Ordinary Guy (TM)
So, are you saying that the missionary agency is merely a tool for the local church to facilitate the sending of missionaries?
Here's part of why I asked this: missionaries are often the youngersters willing to go. They often have zeal, but little in the way of maturity. They often have knowledge, but it is not yet tempered by life, bringing wisdom. They often have pride, and can be a detriment to the mission field. They bring new ideas and vitality, but often lack discernment. They bring programs that are designed for results rather than resting in the sufficiency of Christ and Scripture.
These aren't all bad things. But they can be without wisdom, maturity and discernment. That comes from God, and usually through life experiences; and often through suffering. The mission field will bring both more quickly than home ministries. But I fear that we simply send warm and willing bodies too often, when we should be sending our best. The pastor who's served for 10+ years is better equipped to go to the mission field, plant a church and train up pastors, than any green masters level or doctors level graduate.
Should we send any man who does not meet the qualifications of an elder? Should we send any man who we would not welcome as a pastor of our church? In our philosophy in regard to missions we will not support a missionary that we would not welcome as an elder/pastor in our church (aside from minor philosophical differences). Most churches that I've been a part of could not make that statement.
These thoughts are probably more cohesive in light of my comments on the "Why Pastors Need a Seminary Education" thread, and even a little on the "Church Manses..." thread.
Yes, many untried folks try to get to the field. Most responsible mission orgs interview and assess heavily based on life experience.
We should not wait for whoever is available. Churches should even select good men and see if they are available and then from this available pool of the available, pick and send the qualified. There is nothing wrong with churches burdening individuals of potnetial to see if they are willing to go. This is not a draft system, but a system whereby more local activity is given. And, for my mission org, more than half of the applicants were not accepted and a major prerequisite was a sound testimony from one's local church.
My mission org [email me for the name] has an average age of 49. I am the youngster and the rest of the folks, on average, are much more tried than I. That is a good thing. We have a lot of maturity.
You say a lot of fabulous things in your post.
Ideally, yes, the mission society acts as a servant to the local church enabling the local church to send their people. Providing an infrastructure does not mean usurping the part of the local church.
I just had a light exchange with the Reformed Baptist Blog over the issue of parachurches as mission societies fit into that scheme, here: Parachurch-So what’s the problem? « Reformed Baptist Fellowship
I think there is room to support missionaries more broadly than we would pastors for our own pulpit. We might want a sabbatarian in our pulpit but might, for the sake of reaching an unreached tribe, support a man going to a tribe of several thousand that has NO believers at all (better to support a Barely Reformed Man than to wait for your EP TR man and allow souls to go to hell without an effort made to give them the Gospel).
Also, all church planting missionaries should meet elder qualifications, but there are many support roles on the mission field that need not be elder-qualified. An aviation mechanic for a mission aviation org need not be ordained. We loosely use the term "missionary" as designating anyone "Sent out" for Gospel work, whether direct church planting or support work. Some churches only call church planters missionaries while I have had one give labels such as Big M Missionaries (church planters) and little m missionaries (mission support, i.,e nurses, mechanics, pilots, etc). I am happy to call them all missionaries and I know that we all need not be ordained.