The elders of our church are in the process of drafting a missionary policy to assist us in decisions we make regarding which missionaries and organisations to support.
To help us in this endeavor, we have all read a book by Andy Johnson called ‘Missions’ (available to borrow from the church library).
Therefore, I thought it might be helpful to share in a few bulletin articles some of the ideas that the elders are considering.
One of the things we think we should expect from a missionary is that they are a member of a local church.
Andy Johnson includes this suggestion when he looks at implications of a short passage from John’s Third Letter: ‘1 To my dear friend Gaius, whom I love in the truth. 2 Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well. 3 It gave me great joy to have some brothers come and tell about your faithfulness to the truth and how you continue to walk in the truth. 4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. 5 Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers, even though they are strangers to you. 6 They have told the church about your love. You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God. 7 It was for the sake of the Name that they went out, receiving no help from the pagans. 8 We ought therefore to show hospitality to such men so that we may work together for the truth’ (3 John. 1:1-8).
Andy Johnson writes: ‘Missionaries are not just self-styled free agents. They should be accountable to a specific local church. The missionaries mentioned in 3 John are probably accountable to John’s church in Ephesus. Did you notice the church connection in verse 6? John tells Gaius that these missionaries “testified to your love before the church.” After having been supported by Gaius they returned to the church that sent them and reported back. John’s letter, among other things, seems to be his church’s commendation of these missionaries as their own approved workers. Biblical missionaries are connected to a local church. It’s always been that way.’
Drummoyne Baptist elders agree that membership of a local church is important for all Christians. Many of the Biblical instructions to Christians can only be performed if one is a member of a local church. From the formal worship of God, to the discipline of members, to the submission to leaders, a local church is necessary for all Christians. For example, how would the Corinthian church follow these instructions of the Apostle Paul if they didn’t have a church membership roll? ‘But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked man from among you.”’ (1 Corinthians 5:11-13).
Thus if missionaries are supposed to be exemplary Christians, shouldn’t they be connected to a local church – whether at home or abroad?