Today is my last post on looking at some of the issues that Roland Allen points out in regards to mission organizations and how at times they can greatly hinder the spontaneous expansion of the church. This post involves the equipping process of those being sent out and how the large mission organization continues to add to these requirements, which obviously hinders spontaneous expansion.
Now, this is not entirely the fault of the organization, but much of this really falls onto the local church. I firmly believe that it is the job of the local church to equip its people to be sent out, but unfortunately many of them are not doing a very good job at it. I had a seminary professor who said, "It is the job of the local church to equip the people for ministry; if they were doing a better job (as a whole) there would be no real need for seminaries."
The main point that Allen brings out is that in the Early Church the people were equipped by the local church and then set free for the work of ministry, which led to the spontaneous expansion of the church. As the majority of mission work started to be outsourced to an organization the local church stopped equipping the people, relying more heavily on the organization.
As this has continued on, more and more requirements have been put into place by these organizations, which have put a halt to many that are gifted and called to do mission work. As more requirements have been put into place, there has been created a sense of professionalism about mission work, making it only for the select few. The reality is that we are all called to be on mission and Allen is right on in sensing that these type of extra man-made requirements often hinder the spontaneous expansion of the church through missions.
Are most organizations sending out overqualified people to do missions? In most cases, yes! Now, that does not mean that someone who has a masters degree or PhD should not do missions, but the organization should not require it of them in order for them to be sent out. My point is that those things are great to have, but should not be the standard level for one to do missionary work.
Most of the men that I am equipping to plant churches in S. Asia have very little education, some can barley read. Now, imagine how much I would hinder the gospel going forward in one of the least reached places in the world if I told these men that they needed to finish high school, go to college, and then go to seminary all before they were really ready to be sent out and plant churches. That would be ridiculous and that is my point exactly.
And so I am not misunderstood here, I am two months shy from completing my required courses to finish my masters degree and I am currently serving with a large organization, although clearly sent by my local church. And yes, this organization does require a lot, including seminary education, but they are not the reason I attended seminary.
The reality is that none of us are qualified to do missions on our own efforts, but through Jesus we are called and qualified. The Great Commission was given to all of us and for some of us that means serving overseas, but for some of us our obedience along with the spontaneous expansion of the church may be hindered due to a structure of a large organization.