Embracing the World at Your Doorstep!

God is opening gospel opportunities by bringing diaspora and displaced people to our doorstep! Church, now is the time to embrace the nations as our neighbors, and share the love of Christ with those who have never heard!

Welcome the displaced locally.

We live in an incredibly unique time to fulfill the great commission! Technology, migration, travel, and media has made the world more globally connected, yet culturally diverse.

Every day, millions of people are moving across the planet, and communities, cities, and countries are literally changing overnight.  Most have been displaced through war, famine, persecution, racism, human trafficking, natural disaster, or forced migration. Many of them have never heard the name of Jesus and are desperately seeking help, healing, hope, purpose, and truth.

In midst of this global crisis, God is opening new pathways for the church to respond to needs, share the gospel, build community, and plant churches. Here are 3 ways the Mission Mobilization Team can serve you today:

Discover the Opportunities:

Learn about ongoing opportunities for your church to embrace displaced people both locally and globally. Mobilize your church to pray for the nations next door, by using the IMB Prayer Points calendar for April 2021. The document is attached below.

Develop a Strategy:

We want to help you develop a comprehensive strategy to reach displaced people in your area. The steps of this strategy are summarized as follows:

  • Step #1 – Hear & Share
  • Step #2 – Access & Discover
  • Step #3 – Develop & Implement
  • Step #4 – Train & Equip

Equip your Church:

Our team can provide personalized resources and trainings to your church as they prepare to minister to displaced people in your region. Read more about our resources below.

Go to the displaced globally.

For training and resources about how your church can embrace this global call, please contact John Barnett. You can email him at [email protected] or call him at (502) 654-3385. Get involved today church.

“So then you are no longer slaves and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.” Ephesians 2:19

Should We Plant or Revitalize Churches?

As I have the privilege to meet with Kentucky Baptist Churches and their leaders about the Great Commission, we regularly discuss matters of church planting and church revitalization.  When it comes to the Great Commission, a primary part of the church’s faithfulness to that call involves healthy church formation.  As Jesus instructs His disciples before He ascends back to heaven, He commands them to make disciples (Matt 28:16-20). 

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IMB Photo- A church meets in a small building in South Asia.

While we love to tell people that we are all about making disciples, what does that actually mean?  The best way to know what that means is to examine what Jesus’ early disciples did to make disciples.  In short, the book of Acts demonstrates their understanding of Jesus’ command as that of birthing or planting churches and strengthening existing churches (Acts 14:19-23).  Great Commission obedience is done in the context of forming healthy churches.    

So, as I meet with churches across the Commonwealth of Kentucky to discuss the Great Commission and a strategy for obeying Jesus’ command, we inevitably discuss church planting and church revitalization. Here is the question I most often ask: Are we called in the Great Commission to plant new churches or help existing churches become healthier?  The answer is clear—Yes!

Great Commission work involves the planting of new churches and the revitalization of existing churches.  The Great Commission expands as churches are planted and strengthened.  Why?  Because more churches are needed to reach an ever-increasing population.  Yet, churches that are not healthy will never focus outward, but only inward.  For example, one NAMB stat reveals that there is only 1 SBC church for every 6,505 people.

Intertwined in Paul’s missionary journeys in Acts is the planting of new churches and the strengthening of existing churches.  Scripture never puts church planting and church strengthening at odds. We could say that they are two sides of the same coin.  Paul’s concern in Acts is for the spread of the gospel through planting new churches and the strengthening of existing churches.  Thus, in Acts 14 Paul plants new churches and then circles back around to these same churches to ensure that these churches are in fact healthy. 

While healthy churches seek to build disciples within their own congregation, they also look outward to reach other peoples and places through the planting of new churches.  This Great Commission focus requires a Kingdom mindset that says it’s not simply about our own local congregation, but about the spread of the gospel through many congregations. 

So should churches be about planting new churches or strengthening existing churches.  Yes!  Great Commission work is the making of disciples through the context of local churches planting new churches and strengthening existing churches.

