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Philosophy of Global Outreach
The purpose of missions is to worship and glorify God. A quote from John Piper says, “Missions exist because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not men (Rom 5:1). When this age is over and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more.” But until that day, NCBC will strive to make disciples of all nations (Matt 28:19-20).
Here at New Castle Bible Church, we exist to glorify God by growing deeper and reaching farther. Since our chief purpose is to glorify and worship God, we can rightly say the worship of God by all peoples and nations is our mission. It is also the fuel that drives our mission because only God is worthy to receive glory and honor and praise due to all his wondrous works. (Psalm 67 and 97) He accomplishes works for his own sake; for his own glory, no other. (Isaiah 48:9-11) Having established that everything we do is for the glory and worship of the only one who is worthy because he is our creator and redeemer, we must then look to Scripture and prayer to accomplish that end. Through that, we can rightly understand that God is glorified when we lovingly preach the gospel to those on the wide path to eternal death. Therefore we must grow deeper into the Word so that we might better understand the height, breadth, depth of the love of God of all nations and peoples and be spurred into making them disciples of Christ as we look to God in prayer; persevering in suffering, because thousands are dying in their sin.
In order to glorify God in missions, here at NCBC we have coined a term called church-centered missions. Since the local church is God’s mechanism for building up the body of Christ and is the spiritual authority in believer’s lives (Eph 4:11-15, 1Pt 5:1-2), we necessarily want the church to play a central role in both the sending side of missions and on the receiving side of the mission field. Therefore the local church, and not the parachurch, will drive the vision and oversight of each global partner sent and supported by NCBC. We also encourage prospective global partners from pursuing a mission agency before consulting the elders of the sending church. Mission agencies have a legitimate and useful role in missions (e.g. administrative support, established teams, and training), but they are no substitute for the church; but rather partners with the church to accomplish the church’s vision (Acts 13:1-3, Rom 10:14-15). For such a partnership to be workable, the mission agency must acknowledge the sending church’s spiritual authority over the global partner, as well as agree in doctrine and philosophy of ministry.
Why are we so committed to the local church and a vision of missions that is centered around it? The great commission written in Matthew 28:18-20 is a charge to every believer, “but how does he intend us to do that? His Word is clear--normally we are to pursue obedience, build up disciples, and plant other churches through the local church. The local church makes clear who is and who is not a disciple through baptism and membership in the body (Acts 2:41). The local church is where most discipling naturally takes place (Heb 10:24-25). The local church sends out [global partners] (Acts 13:3) and cares for [them] after they are sent (Phil 4:15-16; 3 John 1-8). And healthy, reproducing local churches are normally the aim and end of our missionary effort ( Acts 15:41; Titus 1:5).” So if God has called the local church to disciple, send, evangelize, and plant new churches, then it’s important that we do so and not cede that to the mission agency.
Missions agencies are a wonderful organizations and are vital to our global partners. Their expertise in logistics, networking, and knowledge of bureaucracy and contacts in foreign countries are so helpful, but we must establish that the mission agency exists to support the church and not the other way around. Right understanding of this is key. Please see the article, Thinking Biblically About Parachurch Organizations.
This necessitates the question, what is a local church and parachurch? The parachurch is easily defined as any Christian organization outside the oversight of a local church. So what then is the local church? If we don’t know what a local church is, then we may become tempted to build an organization outside the directives of the Word of God; which is having a body of shepherds and teachers to equip the saints for the work of the ministry, for building up the body of Christ…not being tossed to and fro, but rather building itself up in love (Eph 4:11-16). The local church is a group of believers who are led by a God-given plurality of men who are tasked with refuting false doctrine, proclaiming the Word, shepherding the flock, and has authority over ordinances and is tasked with sending called members from the congregation out to all nations (1Pt 5:1-4, Acts 2:41-42, 1Cor 12:13). It is important to note that either informal or formal gatherings of believers are not automatically a local church. It is our theological conviction that the local church, and not the parachurch, is the primary way God’s Spirit works in this present age and will have significant implications upon practical authority structures and the local church’s responsibilities in missions (Acts 14:19-23).
