Download .pdf: WMPL Mission Handbook
(2) The Handbook is comprised of two parts:
a) A summary of the philosophy, vision and values at the core of our fellowship; and,
b) A summary of the structures directing our life together.
(3) The Handbook is a dynamic document, open to ongoing revision. The Handbook may be revised by action of the Mission’s Home Council.
(4) The Handbook is complemented by several documents printed separately:
a) The Mission’s Constitution;
b) The Mission’s By-laws; and,
c) The Mission’s Policy Manual, a compendium of current policies.
(6) By the mid-1930s, a band of students, pastors and friends in the Minneapolis area joined together in prayer that the Lord of the harvest would send laborers into his harvest (Luke 10:2). Soon some of them felt called to join the harvest themselves.
(7) Volunteers approached the mission boards of the existing Lutheran synods, but found no budget for new outreach. In 1937 they organized themselves along simple lines to accept missionary volunteers and send them into areas of special concern. They were committed to finding a way to send and go in mission, without the constraint of budgetary limitations. They were committed to providing a way for lay participation in mission, without the requirement of ordination. They were committed as well to complement the regular work of the Lutheran synods, without diverting means or personnel from their programs.
(8) The Mission began as the South American Mission Prayer League, and was organized on May 25, l937. Its first two missionaries left the next year for Bolivia. Soon other volunteers were sent to Central Asia, and eventually to Africa, and Eastern Europe. In 1939 the Mission adopted its present name to reflect its growing involvements around the world: a prayer league of supporting friends with a world mission. In 1945, the World Mission Prayer League adopted its Constitution and incorporated in the State of Minnesota.
(9) In 1969, the World Mission Prayer League/Canada adopted its Constitution and incorporated in Edmonton, Alberta. The World Mission Prayer League/Canada functions in partnership with the World Mission Prayer League/USA as a sister organization.
(10) In 1972 the American Board of the Santal Mission merged with the World Mission Prayer League. The American Board was founded in Minneapolis on November 13, 1891, as the American partner of the Norwegian Board and the Danish Board (1867) of the same Mission. Its first American missionaries were sent to India in 1904. From these early beginnings, the World Mission Prayer League has inherited a particular concern for the Santal people of India and Bangladesh.
(11) Together with the Church and its partners in mission, the World Mission Prayer League seeks to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s fresh initiative in our world today. Prayer League members continue to pray that the Lord of the harvest would send forth workers, and that the Lord himself would sustain and uphold them.
A. Our Mission
(12) We are a Lutheran community committed to:
- know Christ;
- pray for the advance of his kingdom;
- share the gospel and ourselves with those who do not know him; and,
- encourage Christians everywhere in this global task.
B. Our Vision
We are a Lutheran community...
(13) We are a Lutheran community in mission.
- We undertake our mission as Lutherans. We proceed from a variety of Lutheran synodical backgrounds, in which we participate gladly.
- We undertake our mission as a community: lay and ordained, male and female, multi-generational and multi-ethnic. Our members are variously and wonderfully gifted for the task we share together. We appreciate their multi-textured gifts and work at encouraging one another in their exercise, for the cause of Jesus Christ.
(14) Moreover, we understand our fellowship to be part of a much larger body – the Church of Jesus Christ around the world. Wherever possible, we will advocate interrelationship, interdependence, and creative partnership in the cause of the gospel around the world.
...committed to know Christ
(15) We are committed to the Person and the Cause of Jesus. We believe that committed lives are indispensable for authentic and compelling witness.
(16) We intend to call others to commitment as well. We intend to plead with all of our creative energy, “Be reconciled to Christ,” as ambassadors of God himself.
(17) We understand that this commitment exacts a cost – and we purpose to bear it, by the grace of God. We will ready ourselves for suffering. We will turn away from costly comforts, a larger income, material possessions, and places of personal privilege or honor. We will choose instead to embrace the way of poverty, loss, suffering, and humiliation – whatever it takes to bring the Gospel of Jesus to as many people as possible.
...committed to pray for the advance of his kingdom
(18) We are committed to pray, as Jesus commands his followers in Matthew 9:38 – “Ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” Indeed, we are not primarily a missionary-sending organization. We are a praying “league”, a community of men and women who are committed to prayer as a key methodology for advancing the Gospel of Christ. Prayer is the working method of our mission.
(19) Our commitment to prayer leads us to several important corollaries:
- Since God gives our resources in answer to prayer, we will not solicit human beings. We envision mutual accountability as we hold one another to this common commitment.
- Since God gives our resources, we will continue to treat them “as from the hand of God” – honoring financial designations explicitly.
- We will treat our personnel “as from the hand of God” as well – respecting insofar as possible each individual calling within our overall work and fellowship.
...committed to share the gospel and ourselves with those who do not know him
(20) We declare our passion for the evangelization of the world. We will share the gospel. And our sharing will involve more than our words. We propose sharing “ourselves” – that is, our material goods, our money, our service, our very lives (cf. 1 Thessalonians 2:8).
(21) We will focus our sharing in three areas: disciple- making along the frontiers that surround us; leadership development in service to the emerging church; and, mission mobilization.
- Disciple-making along the frontiers. We will remain prayerfully alert to the frontiers that surround us today, and the new frontiers that may beckon us tomorrow. We will apply our prayers and resources, in particular, along the frontier of the unreached – those peoples among whom an indigenous, missionizing, church-planting movement has yet to be established. We will apply ourselves further, as much as possible, along the frontier of limited access
– unreached peoples among whom few missionaries are at work, or traditional missionaries cannot go.
- Leadership development. We believe that God has equipped the church with everything needful for its basic ministries of proclamation, service and administration. We believe that God equips the church, as well, with the leadership necessary for its life and ministry. We will not, therefore, lead churches where local leaders are available. Rather, we will encourage the church to take up its calling. We will pray and work to encourage and develop its leadership in every way.
