Recently, I had the privilege of speaking to a class of college students who are passionate about missions – and yet, had hesitations about joining a mission board. Discussing areas of perceived imbalance can be uncomfortable, but I was thankful for the opportunity to listen and to discuss their perspective.
The main concern expressed by these students was the amount of ministry control many mission boards assert over missionaries, thereby disengaging the missionary from the leadership of his local church pastor. Specific guidelines should be set by the mission board to ensure the administration of the agency runs smoothly; however, the mission board should not assume the authority and responsibility given to the local church.
Our focus, as a mission agency, should be one of service, not control – both to the missionary and their local church, as they endeavor to send out missionaries in response to the Great Commission. When our focus in on serving, the missionary can then enjoy the freedom found in being accountable to their local church and also to their ministry team as they are directed by the Holy Spirit. – JM