Our ecclesiology defines missiology. This is a concise way of saying what we believe about the nature and structure of the church defines what missions will look like. If we have a high view of the need and importance of the local church then our practices in missions will reflect that. If we have a lower view of the local church, then missions will have less involvement in the church, marginalize the church, and have less locally planted churches. For more information of what a church looks like see the article, What in the World is the Church.
Lately, missions has been equated with evangelism. If that happens then the important work of missions can be lost. If evangelism is the preaching of the gospel to unbelievers, then missions is much more. In Romans 15:20, Paul spoke of preaching the gospel where Christ has not been named already. So missions is the taking of the gospel beyond the direct influence of the sending church in order to evangelize the unbelievers who have little or no opportunity to hear the gospel; by establishing local churches where there are none. How can unbelievers believe in Christ if they have never heard? As Romans 10 says “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news”.
To further help us commit to the vision and authority of the local church through church-centered missions, we’ve created two roles: church planter and church partner. The difference between the two is mainly who is the authority and what will they be working toward. Church planters are sent from a local church to a place where there is no local church in order to establish a church (Acts 13). Therefore the sending church is the authority and casts vision along with the missionary. Church partners, on the other hand, are sent from a local church to another local church in order to build that church up (Acts 16:4-5). Therefore the receiving church is the authority and casts the vision along with the church partner. While both roles work to expand God’s kingdom and are therefore equally important, it helps to separate these two so that both are being accomplished.
We believe it’s very important to establish who is the authority over the church planter or partner because from that flows the sending responsibilities and roles of the sending church, receiving church, and missions agency. To help in this, please see [chart 1]. There you’ll see the division of church planter and partner and how the church plays a central role in both. The mission agency, or parachurch agency, is extremely important as well, but is relegated to its proper and biblical role of serving and supporting the church.
What makes the global partner a church planter or partner is whether there is an elder-led, established, theologically compatible local church for the sending church to partner with. If there is none, then the global partner is labeled a church planter. One who is willing to go into an unreached area to break the ground of the unreached, make disciples, and plant a local church. Examples of this position could be any worker who is involved in the planting of the church in the area with no local church. This could be a pastor, pilot, translator, or teacher. If there is a local church that the global partner and sending church can work with, then that partner would be labeled a church partner whose objective is to strengthen that church for God’s glory. This can be done through teaching, preaching, or evangelism. So a pastor, pilot, translator, evangelist, teacher could be a church partner as well.
Furthermore, with this extra commitment that church-centered missions brings, the sending church is responsible to pray for, identify, train, and send only those who are qualified to be global partners. A strong and right desire for missions and a godly character that bears fruit in keeping with repentance will be evaluated by the elders to assess God’s call on the global partner candidate. At NCBC, we look at our sent global partners as an extension of our church staff and therefore consider them non-local staff. Therefore, faithful service in a local church and a thorough knowledge of Scriptures is a necessary prerequisite (Heb 10:25, 1Pt 3:13-17). In situations where the church planter is planting a church, he must be elder qualified (1Tim 3:1-7). All other global partners must be deacon qualified (1Tim 3:8-13). Once the global partner is sent, the church is responsible to send in a manner worthy of God (3John 6).
We are committed to love the global partner well with our support of prayers, money, and other practical gifts to alleviate their needs (3 John 6, Col 4:12, Gal 6:6). This not only shows our love and support for them and acknowledges their difficult work, but shows our love for God and his creation. Close communication plays a very important role. Therefore, monthly updates by the global partner is necessary not only to help with their needs and inform our prayers, but also be able to minister to them spiritually. In order to further facilitate this we are forming Global Care Teams with each of our sent global partners. The teams will consist of members of NCBC that will help each global partner in their particular ministry. Each team will be committed to care for, pray for, visit, and fundraise for their assigned ministry; whatever is needed to further the glory of God through this particular ministry.
We believe that it is good for global partners to commit themselves to a life-time of service, but understand short-term service (under 2 years) is at times helpful. While the most strategic use of church resources is to support career church planters and partners, mainly due to the difficulties of learning foreign languages and foreign cultures, short-term mission service is useful for training, education, service, and encouragement for career global partners.
We eagerly await the coming of the Lord when “every nation, from all tribes and peoples, and languages…[cry] out with a loud voice, ‘salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.’” Rev 7:9,10. Until that day let us not be “ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God for salvation!” (Rom1:16)