- Mission mobilization. We will work toward an indigenous, missionizing, church-planting movement, wherever God has led us. We will work under the structures of the church as it exists in hopeful partnership, that the church may be planted where it has not yet advanced.
...committed to encourage Christians everywhere in this global task
(22) We applaud evidences of God’s mission from and to the entire world. We believe that the mission of God belongs to the whole people of God. We will encourage Christians everywhere in its pursuit.
(23) As for ourselves and our work, we intend to be mobile. We pledge ourselves to expendability. We will not ensconce our persons or our organization permanently in any of our areas of work. We understand ourselves as scaffolding; but when a building is completed, the scaffolding must be removed. In all of our work, we will plan for our own dismantling, in order to help build up the church in another area.
A. We believe in...
(24) The only true God, the almighty Creator of all things, existing eternally in three persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – full of love and glory.
(25) The unique divine inspiration, entire trustworthiness and authority of the Bible, our infallible guide and inerrant norm for doctrine and living.
(26) The value and dignity of all people: created in God's image to live in love and holiness, but alienated from God and each other because of their sin and guilt, justly subject to God’s wrath and unable to save themselves.
(27) Jesus Christ, fully human and fully divine, who lived as a perfect example, who assumed the judgment due sinners by dying in our place, and who was bodily raised from the dead and ascended as Savior and Lord.
(28) The means of grace – principally the Bible and the Sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper – by which God shares with us the Good News of the wonderful salvation that can be ours in Jesus Christ.
(29) Justification by God’s grace – complete access to God’s every gift and benefit – for all who repent and put their faith in Jesus Christ alone for salvation.
(30) The indwelling presence and transforming power of the Holy Spirit, who gives to all believers a new life and the spiritual gifts necessary for a calling to obedient service.
(31) The unity of all believers in Jesus Christ, manifest in worshipping and witnessing churches making disciples throughout the world.
(32) The future personal return of Jesus Christ, who will judge all people with justice and mercy, giving over the unrepentant to eternal condemnation but receiving the redeemed into eternal life.
B. We further believe that...
(33) The historic creeds of the church – the Apostolic, the Nicene, and the Athanasian – and the historic confessions of the Lutheran Church – particularly the Small Catechism and the Unaltered Augsburg Confession – describe the Christian faith accurately and well.
A. The Prayer League at work
(34) In addition to the values and priorities described elsewhere in this Handbook, we are committed to principles for the structuring of our work in the world.
- We aim at conscious dependence upon God: we will structure our work in deliberate expectation of his great faithfulness (Lamentations 3:23).
- We are committed to community. We will organize our work in relationship with our sisters and brothers in Christ at home and around the world. We aim to serve as a fellowship, encouraging one another, bearing one another’s burdens, standing firm “in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27).
- We are committed to the principle of gracious equitability. We refuse to make distinction between the one who prays at home and the one who goes abroad, the one who serves and the one who proclaims, or with reference to national provenance, gender, education, social status or cultural background. We need one another. For every member of our community, we aspire simply to the obedience of faith and complementary participation in the shared mission of God (Romans 12:10).
- We are committed to accountability. We will build transparency into our structures, authentic partnership and open dialogue, taking pains to “do what is right, not only in the Lord’s sight but also in the sight of others” (2 Corinthians 8:20-21).
- We are committed to local empowerment. Insofar as possible, we desire that those who must live with the result of our decisions are authorized as well to make them (2 Timothy 2:2).
- We are committed to simplicity. We aim to work out our calling in a low-overhead, simple sort of way (Luke 9:1-5).
- We are committed to mobility. As a community in mission, we are called to be mobile. We aim at agility in our lives and ministry, and responsiveness to God’s lively and ongoing direction (Luke 9:6).
- Finally, we are committed to prayer. We aim to practice deliberate, united, frequent and believing prayer at every level of our community – among those who send us, those who go, and those we meet along the way. Prayer is our working method. It is the way we participate, first of all, in the purposes of the Kingdom of God in our own lives and around the world (Matthew 9:37-38).
B. Membership in our praying community
(35) At its deepest and best, our community is simply a fellowship at prayer, gathered in service to the mission of God in the world. We are a wide-ranging, free association of sisters and brothers committed together to the values, purposes, and priorities described in this Handbook. Individuals, couples and entire families may become members of our praying community by a simple pledge to join us in these values and purposes. Fellowship groups or entire congregations may affiliate as congregational members, as well. Members indicate their commitment by contacting our offices or visiting our website, and are added to our membership directory.
(36) These praying members are the heart of our community: they are “the Prayer League” served and described by this document. We are not, precisely, a “sending society”; our work is not, simply, “over there.” We are a broad praying fellowship. Our work around the world is but an extension of our life of prayer and faith at home. We tend to reproduce what we are.
(37) Our structures for mission must reflect this dynamic interdependence: the relationship of full-time workers abroad and praying partners at home. The fellowship of praying partners may support the work of the Mission financially. They may volunteer for service, too: out of their number come our leadership, our Council and committee members, project workers, office staff, representatives, and other volunteers. Most significant of all, they have pledged themselves to uphold our shared work in prayer. We believe that the mission of God has enlisted our entire community together. It is our aim to “stir one another toward love and good works,” at home and abroad, at work and at play, praying members in local fellowships and members in service around the world (Hebrews 10:24). Each part has a role to play. Each must find its complementary service in the wide-ranging mission of God.
(38) Our community receives praying members from every nation and culture who come to share the simple commitments described in this Handbook. We are an international community, part and participant in the Christian church around the world.
National or regional offices
(39) This broad international community may organize in national and regional offices, or in other expressions that may seem helpful from place to place and time to time. Such national or regional offices do not presume to supervise the activities of other national offices. Each is free to develop its own contextually relevant programs and organization consistent with the core values and priorities we share across our fellowship. We advocate decentralized, lightweight, entrepreneurial structures for prayer, sending and ministry support throughout our fellowship, rather than an overarching international superstructure.
