Scriptural Mission Work
By Bro Jim Brasseal, Pastor Landmark MBC
Presented at the Rocky Mountain Missionary Baptist Association Meeting held at Loveland Baptist Church, Loveland, Colorado on August 8, 2008.
In Acts 13, we learn how the Lord used the church at Antioch in His mission work, and we also see how He called Paul and Barnabas to that special work.
1 Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.
2 As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.
3 And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.
4 So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus.
This short passage of scripture gives us the basic New Testament pattern for mission work. One of the Lord's churches had faithful men whom the Lord had called, and then the church sent them out. We have a little more information dealing with their work in Acts 18. They were sent out and came to Corinth, and they preached the Word of God.
8 And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized.
The pattern is this: people in Corinth heard the Word of God, many believed the Word of God, and they were baptized (after they believed). That is the way the church of Corinth was established.
The churches of Macedonia sent financial support to Paul. We can rightly call this "church associational support." That is, churches working together in the establishment of a new church (2 Corinthians 8:1-5).
2 Corinthians 11:8-9
8 I robbed [took from] other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service.
9 And when I was present with you, and wanted, I was chargeable to no man: for that which was lacking to me the brethren which came from Macedonia [the Philippians] supplied: and in all things I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep myself.
Tarleton Perry "T. P." Crawford was a missionary to China and author of the book The Evolution of My Mission Views. One section is titled "Churches to the Front." He went to China in 1852 and served as a missionary there for 50 years. While he was there, working initially under the convention board system, he began to find out that there were things going on that he considered to be unscriptural and very destructive and hurtful to the mission work. Crawford identifies some of the hurtful things in this matter. Most of the missionaries going to China were not learning the Chinese language. They were hiring other people – some who were not even Christians – to deliver the message. They were also setting up boarding schools and offering free education and free room and board to people who were making professions of faith and enrolling in their school. Crawford believed that the free services were a way of bribing unconverted people to join churches.
For those of us who believe the book of Acts is the way to do mission work today, we will see some kinship with this man's opinion. Crawford said, "Baptist churches are self-acting religious bodies, constituted for religious purposes only; each one being directly responsible to Christ for the faithful execution of its sacred trust. Hence, it [the Lord's church] can never abdicate nor transfer any part of its work to the control to an outside body. Neither can it permit any encroachment upon its appropriate sphere or any extension of it into the secular realm. Moreover, it can never sanction the formation of any central power within itself or within the denomination to which it belongs; but must, as a body, hold control of its ministerial gifts, contributions, and missionary work."
Crawford goes on to say, "The general impression that churches, as such, are incapable of conducting missions -- largely growing out of erroneous conceptions of the work to be done -- casts reproach not only upon them, but also on Christ and the Apostles, their original founders. The truth of the matter is this: the work of foreign missionaries, when free from the care of 'subsidy money,' it's accompanying hosts of 'native employees,' 'schools,' and other 'worrying adjuncts' and confined to Gospel or spiritual things as it should be, is comparatively simple."
It is comparably simple! The Lord calls dedicated, qualified men, and the church sends them out because the local church has the commission (Matthew 28:19-20). These men preach the gospel,win disciples, baptize disciples, and organize churches. Other churches can assist and help, fellowship, and associate.
Our church is small, but we have a wonderful privilege and a great blessing to send regular offerings to several foreign missionaries: Mike Rogers in Moldova, Jim Black in Romania, and the mission efforts of Rich Heart Baptist Church in Mongolia. The Lord's work is not easy, but it is relatively simple when you use the book of Acts as the pattern for God-called church-sent missionaries. Churches that are in fellowship in the doctrines and practices of the Word of God can associate with and assist each other in this great work of getting the gospel message to the lost world.
It is so good to see God's plan for doing mission work in action. By the way, Crawford had great influence on the organization the Old General Association. Then, from the Old General Association came the American Baptist Association. His writings had a great influence among missionary baptist people.