December 2018

“I love Jesus, but not organized religion.”

Phrases like this show just how small the average person’s view of the church is. But Jesus had a far greater vision: “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18b).

The church is at the center of Christ’s kingdom. So what, then, do we do with non-church organizations like missions agencies? Should they exist? Although missions agencies aren’t in the Bible, here are three reasons the concept is perfectly biblical.

1. The Apostles Formed Teams

Only the church is God-ordained, but the nature of missions over land and sea made teamwork essential—even for Paul. Paul built a team from people outside his church, including Timothy (Acts 16:1-5). His missionary team was sent from the church at Antioch and reported back (Acts 13:1-3, 14:26-28), but he also accepted support from other churches (Phil. 4:15-16) and his employment (2 Thess. 3:8). 

No missionary should be a lone gunslinger for God. In the New Testament, missionary teammates come from multiple church families—forming a new “organization” that exists outside the local church yet under its authority.

2. Biblical Churches Cooperate 

Church cooperation is all over the New Testament. In Acts, the church in Antioch sends relief to Jerusalem during famine (Acts 11:27-30), and Paul often urges generosity between the churches (Rom. 15:25-29, 2 Cor. 8-10).

The Great Commission is too big for one church to tackle alone. No church can help missionaries learn languages, navigate culture shock, or gain access to closed countries alone. If churches can partner together to send relief or form denominations, why not cooperate in missions too?

3. Missions Agencies Serve the Church

Missions is the job of the church, so a biblical missions agency must exist for the church. An agency is only legitimate as it supports the church in its call.

Paul’s ministry wasn’t just random evangelism—he stayed long enough to plant churches (Acts 14:21-23). Even without the ability to email or call the sending pastors in Antioch, he stayed laser-focused on local churches.

We must do whatever it takes to “support people like these, that we may be fellow workers for the truth” (3 John 8). Let’s support missions agencies that prioritize the bride of Christ and help our churches recognize the blessings of a healthy, church-centered missions agency.

For more: Listen to The Missions Podcast Episode #1, “What’s Wrong With Missions Agencies?”

Alex Kocman is the Director of Advancement Mobilization at ABWE, shepherding new career missionaries and their churches through the sending process. After earning his M.A. in Communication and B.S. in Biblical Studies, he served as an online apologetics instructor with Liberty University Online and a youth pastor at a multi-site church in Pennsylvania, where he honed his passion for the intersection of robust theology and mission.

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