Friday, April 14, 2006

What the American Church Needs to Know, part 3

The third thing my missionary friends tried to impress upon me at first seemed too simple, too "known" to merit inclusion in "The Three Things." They said " The American church needs to realize that in ministry, relationship is everything." For the next several minutes they shared story after story of how they felt forgotten by the very churches - and pastors especially - who had at the beginning played such a huge part in their becoming foreign missionaries. They felt that they were on their own, fending for themselves, left to make their own way in a foreign culture. And while they admitted that they enjoyed the freedom to do ministry in the ways they thought best, they also related how badly they felt when churches and church leaders who had shown little or no interest suddenly demanded an authoritative seat at their table.

It is apparent that the relationship between the foreign missionary and the supporting churches in America is vital if either the church or the missionary is to attain success in their joint venture. On the missionary side, they need both the comfort and accountability an authentic relationship with trusted church partners can bring. For the churches, an intentional relationship with the missionary - which minimumly includes prayer, financial support, regular communication, timely extensions of friendship, and regular visits on the field - provides an ongoing partnership in the work that is more than a line item in the yearly budget. It provides the church with a way to form their children into "world" Christians while also making sure that what they believe the missionary is doing is really getting done. Good missionaries want relationship, and good churches should make it happen.

More later,

David W. Hegg


At 11:08 PM , Blogger Paul said...

What I find interesting is that the missionaries in lands where it is illegal to "witness" can only use their relationships to bring the Good News to their neighbors. They must live their belief.

In the U.S. I think that we as a so-called culture have forgotten, at least in our metropolitan areas, how to have meaningful relationships. We hardly even know our own neighbors and don't know our co-workers very well. Also, even though we are called a "Christian" country we don't know what we believe. It is really a sad statement.

Now that those of us who have read your blog or attended CBS with you have the responsibility to live our lives so that others will come to know the one, true loving and personal God. It is not an easy thing as these folks will got to see our flaws and know our weaknesses. We must still however strive to live out loud so that others will know.


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