Meet Our New 2021 Kentucky Missionaries


Sixteen men and women have sensed God’s call to serve in ministries across our state and will be commissioned during a very inspirational service on Friday, April 16th, during the evening session of the Kentucky Woman’s Missionary Union Annual Meeting & Celebration at Shelbyville First Baptist Church.  With last year’s WMU Meeting being canceled due to COVID, we will be recognizing new missionaries for the past two years. 

 These new missionaries are:

  • Mollie Bentley, Director of Rockhouse Baptist Church Mission Center in Hyden.
  • Shawn & Carla Estes, Directors of Fortify Ministries (serving internationals & displaced people) in Glasgow.
  • Audra Hatfield, Directing a community outreach (serving internationals & others) through Faith Baptist Church in Frankfort. 
  • Sheila Hourigan, Executive Director of House of Hope Pregnancy & Family Resource Center in Springfield.
  • Linda McDonald, serving with Impact Ministries in Hopkinsville.
  • Susan McIntosh, serving with Impact Ministries in Hopkinsville.
  • Christian & Katie McKenzie, Directors of Hillcrest Baptist Camp in Cave-in-Rock, IL.
  • Stephanie Mayes, serving with Crossroads Community Baptist Church in Whitley City.
  • Joyce Morris, Missions & Ministry Associate at God’s Appalachian Partnership in McDowell,
  • Tanya Parker, Missions & Ministry Associate at God’s Appalachian Partnership in McDowell.
  • Denise Richards, serving with Impact Ministries in Hopkinsville.
  • Brenda Sparks, serving with Cedaridge Ministries in Williamsburg.
  • Alex Tenenbaum, Director of Community Engagement with Forest Baptist Church in Louisville.
  • Jonas Yoder, Benevolence Director & Re-entry Coordinator with Hell is Real Ministries in Princeton.

Prior to the commissioning these missionaries will spend the day in orientation where they will learn about the Kentucky Baptist Convention, the Cooperative Program, Eliza Broadus State Missions and will be given many resources that will be beneficial to them as they serve.  The time of networking with each other will also be most valuable. 

You can partner with these and/or one of our current 111 Kentucky Mission Service Corps missionaries by:

For more information please contact the KBC Missions Mobilization office at [email protected]

We hope to see you at Shelbyville First Baptist Church on April 16th.  Go to www.kywmu.org and register for either in-person or online.

It’s Time to Take Notice

Ron Crow, KBC Disaster Relief Director

I have a picture that my wife bought for me while we were in Israel a few years ago. It is a stunning picture of Jesus’ lower garment and His feet walking on the crowded dusty road. You also see a woman’s hand and finger as she is reaching out to touch the hem of His garment and the picture depicts a glow at the very point where she touches Him. This picture illustrates the story we find in Mark 5:21-34.

Jesus was busy about His ministry among the people as the crowds were gathered around Him even as one family was begging Him to come and heal a young girl who was dying. You could imagine the commotion of the moment. There was the background noise of the crowd and the cries of hurting people with desperation in their voices. All kinds of activity were going on around Jesus. Everyone pulling for His attention.

Then, this woman who had been suffering from a chronic illness for over twelve years touched His garment with the faith that if she could only touch His garment, she would get well. Jesus did not know this woman. Jesus did not even see this woman. But He did notice her. Amid all the commotion and activity, He noticed her. He stopped and met her need. In fact, in meeting her need, He also had the opportunity to meet her greatest need, her spiritual need.

I often find myself getting caught up in the busyness of life. I may be in the crowds where there is a lot of commotion and talk. You have been there too where many of the noises are not even noticed as it all becomes one giant mass of noise. You either pay attention to what you want to or what you need to; or find yourself trying to tune it all out altogether. Sometimes we find ourselves even to the point we do not want to notice others and become inward focused.

