So you have accepted God’s call to be a missionary?
Congratulations! But now, you face the important decision of choosing a mission board. Just as important as the country in which you will work, the board with which you will serve largely determines your happiness and effectiveness as a missionary. Unity of doctrine, methods and common goals with those that you labor will alleviate tensions and frustrations. Friction on such issues depletes the energy, robs the joy and diverts the focus from the ministry of a missionary. There are many things that need to be considered when choosing a mission board. In this brochure, we would like to mention seven very important considerations.
I. Doctrinal Position
A clear allegiance to the authority of Scripture in all doctrinal positions is inexpressibly important. Firm belief in the verbal plenary inspiration of the Bible settles authority for doctrine and life. Making experience and rationalism the basis of theology seems to be all too prevalent today. All mission work must be based on the fact that God’s Word is the final authority for every aspect of our lives and ministry. Doctrinal harmony will flow from this common faith among all your fellow missionaries. Pay attention to the doctrinal statement of a mission board and whether it abides by its teachings.
II. Financial Policy
Different policies are followed by different boards. Most denominational boards provide the missionary’s salary, which diminishes the missionary’s personal responsibility in raising support or in trusting God for personal needs. Another method of financing is the proportional sharing system. Many interdenominational or nondenominational boards pool their finances and share equally in receipts for the mission as a whole. The faith method by which the missionaries present themselves to the churches for monthly support is the most widely used method among independent Baptists. A missionary candidate is expected to spend time serving in a deputation ministry. This method requires faith of both the missionary and the churches. The mission board insures that all support designated for a missionary goes to that missionary. Adequate monthly support must be secured before departure for the field is approved. This prefield ministry of deputation strengthens your faith in God and His provision for the Great Commission. BIMI follows the deputation method of raising support.
III. Baptist Distinctives
If you and your home church are Baptist, you should treasure the Baptist distinctives. Any label that truthfully reveals the content of a bottle has great value. This is equally true of mission boards. Many consider themselves “Baptistic” but do not start Baptist churches. This term seems to reveal a desire for the support of Baptist churches but a refusal for commitment to the distinctives and label of “Baptist.” Such distinctives include biblical authority, autonomy of the local church, priesthood of all believers, the ordinances of believer’s baptism and the Lord’s Supper, individual soul liberty, saved church membership, the offices of pastor and deacon, and separation of church and state. So, if you are a Baptist, you would desire to serve under a Baptist mission board.
IV. Concept of the Mission Task
What is the major thrust of missions? Some un-derstand the task of missions to be humanitarian aid and education. While missions may include such things, the real thrust of missions is church planting. Obviously, this includes evangelism, discipleship and the training of national pastors for those churches. Nothing should divert a missionary from his purpose. Therefore, it is important to serve with a board that makes its business church planting with a special emphasis on evangelism, discipleship and training workers. (Please see BIMI’s purpose statement on the back of this brochure.)
Two factors are important in the administration of missions. There must be adequate authority to establish policies and standards and to settle difficulties that might disrupt the ministry of the missionary. Yet, on the other hand, this administration should allow for the missionary to be led of the Holy Spirit, the Commander-in-Chief of missions. BIMI demonstrates this balance. Excessive, unchecked control is not vested in one individual. We are governed by more than twenty independent Baptist pastors who make up the Board of Trustees. BIMI also has field directors to help and advise the new missionary in the problems he faces. Nothing can cause more heartache than for a missionary to involve himself in an administrative system to which he finds it difficult to submit.
VI. Outreach and Performance Record
Does the board have adequate experience and work in a number of countries? Does it have works in your desired field or is it willing to open such a field? BIMI has been serving missionaries and local churches since 1960, and we minister in numerous fields around the globe. We strongly believe that the Gospel is to be preached to every creature (Mark 16:15). Thus, BIMI stands ready to open new fields as God opens doors and as missionaries surrender to enter those doors.
Does a board practice both ecclesiastical and personal separation? The purpose of separation is to maintain a testimony and usefulness. Separation has to do with discernment, distinctions and doctrinal convictions. Believing that it is the duty of all Christians to live holy lives that honor the Lord, BIMI maintains standards of separation in the personal lives of its missionaries. It also refuses to fellowship or work with those involved in the Ecumenical Movement, Neo-Orthodoxy, Neo-Evangelicalism or the Charismatic Movement.
All of the previous factors are tremendously important in choosing a mission board, but there are many other items to consider. If you are choosing a mission board, please visit our website or contact us for further information. Beyond what has been discussed in this brochure, BIMI offers many benefits to its missionaries. Some of the areas in which the missionary receives assistance include the following:
Specialized courses in church planting
Government visas and paperwork
Large network of
independent Baptist churches
Domestic and international banking
Candidate & Deputation Director
Rev. Dan & Sandra DeLong
Read more about the DeLongs. He can be contacted through the BIMI office at (423) 344-5050.