(40) This vision has led to the creation of formal offices in the United States (1937) and Canada (1969), each based in a common commitment to the mission and values described in this Handbook, yet functioning independently. It has led as well to occasional and informal sending structures elsewhere, committed to partnership within our broader community. We watch for the emergence of similar structures, formal and informal, elsewhere in the world.
(41) National or regional offices may develop bilateral or multilateral mechanisms for the coordination of their efforts. Such relationships may include mechanisms for sharing strategic vision, prayer concerns and activities, personnel and joint projects, mutual fellowship, distributed funds, and other meaningful resources, in the spirit of this Handbook.
The Joint Committee
(42) A Joint International Committee will meet periodically to share mutual concerns and encouragement among representatives of our national or regional offices. The Committee is convened by a simple consensus of its potential members. Typically, one national or regional office will act as host for such a meeting and help to prepare an agenda for its deliberations.
(43) The Committee is not executive in nature: it is consultative and catalytic. Representatives gather to learn from one another, encourage one another in prayer, identify opportunities for greater effectiveness and partnership, and propose improvements or further development in our shared mission around the world. The Joint Committee does not then act unilaterally. Its members present report and recommendation to their representative national or regional offices, which may in turn put plans into suitable action.
(44) In the United States we have organized into an incorporated society, with a Constitution and Bylaws and a shared commitment to the way of life described in this Handbook (see paragraphs 5-8 above). The following paragraphs describe structures specific to WMPL-USA, judged consistent with the values and priorities we share across our fellowship.
(45) WMPL-USA is comprised of all praying members formally pledged to the community of WMPL-USA and appearing in its membership directory. WMPL-USA meets in general session annually, for fellowship in God’s mission, prayer for its advance throughout the world, renewal of its Mission Council, and observance of its Constitution and Bylaws. It may be convened in special session at other times by the President of its Mission Council as provided in its Bylaws.
The Mission Council-USA
(46) WMPL-USA entrusts the oversight of its workers and projects to its Mission Council, a governing board elected by its members.
Membership and meetings
(47) Individual praying members of WMPL-USA are eligible to participate in the annual election of the Mission Council, as described in the organization’s Constitution and Bylaws.
- The Council’s members are elected by mail ballot prior to the annual meeting of WMPL-USA, and presented to the gathered community at that time.
- The Council is comprised of no fewer than twelve and no more than twenty-four members. Members serve for a period of three years, and may be reelected twice for a total of nine consecutive years of service.
- The Council may co-opt associate members because of special knowledge or experience judged to be useful. Associate members serve for a period of two years and are eligible for reappointment. The Council may appoint emeritus members, as well, for a period of service that it defines.
- The Council meets quarterly and at other times as convened by its President. A simple majority is required for the establishment of quorum; once quorum is established, the Council seeks to act in unanimous agreement. The Council recognizes the electronic polling of its members as valid decisions of the entire group.
- The Council’s members serve voluntarily and pay their own expenses. In case of hardship, members may voluntarily help one another to defray the expenses involved in attending meetings.
(48) The Mission Council supervises the activities of WMPL-USA according to its Constitution and Bylaws and the spirit and values described in this Handbook.
- Watches for the hand of God at work in the world, and attempts to find its place of maximal participation.
- Considers and takes suitable action for carrying out the purposes and general program of WMPL-USA.
- Elects officers of WMPL-USA, including a Mission Council President and Treasurer, and fills occasional vacancies among its members.
- Elects members of its Mission Directorate, its additional standing committees, and configures occasional task forces it thinks important to its work.
- Appoints the General Director of WMPL-USA, upon consultation with its workers around the world.
- Provides for the timely treatment of applications for candidacy and eventual service, as well as changes in assignment or status.
- Provides for the receipt, record and disbursement of funds received by WMPL-USA, including their annual and external audit.
- Provides for an annual review of the monthly allowance for the staff and workers of WMPL-USA.
- Acts on any other business that may be its responsibility, including issues referred from the Joint Committee, its own Mission Directorate or its Home Office.
- Sees to it that the activities of WMPL-USA are carried out in accord with its governing Constitution and Bylaws, and the spirit of this Handbook.
The Mission Directorate-USA
(49) The Mission Council-USA entrusts the closer management of its workers and projects to its Mission Directorate, an executive committee elected from among its members.
Membership and meetings
(50) The Mission Council of WMPL-USA elects its Mission Directorate annually, as provided in the organization’s Constitution and Bylaws.
- The Directorate is comprised of no fewer than seven and no more than twelve members, a majority of whom shall be members of the Mission Council. Its membership consists of the Council’s President and/or Vice President, the Council’s Treasurer, the General Director of WMPL-USA, and additional Council and administrative staff as appointed by the Mission Council.
- The Directorate typically meets monthly, or as convened by the General Director or the President of the Mission Council.
- The Directorate is chaired by the President of the Mission Council, or upon his/her request, the General Director. A simple majority is required for the establishment of quorum; once quorum is established, the Directorate seeks to act in unanimous agreement.. The Directorate recognizes the electronic polling of its members as valid decisions of the entire group.
(51) The Mission Directorate acts on behalf of the Mission Council and in conscious accord with its spirit and leadership.
- Considers applications for candidacy and service, as well as changes in assignment or status, as authorized by the Mission Council.
- Considers requests for the disbursement of mission funds, typically upon recommendation of the Council’s Finance Committee.
- Provides for the supervision of the Mission’s properties.
- Provides for the orderly conduct of the work of WMPL-USA under the guidance of its Constitution and Bylaws and the provisions of this Handbook.
(52) The Mission Directorate seeks to act in conscientious harmony with the mind and the decisions of the Mission Council. Matters that the Directorate considers beyond its scope or authority are referred to the Mission Council for consideration.
The General Director-USA
(53) The Mission Council-USA appoints a General Director to serve as its executive, upon consultation with its workers around the world. The Director serves for a period of three years and may be renewed in his/her appointment.