Regardless of the mental state we might be in, if we truly want to be like Jesus, we will always be looking for opportunities to notice a need. It might be a simple smile, word of encouragement, kind gesture. Or you will discover a physical need that you have the resources or at least know where and how to get that need met. We need to learn to notice things as Jesus did. And the way we learn to notice, is to learn to think like Jesus.

That is one reason I love the disaster relief ministry so much as it models the ministry of Jesus. As you look at His ministry, He would often meet a physical need which always opened the opportunity to meet the spiritual need. He did this so well because Jesus noticed the need.

I’m reminded of what James said in James 2:14-17, “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but does not have works? Can such faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothes and lacks daily foodand one of you says to them, “Go in peace, stay warm, and be well fed,” but you don’t give them what the body needs, what good is it? In the same way faith, if it does not have works, is dead by itself.”

Our faith is to be put into action. Faith is not a condition to claim but a life to live. And what I have found when I notice a need, that I not only can be a blessing to another, but I am blessed myself, often in unexpected ways.

Maybe it is time we notice. Open your eyes, look around and notice through the eyes of faith and see all that God will show you. Notice a need and meet a need. You’ll be blessed.

REIMAGINE MISSIONS

In the remaining months of 2021, leaders will better see if the COVID pandemic was simply a blip in planning or a complete disruption to ministry as we have known it.

In a recent Barna webcast, the question was posed, “Is this an interruption or a disruption?”

An interruption means this is only a temporary interference and things will be back to normal soon.

A disruption requires more of a pivot to lasting adjustment. It means that the way we have done things may be incomplete for this season and beyond.

Will you dare to reimagine how your church can carry out the mission of God in light of our current reality?

Today’s Realities

COVID-19 Impact

As COVID-19 began to spread, many missional activities came to a screeching halt. Though the mission has not changed, our circumstances have. As we come out of the pandemic, we must move from self-preservation to selfless sacrifice for the sake of the nations. This will take intentionality and avoiding the inclination to return to overly programmatic and pragmatic approaches to missions.

Tips & Tools

Whether we succumb to fear and focus inward or seek to overcompensate in our own strength for the perceived slowing of missionary advance, we must return and trust our sovereign Lord who has promised a “people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation” around the throne of the Lamb (Revelation 5:9).

During this season, we need a Mindshift when it comes to missions. We need to pivot away from overly programmatic and pragmatic approaches to missions and begin to see the people of God as the primary means through which God has determined to see His glory spread throughout the whole earth, by preparing and equipping the people of God as ministers of the gospel.

Tomorrow’s Possibilities

Reimagine

The clear biblical pattern and expectation is for every disciple of Jesus to reproduce others who walk with Christ by making disciples. Similarly, the clear biblical pattern and expectation is for every church to reproduce themselves. Disciples make disciples, churches plant churches. Reimagine a church that recognizes that their salvation is not for themselves, but that they have been blessed to be a blessing. Reimagine a church whose missions strategy is its people, where every ordinary follower of Christ is actively ministering the gospel among their friends, family, neighbors, and the nations.

Remember, the vision and mission of God never changes. Below you will find a simple Missions Assessment Tool and a resource on the Biblical Pattern of Missions in the Acts and the Gospels that can help you begin to reimagine today.

Tips & Tools

4 Helpful List: Custom Assessment for Missions

Resources

Patterns of Mission from Acts and the Gospels

The KBC’s Missions Mobilization Team is here to help you find resources and tools as seek to fulfill the great commission. Churches must learn how to innovate our practices while we maintain essential biblical convictions. Email, text or call John Barnett, KBC Missions Strategist, and let us journey alongside you as you Reimagine Missions in 2021 and beyond. Contact info email: [email protected] cell: 502-654-3385.

Partners in the Mission

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Every church and follower of Jesus has one and the same mission in life—makes disciples of Jesus locally and globally.  That is, every believer through his or her local church is called to both grow as a disciple of Jesus and help make disciples for Jesus.  Each church must think carefully about how best to make disciples of their own members as well as how to make disciples elsewhere. 

