by Pastor Joshua Turk, B.S.

A SUPPORTIVE sending church is one of the most important factors in the success or failure of a missionary. Not only must a sending church be sound and stable in the faith, and have a genuine love and concern for lost souls and for the missionary, but the pastor and members of the sending church must whole-heartedly support the sent missionary and his mission work.

Therefore, one of the most dangerous times for a missionary is when his sending church calls a new pastor who—if the church is not very careful—may prove to be unsound doctrinally, and who will therefore oppose what God has called the missionary to do. For this reason, the counsel of all the missionaries the church sends should always be sought and considered in the process of calling a new lead-pastor, and the missionary families should be allowed to vote for or against the pastoral candidate. A missionary cannot succeed without a SUPPORTIVE sending church.

On the other hand, a church cannot succeed in her mission without good missionaries. A good missionary will be a great blessing to a church, but a missionary who is lost, or immoral, or a heretic, or a liar, or lazy, or a quitter will be a curse and do great damage to the cause of Christ. For this reason, a church should be very careful to only send genuinely saved men to the mission field who are in agreement with the church doctrinally, and who have proven themselves to be mature, faithful, and diligent men of God, meeting all the qualifications given in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus chapter one. We are blessed in this aspect here at Clearview Baptist Church, in that our missionaries are my dad ( Dr. Louis A. Turk), who was instrumental in leading me to Christ and gave me my early training, and my younger brother, Samuel, who is presently raising support for the Bible translation project and to return to Indonesia. I’ve known my father and brother all of my life and I know that they are men of God of the very highest integrity in whom we can safely have total confidence. Having spent over ten years of my life as a missionary’s son in Indonesia, I offer the following thoughts about a missionary and his sending church.

1) A missionary should be a member of his sending church. (Acts 13:1-2)

Acts 13:1 (KJV) ¶ Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.

2) A church should never sponsor/send a missionary unless they are totally confident that what he wants to do is what God has called him to do. (Acts 13:2-3)

Acts 13:2 (KJV) As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.
Acts 13:3 (KJV) And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid [their] hands on them, they sent [them] away.

3) God’s call for a missionary and sound doctrine do not change when the church gets a new pastor. Truth remains true, and “the gifts and calling of God are without repentance”

Romans 11:29 (KJV) For the gifts and calling of God [are] without repentance.

4) A missionary should be honest in all he does, and should never attempt to deceive churches in an effort to obtain their support. For instance, if he advocates the use of a Critical-Text-based translation on his mission field, then he should make this clearly known, and not dishonestly tell pro-KJV churches that that translation is Received-Text-based. If he advocates a Received-Text-based translation, then he should clearly say so, and not seek support from pro-NIV churches.

Jeremiah 48:10 (KJV) Cursed [be] he that doeth the work of the LORD deceitfully, and cursed [be] he that keepeth back his sword from blood.

5) There are only two ordained offices in a church: pastor and deacon (2 Tim. 3). A missionary is a pastor who is sent by his church to minister in a different location. Of course, he cannot be the pastor of his sending church since he is ministering elsewhere, but he is nevertheless a pastor sent out by his church.

6) Since a missionary is a pastor, the qualifications for the ordination of—and rules governing—a missionary are exactly the same as for a pastor. What is sin for a missionary is also sin for a pastor. And what is not a sin for a pastor is also not a sin for a missionary.

7) When a church must choose a new pastor, it is generally best for them to call a man who has been a long-time faithful member of their church, and not someone from outside their church whom they know little about. However, the Bible does not make this a requirement as it is often impossible. It is not sin for a pastor to leave one church to pastor another if God is in it. Nor is it wrong for a missionary to move his membership to a different church if God is in it. We have neither permission nor authority from the Bible to make up new laws to forbid this. God makes the laws, not us. We must merely obey the laws God has made, not the laws that man has made.

Mark 7:6 (KJV) He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with [their] lips, but their heart is far from me.
Mark 7:7 (KJV) Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching [for] doctrines the commandments of men.

8) Some valid reasons for a missionary to move his membership and sponsorship to a different church are:

  1. foundational doctrinal differences with the pastor—this generally occurs when the church is careless in choosing a new pastor;
  2. the church is not taking care of the missionary’s finances in a professional manner, thus causing him to lose a lot of support;
  3. the pastor refuses to exercise church discipline on a sinning church member who is causing damage to the missionary’s ministry;
  4. the pastor refuses to allow the missionary to explain problems, thus making it impossible to solve the problems;
  5. the pastor is stealing money from the missionary’s account;
  6. the church no longer has the faith or will to be a sending church.

Those reasons all involve unresolved sin against the missionary. But there are other reasons that don’t involve sin. For instance:

  1. the missionary’s home church doesn’t have the business expertise to handle the missionary’s business,
  2. the pastor is too old or sick to take care of the missionary.

9) A missionary is not independent of his church, but is under his church’s authority. He is expected to obey God’s word, not do whatever is right in his own eyes. In the case of heresy or moral sin on the part of the missionary, his church has the authority to—and should—discipline him just as the church has the authority to—and should—discipline a pastor who falls into a moral sin. A missionary is accountable to the church. And, of course, so are all of the other members of a church, including the pastor, deacons, teachers and evangelists. No one is above God’s law. Not all sins disqualify a man from being a pastor or missionary, but some do. And a missionary or pastor who is disqualified should not be allowed to hold either office.

