.

I do know that the boards I'm familiar with have no desire to usurp the role of the local church, but want to help in their efforts.
Maybe we can get one or two of them to comment here or post some links to their defining documents.

But I do think the ideal is for a missionary to be supported by a relatively small number of churches with whom they maintain very close connections. But the expense involved in getting to some fields just makes that very impractical.... and 2Cor. 1.11 suggests perhaps the more partners the better.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Pastor Harold's picture

This is a mission board on steroids. 150 yrs ago it was like most fundy mission boards are today as far as structure. I'm with Chris, Churches need to do all that they can in keeping with Biblical examples and trust in the Lord to work out the details.

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
I don't have really good answer on how these groups can be accountable/lead by local churches--other than to answer the question with a question. How did multiple churches cooperate in Acts? How did accountability work then? The answer is that you had apostolic oversight of multi-church efforts. So the "third party" (between churches or between a church and the missionary) was an apostle or the apostles collectively.

I don't think there needs to be a third part at all. I acknowledge the presence and position of apostles in the NT. However, you are still dealing with actual churches cooperating. I don't think we need apostles today to cooperate; each church still has an under-shepherd and flock making and implementing decisions to perform the work of the church as described in Scripture. What I am arguing against is non-churches taking over the place of churches. The church has been left to do a certain body of work. The church is indispensable to the age. When usurpers who are not churches start taking over the functions of the churches, I believe we have run afoul of Scripture.

I have no problem with legitimate parachurch ministries. These are folks who recognize the role of the church and seek to aid the church in fulfilling her own work. If mission boards want to help missionaries get visas and group health insurance, great! But when they become the primary leadership in vetting, discipling, sending, disciplining, monitoring, etc. missionaries they have crossed into the work of the church. This is happening all over the place, not just in missions. The church gets sloppy about her duty and someone steps in to "help." Think counseling, discipleship(schools and colleges), evangelism, pretty much every area of church life at this point.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

David Little's picture

It is always the missionary that gets hurt in any of these matters. It is not the agency...they just close and go on, and it is not the church, they usually vote and move on....it is the missionary that takes the beating.
Ther are issues with the local church going it alone. Pastors come and go and there are differences in emphasis. Church memberships change and many times lose connections that were once vital. Some churches change doctrines under new leadership. And for foreign missions, will the state department recognize an individual church? Will the church be ready to send in emergency people to rescue or bring out the missionary with a medical emergency (there will not be time to call a business meeting to spend $50,000).
I believe and know that Baptist Church Planters (who I serve) welcomes the involvement of the local sending church. We want the pastor to attend the Candidate School and Council interview. We welcome the church to be involved with the major decisions and support by participation the missionary as much as they can. But we also know that often, local churches do not have the resources or the time to be as involved as they would like to be. In another Forum on this sight is the discussion of bio-vocational pastors. Few men working to support themselves while they pastor will have time to make trips to assist and encourage church planters.
I would ask every local church to pause and consider seriously the role of sending AND servicing the missionary.

David Little

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Thanks for that, David.

There's always tension between what would be ideal and what we can actually do. I supposed in an ideal world, every local church would be well equipped to do all the vetting, training, etc.
And in an ideal world, the mission board entity would never overstep its bounds in serving local churches.
But reality is that sometimes churches can't do it and still want to be involved in missions. And reality is also that since we don't have apostolic oversight, sometimes para-church entities mess up.
(Even with apostles on the scene, Paul still had to write 1 Corinthians, had to confront Peter, had to help the Jerusalem council come down on the right side of Gentile regulation, so even if we had apostles, we'd be saying "in an ideal world, apostles would never have to..." )
Nothing works perfectly here below... yet.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.