The Mission Agency and the Local Church
The Mission Agency: An Investigation into its Legitimacy and its Future.
A Dissertation Submitted in Partial Fulfilment of the Requirements for a BA (Hons) Degree in Theology with the University of Gloucestershire, England
- 1 Preface
- 2 Contents
- 2.1 Chapter 1. The Issues Introduced
- 2.2 Chapter 2. The Issues Examined
- 2.3 Chapter 3. The Question of Hermeneutics
- 2.4 Chapter 4. The Seeds of the Sodality in the Gospels
- 2.5 Chapter 5. The Germination of the Sodality in the Early Church
- 2.6 Chapter 6. The Fruit of Sodalities in Church History
- 2.7 Chapter 7. The Changing Situation in World Mission
- 2.8 Chapter 8. Considerations for the Mission Agency
- 2.9 Chapter 9. Considerations for the Local Church
- 2.10 Chapter 10. Matters of the Heart
- 2.11 Chapter 11. Conclusion
- 2.12 Appendix 1
- 2.13 Appendix 2
- 2.14 Bibliography
- 3 PDF Version of This Page
The church of my childhood and young adult years was a lively evangelical Baptist church in the south of England with a strong world missions involvement. There were regular baptismal services where people expressed their faith with this public declaration, and yearly missionary weeks where the work of missionary societies was celebrated, alongside a loud proclamation to 'go into all the world'. Regular prayer times for both local missions initiatives and foreign missionary work were part of the church's weekly calendar; indeed the seeds of my own involvement in missions came from this environment. At no time was there a sense of competition between the local work of the church and the missions thrust through the various missionary societies, rather one was seen as part of the other.
Today the landscape has somewhat changed. Some local church leaders are questioning the role of the modern expression of the missionary society, the mission agency, claiming it is dis-empowering, or even hindering the local church in its missionary responsibility. Recent books and other publications claim that historically the local church has not fulfilled its missions responsibility and so other entities have filled the vacuum; but now that the local church is waking from its slumber, control of the missions endeavour should be handed back to the local church, for the day of the mission agency is, for the most part, coming to an end.
This question is of much interest to me in that as an adult I have been committed to the local church scene for thirty-six years, with about sixteen of those years carrying leadership responsibility in various forms (currently a local church elder). Alongside this I have worked with a mission agency for the last twenty-five years, often carrying leadership responsibility. Are these two worlds of mine at odds with each other? Are they reconcilable? And why in these recent years has there been a change in thinking about the work of world mission? Is the mission agency God's 'Plan B' that is now growing redundant, or part of God's answer to the prayer 'thy kingdom come'? And in this new climate, what is a workable way forward for both local church and mission agency?
This dissertation seeks to investigate these questions within the limitations outlined below. First the complaints and concerns expressed over the mission agency are identified. Then, after a brief review of important hermeneutical considerations, the New Testament is explored for what light it might shed on the issues at hand. Church history is then considered, followed by a brief examination of the uniqueness of the present rapidly changing global situation. Finally suggestions are made as to how both local church and agency can approach the future in a way that furthers the Kingdom of God, concluding with a consideration of appropriate attitudes and actions of all involved.
The sources I have used in this dissertation include books, journals, papers, magazines, web sites and weblogs. Conversations with those on both sides of the debate have been most helpful, particularly in remembering this is not just an academic or theological exercise, but (at times, strong) emotions, personal interest and clear preferences are all part of the equation. In this matter, I, no doubt, am no exception. I am under no illusion that this work will solve the issues to everyone's satisfaction, yet I do believe the thesis presented is sound and worthy of serious consideration. If this work contributes in any way towards better relationships and more strategic cooperation in the cause of global mission between church and mission agency leaders, I would be most grateful.
Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
This preface gives me an opportunity to thank my dissertation tutor, Andrew Kirk, for his helpful review, Rose Kalta for her careful proof reading, John Yeo, for his penetrating critique, and my wife Linda, for her loving support, encouragement and patient endurance. After ten years of my efforts to complete this distance learning degree, with this next full stop, we can both breathe a sigh of relief.
|Chapter 1. The Issues Introduced||7|
|Chapter 2. The Issues Examined||10|
|Chapter 3. The Question of Hermeneutics||21|
|Chapter 4. The Seeds of the Sodality in the Gospels||25|
|Chapter 5. The Germination of the Sodality in the Early Church||29|
|Chapter 6. The Fruit of Sodalities in Church History||39|
|Chapter 7. The Changing Situation in World Mission||44|
|Chapter 8. Considerations for the Mission Agency||49|
|Chapter 9. Considerations for the Local Church||53|
|Chapter 10. Matters of the Heart||56|
|Chapter 11. Conclusion||58|
Chapter 1. The Issues Introduced
For several decades there have been some in the local church challenging the biblical validity of the mission agency and its place in world mission. It is held that now the local church is stirring from its slumber and rising up to fulfil it missions destiny, the mission agency is becoming redundant and even counter-productive. Added to this are the seismic changes in technology and globalisation, whereby the world of today is a very different world to that of our nineteenth century missionary fathers. What does this mean for the mission agency? Does it have a place, and if so, what of local church and mission agency relationships? This dissertation will explore these issues.
Limits and Definitions
Mission Agencies as Parachurch Organisations
Often, when the mission agency is spoken about it is in the context of parachurch organisations. The latter is a broad term used to define the many ministries that are not under the direct authority of a local church. 'Para' is a prefix meaning 'along side of' 'by' or 'near', so a 'parachurch' organisation is an organisation that works 'along side of' the church. Snyder rightly states that 'all (emphasis his) institutional and organizational structures, including denomination [are] "para-church structures". This dissertation is not addressing the legitimacy or otherwise of the broad spectrum of parachurch organisation, but specifically the mission agency (society) as historically understood. When quotes are included about parachurch organisations, it is because they are applicable to the mission agency.
The Definition of Sodality
The term sodality is not a term used much in the Protestant stream and is more common in the Roman Catholic tradition. It is used to describe the associations, unions and brotherhoods that exist alongside the church in its local or diocesan form, with the monastic community being the most obvious example. It is derived from the Latin somalis meaning 'comrade'. The term 'sodality' has been used from the time of the post-apostolic Church to identify non-congregational groups of believers formed, 'for a more precise, focused and limited task than the whole community could attempt.' It is a helpful umbrella term to identify the variety of groups that have been complementing the church in its local expression throughout Church history, from the apostles and their teams to monastic communities to our modern mission agency, and will be used as such in this dissertation.
The Definition of 'Local Church'
The working definition of 'local church' this paper adopts is the autonomous congregation as found in the independent, free and new (usually charismatic) church traditions. The focus of this investigation is limited to the mission agency in relationship to these traditions.
Much ink has been spilt trying to show that the sodality (mission agency) is a valid expression of Church though not Church expressed in its local form, others would argue otherwise. As important as this question is, it will not be addressed in this dissertation as the validity or otherwise of the mission agency is not settled through answering this question. What can be affirmed without qualification is that everyone involved in the mission agency is an intrinsic part of the Church universal!
A Focus on the United Kingdom
The focus of this work is mainly on the mission agency as it relates here in the UK rather than the mission agency more broadly. According to the UK Christian Handbook there are about two hundred and thirty mission agencies working both in, and out from the UK.
Chapter 2. The Issues Examined
These last few decades have seen a much-welcome clarion call for the local church to be engaged in mission. The cry is for the church to embrace transition, moving from a maintenance mode, where the primary focus of church activity is programme-based aimed at serving the spiritual needs of its members, to a missions mode where the focus of the church is to reach unchurched people. This call to mission is not just for the church to reach out to its neighbours and locality, but also to be actively engaged with mission activity in foreign ministry situations, those situations which have historically been the province of the mission agency.
Indicative of this trend is the number of books written in recent years with this theme in mind. One contemporary example is Joel Holm's book: Church Centered Mission: Transforming the Church to Change the World. In this work he states, 'We should not define mission. It should define us. Our church's budgets, programs and personalities should not identify our mission. Mission should be at the centre of our church's identity.' Another is David Devenish's Book: What on Earth is the Church For? A Blueprint for the Future for Church Based Mission and Social Action. He declares:
My purpose in writing this book is to argue that the purpose of the church on earth is mission [emphasis his]. The church exists to be the agent of the kingdom of God, the agent of God's rule on earth, and the means of taking the gospel of that kingdom to every people group. I believe the church is very much at the centre of God's purposes, and it is my aim to present a high view of the church, not as a static pastoral community but as a vibrant, active body totally committed to world mission. What on earth is the church for? It exists for mission.
These marvelous sentiments are repeated by many authors calling the church back to its primary purpose of mission. Mission is not a department of the church, the mandate of a few 'called' or keen individuals that leave the church to be engaged in mission or missionary activity, but rather the reason for the church's very existence.
Parallel to this welcome trend is a growing voice questioning the necessity and, further, the legitimacy of the mission agency. If the local church is rising up to fulfil its God-given mandate, what is the need for the mission agency? In 2003 and 2004 Global Connections held forums to discuss the future of mission agencies and whether there was a place for them in this new proactive local church environment. In his Theology of Missions Peters says it this way, 'With...an awakening within the churches to a mission responsibility...the whole question of missionary society has come under critical review. The right to existence of the missionary society as historically developed has been seriously questioned if not outrightly denied.'
Complaints against the missions agency tend to fall into three categories: theology, authority and resources. Firstly, it is claimed that they do not have any Biblical mandate; secondly, they are not under the authority of the (or a ) local church; and thirdly they divert resources from the local church's legitimate missions initiative. This last concern is mostly with human and financial resources. If all this is so, why do mission agencies exist? They exist, it is held, because of a series of historical abnormalities.
Lack of Biblical Sanction
It is argued that the New Testament has no example of the equivalent of the modern mission agency. All missions were carried out either by local church congregations or by apostles directly connected to local churches, with the exclusive goal of planting more churches. 'The apostolic strategy of the New Testament was obviously one of vigorous church-based mission, rooted in the local church and planting new churches with all the safeguards and strength provided by God-ordained eldership and the normal disciplines and privileges of church membership,' and, 'The early apostles set out on their task of world evangelisation by planting vigorous local churches. They don't seem to have considered forming missionary societies....'
Formative in this understanding is Acts 13:1-3. It is held this text shows that Barnabas and Saul were sent out by the leaders of the Antioch church, so they were an extension of the ministry of this local church. It is noted also how they returned after each missionary journey and spent 'much time' with the believers in this city. Paul's strategy it seems, was to plant a lively church in every major city, leaving them to evangelise and church plant in their regions. This seems to be behind the Apostle's statement in Rom 15:19, 'from Jerusalem and all the way round to Illyricum I have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ.'
