| The "Great Commission" to
go out and preach the Gospel to "every creature" is taken very seriously
by the Baptists. To these Bible believing Christians, missions is
considered to be the heartbeat of every church. In fact, the Baptists
will tell you that no church can expect God's blessings upon it unless
it is placing due emphasis on foreign missions. This is accomplished
by both financial and prayer support.
However, true to form, the
Baptists do not always use the same approach in fulfilling of the Great
Commission. However, two basic methods are used to accomplish the
Church Chosen Missionaries:
Congregations which choose this method of missions outreach do so by having
missionaries from approved boards and colleges come to the church for the
purpose of presenting their work. If the church is so inclined, they
vote to add those missionaries whom they feel led of God to their local
church missions program. Missionaries raise enough support to finance
a three to four year stay on a respective mission field. While there,
they send monthly letters to their supporting churches to provide updates
as to the progress of the work while returning at the end of each term
to personally report to each supporting church.
Many of those Baptist churches
who prefer to choose their own missionaries use the Faith Promise method
of support. Church members are challenged once a year to commit
a specific amount over and above the tithe to missions giving. The
concept is that, by faith, they allow God's Spirit to speak to them and
then promise to give that amount to missions over the next twelve months.
It can be given weekly, monthly, or in a lump sum, however, their experience
has shown that those who give their pledges from pay check to pay check
usually results in stronger and more consistent missions giving.
The annual Faith Promise Missions Conference is a highlight of the church
year featuring several of the church supported missionaries for anywhere
from a weekend to a full week of missions emphasis.
Group Chosen Missionaries:
There are those Baptists who prefer to support missionaries who are approved
by an association, a convention, or a fellowship of churches of "like faith."
The missionaries are approved by a board which is elected by the churches
to perform the function of sorting through various missionary candidates
for the purpose of choosing those who qualify based on the standards of
the group. Once approved, the missionaries begin receiving the financial
support that is needed so that they are able to go to their respective
fields of service and fulfill their ministries. This support is derived
from churches who designate a percentage of their overall receipts to the
cause of missions.
Those churches which prefer
this method co-operate together to provide the monies needed to support
this approach to missions. Although the churches are not able to
point to specific missionaries, nor do they receive letters or end-of-term
visits from them, those who prefer this method feel that it's strength
is in allowing the missionary to save precious time by not having to return
every three or four years to report to their supporting churches.
By transferring the responsibility to maintain and track the work to the
group missions board, missionaries are able to stay on their fields indefinitely
as long as they are able to demonstrate to the board that their work continues
Both of these approaches are
quite different in their methodology while proving over many years of experience
that they are effective as well. Regardless of those who have argued
the supposed superiority of one method over the other, the real difference
is that of those who prefer more intimate contact with those missionaries
whom they support as contrasted to those who prefer to allow them the freedom
to stay on the field without needing to return every four years to report.
Also, while those who prefer the church chosen approach favor the concept
of being closer to the work of those missionaries whom they have specifically
determined to support, those who prefer the group chosen approach argue
that they avoid over supporting or under supporting missionaries by giving
the group missions board the ability to determine what is really needed
by each missionary.
The bottom line is that both
methods work. Baptists are the largest supporters of missions work
in the world. Virtually every nation that allows missionaries serves
as a location for active Baptist missionary involvement. Many millions
of dollars are contributed each year to this cause by believers who are
impressed with the desire to see the gospel preached to every creature
and they are succeeding.