The Church has had a long history of missions – starting from the book of Acts where Paul and Barnabas started the first missionary band to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles, to the Monastic movement in the 5th century, the Moravian Missions in 1732, and to the modern missions movement we have today.
While there are some who question its legitimacy, missions societies and agencies have contributed much of the missionary effort in the modern missions movement.
Churches and missions agencies together (CMAT): A relational model for partnership practice, edited by the Rev Dr Ivan Liew, is a product of collaboration between several churches and missions agencies in Singapore.
The Rev Dr Liew is the missions pastor at Woodlands Evangelical Free Church, and embarked on the topic of church-agency partnerships as part of his Doctorate of Ministry. He and his team of contributors begin by establishing the dual legitimacy of efforts by both the Church and missions agencies in accomplishing the Great Commission (Matt 28:19-20).
They discuss on the history of missions in the Church as well as the impact of missions societies and agencies in the same timeline. A model, based on the findings of the Rev Dr Liew’s research, was then presented with several guiding principles and theological underpinnings for churches and missions agencies to work together for the good of the missionary.
Church-agency partnerships can often be hard to manage and are frequently impermanent. Oftentimes, when a church sends their missionary through a missions agency, there is a lack of clarity in terms of work scopes and responsibilities. This can be due to several factors, including a lack of knowledge, expertise or resources, and differing points of view towards missions.
This often causes confusion and distress to the missionary who has to work with both their home church and the missions agency. It is akin to having two heads telling a hand to do different things.
The model presented from this book breaks down several areas of importance regarding church-agency partnerships and, along with its guiding principles, provides clarity on the roles and responsibilities of both parties from the perspective of the missionary.
An example would be that while missionaries might appreciate knowing that they were prayed for by the agency, they do find it especially meaningful when their own church and families are involved in praying for them. The home churches would also be in a better position to connect with their family members in Singapore than the agencies.
These findings would help to direct resources more effectively in both churches and agencies when it comes to caring for their missionaries.
The information and findings of the Rev Dr Liew’s research and case study are immensely helpful for both mission directors in the church and mission agencies to consider.
The model also acts as a framework to facilitate discussion to reach a common understanding and to provide better member care for their missionaries.
Both the Church and the mission agencies have their role in the Great Commission. This book, therefore, is timely in helping the Church and the various agencies to partner better in order to be more effective in their individual responsibilities.
Special CMAT review offer! Present this article at Cru Singapore’s Media Ministry showroom (18 Verdun Road, #02-01) and you will receive a 30% discount off this title, which usually retails at $26.65 (including GST).
Jeremy Choo –
is the Personnel and Missionary Care Executive as well as the Country Coordinating Officer for Cambodia with the Methodist Missions Society (MMS). Prior to joining MMS in April 2014, he served as a missionary to Vietnam with Hope Church Singapore, where he worships.