Roland Allen is often quoted by those who hold this view. In his ground-breaking book written at the beginning of the last century, Missionary Methods: St. Paul's or Ours? he challenges many of the strategies and customs of missionary societies of his day. It is in this context that he writes the oft-quoted sentence, 'The first and most striking difference between his [Paul's] action and ours is that he founded 'churches' whilst we found 'Missions'.
Virgo quotes the above by Allen where he declares parachurch organisations are, 'Strong in motivation...weak in Biblical endorsement....' A pastor of a large American church discloses he was praying that mission agencies would become obsolete, and another claimed that, 'Where parachurch organisations are not tied in with the local church, they are unbiblical (emphasis his)'.
Lack of Legitimate Authority
Closely connected to the above is the question of who should have authority in the missions enterprise, the mission agency or the local church? Blakey argues quite simply that as Christ is head over his body the Church (Ep 5:23, Col 1:18), and this authority has been delegated to elders in the local church situation, there is no place for authority structures outside this framework. He concludes parachurch organisations (thus mission agencies) are 'spiritual mavericks'. Devenish would not go this far, but argues strongly that in regards to missions, authority lies with the local church. He maintains that Paul and Barnabas were 'clearly accountable to their sending church in Antioch', and that 'Paul was never independent of a local church.' His conclusion is that all parachurch activity should be 'accountable to local leadership where it exists'. Engel and Dyrness observe that 'mission efforts have been initiated by agencies who often have little accountability to the church'. Where mission agencies do exist, they maintain, they should serve the local church in missions and be subject to local church leadership.
It would seem that some hold the mission agency liable for a number of local church woes, particularly when it comes to sharing available resources. These are primarily in two areas, people and finances.
Some complain that gifted people, those that could help the local church be a dynamic entity, are 'creamed off' by parachurch groups leaving the local church struggling in the area of energetic leadership. One consequence of this is that the church is pushed into a more pastoral mode leaving the church under-resourced and dull, thus unable to engage in any significant missions activity.
Naturally, the question of money is a big emotions stirrer. It is the one commodity that is needed for any ministry to function and can become a significant limiting factor to the ambitions of local church and mission agency alike. Tibbert represents this concern when he says, 'Too often the local church is deprived of financial resources necessary to fulfil its God-given vision, not because Christians are not generous but because of an imbalance in their giving.' One pastor's complaint about parachurch groups is that not only do they take good people, they then come and ask the church for financial support for that person, thus taking money also. Another felt that the parachurch group was 'using the church' only to get finances.
To know the exact proportion of giving to local church and non-local church ministries is extremely difficult but various figures are suggested. David Barrett of the Overseas Ministries Study Center estimated that in 1997, 48% of Christian giving was to traditional churches and 52% going to parachurch ministries. By January 2005, this figure changed to 38% going to local churches, with 62% to para-church groups. His estimation in 1998 was that by 2025, para-church groups will be receiving double of that given to the local church.
To help combat this trend and ensure that the local church receives the first share of available funding, many pastors teach what has become known as 'storehouse tithing'. This is based on Malachi 3:10 where the returnees of Israel are exhorted to 'Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house... (emphasis added).' They teach the 'storehouse' is the local church thus tithes belong to the church; it is the offerings, giving beyond the tithe, that are available for other needs.
Why Are Mission Agencies With Us?
There are various reasons given for the existence of the mission agency, but all are traced to some failure of the Church. It has been suggested that, with the conversion of Constantine, the Church lost its evangelistic missionary zeal and entered the pastoral mode which has dominated for hundreds of years until recent times. Even though the seeds of world-wide missionary endeavour were in the Reformation, the reformer and the theologians who followed them 'did not advance the missionary idea and motivation.'
Zwingli's legacy was that the Great Commission was the obligation of specially-called people, apostles, and not of the Church as a whole. This understanding was embraced by Pietism and became imbedded in Western Protestantism, leading to strong individuals pioneering mission activity independent of church oversight.
Some see the beginning of the mission agency as being due to the malaise in the Church at the birth of the modern missions movement. William Carey, a Baptist minister in Moulton, was stirred about world-wide mission through reading the journals of the explorer James Cook. When in 1786 he raised the question of the Church's responsibility in foreign missions, he received the notorious retort from J Ryland, 'Young man, sit down; when God pleases to convert the heathen, he will do it without your aid and mine.' Then in 1792, when a pastor of a Baptist Church in Leicester, he wrote the famous mission call, An Enquiry into the Obligation of Christians to use Means for the Conversion of the Heathen. The church, with its strong hyper-Calvinist theology, was very slow to respond but finally four men, including Carey, founded the Particular Baptist Society for Propagating the Gospel among the Heathen (which became the Baptist Missionary Society). This was the first of many missionary societies from the free church tradition, formed and financed by individuals, that developed into the modern missionary movement. Thus the mission society [agency] filled a vacuum created by the lack of churches taking the initiative in mission action. Virgo says, 'while the church had been asleep and largely irrelevant, many zealous Christians aware of our Christian responsibility to evangelise our neighbours and the world...had decided to get on with the job outside normal church life.'
All this, according to Peters, has led to an, 'unfortunate and abnormal historic development which has produced autonomous, missionless churches on the one hand and autonomous churchless missionary societies on the other hand.'
It would be a gross misrepresentation to present those that champion the local church's role in mission over that of the mission agency as all of one hue. As would be expected, there is a spectrum of feeling from some who believe the mission agency is completely obsolete, to those that accept a limited role for some specialist ministries. Devenish represents this latter view and identifies Wycliffe Bible Translators and Tear Fund as examples of such ministries, but is quick to point out that such should 'genuinely serve the local churches, and not compete against them, and should also be accountable to local [church] leadership where it exists'. He adds, when training is given by such organisations, direct connections should be severed when the training is completed.
So, what of the mission agency, this entity that even with its well-catalogued list of errors is responsible for Christianity growing from being a mostly European phenomenon in the late-eighteenth century to a truly world-wide religion in the late twentieth century? Is it destined to 'occupy a shadowy zone "beside" the church' where despite its many drawbacks, it can be useful as long as it does not impede or supplant local church missionary activity? Does the mission agency have real biblical legitimacy, and what of its future?
Chapter 3. The Question of Hermeneutics
Before discussing any Biblical evidence there may be for the validity of the mission agency, the thorny issue of hermeneutics should be considered. The perspective one has on this will necessarily determine any conclusions drawn from scripture. This is particularly difficult with the subject under consideration as the main text used is the book of Acts and deserves much more attention than can be given in this present study. How should a book that is recording historical events of the infant church be understood? As a text book of normative church life, or simply as a record of what happened in the early days of the church?
In the chapter called 'Acts -The Problem of Historical Precedent', Fee tackles this question. He argues that the intention of the author is crucial in determining if historical narrative is to be considered normative for the Church universal. Thus, for example, in 1 Cor 11:17-34 Paul recounts a historical incident (Jesus breaking bread in the upper room) for didactic purposes that applied to Corinthian believers and by inference, believers everywhere.
So what was Dr Luke's intention in writing the book of Acts? Various reasons have been suggested, some of which may well be part of the answer, but for him to be writing some sort of 'Church Handbook', or 'The Way Church Should do Missions' manual does not seems to be among them, due to his distinct lack of interest in church government or structure. There is no indication that he wanted church life or missions activity to be standardised nor does he present any single coherent pattern that should be followed. Rather, we find the dynamic action of the Holy Spirit orchestrating a movement of the gospel from Jerusalem to Rome. Surely Fee is right when he concludes that any model intended by Luke in Acts is not in the details but in the big picture that emerges from reading the book as a whole, 'that we are to view this triumphant, joyful, forward-moving expansion of the Gospel, empowered by the Holy Spirit and resulting in changed lives and local comminutes as God's intent for the continuing church.' The danger of this however, if taken to an extreme, is that Luke has little to say to us other than general exhortations.
A very different perspective comes from the pen of Allen. The thesis in his famous book Missionary Methods: St. Paul's or Ours? is based on the understanding that Luke has given us a pattern that is normative for all missionary endeavor. 'It is impossible but that the account so carefully given by St Luke of the planting of the churches...should have something more than a mere archaeological and historical interest. Like the rest of Holy Scripture it was "written for our learning"... It was really intended to throw light on the path of those who should come after'. Despite the excellent principles identified by Allen that have been affirmed by many over the century since these pages were written, taking them as normative has not always proven to be possible. In I Believe in the Great Commission, Warren lists the circumstances of Paul's missionary endeavors in the first century Roman empire and compares them with that of Aidan from Iona in Northern Europe 500 years later. He says,
I have cited this contrast because with our tidy and logical western minds we tend to work in stereotypes. We talk about Paul's missionary methods as though Paul's circumstances were universal. We insist on certain principles by which to judge the distribution of the Church's resources in man-power and money, unwilling to accept the fact that the wind of the Spirit blows where he wills, and we cannot tell the direction until we meet it in some special circumstance.
So, where does this leave us with regards to the book of Acts (and indeed the rest of scripture) and its application to the question at hand? If, 'All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness...' (2 Tim 3:16) we should expect to be able to learn much on this crucial issue of missionary endeavour, even if we are not to follow the details in a rigid way. Peters provides a way through the tension when he states, 'the Bible presents broad organizational principles but not defined organizational patterns'. Schaeffer says it more strongly,
It is my thesis that as we cannot bind men morally except where the Scripture clearly commands (beyond that we can only give advice), similarly anything the New Testament does not command concerning church form is a freedom to be exercised under the leadership of the Holy Spirit for that particular time and place (emphasis his). In other words, the New Testament sets boundary conditions, but within these boundary conditions there is much freedom to meet the changes that arise both in different places and different times....
So where there is a lack of specific command, we read eager to learn and follow a pattern where prudent, but ever-open to the fresh blowing of the wind of the Holy Spirit.
Chapter 4. The Seeds of the Sodality in the Gospels
When arguing for the legitimacy or otherwise of the mission agency, the focus of discussion tends to be Acts 13:1-3. As important as this passage is (see below) the seeds of such sodalities can be found in the ministry of Jesus. It is not insignificant that Luke, in the first of his two-part work, presents these seeds the most clearly, for in his second part, Acts, these seed germinate and bring fruit.
Frequently, when reading in the gospels the word 'disciples' we can think of the twelve and no doubt this is often correct, but for Luke there is a different emphasis that most clearly emerges in chapter 6. It was after spending all night in prayer that we read, 'he [Jesus] called his disciples and chose from them twelve whom he named apostles' (6:13, emphasis added). The significance of this is twofold. Firstly Jesus' disciples consisted of more than twelve men who followed him and secondly, the name apostle or 'one who is sent' indicates a call to be in some way mobile.
