Partner Churches in the Great Commission
A while ago I posted a blog about sending churches like Antioch in the New Testament sending Paul and Barnabas. This time around I want to share about partner churches, looking at the Philippian church as a model. This church was planted by Paul and Silas and had converts like Lydia, the seller of purple goods, a demon possessed slave girl, and the Philippian jailer. Paul helped to establish this church and his epistle to the Philippians is a kind of thank you letter for how this church treated him. Paul is full of optimism in this letter, which is kind of amazing since he is writing from jail and not a penthouse suite. There was something about this particular church that filled Paul with exuberant joy. Let me highlight a few things about this church that makes it stand out as a model partner church.
- Partner churches brings joy and encouragement to gospel workers
Listen to Paul’s introduction; “I thank God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the Gospel”. Even in the midst of trial, Paul is encouraged by this church, they were a blessing to him. Phil 2:19, “I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you”. Encouragement is something very necessary and practical that partner churches can do for their missionaries.
- Partner churches have concern for a missionary
In chapter 1 verse 12 Paul tells the church not to be concerned about what has happened to him regarding his imprisonment because God was using it to advance the Gospel. It shows that this church was genuinely concerned for Paul. Phil 4:10, “I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity”. Partner churches have real concern for a missionary. I am sure this church prayed for Paul, they eagerly awaited news from him, their partnership was deep. This is another way a church a can be involved as a partner.
- Partner churches contribute financially
Phil 4:14-15, “Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only”. Their encouragement and concern was not only sentimental, it was genuine and practical. It affected their bank accounts, they gave materially towards the needs of Paul. It is sad that other churches did not partner in this way, the Philippian church sets the better example. This is just another practical way in which a partner church helps in advancing the Gospel among the unreached.
- Partner churches are just as much part of the work as sending churches AND the missionaries themselves
Phil 4:17-18, “Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God”. Paul says that when a partner church invests resources in the work of a missionary, the fruit is shared. They have direct involvement through their partnership. They are equal partakers in the blessing that comes from advancing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They can rejoice as though they did the work themselves.
And then finally. Philippians 4:19 gives us an amazing promise, “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus”.
What a wonderful promise! BUT…its not for everyone! If we are faithful to context, this promise is for the Philippian Christians who were cheerful givers. Often we see this verse printed on a coffee mug or cross stitched on a pillow, everyone wants to claim it for themselves, even when they contribute nothing to the kingdom of God. No, No, No. I had to learn this personally, I cannot seek God’s provision and riches, if I am not personally being generous. This has convinced me that even as a missionary, I must live willing and prepared to help others. Consider HOW you can live generously and enjoy the promise of being rich in Christ.
In our own preparations for Japan we are in need of partner churches like Philippi. Our sending church does not have the resources to support us fully. If you are able to link us to a potential partner church please contact us. We would love an opportunity to share our vision as we trust God to provide for our needs.