By Jon Konnerup
The BBFI philosophy is, and always has been, that the local church is the sending agency of a missionary. The Mission Office is not the sending agency. It is clearly demonstrated in the Bible in Acts 13 that by God’s design, the Great Commission has been given to the local church. The Mission Office recognizes the Biblical authority of the sending church and consequently the sending pastor as the God-called leader of the local church under the headship of Christ. There would be no BBFI missionaries without BBFI-affiliated sending churches and pastors.
What then should be the role of the Mission Office? Our mission statement is simply, “Serving churches and their missionaries as they endeavor to fulfill the Great Commission.” Thus the title on our sign — “World Mission Service Center.”
The Mission Office provides services to sending and supporting churches. Some of those services include:
• Screening of applicants. This entails reviewing their doctrine, education, internship, and pastoral recommendations, and looking for the best qualified who are called by God.
• Processing funds from over 4,000 churches and for nearly 900 missionaries and projects. Last year the Mission Office processed $40.3 million.
• Administrating a self-funded medical plan (including emergency medical evacuation from anywhere in the world) to prevent undue burden on the sending or supporting churches.
• Providing support campaigns like the Missionary Projects Offering (MPO) The MPO is a vehicle for your missionaries to raise additional funds for BBFI-owned homes and foreign-owned church buildings. In the last 20 years, over $15 million have been raised to fund over 500 churches and 130 homes. In the recent September meeting, $670,000 of our $800,000 goal was promised with 16 states and many churches having yet to report. We believe this goal will be achieved.
The World Mission Service Center of the BBFI also provides additional services for the missionaries including:
• A support system of field representatives made up of BBFI pastors and managed by the Mission Office.
• Emergency and vehicle loans to missionaries in foreign countries as needed and as available.
• Encouragement and assistance while missionaries are on deputation, furlough, and in their countries.
• Mail services — We spend, on average $9,000 per month to send first-class mail to missionaries around the world.
• A reporting process that is in compliance with USA government regulations. This frees up each sending church from a very complicated system of records and IRS reporting for which they would otherwise be responsible for each missionary they send out.
We want to serve churches and missionaries in the most effective and efficient way possible. We make an effort to never undermine or usurp the authority of the sending church and pastor. The pastors of the BBFI have voted on policies that we are charged to administrate. Admittedly, these policies need to be revisited and revised from time to time. They do, however, represent the collective wisdom of the mission efforts of BBFI pastors and missionaries. This keeps the bar high for new missionaries. These policies make sure that the pastors and missionaries all have an understanding of expectations which helps minimize problems, ensures missionary success, and keeps attrition numbers lower than other mission organizations.
Missionary candidates are required to agree to the policies before they are ever presented for approval. The policies are also further reviewed in Candidate School. The mission director is charged with the administration of those policies, but the real authority lies with the sending pastor. The most difficult aspect of the work of the Mission Office is when we have to deal with a missionary problem. The best solutions are found when the Mission Office is able to work side-by-side with a sending pastor who takes the lead, upholding the policies by which his missionaries have agreed to abide.
Sometimes, however, when a sending pastor doesn’t understand a policy, doesn’t agree with, or is unwilling to be involved in resolving a situation, the Mission Office has to step in to represent the other supporting churches of that missionary. Not to do so would be a neglect of its duties.
You can see just how important the role of a sending pastor is in the missionary work of the BBFI, particularly to the Mission Office. As a Fellowship, we must plant more churches in the USA and send out more missionaries. Perhaps God will enable you to join the other 283 sending churches by sending someone from your church as we all endeavor to reach our world for Christ.