(54) The General Director-USA must be committed to the values and priorities described in this Handbook, and live under the same financial and other arrangements that apply to all of the Mission’s workers. The Director represents the projects and personnel of WMPL-USA before the Mission Council and our overall praying constituency; he or she should serve as far as possible with their hearty consent. The Director is responsible for giving life and leadership to the aims and decisions of WMPL-USA in the spirit of this Handbook, in mutual partnership with the Mission Council, Directorate, Home Office staff, and the Mission’s workers.
Home Office Staff
(55) The Mission Council may appoint Home Office staff to serve with the General Director. Home Office staff are responsible to the General Director. Staff serve for a period of three years and may be renewed in their appointment.
(56) Matters that the Director and Home Office staff consider beyond their scope or authority are referred to the Mission Directorate or Council for consideration.
(57) The Mission Council may appoint Mission Representatives to represent the interests of WMPL-USA in their respective areas. Representatives serve for a period of two years, voluntarily and without remuneration. Their activities come under the guidance of the General Director.
E. Workers and projects around the world
Expectations and principles
(58) National or regional offices may offer personnel to a wide variety of ministries and projects around the world – including traditional Mission Conferences, national church bodies, interagency partnerships, or other agencies or projects. Whatever the nature of their specific assignment, the Mission’s workers are committed to:
- Make their “home” among the people they serve, aiming to build genuine friendships and a sense of
belonging within the culture and context in which they live and work.
- Participate authentically in the life of a local community of believers whenever and wherever possible.
- Pursue transparency and mutuality among their ministry teammates, without regard to the provenance, language, or cultural background of their fellow workers.
- Identify and develop relationships of mutual accountability, as well as accessible and appropriate resources for their own personal discipleship and pastoral care.
- Maintain up-to-date relationship within our broader fellowship, including their respective Councils, Home Offices and staff, national or regional Prayer League structures, and praying supporters at home.
- Remain informed and duly accountable with respect to the Mission’s safety and security policies, in collaboration with their respective Home Office supervisors.
Supervising Ministry Teams
(59) The Mission’s workers are assigned by their respective Councils to a “Supervising Ministry Team.” Supervising Teams may organize differently in different contexts: they may be traditional or nontraditional, denominational or interdenominational, based in western lands or anywhere else in the world. The Mission’s workers become accountable to their respective team and its leadership for their specific assignments and responsibilities.
(60) Traditionally, our workers in a given area constitute a Mission Conference; this is their “Supervising Ministry Team.” A conference brings together Mission workers in a national area or from a larger regional distribution. Traditional conferences are comprised of a Conference Directorate and officers, similar in function to the Directorate and officers at work in national or regional offices.
(61) Traditional Conferences meet at least once a year, with all of their members required to be present. They may draft constitutions and bylaws, elect governing officers, appoint workers to specific assignments, elaborate job descriptions, and administer and evaluate the work of the conference, its various projects and personnel. Conferences elaborate policies consistent with our shared values and priorities regarding their projects and workers, work assignments, vacations and leaves, properties and other matters. Conferences may also propose new work and new partnerships as they feel led, presenting their proposals to their respective Councils and the larger community.
(62) Mission Conferences may entrust the closer management of their workers and projects to a Conference Directorate, whose composition and responsibilities are described by the Conference at large. A Conference Directorate is typically comprised of a Director, Vice Director, Secretary and Treasurer elected by the Conference at its annual meeting.
(63) Conference Directorates are responsible to see that work and projects under their direction are conducted in harmony with Conference policy and the values and policies of this Handbook. They keep in touch with their respective Mission Offices through regular reports and the minutes of relevant meetings.
(64) Traditional Conference Directors serve as Mission representatives in matters relating to government, churches and other missions or agencies, make decisions in matters where the counsel of the entire Conference cannot be obtained, and in general encourage and supervise the work in their respective areas.
Other supervising teams...
(65) Many of our workers serve outside traditional Mission Conferences. They may be assigned to partnership with a national church body, another mission or non-profit agency, a regional grouping of the Prayer League itself, or some other partnering organization. Here they will find their “Supervising Ministry Team” – a team that will provide the context and resources for the implementation of the structural principles and expectations described in this Handbook. Our Mission Councils and Home Offices will ensure that such a team is feasible before assigning their workers to alternative settings such as these.
(66) Whether in Mission Conferences or alternative teams, our workers advocate united prayer, honest fellowship, communal worship, and open discussion regarding the state of our life and work together around the world. Wherever we are at work, we believe it important to pray openly with one another, consider our common strategy for ministry, formulate practical goals and objectives, and give ourselves in one accord to a united vision for ministry. We believe that agreement in purpose and unity in effort are indispensable to fruitful service: we will work toward commonality, teamwork and agreement wherever we are assigned in the world.
F. The relationship between Home Offices and workers and projects around the world
(67) Our community works best when Mission Conferences and Supervising Ministry Teams feel liberty to press on in their work, in the spirit of this Handbook. It is our intention that the workers and projects who must live with the Mission’s decisions should be authorized as well to make them, insofar as possible. Yet in major undertakings – the purchase of property, for example, or advance to new areas, or substantial shifts in strategy, or the dismissal or relocation of personnel, and so on – Mission Conferences and Supervising Teams will look for consensus with their respective Home Offices before implementation.
(68) Our Home Offices, likewise, work best when they press forward freely in the vision and work of the Mission at large. Yet they aim always at conscientious fellowship and mutual agreement with our Conferences and Supervising Teams around the world. Mutual faith is the foundation for this relationship. Home Office workers must trust their colleagues elsewhere to manage their work wisely, while these must trust their Home Office colleagues to hold fast to our shared vision, remain steadfast in prayer, faithfully distribute the Mission’s funds, and exercise care in the selection and preparation of candidates for service. Throughout our praying community, we are bound together by our loyalty to a common vision and commission, and to the principles and practice outlined in this Handbook.