Discipling believers in each local church is no easy task.  However, even more difficult is being part of disciple-making beyond one’s own location and church.  After all, how can you make disciples where you have no on-going presence?  Yet, let’s not forget that the call of the Great Commission is one of disciple-making “of all nations” and throughout “Jerusalem, and all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth” (Matt 28:19 and Acts 1:8).

For local churches to make disciples beyond their own locale, there must be intentional effort.  Disciple-making requires time and relationship.  Churches seeking to follow Jesus’s call to make disciples “of all nations” will do well to partner with trusted missionaries and churches to accomplish that end. 

But what should such a partnership entail?   As Southern Baptists and Kentucky Baptists, we call ourselves a Great Commission people, a people who cooperate in the mission.  While our partnership in the mission certainly involves our dollars as we give through Cooperative Program, it must be more than that as well. 

As a denomination with thousands of missionaries in our states, nation, and world, linking arm and arm with them is vital for Great Commission impact.  Let me suggest five practical ways for churches to partner with our missionaries in the mission of making disciples locally and globally:

1. Develop long-term partnerships (3-5 years minimum).  Relationships take time to build.  We want to invest in peoples and places for ongoing gospel work. The greatest impact comes over time.  These partnerships involve such things as: prayer, encouragement, finances, short-term teams, resources, etc.

2. Let the missionary determine the strategy.  Those who live in certain locations among certain peoples know best the needs and how to engage them with the gospel.  Working alongside of our missionaries to help with their strategy rather than against their strategy is crucial for long-term impact.   

3. Multiple teams per year (if needed). As partnership is about relationship, relationships occur over time and through interaction.  Rather than sending a team of 10, perhaps a church can send two teams of 5 at different times in the year.  Smaller teams allow for easier logistics.  More teams allow for deepening of relationships more than once a year.  However, as with suggestion #2, let the missionary ultimately determine the size and frequency of teams.

4. Be gospel-centered.  This may seem like a no-brainer.  However, we have all heard of short-term teams that paint, clean, build, play, and the like.  While all these elements and more can be valuable to short-term missions, we do all that we do for gospel advancement.  At the end of the day, the number one issue is whether we clearly explained the gospel and called people to follow Jesus.  Even our gospel-centeredness must be sensitive to the strategy of our host missionaries.  We know that the gospel is offensive to some (2 Cor 2:14-17), but we ourselves in our mannerisms and tactics don’t want to be.  Be gospel-centered as we rely on the guidance of our host missionaries and their strategy.   

5. Be a servant. Just as Jesus did not come to be served, but to serve and give his life a ransom for many (Mark 10:45), short-term mission teams partner well by going to serve and not be served.  Seeing new places and experiencing new cultures is thrilling but doing so to the detriment of the mission is costly.  This is not to say we should never see new sights or experience new cultures. Rather, set aside time to do just that, but give priority to serving both the missionaries you partner with and those who need the gospel. 

We all have the same mission—make disciples of Jesus locally and globally.  To do so well requires intentionality both here and there. As we partner for the sake of the gospel “over there,” let these five guiding principles direct you to partner well in the mission.

Could God Be Calling You to Serve Long-Term?

God continues to call men and women to serve in long-term ministry positions in Kentucky.  This past year we have seen five new Kentucky Mission Service Corps missionaries approved, six others awaiting approval and three or four others that are sensing God’s call to serve.

Currently one hundred eight men and women serve in various positions in Kentucky, from food & clothing ministry, women & children’s ministries, prison ministries, and much, much more.

Have you ever considered that He may be calling you?  Many times we think a missionary call means to serve in another country or another state, somewhere far, far away.  And, while that might be the case, He may be calling you to serve right here in Kentucky, perhaps right in your own county or community.

