Local churches have the final responsibility
We believe there are compelling arguments for pooling the Church’s efforts to reach out to specific contexts. It does not make sense, nor is it possible, for each local church to have all the necessary experience and expertise required for effective cross-cultural church planting in the world’s neediest contexts. It does not seem to us unbiblical to collaborate in these efforts or for local churches to send out suitable, well-equipped members to work as part of broadly based ministry teams. It is even possible to describe an appropriate level of delegated authority under which members of different churches work together for specific purposes.
But, this authority never supersedes other relationships; with God, in marriages, the family… and with someone’s local church. Unfortunately, in our view, this has sometimes been out of balance in the modern mission movement, with agencies assuming too much control over “their” members at the cost of a healthy relationship with sending churches. We have observed this at times in the past within our own organisation and other ministry partners, and as CrossView we are committed to finding healthier, biblical ways to function.
This issue intersects directly with our training program because we believe there’s a much better chance of workers “out there” having the right kind of relationship with their churches “back here” if they’ve walked through the formative experience of the equipping/training/sending process together.
Local churches have a vital role in evaluation
Ideally it begins with church leaders sharing their perspective when their members apply to our network. After all, unless they are very new members (a situation that brings its own dynamics) leaders in the church should be in an excellent position to comment on whether (1) these are people suited to the kinds of contexts they are wanting to aim for, and (2) our network will be a good fit for them. Of course for that to work those leaders need at least a passing knowledge of those contexts and our network. Obviously this involves some time and effort for you as church leaders and for us here at CrossView, with us all already having plenty to keep us busy. But we believe it is worth the effort because of the on-going, long-term benefits we see for the Church, for the members, and for us as we seek to equip them. We are keen to work with church leaders as we and their members evaluate progress and decide if and when they are ready to move on to the challenge of an overseas ministry… also to consider the kinds of contexts they are most suited for.
Local churches are essential in the task
How can your church effectively send people and provide the kind of care that will assist them to remain in ministry long term and to be resourced to function effectively? As one overseas worker put it, “Our team at home make it possible for us to stay on the field – we see them as essential partners in our work”. So how best can a sending church accomplish this? One model that has proven to be effective is the establishment of “Home Mission Teams”. CrossView can help sending churches develop structures that will see overseas workers supported and resourced effectively.