(69) In a similar way, our officers and directors must feel free to act and to lead, while the boards that supervise and the committees that assist them must be free to affirm, deny, suggest, refuse, and finally determine in all matters. The structures described in this Handbook check one another. They complement each other like the oars of a boat: they must pull together. The terms of their relationship and the balance of their authority cannot be stated explicitly, for it is a spiritual relationship in which they “in honor prefer one another” (Romans 12:10) and wait upon the Lord to hear his voice together and follow him in conscientious partnership. Indeed, it is our custom to withhold decisions until we have reached consensus in spirit. Insofar as possible, at every
level, we aim always to act together with one mind and spirit (Philippians 1:27).
(70) Under particular circumstances, Mission Councils may feel it necessary to take a direct hand in the business of a particular Conference or Supervising Ministry Team. The arrangement may seem advisable in the case of new work in new areas, for example, until an effective Conference or Supervising Team has been organized. Mission Councils may also intervene when they judge that Conferences or Supervising Teams lack effective leadership, or have plainly violated the policies or values described in this Handbook. In every case, Mission Councils act in sympathetic consultation with the Conferences or Supervising Teams concerned, and direct matters only until the specific crisis is passed and authority can again be restored to the Conference or Supervising Team in question.
A. Discovering our Commission
(71) We believe that God has called all Christians everywhere to involvement in his mission in the world. Each one has a role to play. Through its Personnel and Regional Offices, the Prayer League seeks to help its members to hear that call and to discover their place of maximum participation.
(72) Many of our members will discover their place of participation at home, in their own neighborhoods and in their regular occupations. Others will discover their place in extraordinary service elsewhere in the world. The Mission expects that God will commission its members to a wide and wonderful variety of participations in his mission of love around the world.
(73) The Mission prays for such commissions. The Mission also hopes to provide opportunities for fulfilling them – that spiritually gifted people from every walk of life may take an active role in sharing the gospel and themselves with those who have yet to know the Savior.
(74) The Mission Council establishes the overall policy and strategic priorities guiding this process. The Council describes the sort of people and gifts that should be the object of our prayers, and the kind of activities we hope them to accomplish around the world.
(75) The Mission Council entrusts the application of its policy to a Personnel Department, which evaluates the calling and specific suitability of individual applicants, supervises their training and orientation, manages their application and placement, encourages their professional development, and processes eventually their resignation or retirement. The Personnel Department functions under the leadership of a Personnel Director, responsible in turn to the General Director of the Mission.
B. Missionary Inquirers
(76) We believe that in answer to prayer God will call persons of his own choosing to offer themselves for missionary service within our fellowship. We will not hesitate to make known the opportunities for service among us. Yet our primary means of recruitment is prayer.
(77) Those wishing to investigate service may contact our Personnel Department. Inquirers are asked to describe their calling and motivation and the specific gifts they may bring to the missionary task. They may be invited to interview. The Personnel Department will inform inquirers of various posts and opportunities for service, together with requirements necessary for meeting them.
(78) If an inquirer wishes to take the next step, he or she may be invited to apply for Missionary Candidacy.
C. Candidates for Missionary Service
(79) Candidacy represents a formal and supervised period of preparation for eventual missionary service. Applicants for missionary candidacy are recommended to the Mission Directorate by the Personnel Director, upon completion of a thorough application process and in consultation with the applicant’s pastor, physician and counselor. Applicants will ordinarily meet personally with the Mission Directorate for formal approval of their application, prayer and affirmation.
Qualifications for Candidacy
(80) Candidates for missionary service must:
- demonstrate a genuine, personal faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord;
- know the call of God to lay aside other employment and to take up missionary service, willingly and voluntarily;
- be willing to look to God for the supply of all their needs;
- agree with the principles and policies that guide the World Mission Prayer League;
- apply themselves to diligent preparation for eventual missionary service.
The Candidate Program
(81) Candidates are encouraged to gain practical experience in a regular trade or occupation, as well as in Christian ministry and evangelism in their local congregation. Candidates should prove themselves faithful servants and responsible workers on their own home ground before attempting to serve in another land.
(82) Candidates are encouraged to seek close personal acquaintance with the Mission, its principles and practices, its personnel, its work at home and abroad, and its general spirit. This can be furthered by visits to the Mission Office, participation in Mission prayer events, or by a designated stay at the Mission Home. Such participation enables the entire Mission to become better acquainted with individual candidates, which is helpful in discerning a candidate’s calling, suitability for service, and direction regarding eventual placement.
(83) Candidates will apply themselves to an individually tailored program of preparation for missionary service, under the guidance of the Personnel Department. Preparation may include:
- Debt reduction;
- Biblical and missiological studies;
- Spiritual formation;
- A prayerful search for guidance concerning an eventual missionary assignment;
- Participation in a Briefing Course provided by the Personnel Department, etc.
(84) Upon acceptance by the Mission Directorate, candidates may receive financial gifts designated for schooling and other expenses associated with their preparation for service.
D. Missionary Service
(85) Candidates may make application for missionary service upon satisfactory completion of candidacy. Applicants for missionary service are recommended to the Mission Council by the Personnel Director, in consultation with the Mission’s Associate Directors or project leaders who may come to receive an applicant within their area of responsibility. Applicants will ordinarily meet personally with the Mission Council, for formal approval of their application, prayer and affirmation. Acceptance by the Mission Council establishes a candidate as a bona fide missionary of the World Mission Prayer League.
Qualifications for Missionary Service
(86) In addition to the qualifications for candidacy, applicants for missionary service must:
- heartily agree with the principles and practices of the Mission and earnestly desire to carry them out in life and work;
- demonstrate the soundness of their faith, in whole- hearted solidarity with the faith statement of the Mission;
- demonstrate the clear conviction that the Lord himself has called them to missionary service, specifically and personally, and make a firm decision to heed that call;
- give satisfactory evidence that they are able to live and work with others in peace, love and unity of spirit;
- demonstrate that they can pray with faith and discern together with their fellow workers the leading of the Holy Spirit for their life and work;
- be committed to a life of implicit faith and trust in God alone to provide all that is needed for their life and work, both for personal needs and for the work of the Mission as a whole;
- show themselves ready to endure in times of trial, to meet disappointments with sweetness and grace, to persevere through interruptions, inconveniences and delays without murmuring and complaint, and to bear the failings of others with unbroken patience and unmeasured love;
- be ready to “accept the plundering of their property” (Hebrews 10:34) and to “rejoice that they were considered worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name” (Acts 5:41);
- be possessed of a willing and obedient spirit in all things, willing to go anywhere to do anything helpful for the work of the gospel, or to make any adaptation and that with joy.