The Twelve - Part of a Larger Group of Disciples
Careful reading of the gospel reveals that it was from a large group of disciples that the twelve were selected. Apart from 'the great crowd of his disciples' in 6:17, Luke informs us that 'many' women were part of the disciple band naming three of them in 8:1-3, and at Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem Luke speaks of 'the whole multitude of his disciples' 19:37. Not only did Jesus send out the twelve on a mission (9:1-6) but later was able to send out a further seventy disciples (10:1-2). Maybe Joseph and Matthias were among this group because in his second work Luke informs us that these men had accompanied the band of the twelve, 'all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us' (Acts 1:21-2). This is a clear indication that the twelve, even though holding a special place, were part of a larger group of disciples.
Further Luke, more than the other synoptics, is careful to make a distinction between the larger group of disciples and the twelve. He does this by speaking specifically about 'the twelve' or 'the apostles' or the context he sets the story in requires that the 'disciples' in view are the core twelve. Because of this it is not unreasonable to hold that when Luke uses the term 'disciples', he often has more than just the twelve in mind. Certainly this would be consistent with the use of the term 'disciples' in Acts. Of the twenty-four times he uses this designation, all of them refer to the wider group of follows of Jesus. The smaller group of twelve are always referred to as 'apostles' (and once 'the twelve').
The 'Apostles' called to a Mobile Ministry
The second point to note when Jesus called the twelve in 6:13, is that Luke specifically says they were named 'apostles' or 'ones sent', that is they were chosen with the purpose of being 'sent forth', thus being mobile. Much has been written about 'apostles' and 'apostolic authority' but there is general agreement that the apostle was a trans-local ministry, even as the 'elder' was generally a local ministry.
The significance of all this is that even at this point in the ministry of Jesus we have an indication that the body of Christ would have two expressions, the larger group that presumably would keep house and home, have regular employment and worship together in a given location, and another group, a sodality that would be mobile because they were called to be 'sent'. It should be noted, however, that the distinction between the two groups is in calling, not in conduct, the teaching of Jesus was for all his disciples.
The book of Acts and church tradition confirm the sodality nature of the apostles' call. Although 'the apostles' are spoken about frequently in the former part of this book, we are never sure how many are included apart from 6:2 where 'the twelve' are designated. Certainly it was the custom of Peter to travel as we see in 9:32 where he went 'here and there among them all'. And even though 9:27 informs us that Barnabas introduced the newly-converted Saul to 'the apostles', we know from Paul's own testimony in Gal 1:18 that he actually only saw Peter and James. Presumably this was because the other apostles were not in Jerusalem at that time. It is interesting to note also, it was James the Lord's brother that emerged the leading elder in the Jerusalem church, (see 15:13ff, and 21:18); surely this was because he did not travel like the mobile apostles.
While recognising the need to treat tradition with caution, it indicates that the twelve fulfilled the apostolic calling when, according to Eusebius, they were 'scattered over the whole world.' More specifically he records that Peter went to various places in Asia Minor and finally Rome, John to Asia, Thomas to Parthia and Andrew to Scythia.
While it would be greatly anachronistic to suggest that Jesus was laying the foundation for the mission agency in its modern expression, nonetheless the seeds of the sodality were planted.
Chapter 5. The Germination of the Sodality in the Early Church
It has been suggested that The Acts of the Apostles is not so aptly named, as a careful reading shows that of the twelve apostles we know very little. Rather, the Acts of the Holy Spirit might be a better title, for Luke shows it was the Holy Spirit that was responsible for the forward movement of the gospel. What is evident is the dynamic growth of the church through both the local and mobile expressions of the disciples. That which Jesus initiated in Luke 6 is developed in these pages and with the supporting evidence of the Epistles, a clear picture emerges.
The Local Disciples
After the momentous events of Pentecost, the calibre of life of this first local church (a generous, worshiping community 2:43-47 and 5:14) led to daily additions to their number (2:47). The first expansion of the church resulted, not from the apostles - the 'sent' ones going out, but believers being scattered by the intensified persecution in Judea (8:4). As these disciples relocated and formed Christian gatherings in their new homes, so the gospel spread. It was a group of disciples in Damascus that received the newly 'converted' Saul, giving him a place of nurture in the early days of his new life and eventually providing a safe exit from the city (9:19-25). Despite the paradigm-shifting events of Peter in the house of Cornelius, it was believers who had relocated to Antioch that saw the first significant breakthrough of the gospel among Gentiles (11:19-21).
The Sodalities of the Apostles
We know very little of most of the twelve from the text of scripture. Even though in the early chapters of Acts the term 'apostles' is used, we cannot always be sure if this is talking about all twelve or just some. A comparison of Luke's and Paul's account of Paul's first visit to Jerusalem would suggest that at least sometimes 'Apostles' does not include all of the twelve. The exception is in 6:2 where 'the twelve' are specifically mentioned in problem-solving this first recorded crisis in the infant church. So any indication of the development of the apostolic sodalities comes from Peter and this other apostle who claimed to be 'untimely born' (1 Cor 15:8), Paul.
Peter is portrayed as either traveling with John, 8:14ff, or having a lone traveling ministry as when he traveled north-west from Jerusalem to Lydda and Joppa. But it seems that quickly a team developed around him. When he went to Caesarea at the invitation of Cornelius, he was accompanied by 'brothers' from Joppa (10:23), who continued with him to Jerusalem for the reckoning. Luke is specific in telling us that there were six in all (11:12). After his angelic escape from prison, Luke leaves Peter in Caesarea (12:19) and turns his attention to Paul whom he has already placed in Antioch (11:26). With chapter 13, we have the first of three missionary journeys where Luke focuses on Paul who, just as the twelve were designated 'sent ones' in Luke 6:13, was also given a mobile commission by Jesus (22:21).
It is informative to see the development from the two that were set apart by the Holy Spirit in 13:2, Paul and Barnabas, to the team of nine mentioned at the end of Paul's third missionary journey in 20:4. White, quoting Edward Murphy helpfully lists them for us:
13:4-13 Barnabas-Saul-Mark team.
13:13-15:12 Paul-Barnabas and their companions team.
15:22-34 Paul-Barnabas-Judas-Silas team.
15:40f Paul-Silas team.
16:1-9 Paul-Silas-Timothy team.
16:10f Paul-Silas-Timothy-Luke team.
18:24-28 Paul-Silas-Timothy-Luke-Aquila-Priscilla-Apollos team.
18:19 Paul-Silas-Timothy-Luke-Erastus-Gaius-Aristarchus team.
20:4 Paul-Silas-Timothy-Luke-Sopater-Aristarchus-Secundus-Gaius-Tychicus-Trophimus team.
Paul's prison letters of Colossians, Philemon and 2 Timothy indicate that this dynamic of team continued until Paul's death. In Col 4:7-17, ten team member are mentioned, five of which are repeated in Pm v. 23-4, and Paul mentions at least six team members that had been sent to different places in 2 Tim 4:9-21. Hamilton identifies 40 people that are in someway mentioned as being part of Paul's team. It is significant that the designation 'Apostle' is only given to eight of them, whereas other titles are used for most such as fellow-worker, fellow-prisoner, fellow-soldier, fellow servant, partner, labourer, deacon and brother/sister. The sodality was made up of people with different gifts.
That various forms of sodalities were common in the background of the New Testament is confirmed negatively in the form of Paul's opponents whom we meet in both Galatians and 2 Corinthians, and positively by the 'brothers' in 3 John. In Galatians Paul calls the itinerant group 'the circumcision party' (Gal 2:12). It seems their mission was to insist that Gentiles be instructed to 'be circumcised and ordered to keep the law of Moses' (Acts 15:5) as a part of being disciples of Jesus. They were so persuasive that even Peter when in Antioch was influenced by them (Gal 2:11-12). Later James, the leading elder of the Jerusalem church, would say of these people that they, 'have gone out from us, though with no instruction from us.' (15:24). In 2 Corinthians we meet what Paul calls super-apostles, people who seemed to want to belittle Paul so they would gain a hearing from the Corinthian church. Paul's teaching on the old-new covenant relationship in chapter 3 indicates that these opponents are similar to those in Galatia.
The tone is very different in 3 John, where Gaius is commended warmly by the Elder for his support for the 'brothers' (v. 5). He is encouraged to send this team on their journey 'in a manner worthy of God' (v. 6) 'for they have gone out for the sake of the name' (v. 7).
So the evidence from the breath of the New Testament is that the initiative of Jesus in Luke 6:13 designating a small group of the much larger group of disciples to be apostles (that is disciples with a mobile ministry), developed into sodalities, traveling from place to place engaged in evangelism, church planting and building up the existing churches. Not all of those involved in the mobile dimension of ministry were called 'apostles' in the technical sense of the word, but rather as part of the one body, each with different gifts, (1 Cor 12:27-31) used their grace gifts to 'equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ....' (Eph 4:7-13).
The Questions of Authority
Much of what has been said would be accepted, at least in general terms by most, but the pivotal question is who has authority. For Peters it is very clear that the 'local assembly becomes the mediating and authoritative sending body of the New Testament missionary', likewise for Devenish, 'Paul and Barnabas were clearly accountable to their sending church in Antioch; they returned and spent much time there, and gave an account to the church of what was going on in their missionary activity' (emphasis added).
Yet the evidence for such accountability is conspicuous by it absence. Let us consider first the passage in Acts mentioned above, Acts 13:1-4. Typically it is argued (as above) that Paul and Barnabas were commissioned by the leaders of the Antioch church and therefore were under their authority. This is confirmed, it is held, by the fact that at the end of the journey they returned to Antioch and 'called the church together and related all that God had done with them...' (14:27). But this is making a number of unfounded assumptions for the evidence lies in a different direction. While prophets and teachers were praying and fasting (it does not say the 'elders') the Holy Spirit takes the initiative requiring Barnabas and Saul to be 'set apart'. This rather strong Greek word, aphorizō has the tenor of 'to sever' or 'cut off'. The laying on of hands that followed this instruction of the Holy Spirit is often seen as some kind of commissioning. Cook points out that in the New Testament there are four situations where the laying on of hands might take place, for healing (Mk 16:18), communication of the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:17), blessing (Matt 19:13-15) and the appointment of men for ministry in the church (Acts 6:6 and 1 Tim 5:22). Of the likely latter two options, Cook suggests the laying on of hands for blessing is the most likely. The laying on of hands for appointment presupposes the superiority of those that are doing the appointing, but Barnabas and Saul clearly held senior leadership in the church in Antioch. Even if Barnabas and Saul did have some sort of commissioning, evidence is lacking for a line authority structure between the Barnabas/Saul sodality and the Antioch leadership.
