How Can A Church Keep Its Missionaries Accountable? Part 1
Jesus has been clear about being missional, instructing his disciples to (reach-baptize-teach) all nations (Matt 28:19). Therefore, missions have always been God’s calling to his people and the church to a missional church. Since the dawn of Christianity and the establishment of the first church, we saw people going out to spread the Gospel worldwide. Today we have more than 430,000 missionaries from all Christian branches.
With this huge number of missionaries, the church is responsible for helping these missionaries in all aspects possible and making them feel loved and Shepherd even while they are living overseas, as the church in Ephesus cared for Paul during his journeys (Ephesians 6:21-24). After all, all of us will stand before the judgment of God (Romans 14:12), and we will be asked about our talents (Matthew 25:14) and how we cared for “the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers” (Acts 20:28)
One of the main challenges that churches often experience is knowing how to keep their missionaries accountable. This issue is complex and multi-faceted that requires careful analysis and thought. Missionaries also need accountability. They are not freelance ministers, but covenantal partners with their sending churches.
Why should a church keep its missionaries accountable?
At least two of Jesus’ parables focused on accountability (Matthew 25:14-30 and Luke 16:1-13). Unlike in the professional world where accountability usually means evaluating the work of an employee and its productivity, Christians missionaries’ accountability does not need to be pragmatic but often involves an element of evaluation.
One of the primary goals of accountability in church missionaries is to identify issues and what more can be or should be done to manage resources, funds or help people to achieve greater effectiveness. It is also necessary to send worthy servants and give praise to the Lord, as well as to ensure that missionaries, churches and other organizations and individuals involved are cooperating wisely.
Most church volunteers and missionaries want to be effective. Nevertheless, many struggles with feelings of guilt over the fact that they don’t have more measurable results, which can create depression, sadness, and discouragement. However, this can also nurture defensiveness towards the concept of accountability. Getting local and sending churches involved in the life and the work of the missionary, often helps the missionary getting out of his depression and see the work he is doing from fresh perspectives and in the big picture of God’s kingdom. Appropriate missionary accountability must be focused on attainable goals while seeking God’s glory and asking in prayer to just do what He wants them to accomplish. Indeed, missionaries can’t be held accountable for the fruits borne only by the Holy Spirit, but they must become accountable to do what’s best to prepare the soil.
The truth is, missionaries and churches and every individual will stand before the Master and account for how they’ve invested the financial resources and the people of the church. When accountability is embraced as a divinely appointed manager, they will look for valuable information and quality feedback to properly allocate available resources.
In part two of this post, we will share some ways that the church can keep its missionaries accountable.