10) The independent Baptist (scriptural) way of sending missionaries directly from their home church offers only a few advantages over being sent by a convention or mission board, but those few advantages are extremely important! They are:

a) God is glorified through His church when it accomplishes things in the humanly impossible way God has instructed;

Ephesians 3:20 (KJV) Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
Ephesians 3:21 (KJV) Unto him [be] glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

b) freedom—the missionary is free to do what God has called him to do.

John 8:31 (KJV) ¶ Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, [then] are ye my disciples indeed;

Note that the truth of God’s word shall make you free, not enslave you, or motivate you to enslave others.

11) The Holy Spirit is the missions’ director, not some mortal man (Acts 13:2-3; 16:6-10).

Acts 16:6 (KJV) ¶ Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia,
Acts 16:7 (KJV) After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not.
Acts 16:8 (KJV) And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas.
Acts 16:9 (KJV) And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us.
Acts 16:10 (KJV) And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.

Notice that the Holy Spirit didn’t go to Paul’s pastor to direct Paul. The Holy Spirit went directly to Paul. If a church adopts the papal form of church government by making an egotistical pastor the head of the church, instead of Christ, then the vital freedom a missionary needs to follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit is lost. A pastor grievously sins when he tries to usurp the job of the Holy Spirit as the director of missions. God hates Nicolaitanism, and so should we.

Revelation 2:6 (KJV) But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

Revelation 2:15 (KJV) So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.

12) A pastor cannot possibly know, much less understand, all the circumstances and dangers his missionaries face on their respective mission fields, but the Holy Spirit does know and understand. So the pastor should trust them into the hands of the Holy Spirit, and should not attempt to micro-manage them from afar. If a pastor feels he must micromanage a missionary then the missionary is in a bad position for one of two reasons:

a) the missionary isn’t qualified to be on the field, or

b) his pastor’s micro-managing is going to be a hindrance to the missionary’s work (whether he realizes it or not)

13) A missionary should honor and obey the pastor of his home/sending church in all things as long as his pastor does not attempt to lead the missionary to disobey God. No one should follow a pastor into immorality, such as sodomy, adultery, drug use, etc., or into heresies, such as:

a) salvation by works;

b) baptism by sprinkling;

c) the papal form of church government; or

d) the advocacy of corrupt, Critical-Text-based translations of the Bible at home or on mission fields etc,..

14) God’s word—not the pastor or a missionary—is the final authority in the church and on the mission field. There will be no clash between a pastor and his missionaries when they all submit to the same Bible text as the final authority.

15) The position of pastor or missionary does not supersede the authority of God’s word. Some pastors wrongly think that they are lords over missionaries. And some missionaries wrongly think they are lords over national pastors. There is no hierarchy. Since we mortal men are not omniscient, we must not be so vain as to think that we have the same abilities as Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.

1 Peter 5:2 (KJV) Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight [thereof], not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
1 Peter 5:3 (KJV) Neither as being lords over [God’s] heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.

16) The local, New Testament church is the only Biblical missionary sending agency (Acts 13:1-3).

Acts 13:1 (KJV) ¶ Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.
Acts 13:2 (KJV) As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.
Acts 13:3 (KJV) And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid [their] hands on them, they sent [them] away.

17) Success for a missionary depends on his love for the people to which God has called him to minister and his diligence in sowing seed.

Psalms 126:5 (KJV) They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.
Psalms 126:6 (KJV) He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves [with him].

But this takes time. The seed does not grow into a plant bearing fruit the instant it is sown. Missionaries that believe only in “lifestyle evangelism” without actively reaching out to the lost will have no fruit at all. On the other hand, we should be suspicious of missionaries who report large numbers of people saved when they haven’t even been on the field long enough to learn the language. Why would any honest pastor be willing to support a dishonest missionary?

Jeremiah 5:30 (KJV) A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land;
Jeremiah 5:31 (KJV) The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love [to have it] so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?

But we should be patient with missionaries who are plowing, planting, and watering as they prepare for a harvest.

18) An accurate translation of the Bible from the Masoretic Text and Received Text is essential to success on any mission field. You cannot build a house of righteousness on a foundation of corruption.

Romans 3:8 (KJV) And not [rather], (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say,) Let us do evil, that good may come? whose damnation is just.

How successful would you be in winning people to Christ and building a sound church if the only Bible in English was the RSV or NIV? Answer: it would be impossible to build a Biblically sound (Baptist) church.

In summary, a church, her pastor, and her missionaries must all reject human ideas and methods, and accept, use, and obey an accurate translation of the Masoretic Text and Received Text into the language in which they are ministering as the final authority for everything they do. If the language they are ministering in does not yet have an accurate translation of the Bible they should do what they can to be a blessing to honest Bible translation works, not a hindrance.

A missionary doesn’t just need a sending church, a missionary needs a SUPPORTIVE sending church.