“For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of your always in my prayers; Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you. For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established; That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.”
“Whensoever I take my journey into Spain, I will come to you: for I trust to see you in my journey, and to be brought on my way thitherward by you, if first I be somewhat filled with your company. But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints.”
Some preachers do not realize that scheduling a missionary to come to their church will help the church. Deputation gives the missionary an opportunity to minister or serve his pending supporting churches. In the first chapter on deputation, we mentioned that the church ought to be better because the missionary was there. The Apostle Paul traveled to many churches. His agenda when he arrived was to help in some way. The reason he wanted to visit the church in Rome was to serve her. The reason he told them that he was going to Jerusalem was to serve the saints at the church there.
As I made phone calls to set up meetings, I was once asked by a preacher, “What would you do when you got here?”
“We can go visiting and soul winning. If you have a bus route, we can drive and fix the bus. We can teach and preach. Wouldn’t it be great for the church people to see the missionary bring a visitor to church? Think of the young people’s hearts God could change because the missionary was there.” My whole response was ministry. Seeing someone saved, take a step forward in discipleship, or surrender his life to serve God is more important than me getting fifty, one hundred, or even two hundred dollars a month for support. God has already lined up the churches to give his missionaries financial support. The missionary needs to line up the churches in which he can serve most.
The missionary ought to serve the church in prayer. The first thing Paul mentions in almost every epistle is that he prays for those churches regularly and specifically. Not only should the church’s prayer list grow with each visiting missionary, but the missionary’s prayer list ought to also grow. If there is anyone the church would covet prayers from, it is the missionary. Godly missionaries literally live by faith every day and know how to get things from God.
The effective missionary does not care about himself more than he cares for others. That care is shown through prayer. Can a pastor or church member one of the missionaries they support to pray for them and expect an answer from God due directly to that missionary’s prayer? The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
The pastor and church ought to give opportunity for service. Paul told the church in Rome that he was going to the church in Jerusalem with the express purpose of ministering to the saints. We know that Paul was gathering funds from many of the mission works he started to be a relief to the church at Jerusalem. “For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem. It hath pleased them verily; and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things.” (Romans 15:26-27)
Paul was performing a service on behalf of the churches in Macedonia and Achaia. Those churches were indebted to the saints in Jerusalem for sending Paul and others to them (by way of Antioch) with the Gospel. How does thins apply to deputation today? The missionary and the future saints are indebted to the supporting churches. Deputation allows the missionary to serve the supporting churches preemptively. It is like a person thanking God for what He will do but has not done it yet. Because of this, the preacher should give multiple opportunities for the missionary family to serve in soul winning, on a bus route, in Sunday school, by way of music, etc. The missionary’s service on deputation also gives the church a preview of what she can expect when the missionary gets to the field.
The missionary ought to leave something behind. “For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established; That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.” (Romans 1:11-12) Paul wanted to go to Rome to leave something behind. The purpose for that was to further establish and ground the church and the individual believers. The missionary ought to use his spiritual gifts to this end when he visits churches on deputation.
“Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy. For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries. But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort. He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church.” (I Corinthians 14:1-4) Edification is building up. Is the missionary building up the church when he visits? Exhortation is strong encouragement. The book of Hebrews calls it provoking unto love and good works. Is the missionary challenging or provoking the church to love and good works? Is the missionary comforting the church when he visits?
“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” (Ephesians 4:11-16) This passage is another on spiritual gifts. These gifts listed in Ephesians are people. God has gifted the church with certain types of people with one of those gifts being the missionary. I realize the term missionary is not in the Bible, but you will find that what a missionary does is in the Bible. The main job of a missionary is to evangelize the lost. That sounds like the evangelist in Ephesians. Missionaries are messengers sent out of the local church with a specific mission. That sounds like the apostles who were also sent out with a specific mission.
God has given missionaries to the local church to help the church grow and be fitly joined together. Missionaries are the joints of the church. Joints supply mobility. Missionaries help the church be mobile and work effectually. When a pastor has a missionary come to the church, that church should rejoice in the gift God has given them and realize that he is helping the church increase. Some of the best missionaries offer to help in even the most mundane tasks without the pastor asking. On the other side of the same coin, the missionary had better make sure he does as the pastor asks. The pastor knows the church, has found what the missionary has to offer before he shows up, and most likely has already found the best way for said missionary to serve and help the church.