When missionaries prove themselves faithful servants of the Lord, they will find in Christ, in his Word and in doing his will, a treasure, a joy and a strength that will far outweigh everything suffered for his Name.
(87) The Mission requires that candidates receive formal or informal instruction in Bible and missiology. Ordinarily this will mean one to two years of Bible school training, or its equivalent. The Mission recommends that candidates and missionaries alike make every effort to sharpen their skills continually as professional, cross-cultural servants of the gospel.
(88) Applicants for missionary service must be debt-free, or demonstrate a reasonable plan to become debt-free before undertaking missionary service.
(89) Applicants must confirm that their condition of health is appropriate for their proposed area of service.
(90) Specific service projects or assignments may require additional qualifications of potential applicants, in consultation with the Personnel Department.
Counting the Cost
(91) Those who desire to make application for missionary service should soberly count the cost of a life that may involve:
- long and lonely separations from parents, relatives, friends, and customary support systems;
- living in unstable, disruptive, and potentially dangerous situations;
- joining a new circle of people, friends and unfamiliar cultural surroundings;
- becoming an alien and guest in a different society, subject to its norms and laws and the authority of its people;
- adjusting to posts of larger responsibility and harder work than accustomed, which may require self- discipline, flexibility and humility;
- adopting the role of a servant, willing to assume humble and thankless tasks and ministries in partnership with national and expatriate colleagues;
- the loss of financial security or career advancement, being content with less so that others may have more;
- personal sacrifice and the potential of martyrdom for the sake of the gospel;
- raising a family and exposing one’s children to these same risks and conditions.
Undertaking Missionary Service
(92) At the moment of formal application, the Personnel Director will recommend assignment to a particular missionary conference, national church body, or other supervising ministry team, in consultation with the appropriate Associate Directors or project leaders. The Mission Council will ordinarily include such assignments in its treatment of applications for missionary service. Missionaries become accountable to the conference or team to which they are assigned for the clarification of their specific ministry responsibilities.
(93) Missionaries approved for service and assigned to a ministry team will be publicly commissioned to undertake their assignment. Ordinarily, a commissioning service will be arranged by their home congregation.
(94) Missionaries will ordinarily remain at home until the Lord, in answer to prayer, supplies the funds needed for travel, equipment and language study, and in other ways opens the door. In the meantime, they will wait patiently for God’s supply – which will surely come, if there has been a true call from God and true faith and dependence upon him.
(95) Upon arrival in their place of service, missionaries are given the early and important assignment of orientation to life and work in their new situation. Newly commissioned missionaries attempt to:
- understand the goals and aims of the ministry team of which they become a part and to join their colleagues in pursuing them;
- acquire the local language and constantly use it, by pursuing a definite course of study with examinations prescribed by their ministry team demonstrating a sufficient mastery of the language as to be useful in the work;
- understand and appreciate the culture in which they are living, get along well with their national
neighbors and colleagues, and conduct themselves with good behavior toward all;
- learn to take care of themselves in every way, manage their own housekeeping, travel, and personal affairs;
- “lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3).
(96) Upon receiving their assignment, missionaries proceed to their posts without unnecessary delay. If a change in assignment is desired, missionaries should inform their ministry team and await a satisfactory adjustment. Patience and perseverance are needed to overcome doubts and hardships, so that the work may progress successfully.
(97) Missionaries seek to teach the Word of God and the comforts of the gospel wherever possible, though their personal job assignment may take the form of administration, Christian service, or the like. The missionaries’ special treasure, whoever they are and whatever their assignment, is the Bible and its message of salvation for all people in Jesus Christ. They will want to share the Word of God at every opportunity. God’s commission to every Christian is to preach the gospel to the whole creation and to make disciples of all nations. Missionaries will watch for opportunities to fulfill this calling in a personal way, whatever their specific assignment.
Home Assignment and Return to Active Service
(98) Because of time required for language study and orientation, missionaries are normally expected to complete a four-year term of service before requesting their first home assignment. The length of subsequent terms and home assignment periods is arranged through the Personnel Department, upon recommendation of supervising ministry teams. Normally, twelve months of home assignment will follow four years of service. For second and subsequent terms of service, ministry teams may recommend nine months following three years of service, or four months following two years.
(99) Before missionaries leave their place of work for home assignment, their supervising team acts to approve their return. If return is not approved, the missionary and the General Director will be informed. The missionary will be informed in sufficient time before departure to make possible the orderly disposition of personal affairs and goods.
(100) Arrangements for home assignment are recommended by supervising ministry teams and overseen by the Personnel Department. Ordinarily, missionaries will indicate their intention to return to field service within three months of returning home, and to arrange in a timely manner for reapplication. Those who resign while on the field or after any term of service will continue in regular status for a reasonable period of resettlement and are not entitled to a normal home assignment period.
(101) Missionaries on home assignment who desire to return to field service discuss their intention with the Personnel Department and submit the appropriate reapplication and medical examination forms. Reapplications are recommended to the Mission Council by the Personnel Director, upon satisfactory completion of home assignment or leave of absence periods. Missionaries will ordinarily meet personally with the Council for formal approval, prayer and affirmation.
Holidays and Vacations
(102) Missionaries are entitled to annual holidays and vacations, approved and coordinated by their supervising ministry team. Missionaries will inform the Personnel Department if they intend to travel home during their vacation period. Holiday and vacation travel and activities are funded personally.
