Author: Mike Frith, Director of OSCAR, The UK Information Service for World Mission.
When Paul & Barnabas were sent out by their church in Antioch (Acts 13), things seemed so simple. They were released from their duties and sent on their way. There was no ‘sending organisation’ and one can assume that the majority of their ‘individual supporters’ would have
been part of their sending church. How much finance played a part in the sending out isn’t clear, but their income was obviously supplemented by their own work along the way
(making tents!). However, support is much more than finance and, judging by the content of
letters that went between Paul and the churches that he built up connections with, there was
a lot of support, encouragement and care going on.
With the advent of the modern missionary movement, the situation became more complex. Organisations were formed to do for the sending church what they couldn’t do for
themselves. In the modern world of mission, these organisations improved and facilitated the
link between the sending church and the receiving location.
As the sending organisation’s role grew, many of the tasks that the sending church traditionally had were catered for. This meant that the sending church stepped back from its
responsibilities and allowed the sending organisation to take on more and more of the church’s role. The result has been that many sending organisations stand on their own and have a very tenuous link with the local church.
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