Missionary work is New Testament work. Christ promised to build His church (Mt. 16:18). He gave the church its missionary commission (Mt. 28:18-20). Believers were baptized and added to the church the very day that the first local church began its ministry (Acts 2:41, 42). The first missionaries came from the membership and leadership of the church at Antioch (Acts 13:1-3), which commissioned them. The missionaries gave account of their work to that local church (Acts 14:26-28). It is apparent that Christ has given us a New Testament mandate and that we must proclaim a New Testament message. It should be just as apparent that we follow a New Testament method.
THE PRACTICE OF CHURCH PLANTING
When this Mission was in its infancy, Dr. Chester McCullough, the second president of BWM, wrote: "We believe our ministry is an evangelistic, soul-winning ministry . . . We deliberately de-emphasize institutionalism." We stand by those words and that position today. The reason for this practice is the New Testament teaching that missionary work is winning people to Christ and planting local churches. The Lord re-stated the Great Commission just before He returned to Heaven (Acts 1:8), and the apostles and early church carried it out by winning people to Christ, baptizing them, organizing them into local churches, discipling them, and teaching them to carry on the work by themselves. That is New Testament missions! It is also the practice of Baptist World Mission.
THE PRACTICE OF SERVICE
Baptist World Mission, as a mission agency, exists for one reason - to be of service to local churches and to missionaries. This philosophy translates into several distinctive practices.
Serving Through Limitation
We are limited in what we do. We do not commission or send missionaries. The Holy Spirit calls the missionaries, and it is the local church who recognizes that call and commissions them for service (Acts 13:1-3). This is the New Testament pattern and no man-made organization should interfere in the process. The mission agency exists to serve the missionaries, the church which commissions them, and the churches which support them.
Baptist World Mission also respects the sovereignty of the local churches which the missionaries plant. We want these local churches to be autonomous from the moment they are planted. The Mission owns no property overseas. Church properties are in the name of the local churches from the time they are acquired. BWM missionaries plant churches, lead them, and guide them toward a completely indigenous ministry. The Mission has occasionally been asked for counsel by a national church and has sought to give biblical advice at that time. The Mission never interferes in or attempts to govern the affairs of the national churches.
The Mission guards carefully against usurping the authority of the local church. The missionary is accountable directly to his sending church and secondarily to his supporting churches. Seeking to avoid interference with the Holy Spirit's direction, we do not utilize the potentially-political structure of a Field Council.
Serving Through Information
Baptist World Mission publishes its Constitution and Principles and Policies and thus, declares its doctrinal and separatist position. These documents become an understood contract between the churches on one hand, the Mission in the middle, and the missionary on the other hand. The Mission is accountable to the churches to maintain its stated position.
Baptist World Mission serves the churches by publishing news from the missionaries on their fields. Our quarterly publication, THE MESSENGER , carries news of the Mission and the missionaries. We also inform their supporting churches of special needs and developments in their ministries.
In addition brochures and pamphlets are produced. These deal with the position of the Mission and with various subjects pertinent to the missionary enterprise.
Serving Through Commendation
The Mission is a service agency to the missionaries first by the appointment process. Their appointment commends them to the churches and this helps open doors for deputation meetings. Our deputation director works with the missionaries while they are on deputation. We seek to encourage them in this ministry. Our annual Orientation Seminar, required of every appointee, provides training for the various responsibilities of the deputation ministry. Each missionary arranges his own deputation itinerary, but often we are able to help them schedule meetings in local churches.
Serving Through Supervision
The Mission, as a service agency, is responsible to insure that the missionaries hold the same biblical position as the Mission and practice it in their ministries. Mission administrators are responsible for different assigned fields to assist the missionaries with any problems they may face.
Each missionary appointed by BWM must pass through an intensive application process. Our Board of thirty-two Baptist leaders evaluates and appoints the missionaries who apply to the Mission. These men are well known across the country, and their action certifies to the churches that they believe the missionary appointee is qualified and is called by God to missionary service. This, of course, follows the action of the missionary appointee's home church and does not replace it.
Crises do occur in the lives and ministries of missionaries. Rarely, but sadly occasionally, there are disciplinary problems. Sometimes the Mission office learns of the problem first. The Mission always works in consultation with the sending church in addressing such problems.
There may also be illness, accident, unforeseen financial need, a death in the family, or some similar problem. The sending church is always "in the lead" as to appropriate action to help the missionary in such a situation.
Each missionary is held responsible to give regular reports to his home and supporting churches.
Serving Through Certification
The Mission also assists the missionaries in securing the various visas and residence permits which are required for them to legally live and minister in their chosen countries of service. Foreign governments commonly require certification of their status with Baptist World Mission, guarantees of their financial support, and assurance that the missionary will conform to the laws of the country while they live there.
Serving Through Inspiration
Baptist World Mission seeks to be an encouragement to the missionaries on their fields. Missionaries, like all believers, need inspiration. Our administrators travel each year to fields to visit, counsel, and encourage the missionaries.
The various mission meetings that are held are a blessing and inspiration to the missionaries. After every one of our meetings, whether it is the annual meeting, the spring meeting of the Board, or the Orientation Seminar, missionaries commonly report that the fellowship with each other and with our board members is a help to them.
Serving Through Administration
The financial services of the Mission extend from the local church to the missionary. Funds come to BWM from many supporters across the US, Canada, and other countries. Besides receiving and receipting the money to the churches, the Mission performs some rather complex financial services for the missionaries.
The missionaries' funds are broken down into several different accounts. Personal living funds and work funds are separated for tax purposes. Arrangements are made for payments of insurance premiums, contributions to retirement accounts, payment of bills, etc., by the Mission from individual missionary accounts. This avoids the "hassle," possible confusion, and inevitable delays that would result from having to send these bills overseas for payment and return. The mission agency handles the stateside financial transactions for missionaries, so they are free to do their work on the foreign field.
BWM'S books are audited annually. The Board of Directors receive copies of the full audit, and summary portions of it are available on request.
This work requires a dedicated, efficient, sacrificial office staff. We are grateful for those who work in the office. They have a commitment to excellence and work selflessly for the glory of God.
Baptist World Mission stresses the New Testament work of soul winning and church planting. The Mission seeks to serve local churches in obeying the Great Commission and the missionaries in planting churches around the world.
Please pray for BWM in this critical work. If you are considering missionary service, pray about going to the field under the auspices of Baptist World Mission.
BWM is a service agency and would be delighted to be of service to you!