Saturday, June 24, 2006

The Future of Missions?

Jack Snell has done an excellent job as interim CBF Coordinator for Global Missions. He has brought a pastoral spirit and local church "smarts" to the role. A parting gift to Fellowship Baptists was this candid comment at the commissioning service for new field personnel in Atlanta on June 23:

“Our offerings are flat. We haven’t reached our Offering for Global Missions goal in several years,” he said. “In many cases our passions are dulled and our compassion is defeated by fatigue. Yet there continue to be unbelievable statistics that tell us one of four has not yet had the opportunity to hear and respond to the word of Jesus Christ. The world is groaning. I challenge you to be no less than Christ in a hurting world and challenge all of us to become nothing less than global disciples. Jesus is calling us to see the need, to be gripped by compassion and to move out from this place into the harvest field.”

In Tennessee, state budget gifts have declined. Thankfully, the Tennessee Partners in Missions offering has continued to be strong with church and individual gifts exceeding the 2005-2006 goal. This will help five creative, independent ministries in doing their work.

What's going on? A key issue is that fact that we have encouraged churches to be missional--to take responsibility for doing the Great Commission. Well, they have, and part of this is keeping a portion of their missions dollar to be used in projects that the church plan and control--often sending their own members to work with CBF (and other) missions personnel. We are in something of a Catch 22 on this! Hooray for churches who assume this responsibility, but how can CBF provide missionaries who provide the structure to support such church-directed ministries? How can TCBF facilitate linkages between churches and mission points without funding to support our staff who do such things?

Good News--the churches are more involved in direct missions! Bad News--Churches are cutting their support for mission-sending structures! How can CBF and TCBF adapt to this situation? What does the future hold? Let's get involved in a dialogue about the future of missions.

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