It is also considered that 13:3 indicates some sort of authority connection because not only did the prophets and teachers lay their hands on them but they 'sent' them off. Here again, Luke's choice of word is revealing. He uses apoluō which has more the sense of one being 'allowed to depart', or 'dismissed', which is in contrast to v. 4 where Luke emphasises that it is the Holy Spirit that sent them out. The 'sent' here in v. 4 is not the same as in v.3, but is ekpempō, meaning any kind of sending or dispatching. Surely these choices of verbs are no coincidence, but rather carefully chosen by Luke.
This is not to deny there was a strong bond of love and friendship between the church and the Barnabas Saul sodality, and that the church did not in some way support the work the Holy Spirit had called them to. Nor that Paul and Barnabas would not naturally return there after the mission was completed (Acts 14:26). Surely it was for this reason they called together the church and 'related all that God had done with them' (14:27). Not only did they do this in Antioch, but also on the journey to the Jerusalem Council where they, 'described in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and brought great joy to all the brothers' in Phoenicia and Samaria (15:3) and in Jerusalem where they 'declared all that God had done with them' to the church, apostles and elders (15:4). None of this was due to some authority structure, rather out of the joy of the expansion of the gospel.
Further examination of both the book of Acts and the Epistles confirms this lack of evidence for any authority structure between the Antioch church leadership (in fact any specific local church leadership) and Paul's missionary team. It is Paul that takes the initiative to commence the second missionary journey (15:36) and there is no evidence of the church bringing a judgement to bear on the Paul/Barnabas conflict (15:39). During the need for direction when the Holy Spirit would not permit Paul and Silas to preach in Asia and blocked the way into Mysia, there is no indication that they consulted with the authorities in Antioch but rather followed the leading they understood the Holy Spirit to be giving (16:6-10). This is the pattern throughout the rest of Acts including the decision to embark on his third journey.
Paul's discussion of his travel plans at the end of the Epistle to the Roman believers confirms this. His decision to go to Spain was his own (Rom 15:24), and was not made in conjunction with either the church in Antioch, one of his own church plants or with the church in Rome. Rather, he expresses his desire for fellowship with them, and then invites them to 'send' him on to his next missionary journey (Rom 15:24). It is generally understood that 15:25 is more than a request for a blessing, but rather an invitation for them to support his Spanish endeavour 'by providing food, money, letters of introduction, arranging transport.'
In the light of this evidence for the independence of the sodality, it is interesting to note how Gaius, who was (presumably) a church leader, was not instructed by the Elder to try and exercise any authority over the itinerant brothers, or demand that they submit to his church structure, rather was commended for his hospitality to such traveling men and was urged to give financially to them, for in so doing, Gaius (and presumably the church), became 'fellow workers for the truth' (3 John v. 8). Cook makes an important point when he says,
'These men [those that argue authority lies in the local church] are deeply concerned that the local church assume a more active role in the carrying out of the church's mission. But this hardly justifies reading into the New Testament text what is not actually there. Nor does it justify treating a New Testament church as if it were structurally similar to one of our free churches of the twentieth century.
In affirming the independence of the authority structure of Paul and his team one must be careful not so say too much, for even though the authority structure was distinct, Paul and his team were not separate from the Church. His love for the Church, and local expressions of the Church permeate all of his letters. Indeed the very purpose of this missionary sodality was to see the church grow, either by church planting, or by building up existing communities of believers (Romans 1:11). Nowhere in the pages of scripture is there an equivalent to the modern tension between local church and sodality. Indeed love, encouragement, support and personnel seem to flow between both as each was considered part of the other.
Chapter 6. The Fruit of Sodalities in Church History
A brief survey of Church history shows that the sodality structure which was initiated by Jesus in Luke 6:13, and proved to be so significant for the New Testament Church, continued in various forms throughout Church history. When sodalities were dynamically active, missionary expansion resulted, but when these entities were not evident or ineffective, missionary activity in the Church waned.
During much of Church history it was the monastic tradition in its various forms that become a sodality structure. Significant missionary endeavour in Western and Northern Europe between the years 500 and 1000 came from the monasticism of the Celtic Church. Monks, who were often married, would establish a Christian village (modeling village life as much as possible after the law of Moses) and so spreading faith by 'contagion'. Others braved the tempestuous waters to take the gospel to the Shetlands and Iceland. Tradition has it that they even reached Greenland and North America.
The Italian tradition of Monasticism, which in various forms evolved around a very disciplined community life, was a major force in expanding the Roman Catholic church. Such men from the Benedictine Rule as Boniface, Wilfrid and Anskar went to Rhineland, Frisia, Westphalia, Jutland and Sweden. Augustine, a monk of this order, was sent to England in AD596 by Pope Gregory (the Great) to bring Christianity to the Anglo-Saxon tribes. He was to become the first Archbishop of Canterbury. It was Francis of Assisi (founder of the Franciscan order) that went to the Muslims. Ignatius of Loyola formed the Society of Jesus, or the Jesuits, this order became a kind of commando unit of very zealous and well trained missionaries planting the Roman Catholic church in America, Africa and Asia, gaining many converts.
The Radical groups in Church history grew largely because they also had a mobile dimension to their structure with wandering preachers. The Lollards in England and the Hussites on the continent are examples of such groups.
The revival of the eighteenth century which flourished through the work of such as the Wesley brothers, Whitefield, Ingham and Cennick was born out of sodalities. John Wesley had no desire that the class-meetings and societies he and his brother formed would become a church separate from the Anglican church but rather he urged his people to 'stand by the established church'.
As mentioned above, the Reformation did not have a sodality structure which was, according to Winter, 'the greatest error of the Reformation and the greatest weakness of the resulting Protestant tradition.' Any early Protestant missionary expansion was through Baptists, Quakers, Puritans and other Independents who fled to America to escape persecution in Europe (as the disciples in Acts 8:1 and 11:19-21). It was not until the missionary stirring of William Carey, and the publication of the paper '...to use Means for the Conversion of the Heathen' that the Protestant church woke up to the significance of the sodality. The 'Means' that was recovered by the Church was the sodality that found expression in the Baptist Missionary Society. This opened the way for what has become known as 'The Modern Missionary Movement' and very quickly other societies were formed. Winter comments,
Amazingly, in this one century [the Nineteenth Century] Protestants, building on the unprecedented world expansion of the West, caught up with eighteen centuries of earlier mission effort. There is simply no question that what was done in this century moved the Protestant stream from a self-contained, impotent European backwater into a world force in Christianity.
The significance of the rediscovery of the sodality cannot be overemphasised.
These past few decades has seen a transition from the family-orientated missionary society to the task-orientated mission agency and the rise of short term missions. When once going on the 'mission field' required weeks aboard a passenger liner, affordable jet air travel has made the 'mission field' accessible to many more people for shorter amounts of time.
The Mission Agency, is it Legitimate?
If the above assessment of scripture and its outworking in Church history is correct, then there is no doubt about the legitimacy of the mission agency. It is a modern expression of an initiative that Jesus established, which developed in the early Church and has been the most effective means for gospel expansion and establishing of new churches both in the New Testament and in Church history. White comments, 'The para-local church [mission agency] is not just a temporary gapfiller due to the failure of local churches. It is part of God's plan in this age. We need to affirm the legitimacy of both structures and get on with the task of fulfilling the Great Commission.' Clowney declares,
The church shattered by denominational division, dare not label parachurch organizations illegitimate. In part, they are simply activities of church members...In part, they represent shared ministries across denominational barriers. That such ministries may be regarded as irregular in denominational polity may reveal more about sectarian assumptions in the polity then about violations of New Testament order.
This affirmation of legitimacy is not to defend all that has been done in the name of the mission agency and most certainly not to diminish the central significance of the Church in its local expression, this has never been in doubt. Rather it is to affirm the significance of this second structure, to call it from its 'step-sister' status assigned by some, and affirm that it is central to God's purpose for Missio Dei. Nor is there any desire to deny the changes happening in world missions and the need for the mission agency to adjust to this new situation, which now needs to be considered.
Chapter 7. The Changing Situation in World Mission
As mentioned above, the last few decades have seen the call for local churches to engage more fully in mission, which for a growing number include not only dynamic local outreaches, but also involvement in 'foreign' mission ventures. In 2001, the UK Evangelical Missionary Network, Global Connections, conducted a survey of 157 active evangelical churches. The results showed that 31% had some kind of direct link with a church in another country, and 24% had a missionary project overseas that they had started independently of a mission agency. A survey in 1998 of 240 churches from the New Churches movement showed that even though each church has an average of 'four overseas missionary interests' only 34% were working in some form of partnership with mission agencies. This is something unheard of a few decades ago.
The reasons for this seem to be a three-fold sociological change: globalisation, postmodernity and church leadership transitioning to the Gen X generation.
The profound effect of globalisation, not just on business but on the whole of life has been detailed in Friedman's book, The World is Flat: The Globalized World in the Twenty-First Century. It should be expected that its all-pervasive influence be found in the Church's missions enterprise also, with the interconnectedness of globalisation providing the platform for local churches to engage in missions directly. The unprecedented advances in communication from the hand-written letter transported by sea to telegraph, to telephone, to email and Voice Over Internet Protocol, has brought the 'far off' very close. Connected to this is the development in transportation and the accessability of almost anywhere in the world in just hours. Locations that a few years ago were restricted to the career missionary or the wealthy adventurer, are now visited by many for a two-week summer vacation. The advances of information technology also mean that, with a click of a mouse, information which just a few years ago was restricted to the specialist is available to anyone. Add to this the medical and scientific advances where most doctors, wherever they are, have a similar training and medical knowledge, much missions work is neither as challenging or dangerous as it once was and much more accessible to the layperson.
Related to the above is that the church is now a global entity with 60% of all Christians living outside the West. Evangelical and charismatic churches are growing in many places which provide opportunities for churches to work together as never before in history. Just a few years ago it would have been very difficult for a local church in the UK to be directly involved with a church in Uganda or a project with street children in Peru, but now a team from a church can easily visit for a few weeks and have a direct impact.
The cultural transition away from the Enlightenment presuppositions of modernity to what has become known as postmodernity is another reason for the change in church/mission agency relationships. Suspicion of large institutions and 'experts', with the desire for personal contact, hands-on involvement and adventure added to consumerism (the desire for choice) and materialism (providing the financial means), are all characteristic features of postmodernity. Thus the 'go it alone' option, when possible, would seem a natural way to approach missions for many.
