The Door-Step Evangel

Missionary Thoughts
Dr. Ronald L. Tottingham

How many churches have missionaries as members of their church? Many churches have missionaries come but few have a missionary family as a member of their church. I'm going to use a term some don't like (I don't like), but do not know any other way to say it. There is a difference between "supporting" missionaries, sponsoring a missionary family, and having a missionary family as members of our church and as our Pastoral staff. They're off in a foreign field and the home church is their "agent." I do not like the term but I trust you know what I mean by it. Somebody may say, "We have missionaries too; we support 100," or whatever. I'm not talking about our supporting them. I'm talking about our local church and Pastor being the missionary's director; their overseer, their government agent, the administrative office for their money, and much more. Hense, the missionary's mission board.?? (To use a term we're use to in some circles) How many of our churches are like that, that have missionaries as members of our churches like that? The Lord needs Pastors with courage about them instead of being intimidated by denominationalism. If the Bible is right, we should live it. If it's not, we should quit. I have been a home missionary, never a foreign one. I am sure that I will never be one. I would, however, be one tomorrow if God would let me. But I know God wants Pastors that love missions and missionaries, too. Let me make some comments about local church missions and the missionary.

*Missionary to Pastor - When a missionary comes to a Pastor, he needs the local New Testament Church and that local New Testament Church needs him. We don't want to fuss with each other. But let us say this. It's easy to talk about some real (and if you will forgive this term) "nerd" Pastors, and there are some. There are also some real "nerd" missionaries. Pastors should never, (now listen) should never ask their people to support "some", who call themself a missionary. The folks I pastor have to do what I do not have to do. They have to work in the world, breathe cigarette smoke, and turn their eyes from immodesty and their ears from filthy language, and listen to ungodly music, etc. Those lay folks I pastor are not going to be asked to give their money to some, ill prepared, or unqualified missionary that doesn't know scripturally what to do with it. I will not ask them to do it.

I have to weep with those folks and I love these members the Lord has set in the church I pastor. I will not suggest that they give God's money, which they had to pay a sacrificial price for themselves, to a missionary that is not qualified and prepared. The Lord needs some pastors who do not just send missionaries, but who will visit missionaries on their fields also. Who will love missionaries and, love the souls of sinners. Also missionaries need love, concern, and help. Biblically this Pastor believes they should be considered to be on their church's staff. Missionaries are not equal with the pastor, they're not a Pastor. Though they "pastor" if they believe the Bible, they're not a Pastor, but they should be considered on staff. Actually, the only biblical word for them is evangelist and the evangelist is listed first in Ephesians because there is no pastor until there is a church formed. Once there is a church formed they should then be loyal to, and close to the pastor. The missionary's pastor could be a door opener to most churches. In fact, let me say, if the missionary does not have a solid recommendation from his pastor he should not expect support.

*Financial Integrity - If they can't balance a checkbook, they should not expect to raise their dollars from churches, nor should yet even have been sent. If they have to live on credit I'm sure wondering if they know how to make it.

*A Call - I'm not being mean with this. I'm wanting to help the missionary, to help him and his church. When the missionary has a call this Pastor wants to know about it: I want to see it and have my church see it. Don't tell a church about that call only. Pastors should have read the Bible verses about the call, they've heard the stories, but they want to see something inside the missionary, the fire he can't put out. This Pastor is not interested in a missionary getting in the pulpit and talking about some para church mission board, instead he should get in the pulpit and show that God has a hold of him on the inside. He should have a fire inside and can't live until it gets out, show the churches that he's a story to tell to some nation. By the way, if God's call is in there it has been getting out, or showing before the missionary got in the pulpit anyway.

*Doctrine - I want to know what they believe. I want to know what they believe about several things beyond the doctrine of the New Testament church. Brethren, the Baptist church isn't just an idol. King James Bibles are not idols, we're not going to bronze one and stick it in our front yard. We're to live it. A church should want to know if they live it. Not just believe "in" it, but believe it and practice it. They should want to know if the missionary knows what it says in all the same areas we expect of ourselves and our folks. And brethren it ought to affect all of our life not just part of it. More than just when we go to church. If we don't do something about our families and our spouses and other areas of our lives, our talk will not mean anything.

*Spirit-filled life- Does the missionary walk with God? Can they go in with a Godly Pastor and get on their knees and pray? I'm talking about walk with God. I'm tired of this "pussy footing" stuff Christendom calls "Christianity." A church should wonder, what fruit have they produced? For all of us, really. What's our spouse like? They live around us. What are they like spiritually? Missionary (or preacher or pastor), what does our wife believe? What kind of spirituality are we producing at home? What have we produced? I'm not talking about church foundings and ministries. I'm talking about something the Bible talks about, as in our homes and families.

*Sponsoring Churches - I dislike that phrase "we're sponsored by." And the Pastor doesn't even know the missionary's name. I'm one Pastor who is not impressed when a missionary comes to me and tells me you're sponsored by such and such a church. I want to know where their church is at. I want to know who their PASTOR is. I want to know that they're a local New Testament Baptist Church, brethren. Sponsor!?! What is a sponsor by "Biblical" definition?? The definitions I've heard sound like conventionalism and denominationalism.

