By Rev Brendan Handel – Senior Pastor – Ryde Baptist Church
As a local church pastor I know all too well the feeling of being ‘pulled’ in numerous directions at the same time. Sometimes that pull comes from within, from good-hearted people in the church, from our wider networks, from God or even the Devil.
As every Pastor knows, with limited resources available, both financial resources and from our people who so faithfully serve, we are continually stretched to fulfil constant needs that come across our desks.
There are only so many people who serve, and a limited amount of money that we try to steward well. We have the pull of numerous ‘good’ options to be involved in. There are many ‘good’ needs and causes that come across our desk. We have the pull of our selfishness and desire for human comfort that wants everything nice and suiting our needs. We have congregation members who try to encourage us to be involved in things that they are passionate about. And we have the pull of wanting to reach the community that we are planted in with the good news of Jesus Christ.
We must constantly and consistently through prayer and discussion designate our resources and our people, to where God is directing.
So where does partnering with overseas agencies like Global Interaction fit into this? Is it just another group trying to pull you in one direction at the expense of others?
As a local church we have over the last few years gone through a re-visioning process in regards to mission both locally and globally and have worked at having our budget represent that change. This meant feeling led by God to make some hard calls, saying to some faithful servants that we feel our partnership needs to finish. But it also gave us the great opportunity to direct a greater amount of our funds to partnership that more accurately reflected what we believed was God’s intention for our church.
Here is some of why we did that…
It is the right thing to do
I really don’t have to spend too much time on this. God calls us to allow all people to know the Good News of Jesus Christ. In our culture we have so much Christian ‘help’ – conferences, other churches, pastors, many people and organisations. Whilst we want to be reaching our own communities with this Good News and we know that means using resources here, we need to be directing more resources generally to help those that are choosing to spread the Gospel in other areas in the world and don’t have the Christian ‘help’ that we have.
It gets the church focussed off itself
Any individual, and any church, can all too easily become self-focussed. We become blind to the needs of others, in settings other than our own. As we build mission partnerships it helps us to shift the focus off our own church and wants and needs, onto those with far less resources, both financial and personnel resources. Because of this, rather than focussing on what we don’t have individually or as a church, we realise what we do have. What an incredible bi-product of building mission’s partnerships!
It gives the church a bigger vision
Over the last few years of re-visioning our mission partnerships and having those partners come to our services and meet our people, we have as a church been given a bigger vision. Not just a bigger vision of what can happen overseas, which is important, but also a bigger vision of what God can do in and through the people of this local church in this local community. Getting to know our mission partners, challenges us that if our partners can go overseas or to the difficult situations in our nation, surely we can go to our neighbourhood and share the good news.
It builds opportunities to serve or go with our partners
Building missions partnerships has meant that it will over time, give opportunities for us to serve from afar or serve up close. For some it may mean sitting on a board, for others serving in a short term way with a local or overseas partner, and for some it will mean God calling them into a longer term setting of serving.
Investing well means building well
So yes it costs to be more involved in mission partnerships. It costs money and time that could have been used in other ventures in our local church.
But it builds something worth far more than we actually spend in dollars and time. It builds into God’s work around the nation and globe. It builds into our local church a vision that is bigger than us, either as individuals or as a church. It forces us to seek God’s vision and align ourselves with His vision and make choices that align with that vision.
The final word in relation to mission partners is privilege. Each and every time I meet one of our mission’s partners, each and every time they speak at our service, I feel so privileged.
What a privilege to be able to love, support and care for those that are serving in God’s name.
Mission partnership isn’t a cost, it’s a privilege.