The role of the local church in missions is multi-faceted, covering a lot of different aspects. But of all of these roles and responsibilities, we know one thing for certain––the Local Church, and the church as a whole, is commanded to “make disciples of all nations.”
What is the role of the Local Church in Missions? The role of the Local Church in Missions is raising up, training, sending, and supporting missionaries, as well as supporting missions work all over the world, in the capacity that they have been given.
We often make distinctions between the Local Church, missionaries, and missions work, but the reality is, though they are in different contexts, they are one. Those who are overseas and those who are in the Local Church are all the church, some, however, are called to go, while others are called to stay and minister locally.
But it is important to keep the Great Commission always before us, in fact, let’s take a look at it.
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”Matthew 28:16-20
The Great Commission above, shows us that all are called to spread the good news, and that the church is to be constantly sending and making disciples of all nations. So let’s take a look at Biblical examples of the church operating in missions.
Local Church Training Missionaries
During Paul’s 4th missionary journey, he took Titus with him. Titus was converted to the Faith by Paul and was discipled and trained by him. In the book of Titus, we find that Paul and Titus traveled to Crete, but while they were there, Paul had to leave and thus left Titus to bring things into order.
Though Titus was left on the Island of Crete to bring things to order, Paul did not leave him alone in this missionary work.
The book of Titus is a letter from Paul to Titus, giving him instructions on how he should live, how he should instruct everyone in sound doctrine, and so that no one can bring a condemning word against Titus’ teaching, or the teaching of the elders he was about to appoint.
So, proper doctrine must be given to the body of Christ so that they can go into every area of life, ready to give an answer.
Local Church Raising Up Missionaries
The Local Church that pursues missions is a healthy church, on the other hand, however, churches that do not seek to take the Gospel to where it is not, grows stagnant. We have to consider, if we have received such wonderful news about salvation and God’s grace, how could we keep it to ourselves?
It is, therefore, the local church’s responsibility to inform and teach the absolute importance of missions in the local church. Local Church should always be cultivating an atmosphere that understands God’s love for the global church, and those who have yet to hear the word of God and the Good News of salvation.
Also, something to consider, the model of receiving and giving is all throughout the Bible, we see it over and over again, Jesus himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” And God gave His son Jesus for us, with this in mind, the Local Church is commissioned to set the body of Christ ablaze with the proper understanding of missions.
The Local Church is called to recognize and draw out the giftings God has given, and thus act on them.
Local Church Sending Missionaries
Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.Acts 13:1-3
In Acts 13 Paul, who was known as Saul at that point, and Barnabas were sent out by the Church. This passage shows that not only did they go on their own accord, but they were literally sent by first, the Holy Spirit, and second, by the Church.
The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.Luke 10:2-4
In Luke 10, above, Jesus sends out the 72 disciples, thus setting the example for the Church to follow.
Receive Good News + Follow Jesus + Training = Giving Good News
Local Church Supporting Missionaries
There are many ways the church can support missionaries whether it is financially, emotionally, spiritually, etc. there are ways to support, if the church is not in a financial position to give, they can and should support through prayer and constant encouragement, because missions work is tough, and can feel lonely.
Here are a few Biblical examples of how the early church supported Paul in his journeys.
Support Through Finances
All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.Acts 2:44-45
The Local Church is called to support fellow believers financially and Acts 2 gives us an image of this taking place in the early church. Nobody had a tight hold on their possessions, instead, they all gave to those who had need.
Another example of the church providing for missionaries and fellow believers is found in 2 Corinthians.
In 2 Corinthians 8 Paul writes a letter explaining the kindness of the Macedonians who helped him in his missionary journeys, that though they were poor, they begged Paul to allow them to share in the mission by giving.
Paul uses this example of giving to urge the Corinthians to be complete in all of their good works by making sure to look for opportunities to give and sow into ministries.
Support Through Prayer
As for other matters, brothers and sisters, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you. And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil people, for not everyone has faith.2 Thessalonians 3:1-2
In this chapter, Paul is asking the people of Thessalonica to partner with him in prayer as he goes forward in his mission work. Prayer is key, though it is often an unseen work that takes place, prayer goes beyond what we could ever imagine.
There are many other examples of partnership through prayer being emphasized, including when Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemene. The disciples fell asleep while Jesus wrestled in prayer, and Jesus came back to find them sleeping. Jesus urging His disciples shows us the magnitude of prayer in the Church and praying through and for situations.
Local Church in Missions
In conclusion, we know that the church is not called to sit idly while those who feel called to missions go out into the world. No, it is a partnership between the Local Church and the missionary who goes. And this is a great joy that the Local Church gets to extend it’s hand to people and nations in desperate need of the word of God.
As a member of a local church, it’s important to actively seek ways to partner in missions whether through prayer, finances, or encouraging words that help missionaries to feel connected to the Local Body.