The last blog was about how an effective missionary prepares for the future by saving for his return from the field (specifically for retirement). This is so he is not a burden on those churches that have faithfully supported him. This post continues the thought about preparing for the future, but more specifically in the context of the ministry on the field.
There is coming a day when we will no longer serve in Argentina. It may come by death, it may come by God’s guiding into another ministry, or a health problem, or something else. Although I have no plans to leave Argentina, I know each day that passes brings me closer to that departure. That being said, I must focus on preparing the ministry for that eventual departure. There is so much to be done, but two things specifically stick out in my mind. One is setting up patterns that the churches and ministry will follow and the other is setting up leadership to continue the ministry.
Setting up patterns to follow. This is such a broad topic, but the ministry needs patterns to follow. This is true in the context of each local church. A missionary plants a church and sets up patterns to follow. This includes everything down to the order of each service, to how the offering is counted, to how the money is used from the offering, to how discipleship is done, to what curriculum is used in discipleship, to much, much more. The missionary sets the pattern as to what time services begin and end. The missionary will leave, even if it is for a furlough, so patterns must be put into place to guide the church to not just continue in his absence, but to advance the Gospel and grow. This is much easier said than done, but it is necessary. But to set up patterns for an entire ministry is even more important. How does a missionary go about doing so? I am not there yet, and I don’t really know. I realize that is not a good answer, but it is a truthful one. We have planted one church, we hope to plant three more churches during our next term. There is so much I have learned and so much more that I need to learn. I do believe it is important to set up patterns for local churches to continue to thrive and for the ministry as a whole to continue progressing forward. I know that everything we do in one way is setting up patterns. I know that God will guide us. I am thankful for the Holy Spirit, who will lead us in all of this and give us wisdom beyond our years. I am also thankful for missionaries who are “further down the road” than we are. Receiving counsel from such men is invaluable! Patterns must be set up to follow for the ministry to continue to thrive long after the missionary is gone.
Setting up leaders to continue the ministry: “Every thing rises and falls on leadership.” – Lee Roberson. God uses men to complete His purpose. I think of the Old Testament. God used Moses to lead His people out of Egypt, and to guide them through 40 years of wandering in the desert. When He took Moses home to be with Him, He used Joshua. Joshua was already serving under Moses, and as the leader, God used Him to bring Israel into the Promised Land and to conquer specific areas. After Joshua, things got complicated. There was no Moses or Joshua to “take the reins” and it shows. The people did that which was right in their own eyes, the regional leaders (judges) liberated their people from bondage, but few of them led them to God. It was a mess! God did use some, including Samuel to guide the people spiritually, but it wasn’t like it was under Moses or Joshua. David would become King, and after Him there were good Kings and bad ones. The defining quality of each king was whether he did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord. God uses men to complete His plan, so missionaries need to develop men to lead the ministry. This means giving men the opportunity to serve and to shine. This means teaching and training so that others are doing the work, and not the missionary. An effective missionary sets up leaders to continue the ministry.
Again, so much more can be said about this topic, but the point is that effective missionaries set up patterns to follow and leadership to continue the ministry in their absence. Missionary brother, the day is coming when we will no longer be on the field, let us do all we can to set things up in the ministry for God’s work to continue!