We have seven open requests for long-term, self-funded missionaries.  Seven of those are in Kentucky, one in Georgia, and one in Kenya.  Please pray with us that these positions would be filled.  And, ask God if He might be leading you to fill one of the positions.

Positions include the following.  Please click on each link for more detail.

  1. AIC Mukeu School for the Mentally Challenged – Lari Sub-County, Kiambu County, Kenya
    1. Need volunteers to serve in a school for special needs children.  (NOTE: This request is for 2022.)
    1. https://www.kybaptist.org/stories/aic-mukeu-school-for-the-mentally-challenged,3533?
  2. Allen Baptist Church – Allen, KY
    1. Looking for a student ministries missionary or missionary couple.
    1. https://www.kybaptist.org/stories/allen-baptist-church,3649?
  3. Crossings at Cedarmore – Bagdad, KY
    1. Need volunteers to help in various positions at the camp.
    1. https://www.kybaptist.org/stories/crossings-at-cedarmore,4122?
  4. Crossroads Community Baptist Church – Stearns, KY
    1. Looking for ministry partners.
    1. https://www.kybaptist.org/stories/crossroads-community-baptist-church-missionary-need,3154?
  5. Divine Grace Church & Ministries – Atlanta, GA
    1. Looking for ministry partners to help with a church plant.
    1. https://www.kybaptist.org/stories/divine-grace-church-ministries,3659?
  6. Freedom Center Ministries Assistant Directors – Cumberland, KY
    1. Married couple needed to serve alongside directors.
    1. https://www.kybaptist.org/stories/freedom-center-ministries-assistant-directors,3146?
  7. Laurel Lake Baptist Camp – Corbin, KY
    1. Summer missionaries needed to help with the camp.
    1. https://www.kybaptist.org/stories/laurel-lake-baptist-camp,3139?
  8. New Bethel Baptist Church – Eddyville, KY
    1. Couple needed to serve as church strengtheners.
    1. https://www.kybaptist.org/stories/new-bethel-baptist-church,3127?
  9. Emergency Christian Ministries – Williamsburg, KY
    1. Couple needed to serve in homeless shelter. 
    1. https://www.kybaptist.org/stories/emergency-christian-ministries,4291?

Please pray with us for individuals and/or couples to fill these positions.  If you sense God calling you to one of these positions, please email [email protected] for more information and how to get connected.

Love Thy Neighborhood

I enjoy celebrating Valentine’s Day because it presents an opportunity to show love to those I care about … and eat chocolate too!   I will always try to remember my wife, daughters, and those closest to me on Valentine’s Day.  But what about my neighborhood?   If you’re like me, I don’t associate Valentine’s Day with showing love to my neighbors, but shouldn’t I? 

Matthew 22:34-40 says “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”   Jesus was saying, don’t stop at just loving me, love those around you too.   

I have the privilege and responsibility of being a covenant member in a young church whose mission is “to love God, love people and love community.”  From the beginning, it has been our goal to show our love for God by serving our community and those in it.  

One of the many ways that we loved and served our community early on was to spend afternoons tutoring children in the local elementary school.  The elementary school we chose to serve was struggling because very few parents were involved, many of the students were new to the US and learning English as a Second language, a majority of its students were on free or reduced lunches and academically, they were only in the 14 percentile state-wide.    

Our willingness to serve and love the children opened doors of trust with the faculty who were curious as to why we cared so much.  Our tutoring helped those students who were falling behind to catch up while discovering that someone genuinely cared about them.  It provided opportunities for sharing Christ and inviting families to join our community of faith.  It encouraged the teachers and faculty who had become so discouraged in their work.

Showing God’s love to the school greatly benefitted them … and us.  That school was recognized as the greatest success story in the district.  Their growth surpassed 90% of the elementary schools in the state, earning them a special distinction as “High Progressing” school, after finishing in the 71st percentile, up from the previous 14th.  WOW, what a difference our involvement and service had made. Their principal contributed the amazing turn-around to a team effort and thanked the church’s volunteers for loving the students and showing them the love of God.    