(103) Annual vacations are intended for respite and retreat from annual ministry assignments. Annual vacations are inherently periodic; ordinarily, they do not accumulate from year to year nor are they added to the period of home assignments.
Leave of Absence
(104) Missionaries may request a leave of absence from active service, for personal, medical or educational reasons. Leaves are arranged by the Personnel Department and reviewed annually. Leaves of absence will normally be limited to three years.
(105) Missionaries may request a formal study leave for participation in an approved program of continuing education longer than their home assignment period. Specific requests will be coordinated by the Personnel Department, in consultation with the corresponding ministry team. Missionaries on study leave may receive designated support and work funds as do missionaries on home assignment. They will not receive, however, support from the General or Missionary Support Funds nor the provision of Mission housing, nor continue on Mission benefits (health insurance and pension), though designated support may be used to meet these needs.
(106) The Personnel Department may arrange an Administrative or Emergency Leave for unusual circumstances, such as the need to respond to security emergencies, legal matters, or medical or other conditions not treatable in the country of assignment. Such leaves are considered time under active assignment, and not home assignment time, when calculating the length of field service.
Resignations and Dismissals
(107) Missionaries desiring to terminate their service while on field assignment are to:
- consult with their supervising team, and,
- inform the General Director of the Mission in writing, giving three months anticipation of the proposed date of termination.
(108) Missionaries desiring to terminate service while on home assignment or leave must:
- consult with the Personnel Department, and,
- inform the General Director in writing, giving one month anticipation of the proposed date of termination.
(109) A supervising ministry team may find it necessary to dismiss individual missionaries. Supervisors may initiate such action in consultation with the Personnel Director. Normally, missionaries will not be asked to repatriate without approval of the Mission Directorate.
(110) Resignations and dismissals are considered by the Mission Directorate. Upon recommendation of the Personnel Director, resignations and dismissals may be referred to the Mission Council for ultimate resolution. Persons leaving the
Mission transfer Mission funds and properties under their charge into the hands of the person appointed to receive them for the Mission.
E. Missionary Children
(111) Monthly allowances are provided for missionary children. Missionary children are eligible for support while:
- their parents remain in the service of the Mission;
- they remain unmarried;
- they continue to receive half of their total support from their missionary parents; and,
- they remain under the age of 19, or under the age of 24 and a full-time student.
(112) Parents are personally and financially responsible for the education of their children. Parents may receive specifically designated gifts for the education of their children. The Mission may also provide additional help as additional funds designated for the education of missionary children are received.
F. Retired Missionaries
(113) Retired missionaries remain members of the Mission family. The retirement provisions of the Mission are applied to those who have made their missionary calling a life’s work. Care is given that the retirement transition is thoughtful and orderly.
(114) The normal age of retirement from the Mission is 65 years. Continuation of service beyond age 65 is approved by the Personnel Department on a yearly basis. Missionaries should set the retirement process in motion well in advance of their retirement age. Retirement status is approved by the Mission Directorate, upon recommendation by the Personnel Director.
G. Short-term Volunteers
(115) Short-term volunteers are persons who feel called by God to volunteer some months or years for ministry within the Mission’s fellowship. They may have completed another career elsewhere, may have already years of professional, technical or managerial experience, and share with the Mission an enthusiasm for the Lord’s work around the world. They offer themselves freely for assignment to short- term postings and responsibilities, as the Mission may need from time to time.
Qualifications and Training
(116) The Mission expects of short-term workers the same qualities of character and evangelical testimony that it requires of long-term missionary candidates. It is important that short-term workers:
- experience personally the call of God upon their lives;
- exercise their faith within the fellowship of the church;
- learn to depend upon God’s gracious provision for all of their needs; and
- find themselves in agreement with the principles and policies that guide the ministries of the World Mission Prayer League.
(117) Ordinarily the Mission understands short-term volunteers to be personally responsible for the material support of the ministries they propose, including travel costs to and from their place of assignment as well as living costs while there. Short-term workers should also be of good health and able to withstand the rigors of overseas life and ministry.
(118) The Mission may require specific training prior to short-term service, depending upon the variety of service proposed. The Mission recommends that all short-term workers participate in the Mission’s Briefing Course.
(119) Those wishing to volunteer for short-term service make inquiry to the Mission’s Personnel Office. Applications are be submitted to the Mission’s Directorate, upon recommendation of the Personnel Director.
Supervision and Accountability
(120) Prior to departure, short-term volunteers are responsible to the Personnel Department for supervision, planning and orientation. Upon departure, they are accountable to the ministry team to which they are assigned, whether a national church, a regional grouping of the Prayer League, or some other supervising agency. The team will make and supervise their ministry assignments. Volunteers who desire to shorten their intended period of service should consult with their respective supervisors.
(121) Short-term volunteers may participate in the regular fellowship and business meetings of their ministry team, subject to its policies and procedures. For business meetings, they will ordinarily be permitted voice participation only.
Upon Return Home
(122) Short-term volunteers become stewards of a global experience and ministry perspective unavailable, perhaps, to many of their peers. They do well to undertake this stewardship with prayerful intentionality, becoming alert to opportunities for applying their experience and perspective to their own life-style and ministries.
(123) The Mission asks, however, that volunteers observe the Mission’s basic commitments to non-solicitation and prayerful dependence upon God as they share their experience with others. Short-term volunteers may want to consult the Personnel Department for practical orientation in this area.
H. Seconded and Associate Missionaries
(124) In light of the Prayer League’s commitment to partnerships in mission, missionaries may be formally seconded to national churches or other agencies or projects. Likewise, personnel from other entities may be seconded to the Mission. In consultation with the appropriate Associate Directors or project leaders, the Personnel Department will elaborate written agreements for seconded workers describing the responsibilities of sending and receiving agencies, lines of authority and accountability, and other guidelines. The Mission Directorate will approve seconded missionaries upon recommendation of the Personnel Director.
