New wave: strategy-coordinator churches.
This article in The Commission describes how churches are being identified as "strategy-coordinator" churches that seek to be directly involved in missions:
"It’s a church that is owning the task of taking the gospel to an unengaged people group,” says Ken Winter of the International Mission Board’s Church Services Team.
Sounds a little biblical to me. Isn't that old fashioned?
It may be old fashioned in a good sense. Churches should be as directly involved in missions as they possibly can. Of course, the churches in the article are Southern Baptist churches, and the International Mission Board is the 'missions' wing of the Southern Baptist Convention. There is some irony to the whole idea, as the very founding of the Southern Baptist Convention has roots in the 1840's when Baptist churches agreed to work together in the effort of mission work forming a cooperative system where many churches would pool resources to support missionaries that a single church probably could not have afforded to support.
Without arguing the good and/or bad of the cooperative program, there seems to be something very healthy about churches sending their own missionaries to specific places to reach the specific people there. The authority that governs such an endeavor is directly located with the sending church. The people praying for the missionaries are those that have helped send them. The church itself gets the opportunity to directly be involved in the work of reaching the nations by sending its own people, whether long term or short term, to help.
According to the article, even smaller churches are involved in this 'new' approach. Money was the issue in forming a cooperative over 150 years ago. Now there are so many churches and missionaries that many churches could afford to send their own. When we consider how our funds are allocated, shouldn't our churches at least be considering this type of work? If we could send a church-planting team to a region instead of remodeling our own multi-million dollar facility, shouldn't we at least consider it? While the IMB currently has over 5,000 career missionaries, I find much more reason to rejoice with the people to which our local church has ties, whether they serve with the IMB or not.
I wrote down a quote from David Penman a few years ago, though I do not recall precisely the source:
"No local church can afford to go without the encouragement and nourishment that will come to it by sending away its best people."