Sunday, November 19, 2006

Reconnecting with the Sent Church

The Lord rejoices in the recovery of that which is lost - lost sheep... lost sons... lost souls. Over and over again in His Word, He expresses His pleasure when His people return to a place He has chosen for them after a period of wandering. The 21st Century marks a return of God's people to a role He gave them - but which they surrendered to others through the passing of time. It's a day of reclamation - a day of re-assuming our responsibility for and connection with the "sent church."

In our attempt to be good stewards of our resources, Baptists gradually surrendered the Commission responsibility to those we believed were more equipped to reach the world for Christ. We formed sending agencies, boards, and offerings that we sent from our body to support the cause of world evangelization. For a period of time, this clean efficiency seemed to work well for us. However, what we didn't realize was that we were surrendering the role and connection that God originally intended for us to have with our "sent church." God didn't necessarily intend for missions to be clean and efficient. He intended for missions to be powerful and effective. God is calling the church to "come home" to the role of sending.

What does this mean for us? It is a rather frightening thought for some to consider the responsibility of a church being the missionary's authority base, pastoral care system, and financial provider (not to mention insurance provider, emergency response system, volunteer base and prayer supporter.) Wow! It seems a little overwhelming! It kind of reminds me of many "God stories" where little people with weakness were called to do great tasks for God - Gideon... David... Moses... the widow.

What does this reclamation of the Commission mean for our local body? Many things. It means re-channeling our giving in such a way as to be a faithful sending church. It means adding the guiding structures within our local body that will enable us to be a responsible Antioch for the Paul's and Barnabas' that leave our body. It means creating a learning/preparatory community to get our missionaries ready to live cross-culturally and plant churches. In the midst of these challenges, let's not underestimate the power of the Church. Jesus has great faith in the church. He believes in her so strongly that He declared, "Upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against her." In our obedience He will provide.

- Cindy Wiles


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