The Gen X Generation
The values of any organisation (church or mission agency) reflect the culture of the leaders. The 'Boomer' generation, born between 1945 and 1964, had the values of 'achievement, excellence, moving forward, consensus leadership and linear and logical thinking'. Today, there is a change, and the new generation, so called 'Gen X' is coming to leadership; therefore, values and emphases are changing. These values, identified by Knell, mirror those of the emerging postmodern culture: 'choice, change, suspicion of organisations, spontaneity, relational interaction and searching for the spiritual.'
With all these cultural phenomena: globalisation, a global church and the transition to postmodernity exemplified in the emerging Gen X leadership, a changing relationship between church and mission agency is inevitable. In reality this shift has more to do with sociology than theology. Relegating the mission agency to a theological 'step-sister' is not going to forward the cause of world mission, or the advance of the kingdom of God.
Neither should these sociological forces of change be accepted without critical evaluation so they alone become the determining factor in global missions. Globalisation may have made travel easier but it should be recognised that without proper preparation and co-ordination the short term volunteer can do more harm than good and because there is now a Christian presence in most nations, work done in independence from the local believers can hurt the cause of Christ. The values of the Gex X generation should not be accepted uncritically either, the desire for maturity and character development for all generations should be in keeping with scriptural values (for example the fruit of the Spirit in Gal 5:22-3). These values are trans-generational.
So, accepting the place of the mission agency as a legitimate ministry expression, what is the way forward for the church/mission agency relationship?
Chapter 8. Considerations for the Mission Agency
The following are considerations for the mission agency as it reflects on this changing situation:
Embrace the Changing Situation
That a growing number of local churches are making a shift from missions being merely a department of the church involving just a few to where it has a more central place is cause for great celebration. If some churches desire to 'go it alone' in the missions adventure, they should be seen as worthy partners in the cause of global missions.
Embrace Flexibility in Local Church Partnership and Operate with a Servant Heart
Knell identifies seven levels of church/agency relationship from those that have no missions involvement to the 'go it alone' approach. These are summarised in Appendix 1. Understanding the different perspectives of various churches should facilitate greater flexibility in partnership. In many situations it may be the agency taking the lead and the church lending various levels of support as they desire or are able, but in a growing number of situations the agencies will need to develop skills of what Knell calls 'world consultancies'. This is when the agency 'sells' certain services to the church at their request that will further the church's missions initiatives. This could include various kinds of training, specialist support, information or short term hands-on help. The point is that the missions initiative is owned by the church, and the agency serves that initiative.
Even if the agency is taking most of the initiative in the missions enterprise, there should be clear communication with the local church as to expectations regarding the personnel sent from that church, for example: who is responsible for pastoral care, what financial investment can be expected and how often should the person return home to keep relationship? Nothing should be assumed.
Recognise the Centrality of the Local Church
Although it should be redundant to include this, Green, referring to a recently published book, highlights its significance. One of the main goals of missions is to see the Church grow, either by church planting through evangelism that results in people being added to the church or through preaching/teaching that results in the church being strengthened and built up. That someone called to missions would not be a thoroughly active member of a local fellowship is a contradictory state of affairs. White comments, 'We expect people from all walks of life to work forty to fifty hours a week, and then give time to the ministry of the local church. Para-local church staff surely can give forty to fifty hours to their own work, and still give time to the local congregation.' The local church should be providing the personal accountability, encouragement, teaching and fellowship that every believer needs. The Commission on Church/Para Church relationships affirms, 'it is clear that every member of a para-church organization should be not only a member of a local church...but an active member of that church... [to] ensure the corrective discipline and wise pastoring that all Christians need.'
Not Assume the Mission Agency Should Continue
It is much easier to start something than to end it, but a certain agency may have fulfilled its God-given mandate and should be brought to a conclusion. This requires great courage and humility from those involved, but would release finances and resources for the wider work of God.
Remember That the Success of the Modern Missionary Owes Much to the Local Church
When it is considered that just a couple of hundred years ago the Christian Church was mostly limited to Europe, yet now there are believers in every nation and a thriving church in most, the success of the modern missionary movement with its independent or denominationally linked mission societies is well established. Sadly this missions history is interpreted by some as separate from the local church, presumable because local church leaders were not directly in 'control'. Yet none of this would have happened without the sacrificial contribution of prayer and finances, most of which came from believers in local church situations.
Serve by Providing Meaningful Short Term Missions Opportunities
With the desire for an increasing number of Christians to have 'hands-on' involvement in missions activity and young people taking a 'gap-year' for international experience, the mission agency is well placed to serve the local church with meaningful ministry opportunities and cultural experience to maximize the time, money and energy invested as short term efforts are channeled to contribute to longer term projects.
Chapter 9. Considerations for the Local Church
Adopt a Kingdom Mentality
This kind of thinking will result in a spirit of generosity and openness with regards personnel and funds. The same Holy Spirit who said, 'Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul' (Acts 13:2) reserves the right to do the same today. All of Paul's team must have been significant contributors to their local church situations (i.e. Timothy in Acts 16: 1-3) but were released to the wider work with Paul. Regarding money, the 'storehouse giving' teaching, where people are taught that tithes should only be given to the church, is very hard to substantiate from the New Testament. At best it shifts the responsibility of stewardship away from the church member to the church leaders, and at worst it is manipulative and controlling. It is far better to equip people to be generous and good stewards of their resources which is the New Testament emphasis. If there is true generosity and people are schooled in New Testament values, there will be enough money for both the mission agency and local church work.
Remember the 'Pastoral Commission' of John 21:15-17.
In the welcome desire for local churches to embrace the Great Commission challenge of Matthew 24:19, and even to, 'increasingly begin to operate like a missionary society', they should remember also the pastoral commission to Peter at the end of John's gospel. There he was commissioned to 'feed my lambs', 'tend my sheep' and 'feed my sheep' (21:15-17). The pastoral role of the church should not be set against the missionary call, rather both are intrinsic to its nature. If the 'central mission of the church is to develop disciples', then the two can become complementary. Caring for the people of God should be high in the local church's agenda and not be sidelined in any missionary endeavour, for if the local church is not fulfilling this role, who will? Regarding pastoral care for missionaries, should a local church desire to take this responsibility, it is important to remember that 'member care' has a skill set of its own.
Accept the Probable Limitations of the Local Church in Missions
When considering the missions call of the Church, thought should be given as to why both in the New Testament and throughout Church history it has been the separate but related structure of the sodality that has seen the most church growth. If a local church is involved in limited missionary endeavors, partnering with churches in another country or having one or two people engaged in some ministry overseas, it might work for there to be a seamless extension of the church's home ministry. Should this grow to a number of people involved in large scale church planting or those sent to dangerous or inaccessible places, inevitably, a separate structure will have to be set in place for the church to handle the organisation, finances and care of those sent. In effect, a small missions agency (sodality) will be formed. White comments, 'The larger churches will adopt some of the specialities practiced by para-local church groups, and, in essence, develop para-local church groups in miniature within their own structures.' Yet those in leadership in a local church might not be the best people to lead the team in a front line missions situation.
It is intriguing that Peters, who says that Mission Societies are 'accidents of history' and that 'they are not of biblical origin' also says, 'The advantages of being a member of a respectable missionary society are so numerous and so evident that we strongly urge young people to associate themselves with a missionary sending agency.' and 'they [the mission agency] have tremendous functional significance for the ongoing of world evangelism and church expansion'. A dynamic partnership with a like-minded mission agency would break through the limitations and provide a way, consistent with both history and the New Testament, for the church to engage significantly with the cause of global mission. This might be as illustrated by Devenish where good relationships were developed with a particular agency and each brought their gifts to the table, or by releasing the person to join the agency with a mutual understanding as to how the relationship will work.
Chapter 10. Matters of the Heart
Willmer et al state, 'There will always be disagreement as to the exact relationship of church and parachurch...Not in this chapter, and not even in a series of books, would it be possible to settle all these ecclesiological issues.' and again,
It is a truism that as long as the church and parachurch are composed of fallen men and women, the organizations and their actions will be less than perfect. Careers and dreams are on the line for leaders, and it is difficult to subject human desires to the needs of the Kingdom of God. We should be wary of any attempts to completely smooth out the relationship between church and parachurch.
In 1980, The Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization established a Commission to explore church/parachurch relationships. This led to the publication of a booklet in 1983 which every church and agency leader would do well to read, called: Cooperating in World Evangelization: A Handbook on Church/Para-Church Relationships. The strength of this paper, forged from the frank exchanges between ten men from both the church and parachurch constituencies, is that it is not an academic or theological paper, but 'practical, down-to-earth suggestions,' by those that are involved in the 'heat of the battle field'. It is not without significance that most of the paper, in identifying hindrances to co-operation, does not have to do with function or theology but with our 'fallenness', that is, matters of the heart. The following hindrance were identified:
- Dogmatism about non-essentials and differing scriptural interpretations.
- The threat of conflicting authorities.
- The harmfulness of strained relationships.
- Rivalry between ministries.
- Suspicion about finance.
In keeping with the practical nature of the paper, each point is accompanied by a self-check test to facilitate the action (emphasis theirs) desired by the commission. An abridged version of the questions, to illustrate the penetrating nature of their approach, are reproduced in appendix 2.
Stott, ever-perceptive, in his 'Theological Preamble' to the paper addresses the heart issue. He quotes various portions of Philippians 2:1-11 and comments, 'Unity and humility are twins. Or better, unity is humility's child'. In these days of change, both for the church and the mission agency, humility evidenced by a serving attitude one for the other would be the greatest service to global mission.
Chapter 11. Conclusion
In this paper we have sought to examine the legitimacy of the mission agency in light of recent challenges and to consider church/mission agency partnership in light of the changing missions culture.
Reflecting on the initiative of Jesus to call a group from the body of disciples to be 'those who are sent', indicates that he was anticipating a sodality structure. This is evidenced throughout the New Testament by the sodalities in the early church, such as Peter and his team, Paul and his team and the 'brothers' in 3 John. The brief survey of Church history shows that whenever the church grew to areas beyond, it was invariably through a sodality in various forms, not least during the modern missions movement. Although it would be anachronistic to say that the mobile mission teams in the New Testament are 'mission agencies' as we know them today, Peters reminds us that, 'the Bible does not present to us a fixed and ready-made pattern in these matters'. Thus, it is reasonable to suggest there is strong evidence for this complementary structure to the local church to further the mission calling of the Church. This is not to defend all that has been done in the name of the mission agency or to argue for maintaining the status quo. Indeed, with globalisation, the cultural shift to postmodernity and a new generation of leaders emerging, the status quo cannot be maintained. An increasing number of churches are directly engaging in various mission enterprises and 'cutting out the middleman' of the agency. What should the church/agency relationship look like in this uncertain future? It is concluded above that, in the words of Devenish, 'Biblically, we should value and benefit from the gifts within the whole body of Christ and not allow any party spirit.' Herein lies the challenge. No one is a disinterested party in the church/agency debate, and genuine co-operation, mutual service and authentic partnership comes down to matters of the heart. The Apostle Paul can have the last word, 'Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.' Phil 2:1-4.