*Proven Ready To Go - Their pastor wants to see a missionary believe in being proven. I believe most good pastors are tired of missionaries who go too early, unprepared, or unqualified. I didn't. I didn't go where I'm at, two minutes out of a college, and they can't either. And I was a war veteran with prior U.S. Marine service before attending Bible College. We see young missionaries who go to college somewhere, get out of college and they think they're ready to go straight to a mission field. There's probably not many solid preachers who did that. Why don't we serve as an assistant or something. By the way, if we believe in the local church, we won't leave until our pastors - I said until our preacher pastorally agrees we're ready to go forth. We are to listen to and submit to our preacher and we stay there and we work and we serve. We get busy until together we agree that we're ready to go, assuming it's a good pastor who pastors his flock rightly. All the pastor then has to do is call me and say, "Brother Pastor, I have this man who's been serving the Lord under me for X years. He's ready to go." I may not even have to have him in the church I pastor because I believe in his preacher. This is a good thing to remember, missionaries. I'm not being mean. Our church wants you and you want our churches. We need to be friends about this. We need to work together on these truths. Attitudes about Sruvival - The missionaries say that God supplies, then when churches don't support them we pastors get crying letters. You can tell by their attitude whether they're just talking or not. You can tell by their attitude who they truly trust to supply and keep them, a "Baptist welfare" or the Lord. There is a right way to come to the churches but Televangelism fund raising is not it. Two questions for Missionary Evangelists. Have you been through any fire? Brethren listen, if anyone hasn't been through some fire somewhere, please be careful about their being ready for real service. If they don't have any "spiritual gray" in their hair. I know you don't have to have gray in your hair, and gray doesn't make you smart, and some old men are stupider than some young men and by the way, some of your biggest failures in the Bible are men who fell when they got old. But, you know something? A little age and "sage" never really hurt anybody, either. A little balance to that truth. A little trial fire does something to you. A church should know HOW they took the tribulation fire. How did they go through the fire? How did they come out of the fire? Do they know how to take fire? A little illustration. I'll try to wind this up. When I was on board the U.S.S. Princeton as a U.S. marine in 1965 going to Vietnam, we had fellows prance up and down the ship, and their chest stuck out (what chest they had). They were telling, "Boy when the enemy comes out of the jungle I'll get my gun and I'm going to do this and this and this." Man, some of the best battles ever fought were on board that ship. Well, we got on a helicopter with all of our combat gear and we landed. After a while it happened that out of the jungle came some enemy. Our talkers jumped out there and started to act brave, then, when they got a good look at some of the enemy they changed completely. The best war was the story on board ship. Brethren, listen. There are sounds and smells and sights of our battle and calling that we haven't smelled or heard yet. We don't always know what we're going to do. Paul did not - Rom. 7:15,19. Now listen to me. We don't know what we'll face later. We should be careful about saying what we will and won't do (James 4:15-16). I have seen good men that have done some bad things and some bad men that have done some good things. In the war I smelled the smoke. I saw men with their hands holding in their own blood. I've seen them roll our boys' bodies out of helicopters and the chopper going to get more. You don't always know what you'll do. Have you been through a tribulation fire to prove to yourself God walks with you and your calling? Most pastors have been through some. We've made mistakes and we've had to correct them and apologize. We're cautious about supporting missionaries with no testimony of trial fire in their life. No trials. No nothing else. We're tired of them coming home all broken and bruised because they went too soon, unprepared, untried. You know , let us pastors love on you just a little.

*Hung Up On America - Are they hung up on America? One missionary told me he was going to plan on his wife coming back every year. Should not a missionary leave America behind and go where God called him? Now I'm not anti-American. I don't mean that. Brethren, some nostalges though need to be buried. Maybe we'd be better off to return to the days of ships where they didn't come home quite so easy or quickly. Just a thought.

*Secular Testimony - What did you do when you were out in the world? I knew a missionary once that ran an organization, had a lot of employees, over 100 people and a million dollars a year. I said, "You ought to let preachers know that. They need to know that you know how to handle money. You know how to manage people and run a construction company or something." What did you do in the secular world? You know some missionaries are wanting to go to some foreign field and they haven't even hardly bought a car yet. A little experience! Hey, brethren, listen, is this wrong? Pastoring a church from my end of it is kind of like running a business. We ought to have a few brains in our head. We can't just get in the pulpit with a Bible anymore and survive. (Now that may be just my opinion.) If all we've ever done is an hourly job and no management experience, how do we know we can "manage" a missionary enterprise? If all we've ever done has been with a boss over us, how do we know we can create, manage, lead, organize, and boss an operation?

*Preachers - How many preachers do you know personally? Somebody I can call and talk to. I mean some that won't lie about you. Some men have enough integrity that I know they're good men. And then how much mature service have you ever served UNDER a "solid" Pastor? You know your pastor should be your biggest ticket to our churches.

*Presenting Yourself - When you're in the pulpit, present yourself. You are presenting yourself more than the field. Brethren, we know mission fields need soul winners. You don't have to tell us there's forty zillion people there without a Saviour. We know that already. Sell yourself! Sell your call, your fire from God that lives within you. That's what will take you through it. That's what will keep you when you are under tribulation fires on the field...God inside you. The churches need to see missionaries who are God called men, who've seen some trials for their faith, men submitted to a local church and its pastor. (You'll reap what you sow in this.) Men who's family is in order, who've proven themselves here where there's no language or cultural barrier. Men who have a pastor who does much more than support them but who continues to pastor them, visit them, etc. Old fashioned New Testament Baptist churches are looking for these kind of Missionaries. I hope these thoughts will help someone.

The Door-Step Evangel is published in the interests of Evangelism and information as a Church paper, sincerely devoted to the cause of Jesus Christ. We are in favor of everything that is right and opposed to everything that is wrong.

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