Our service through the school allowed me to see first-hand how loving our community opened doors that would have otherwise remained closed.  I saw the smile of a child who finally understood how to complete his homework assignment. I discovered what it means to love your neighbor and most importantly, I witnessed people coming to faith in Christ because we loved God, people, AND our community.  Let me challenge you to love your neighborhood this Valentine’s Day … and eat chocolate too?    

How to approach evangelism with different cultures, faiths, and worldviews

The United States is a melting pot of cultures and worldviews. Migration brings thousands of Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists to cities all around the country every year. This trend continues while agnosticism, atheism and apathy marks the worldview of many Americans.

For Western Christians, being a witness for Christ in a religiously plural society is no longer an international missionary challenge. In the midst of a melting pot of faiths, Christians must learn how to adapt in their evangelistic efforts.

The first-generation Muslim immigrants who frequent your local park have different assumptions about issues of sin and salvation than those of the postmodern college student who works at your local coffee shop.

Christians in such a diverse context must learn to show how the gospel speaks to each of these differing worldviews. Evangelistic adaptability can be developed in the following four ways:

Listen to the person’s story.
Whatever religious context you face in evangelism, listening is crucial. Listening conveys a person’s value as one who is uniquely made in the image of God. Asking good questions helps one understand two major issues: what is most important to the person (the object of their devotion) and the story that person tells themself in order to explain reality.

Ask questions about the person’s hometown or country, family, cultural holidays, hobbies, passions, and future goals. For example, you may say “Tell me the story behind one of your festivals or holidays.” A natural follow-up question might be, “How do you live out your faith? Tell me about your devotional life.”

A concrete type of question is often better than a theoretical one such as, “What do you believe about God?” Listen intently to how the person describes their views of God, humanity and the stories embedded in their devotional practices. You are not only listening for cognitive beliefs. Religious traditions, experiences and societal values communicate just as much about a person’s worldview as does their intellectual beliefs and convictions. You can then naturally begin sharing your own story of meeting Jesus and then share the story of Jesus.

Remember the essentials. 
In order to share the story of Jesus (i.e., the gospel), it is often natural to introduce it by sharing your own story of how you became a follower of Jesus. When sharing the gospel, keep in mind some essential elements, such as God, creation, sin, Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, and the need for repentance and faith. The four-fold model of the Bible’s grand narrative as creation, fall, redemption, and restoration is also helpful. Another approach is to answer the following four questions in your gospel presentation: Who is Jesus? What has Jesus done? Why is Jesus important or the only way? How should we respond?

The ideal evangelistic encounter will include all of these elements. Do not be discouraged if you are only able to share aspects of the gospel in conversations with lost people. Any attempt at sharing Christ is not a vain activity. However, these essential elements can serve as foundational components for any contextualized gospel conversation.

Respond to their story with the story of Jesus. 
Once you have given a genuine ear to listen and learn about the other person, keep in mind what you learned as you speak about the story of the gospel. Responding to their story with the story of Jesus.

For example, if the person shares that their family is the most important thing in the world to them, it can be helpful to include Abraham’s story of how God used his descendants to spread the good news of salvation and bless all the families of the world. Perhaps the festival that is important to them has aspects of the gospel embedded within it. Use those elements to connect them to the gospel.

For example, the Hindu festival Diwali is about light conquering the dark. You can highlight the fact that Jesus calls himself the light of the world. You are not claiming that Jesus is the fulfillment of their festival. Instead, you are taking a familiar concept (light vs. dark) and connecting it to the biblical message, i.e., the truth.

Contextualizing the gospel is not making the gospel more relevant. The gospel already is relevant. Our job is to share the gospel with the nations here, there, and everywhere. We do this best when we listen well and then apply the gospel to what we learn about a person. However, this is difficult to do in the first conversation. That is why there is one more principle for learning adaptability.