Knell identifies seven levels of church/agency relationship. These are summarised as follows:
- Survival mode. These churches for various reasons are not involved in global missions.
- Jerusalem first mode. These churches believe their first responsibility is their local area and the needs are so great there is no time or resources for global missions.
- Do it for us mode. This is the more traditional church/agency relationship, where the church provide finances and personnel, and look to the agency to act on their behalf.
- Inform us mode. Similar to above, but the churches want to be informed regularly of progress and change.
- Partner with us mode. This is where the church sees itself in genuine partnership with the agency. They likely have a significant missions budget, and provide short term missions opportunities for their people with the leaders traveling overseas.
- Help us do it mode. These churches believe missions should be church-based and directed. They look to the mission agency for specialist support and services.
- Don't interfere mode. These churches want nothing to do with agencies, either for theological reasons or from fear that they may take over.
The following are a sample of the questions used in the self-check tests reproduced from the Lausanne Occasional Paper 24: Cooperating in World Evangelization: A Handbook on Church/Parachurch Relationships. This will show the penetrating nature of the questions asked.
Self-check Test No. 1
Dogmatism about Non-essentials and Differing Scriptural Interpretation
- In my interaction with others, am I more eager to find points of agreement or of disagreement? (Read 1 Cor. 13:4-7 and rethink your strategy.)
- Do I need to confess a tendency to talk, theologise and argue---while having little desire to go out and evangelise?
- Have I ever taken time to phone that para-church leader and tell him he is appreciated? What would encourage me if I were in his position, differing as we do on some doctrines?
- Am I determined not to listen to arguments supporting another leader's viewpoint? Or will I call him today and ask him to recommend the best book supporting his belief? Do I really have an open mind?
Self-check Test No. 2
The Threat of Conflicting Authorities
- Is my organisation eager to see each staff worker as an active and responsible member of a local church? If not, why not? What do I do for my own church between Sundays?
- Am I, as a para-church leader, willing to establish a line of voluntary accountability to a church or churches in my community, at least in personal, moral and doctrinal matters?
- Am I, as a pastor, willing on request to recommend that the church appoint and commission one or two of our key leaders to boards or committees of para-church organisations?
- Am I, as a para-church leader, open to a church or denomination suggesting they appoint a key businessman to my board? If not, why not?
Self-check Test No. 3
The Harmfulness of Strained Relationships
- Is pride or selfishness behind some of the attitudes I have towards other Christian leaders? Is there something I need to forget? Is there as much need of confession, repentance or reconciliation on my part as there is on theirs? Even if I think not, am I willing to take the initiative, as Jesus taught?
- Am I concentrating on putting right some ecclesiastical, mechanical or administrative wrongs, while all the time ignoring personal prejudices and strained relationships with Christian leaders? Will I carry these to my grave? Why?
- Who is there, close to me, who can "flash a red light" each time I engage in disparaging talk about another church or Christian leader?
- Is my staff aware of any superior attitude I have towards some Christian groups? Is this then reflected in their own dealings with these groups? How can I correct the situation?
Self-check Test No. 4
The Rivalry between Ministries For Pastors
- Am I guilty of encouraging the church to be either narrower or broader in matters of fellowship and service than Scripture demands? Am I willing to change?
- Would I be willing to inconvenience myself in order to meet regularly with other pastors (and para-church leaders) for prayer and a sandwich? Can I initiate this type of thing?
- Do I praise other churches and para-church agencies in front of my congregation? If not, why not?
- Do I encourage the reading of the publications of other denominations or para-church groups? In which way could I best do this?
For Para-church leaders
- Did I consult other para-church leaders and pastors before "setting up shop" in this area? What about the future?
- How can I ensure that pastors and other para-church groups are kept informed of my intentions in areas which will affect them?
- Am I honestly seeking to avoid unnecessary overlap or duplication, either in ministry programmes or in the geographical areas where we work?
- Am I transparent with other leaders in openly discussing differences, while avoiding negative talk in their absence?
Self-check Test No. 5
The Suspicion about Finances
For the consideration of pastors and church leaders
- When did I last read a brief history of the Christian church?
- Am I willing to acknowledge the significant contribution of voluntary agencies (a) where the Church could not work and (b) where the Church was not working?
- Am I willing to take just five minutes right now to consider how a strangle-hold by the institutionalised Church must ultimately destroy the initiative and effectiveness of important outreach groups?
- Do I acknowledge that the church does have a responsibility to support valid and useful ministries outside its walls?
For the consideration of para-church leaders
- Am I in agreement with the principle of a potential or existing donor giving priority to his local church in the matter of tithes and offerings? Why?
- Are audited financial statements readily available for donors, church leaders, the press, or the leaders of other Christian agencies? If not, why not?
- Do my staff tug unwisely at the purse-strings of a congregation they have been invited to address? Do I instruct them to discuss first with the pastor what would be in order?
- If Jesus were incarnated in my body, doing my ministry, would he have basically the same life-style? What may be different? Am I willing to re-evaluate and to consider changing?
For home churches
- Is our church balanced in its mission giving? Are we concerned about both witness and service, home and abroad? Would I consider doing a personal study in the New Testament on what mission really is? Could the missions chairman do it with me?
- Do I take the trouble to check on the facts when media reports criticise a Christian organisation, discouraging the giving of our people? How do I handle my findings if they conflict with the media report?
- Do I, by precept and practice, encourage simpler life-styles among the congregation, so that we, as a church, can better help the needy of the world?
- Are mortgage and maintenance costs crippling our church in its ability to give to missions? Did the church grow just as fast before we had this building? What future decisions would best help the church to become more mission-oriented?
For sending agencies
- What was the original incentive for creating this ministry to the world's underprivileged, undernourished peoples? Was it transparent beyond question? Were there ulterior motives?
- Do we sometimes unfairly exploit crises which make international headlines, knowing that the public giving potential to such projects is excellent?
- Do we allow government matching grant policies to determine the type of project we support, rather than considering the views of the receiving country churches and using more biblical means of guidance?
- Ten years from now, is it likely that most of our projects will be shown to have moved a needy people forward in the ability to look after themselves? In which way will this be seen? Do we have projects which are exceptions? Why?'
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Blakey, P. 'Reproduce After Their Own Kind', Credenza/Agenda, Vol. 16, Issue 4 (2005).
Bond, S. 'Can the Local Church Send Missionaries?', Evangelical Missions Quarterly, (April 1993).
Borthwick, P. 'What Local Churches Are Saying to Mission Agencies', Evangelical Missions Quarterly, (July 1999).
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Brierley, P. UK Christian Handbook: Religious Trends 4 2003/2004 (London: Christian Research, 2003).
Bruce, F. F. The Book of Acts revised ed. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1989).
Burger, G. 'The Local Church and the Para-Local Church: A Proposal for Partnership in Ministry', LeadershipU, 13th July 2002, <http://www.leaderru.com/isot/docs/parachur.html#> (20th January, 2007).
Camp, B 'A Theological Examination of the Two-Structure Theory', Missiology, (1995).
Carey, W. An Enquiry into the Obligation of Christians to use Means for the Conversion of the Heathen. 1792, <http://www.wmcarey.edu/carey/enquiry/anenquiry.pdf> (17th December, 2007).
Cook, H. R. 'Who Really Sent the First Missionaries?', Evangelical Missions Quarterly, (October 1975).
Corrie, J. Mission Theology in Context (Gloucestershire: The Open Theological College, 1998).
Devenish, D. What on Earth is the Church for? A Blueprint for the Future for Church Based Mission and Social Action (Milton Keynes: Authentic Media, 2005).
Engel, J. F. and Dyrness, W. A. Changing the Mind of Missions: Where Have We Gone Wrong? (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2000).
Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History translated by C. F. Cruse, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1991).
Fee, G. D., Stuart, D. How To Read The Bible For All Its Worth (London: Scripture Union, 1982).
Fitch, D. The Great Giveaway: Reclaiming the Mission of the Church from Big Business, Parachurch Organizations, Psychotherapy, Consumer Capitalism (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2005).
Fox, Fox's Book of Martyrs (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1967).
Frazee, R. The Connecting Church: Beyond Small Groups to Authentic Community (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 2001).
Friedman, T. L. The World is Flat: The Globalized World in the Twenty-First Century (London: Penguin Books, 2006).
Gibbs, E. I Believe in Church Growth (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1981).
'Global Connections Missions Network' 2007, <http://www.globalconnections.co.uk/> (17th December, 2007).
Green, L. 'Local Churches and Mission Agencies; Competitors or Partners?', 19th May, 2006, <http://lynngreen.com/?p=28> (12th July, 2007).
Hamilton, D. J. 'I Commend to You Our Sister: An Inductive Study of the Difficult Passages Related to the Ministry of Women: 1 Corintians 11:2-16, 14:26-40 and 1 Timothy 2:1-15' Masters Degree Thesis, University of the Nations, 1996.
Harris, T. The Great Omission: A Call to Restore Mission to the Heart of the Local Church (Darlington: Evangelical Press, 2005).
Hays, S. 'Church or Parachurch', Triablogue, 6th January 2006, <http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2006_01_01_archive.html> (20th July, 2007).
Holm, J. Church Centered Mission: Transforming the Church to Change the World (High Land Park: Mall Publishing Company, 2004).
Joachim J. 'Generation X defies definition, ' 1 June 1997, <http://zephyr.unr.edu/outpost/specials/genx.overvw1.html> (26th February 2008).
Johnson, R. 'Cutting Out the Middleman: Mission and the Local Church in a Golbalised Post Modern World' One World or Many: The Impact of Globalization on Mission, ed. by R. Tiplady (Pasadena: William Carey Library, 2003), pp. 239-50.
Julien, T. 'The Essence of the Church', Evangelical Missions Quarterly, (April 1998).
Knell, B. Churches and Agencies in Partnership: Mission at the Heart of the Church, the Church at the Heart of Mission (London: Global Connections, 2006).
Leidenfrost, C. 'Beside-the-Church-Ministires',Credenda/Agenda, Vol. 9, Issue 5 (6th April 2005).
Marshall, H. The Acts of the Apostles: An Introduction and Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1980).
Martin, A. 'The Church and World Mission', New Frontiers Magazine, April-June 2006, p. 30-34.
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Migs, R. 'Parachurch vs Church: A false Dichotomy', The Blind Begger, January 24th 2007, <http://blindbeggar.org/?p=416> (20th July, 2007).
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Peters, G. A Biblical Theology of Missions (Chicago: Moody Press, 1972).
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Sharp, L. 'What an Agency Leader Would Say to Local Churches', Evangelical Missions Quarterly, (January 2000).
Shaw, Tom. 'University Challenge: the Vital Role of Church-based Student Work in Changing a Nation', New Frontiers Magazine, April-June 2006, p. 16-19.
Skevington Wood, 'The Methodists', in The History of Christianity,ed. By Tim Dowley (Berkhamsted:Lion Publishing, 1977), pp. 450-2
Snyder, H. "The Church As God's Agent in Evangelism" <http://www.lausanne.org/documents/lau1docs/0352.pdf> (27th September, 2007).
Soanes S., and Hawker S. Compact Oxford English Dictionary, 3rd edn (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), p. 985.
Stackhouse, J. 'The Parachurch: A Parasite?', Prof. John Stackhouse's Weblog, 18th February 2007, <http://stackblog.wordpress.com/2007/02/> (July 20, 2007).
Thapa, T. and Knoble, S. 'Western-National Church Partnerships: Are They Really a Good Idea?', Evangelical Missions Quarterly, (October 2004).
Tibbert, S. 'What's Wrong with the Para-Church?', New Frontiers Magazine, April-June 2006, p. 7-11.
Valerio, R., George, S., Lundy, D. et. al. One World or Many: The Impact of Globalization on Mission, ed. by R. Tiplady (Pasadena: William Carey Library, 2003).
Virgo, T. No Well-Worn Paths: Restoring the Church to Christ's Original Intention (Eastbourne: Kingsway Publications, 2001).
Virgo, T. 'First Line', New Frontiers Magazine, April-June 2006, p. 3-5.
Wall, R. W. 'The Acts of the Apostles: Introduction, Commentary, and Reflections' in The New Interpreter's Bible: A Commentary in Twelve Volumes, Volume 10 eds. L. E. Keck, T. G. Long, B. C. Birch et. al. (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2002).
Warren, M. I Believe in the Great Commission (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1976).
Watson, D. I Believe in Evangelism (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1976).
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White, J. The Church and the Parachurch: An Uneasy Marriage (Portland: Multmonah, 1983).
Willmer, W. K., and Schmidt, J. D. The Prospering Parachurch: Enlarging the Boundaries of God's Kingdom (San Francisco: Josses-Bass Publishers, 1998).
Winter, R. D. 'The Two Structures of God's Redemptive Mission', Missiology 2 (1974) 121-39.
Winter, R. D. 'Churches Need Missions Because Modalities Need Sodalities', Evangelical Missions Quarterly, (July 1971).
- J. White, The Church and the Parachurch: An Uneasy Marriage (Portland: Multmonah, 1983), p. 19. The breadth of such organisations are huge. They include the mission agency, evangelistic organisations, children's, youth, women's and men's ministries, relief and development agencies, Bible translation, ministries working in schools, colleges, universities, offices and factories, Bible colleges, Christian schools, seminaries and universities, magazine and book publishers, Christian radio, TV and Web TV services . Ministries that support the church in legal matters, financial stewardship, hymn and song royalties are 'alongside the church' ministries and, rightly understood, denominational structures and church network structures are also parachurch structures.
- H. Snyder, "The Church as God's Agent in Evangelism" <http://www.lausanne.org/documents/lau1docs/0352.pdf> (27th September, 2007), p. 353.
- S. Soanes and S. Hawker, Compact Oxford English Dictionary, 3rd edn (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), p. 985.
- Reeves, 'What is Church? What is a CU?' UCCF: thechristianunions, 2007, <http://www.uccf.org.uk/about-us/uccf-and-the-local-church/what-is-a-church-what-is-a-cu.htm> (20th July, 2007).
- 'New Church' is a term used to identify the church networks that have emerged in this country since the late 1970s.
- This is for two reasons, the limitation of space, but also because the issues raised in this dissertation tend not to be so pronounced in the historic church traditions.
- For example, Winter argues that the sodality is 'church' in a non-local form in, R. D. Winter, 'The Two Structures of God's Redemptive Mission', Missiology 2 (1974), pp. 121-39, yet Reeves, while defending the legitimacy of the sodality and after a long discussion of the definition of 'church', reaches the opposite conclusion. See, Reeves, 'What is Church? What is a CU?'
- P. Brierley, UK Christian Handbook: Religious Trends 4 2003/2004 (London: Christian Research, 2003), p. 3.3.
- J. Holm, Church Centered Mission: Transforming the Church to Change the World (High Land Park: Mall Publishing Company, 2004), p. 12.
- D. Devenish, What on Earth is the Church for? A Blueprint for the Future for Church Based Mission and Social Action (Milton Keynes: Authentic Media, 2005), p. 2-3.
- Global Connections describes itself as 'a UK network of mission agencies, churches, colleges and service agencies with a passion for the world.' Global Connections is in partnership with the Evangelical Alliance in the UK, and a member of the European Evangelical Missionary Alliance. 'Global Connections Missions Network' 2007, <http://www.globalconnections.co.uk/> (17th December, 2007).
- Devenish, What on Earth is the Church for?, p. 55.
- G. Peters, A Biblical Theology of Missions (Chicago: Moody Press, 1972), p. 217.
- White, The Church and the Parachurch, p. 31.
- T. Virgo, No Well-Worn Paths: Restoring the Church to Christ's Original Intention (Eastbourne: Kingsway Publications, 2001), p. 304-05.
- T. Virgo, 'First Line', New Frontiers Magazine, April-June 2006, p. 4.
- Devenish, What on Earth is the Church for?, p. 62-3.
- This is a most remarkable book. Even though written so long ago it has much to say to contemporary mission strategy, both to mission agencies and local churches directly engaged in missions. It should be noted that careful reading of the book reveals Allen is not arguing against the missionary society per se, rather they have a different emphasis in the way they conduct their missionary activity. This is clearly outlined in his introduction.
- R .Allen, Missionary Methods: St Paul's or Ours? 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1962), p. 83.
- Virgo, 'First Line', p. 4.
- Devenish, What on Earth is the Church for?, p. 56.
- White, The Church and the Parachurch, p. 24.
- P. Blakey, 'Spiritual Maverick', Credenza/Agenda, Vol. 16, Issue 1: (2005).
- Devenish, What on Earth is the Church for?, p. 62-3.
- Ibid., p. 68, see also p. 138.
- J. F. Engel, and W. A. Dyrness, Changing the Mind of Missions: Where Have We Gone Wrong? (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2000), p. 75.
- It should be noted these complaints are leveled at the broad spectrum of parachurch groups generally, but certainly include the mission agency.
- White, The Church and the Parachurch, p. 25.
- S. Tibbert, 'What's Wrong with the Para-Church?', New Frontiers Magazine, April-June 2006, p. 8.
- Ibid., p. 8.
- White, The Church and the Parachurch, p. 26.
- W. K. Willmer, and J. D. Schmidt, The Prospering Parachurch: Enlarging the Boundaries of God's Kingdom (San Francisco: Josses-Bass Publishers, 1998), p. 10. These figures quoted here are for all para-church groups, not just mission agencies.
- D. B. Barrett, T. M. Johnson, P. F. Crossing, 'Missiometrics 2005: A Global Survey of World Mission' International Bulletin of Missionary Research, (January 2005).
- Willmer and Schmidt, The Prospering Parachurch, p. 158.
- Some would go further and teach that both the tithes and offerings (gifts beyond the 10% tithe) should be given to the 'storehouse', then the leaders should decide how the money is apportioned.
- Peters, A Biblical Theology of Missions (Chicago: Moody Press, 1972), p. 215. Part of the reason for this may be that the churches of the Reformers were still dependent on the State, not least for finances.
- Ibid., p. 216.
- Ryland's son denied this was ever said.
- The full title is An Enquiry into the Obligation of Christians to use Means for the Conversion of the Heathen. In Which the Religious State of the Different Nations of the World, the Success of Former Undertakings, and the Predictability of Further Undertakings Are Considered. The full text is available at, Carey, W., An Enquiry into the Obligation of Christians to use Means for the Conversion of the Heathen. 1792, <http://www.wmcarey.edu/carey/enquiry/anenquiry.pdf> (17th December, 2007).
- The first missionary Society was probably the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (now the United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel) formed in 1701 by the Anglican Church, specifically to serve the Church of England in the American Colonies.
- Engel and Dyrness, Changing the Mind of Missions, p. 75.
- Virgo, 'First Line', p. 4.
- Peters, Theology of Missions, p. 214.
- Virgo, No Well-Worn Paths, p. 304 and Tibbert, 'What's Wrong with the Para-Church?', p. 9.
- Devenish, What on Earth is the Church for?, p. 68-9.
- J. Stackhouse, 'The Parachurch: A Parasite?', Prof. John Stackhouse's Weblog, 18th February 2007, <http://stackblog.wordpress.com/2007/02/> (20th July, 2007).
- This subject could easily be a dissertation subject in its own right. Due to space limitations just a cursory discussion will be attempted here identifying the main issues to bring us to a working conclusion.
- G. D. Fee, and D. Stuart, How To Read The Bible For All Its Worth (London: Scripture Union, 1982), pp. 87-102.
- Fee points out, even though the principle of celebrating the Eucharist can be ascertained from this passage, there is liberty in the details of how this is done as they are not specified.
- In discussing the purpose of Acts, Marshall considers (rightly) that the Luke-Acts material should be taken as a whole. He suggests the following: Luke was consciously recording 'the story of Christian beginnings', he was showing that the gospel was for Gentiles as well as Jews and that 'the Church, composed of Jews and Gentiles, stands in continuity with Judaism'. An apologetic purpose may be a secondary motive. H. Marshall, The Acts of the Apostles: An Introduction and Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1980), pp. 17-22.
- Fee and Stuart, How To Read The Bible, p. 93.
- Allen, Missionary Methods, p. 4.
- M. Warren, I Believe in the Great Commission (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1976), p. 92. McGavran, who conducted church planting in India, also makes this point when being interviewed about Allen's book. He comments that Allen has, 'brilliant theory, but we are facing actual facts. If we try to follow his theory, we might destroy our work... [we] know too much to apply them indiscriminately.' 'McGavren Speaks on Roland Allen', Evangelical Missions Quarterly, (April 1972).
- Peters, Theology of Missions, p. 224.
- F, A. Schaeffer, A Christian World View: Volume 4, A Christian View of the Church 2nd ed. (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 1994), pp. 59-60.