Walk alongside them moving forward. 
If possible, do not just share Christ with a person one time. Follow up with them. Evangelism should not be a one-and-done approach. Jesus called us to make disciples, which involves investing time in people.

As long as an individual is willing to talk, continue to process the gospel with them. We describe this as “walking” because it is a process, and it is a relationship that is moving in a direction toward faith in Christ.

People who have very little exposure to a biblical worldview, such as Hindus and Muslims, need time to process everything. This involves getting them in the Scriptures as much as possible. Let the Holy Spirit speak to their hearts, as you share the Word of God. Let them see how Christ is truly alive and working in your own life. Help them meet other believers and witness the love of God in the body of Christ.

We also describe this as “walking alongside” because we are not in a position of authority over them. You are letting the Word of God serve as the authority as you continue to listen and learn about the person. Walking alongside others is how we can best learn to apply the gospel in a variety of cultural settings.

Contextualization in gospel ministry is best learned in relationships with people. Listen to them, remember the revealed faith, apply the gospel to their life, and walk alongside them towards Christ.

For more information on how to share Christ cross culturally, develop an Acts 1:8 paradigm, or build Great Commissions Pathways for you Church, contact John Barnett, KBC Missions Strategist, on the Missions Mobilization Team. Email: [email protected] Text or Call: 502-654-3385. We Are Stronger Together!

Churches and the Missionary Task–Exit (and Partner)

The work of the gospel does not end until Jesus comes again.  As churches partner with missionaries across the globe to advance the Kingdom of God, the goal is to complete the missionary task among each people group and place. 

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Why Exit?

Missionaries sent out by local churches enter unreached and underserved places for gospel impact.  These missionaries evangelize unbelievers and then disciple those who come to faith in Jesus.  From these new believers, healthy church formation occurs along with leadership development.  Lastly, in the missionary task, the missionary exists that people group and place as partners with the new healthy church to repeat this process elsewhere.   

In fact, “an IMB missionary team’s goal is to carry out the missionary task among each people group or place and then hand off the job of leading the churches to those national leaders they have trained. . . . Following the example of the apostles, we continue to watch and advise after we have physically moved on to another work.  Yet, from the very beginning of our work, our aim is to work ourselves out of a job.  We begin the missionary task with exit in mind” (D. Ray Davis, “The Missionary Task: Working Yourself out of a Job”).

When to Exit

The decision to exit is no small matter.  The criteria for exiting the work among a people group and place corresponds with the missionary task (IMB Foundations):

  1. Evangelism—Are indigenous believers and churches carrying out faithfully and effectively the work of sharing the gospel within this people group or place?
  2. Discipleship—Are the churches within this place or people group faithfully and effectively discipling the believers whom God has entrusted to them?
  3. Church Planting—Are the churches within this people group or place displaying the twelve characteristics of a healthy church? Are these churches faithfully planting other healthy churches?  Are they able to sustain church planting on their own?
  4. Leadership training—Do these churches have trained leaders, and do they have systems in place to continue to train leaders in an effective and biblically faithful way?
  5. Missionary involvement—Is the church effectively training and sending cross-cultural missionaries to other people groups and places?

For further consideration on exiting, missionaries must ask the dependency question: “Would our continued presence foster dependency on the part of local churches who are capable of fulfilling all of the tasks of a healthy church movement but who are reluctant to do so out of habit or out of deference to us” (IMB Foundations)? 

Leaving one location in order to repeat the missionary task in another location boils down to healthy local churches being self-led and self-financed in order to evangelize the lost, disciple new believers, plant new churches, develop their own leaders and send out missionaries cross-culturally. 

Until He Comes Again

Just as the Apostle Paul exited certain peoples and places to carry the gospel to new peoples and places, missionaries do the same today.  Like Paul, they do so not to abandon those prior peoples and places but to continue a new phase of partnership with them in order for the Great Commission to be completed.  After all, the work is not done until Jesus comes again.