- Warren, I Believe in the Great Commission, p. 92.
- Some would argue that sodalities reach back beyond Jesus to the Old Testament, see: Reeves, 'What is Church? What is a CU?'
- For example, when Jesus got into a boat with the disciples in Luke 8:22, it was presumably with the smaller group of the twelve.
- 'Disciples' in Acts, 6:1, 2, 7; 9:1, 19, 26, 38; 11:26, 29; 13:52; 14:20, 21, 22, 28; 15:10; 18:23, 27; 19:1, 9, 30; 20:1, 30; 21:4, 16.
- 'Apostles' in Acts, 1:2, 26; 2:37,42, 43; 4:33, 35, 46, 47; 5:2, 12, 18, 29, 40; 6:6; 8:1, 14, 18; 9:27; 11:1; 14:4, 14; 15:2, 4, 6, 22, 23; 16:4; 'the twelve' 6:2.
- H. K. Moulton, The Analytical Greek Lexicon Revised (Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1977), p. 47.
- For example, the sermon on the plain: 'And he came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples...And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said...' 6:17, 20 (emphasis added).
- That James was the leading elder of the Jerusalem church is confirmed by Eusebius 'Peter, James and John...chose James the Just as bishop of Jerusalem'. Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History translated by C. F. Cruse, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1991), p. 49.
- Ibid., p. 82.
- Ibid., p. 82. A much less reliable tradition records that Philip labored in Upper Asia and Bartholomew went to India, Matthew traveled to Parthia and Ethiopia, James the son of Alphaeus to Egypt, Simon (the Zealot) preached the gospel in Mauritania, Africa and Britain. Finally, Judas the son of James went to Edessa. Fox's Book of Martyrs (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1967), pp. 2-5.
- See Acts 1:8; 2:1-47; 4:8, 31; 6:10; 8:15, 29, 39; 9:17, 31; 10:19, 44; 11:12, 15, 28; 13:2, 4, 52; 15:28; 16:6-7, 19:6.
- Traditionally the Damascus Road experience of Paul is called his 'conversion'. But it can be argued that this was not a conversion experience as is commonly understood, that is Paul did not change his religion from Judaism to Christianity, rather came to see following Jesus as a natural step within Judaism. The encounter Paul had of Jesus may well be better understood as his 'call' to go to the Gentiles (Acts 22:21).
- See the above comments on Acts 9:26-30 and Gal 1:18-24.
- We do learn from 1 Cor 9:5 that Peter and the other apostles, at least sometimes, were accompanied by their wives.
- This does not seem to reflect quite what the text says. 18:18 would indicate that Paul traveled from Corinth to Ephesus with Priscilla and Aquila. Apollos, it seems, exercised an independent ministry. Priscilla and Aquila probably get a special mention because they are influential in their relationship with Apollos. Timothy and Silas are not mentioned as being part of this team, but presumably as Paul's traveling companions were with him. Silas is not mentioned again in Acts and Timothy is with Paul in Ephesus on his third journey in 19:22.
- White, The Church and the Parachurch, p. 82-3.
- Sixteen people are mentioned in all, but it is not clear if all are part of his present team.
- Hamilton, D. J. 'I Commend to You Our Sister: An Inductive Study of the Difficult Passages Related to the Ministry of Women: 1 Corinthians 11:2-16, 14:26-40 and 1 Timothy 2:1-15' Masters Degree Thesis, University of the Nations, 1996, Appendix X.
- Presumably these people were claiming the authority of the Jerusalem church leaders to get a hearing among the believers in Antioch.
- To this list could be added that twice the Apostle Paul with some of his team were involved in arranging relief for the poor in Judea, see Acts 19:27-30 and Romans 15:25-6.
- Peters, Theology of Missions, p. 219.
- Devenish, What on Earth is the Church for?, p. 62. Despite this comment, he seems unsure exactly how the church authority structure worked as he admits that Paul did not refer back to Antioch during the direction change of the second missionary journey, but rather the decisions were made by Paul in the context of his team, see p. 63.
- Moulton, Greek Lexicon, p. 62.
- H. R. Cook, 'Who Really Sent the First Missionaries?' Evangelical Missions Quarterly, (October 1975). F. F. Bruce concurs when he says, 'The laying on of hands in this instance imparted to Barnabas and Saul no spiritual gift or authority that they did not already possess; but by this means the church of Antioch, through its leaders, expressed its fellowship with them...'. F. F. Bruce, The Book of Acts, revised ed, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1989), p. 246.
- Moulton, Greek Lexicon, p. 46.
- Ibid., p. 126. Wall notes, 'Luke does not use the more familiar "sending" verb ἀποστἐλλϖ (apostellō), which would have called attention to the noun "apostle," but rather unusual verb ἐκπἑμπϖ (ekpempō, "sent out" cf. 17:10) to emphasize that this new mission was undertaken by direct instruction of the Spirit (rather than by the leadership of a local church). See Barrett, Acts, 1:6-10.' R. W. Wall, 'The Acts of the Apostles: Introduction, Commentary, and Reflections' in The New Interpreter's Bible: A Commentary in Twelve Volumes, Volume 10 eds. L. E. Keck, T. G. Long, B. C. Birch et. al. (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2002), p. 189, footnote 465.
- J. D. G. Dunn, Word Biblical Commentary: Romans 9-16 (Dallas: Word Books, 1988), p. 872.
- Cook, 'Who Really Sent the First Missionaries?'
- As has been pointed out, the sodality structure was not only significant for missionary expansion but time and again was a catalysis for the renewal of the local church. Watson writes, 'The Cistercians of the twelfth century, together with the Franciscans and Dominicans of the thirteenth, were foremost in this growth of spiritual renewal and church reform, which also led (as many genuine renewal seems to have done) to fresh missionary zeal. D. Watson, I Believe in the Church (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1978), p. 26.
- Warren, I Believe in the Great Commission, p. 92-3.
- Skevington Wood, 'The Methodists', in The History of Christianity, ed. By Tim Dowley (Berkhamsted:Lion Publishing, 1977), pp. 450-2.
- Winter, 'The Two Structures'. According to Winter, the failure for there to be any sodality dimension to the Reformation is one of the reasons Protestants feel uncomfortable with the sodality structure today.
- Winter lists twelve societies that formed in thirty-two years, Winter, 'The Two Structures'.
- The differences between the missionary society and mission agency is helpfully outlined by Knell in B. Knell, Churches and Agencies in Partnership: Mission at the Heart of the Church, the Church at the Heart of Mission (London: Global Connections, 2006), p. 7-9.
- J. White, The Church and the Parachurch, p. 118.
- Quote by Reeves in 'What is Church? What is a CU?'
- R. Johnson, 'Cutting Out the Middleman: Mission and the Local Church in a Globalised Postmodern World' One World or Many: The Impact of Globalization on Mission, ed. by R. Tiplady (Pasadena: William Carey Library, 2003), p. 240.
- Ibid., p. 244. The UK Christian Handbook 2003/4 (Brierley) reports that 7% of British mission workers were sent directly from their church, p. 3.3.
- Generation X is a term used in social sciences and popular culture to describe those born somewhere between the early 1960s and the early 1980s. Opinions differ as to the exact dates. Jennifer Joachim, 'Generation X defies definition, ' 1 June 1997, <http://zephyr.unr.edu/outpost/specials/genx.overvw1.html> (26th February 2008).
- Knell, Churches and Agencies in Partnership, p. 9.
- Ibid., p. 10.
- 'Going it alone' here means in the sense of being actively involved in global missions work independently of any mission agency. Accountability is needed on both sides of the missions enterprise, both to the home situation and to the existing church where the mission activity happens.
- Knell, Churches and Agencies in Partnership, p. 9.
- Green speaks of a book co-authored by a mission agency leader apparently arguing that those involved with a mission agency do not need to attend a local church, C. L. Green, 'Local Churches and Mission Agencies; Competitors or Partners?', 19th May, 2006, <http://lynngreen.com/?p=28 > (12th July, 2007).
- It is accepted that missions should be defined much more broadly than this to include issues of mercy such as relief and development and issues of justice. Bosch discusses this in depth in D. Bosch, Transforming Mission: Paradigm Shifts in Theology of Mission (New York: Orbis Books, 1991), especially pages 400-8.
- It is recognised in frontier missions situations the only 'local church' available may be the missions team.
- White, The Church and the Parachurch, p. 120-1.
- A. Cole quoted in P. Arana-Quirez, D. Isan-Chan, S. Clarke, et al, "Lausanne Occasional Paper 24: Cooperating in World Evangelization: A Handbook on Church/Para-Church Relationships" <http://www.lausanne.org/documents.html> (27th September, 2007), p. 16.
- This is no doubt true for some local churches too. There are those that could usefully be closed and the few people remaining join a larger thriving congregation.
- Stott says this is 'indisputable', in Arana-Quirez, et al, 'A Handbook on Church/Para-Church Relationships'.
- The New Testament is very specific about where money should be given: the poor and needy, Gal 2:10, Matt 25:37, to God's work, Phil 1:5, 4:15-16, and to those that minister to us, 1 Cor 9:8-12, Gal 6:6. Teaching this would certainly put the local church high on the agenda of anyone's giving, but would put people in the place of control to responsibly direct their funds with prayer and the leading of the Holy Spirit.
- Tibbert, 'What's Wrong with the Para-Church', p. 11.
- R. Frazee, The Connecting Church: Beyond Small Groups to Authentic Community (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 2001), Frazee, p. 89.
- White, The Church and the Parachurch, p. 111.
- Bond, who has experienced just this situation comments, ' Having untrained volunteers on our board has deprived us of the experience, insight and context that an established sodality might have provided...' He adds though, that not having 'experts' might have caused more creativity in approach. Bond, S. Bond, 'Can the Local Church Send Missionaries?', Evangelical Missions Quarterly, (April 1993).
- Peters, Theology of Missions, p. 229.
- Ibid., p. 224.
- Ibid., p. 229.
- Devenish, What on Earth is the Church for?, p. 69.
- Willmer, Schmidt, The Prospering Parachurch, p. 178, and 184.
- Arana-Quirez, et al, 'A Handbook on Church/Para-Church Relationships'. The academic dimension is addressed in the end of the paper in Appendix A.
- Ibid., p. 2.
- Ibid., p. 3.
- Ibid., p. 3.
- Peters, Theology of Missions, p. 218.
- Johnson, 'Cutting Out the Middleman', p. 239.
- Devenish, What on Earth is the Church for?, p. 68.
- Knell, Churches and Agencies in Partnership, p. 20-1.
- Arana-Quirez, P. et al, 'A Handbook on Church/Para-Church Relationships'.