(125) The Mission may create “associate” or other categories of missionary laborers to accommodate seconded workers, individuals in secular employment who desire to serve as “tent-makers”, or others as may present themselves from time to time. The Personnel Department will consider these on a case-by-case basis and, as it thinks advisable, define terms of service and association within the fellowship of the Mission. The Mission Directorate will approve associate missionaries, upon recommendation of the Personnel Director.
A. Guiding Principles
(127) It is the Prayer League way to pray. Do we feel the need for financial support? We pray. Do we anticipate the need for goods or equipment, travel or training, project support or other material supplies? We pray again. We believe ourselves called to pray for the needs of the Mission and its workers, and to trust in God to provide as he designs.
(128) It is the Prayer League way to depend upon the provision of God with trusting intentionality. We believe, with Hudson Taylor, that “God’s person, doing God’s work, in God’s place and timing, will never lack for God’s supply.” This is a fundamental faith conviction. God is faithful; we may depend upon him to provide in every way for his work around the world.
(129) Simply put, we believe that the promises of God are sufficient grounds for obeying his call to service. We have trusted him to provide everything necessary for our salvation; we may trust him to provide everything necessary for our obedient service as well.
Our commitment to prayer and intentional dependence has important practical implications:
(130) We will make it our ambition to depend upon God in prayer for all things, simply, intentionally, and trustingly. We do not have a “method” for securing support other than this. “Let your gentleness be known to everyone,” said St. Paul, “but let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:5,6).
(131) We think it appropriate to share our needs with praying friends enlisted as members of our community, and with others who may specifically request information. We may share our needs to elicit and encourage prayer – yet not, specifically, to encourage financial giving.
(132) We do not think it appropriate to share our needs more generally than this, beyond our praying members or with friends who have not requested information. Among general audiences we will present the general work of the Mission, and the calling of Christ to faith and surrender in his cause to disciple the nations.
(133) No direct solicitation of funds is made. One reason for this practice is that we do not desire to divert support which otherwise would go to the regular work of the church bodies. Voluntary contributions are however gratefully accepted: these are the backbone of our financial support. We regard such gifts as prompted by the Holy Spirit in answer to believing prayer; we are careful to treat them as such.
(134) Certain agencies exist for the purpose of providing financial assistance for development, health, education and other programs. We recognize the Lord’s provision here as well. Application for assistance from agencies such as these does not violate our financial policy, as long as they do not impose conditions compromising our evangelical witness. Such applications should be made by a Supervising Ministry Team in charge of some program or project, upon consultation with the Home Office.
(135) We will make it our ambition to avoid indebtedness. Not because we believe indebtedness to be sinful, or somehow less than Christian. We avoid indebtedness for simple and compelling practical reasons.
(136) Our workers are supported modestly, for one thing, and maybe not at all: they will find it difficult to service a debt in such a structure of support. More significantly, debt divides our sense of loyalty. Debtors must be responsible to
the one who holds their debt. We desire to be responsible to Christ alone. “Owe no one anything,” St. Paul advised, “except to love one another” (Romans 13:8).
(137) We will make it our ambition to resist the elaboration of formal budgets. We do not feel it appropriate to limit our vision or curtail our activities on the basis of budgets, or estimates of pledged and calculated income.
(138) It is our intention to accept new workers and send them into service without requiring money in sight to support them. We will step out in faith where we feel that God is prompting without checking that budgets permit it. There are so many things that may limit our horizons. We do not want money to be among them.
(139) This commitment means that we cannot promise specific levels of support to our workers. Our workers do not receive ordinary salaries or guaranteed benefits, wherever they may be assigned. They receive “allowances,” as God himself provides, to support them in essentially volunteer service.
(140) It is the Prayer League way to depend upon God to meet our needs day-by-day, month-by-month, and year-by- year.
(141) We believe that God will provide all that we need for all that he has called us to do. This means, on the one hand, that we may choose to trust rather than to worry when it seems that God is slow in supplying our need. It may be that we have overestimated our need. Indeed, it may be that God does not estimate our “need” to be needful at all. This means, as well, that we tend to disburse what resources we receive as we receive them. We receive them as the provision of God; we are eager to put them to work.
(142) Traditionally, we have not thought it appropriate to create endowment funds and the like, if by these we intend to ensure God’s ongoing provision. We much prefer to experience, day-by-day and month-by-month, his immediate provision for our immediate need.
(143) It is the Prayer League way to approach life and ministry in a lean, low-overhead, “simple” manner. We believe ourselves called to live and serve on a modest and sacrificial scale rather than an abounding one. We have received our resources as gifts from God; it is our responsibility to employ our resources as carefully and effectively as possible.
(144) This does not mean, however, that we value cutting corners inappropriately. It is our responsibility to do our work simply – but as well as we possibly can, while maintaining health, good order, and effectiveness. “Simple” work is focused work. We hope to pursue our callings with as little distraction or embellishment as possible, focusing simply on getting the job done.
(145) Sharing is part of the Prayer League way. We understand ourselves called as a community to “bear one another’s burdens” in faithful prayer before the throne of grace (Galatians 6:2). We aim to share with one another – prayer concerns, spiritual and emotional support, material resources, and in other practical ways.
(146) It is our custom to communicate the shortages that may be experienced by our workers and projects month-by- month, for the purpose of eliciting prayer across our community and providing opportunity for material sharing in response to these specific needs. Our praying members may feel led to share in this way. Our workers will pray and share among themselves, as well. Our Home Office provides a mechanism for them to do so.
(147) Designated giving is part of the Prayer League way, as well. Our praying friends and financial donors may indicate their preferred designations, as they make their contributions. We believe that God himself has motivated their giving. We aim to honor every designation as from the hand of God himself.
The Principle of Constant Advance
(148) What happens when we operate in this way? We may experience a shortage of funds, a scarcity of material supplies, with few possessions and no reserves. We may encounter opportunities for genuine sacrifice, to make do with little for the greater good of shared lives and effective ministries. Yet when obedient faith acts on the promises of God, we may also expect constant advance within the bounds of God’s will for worldwide missions. In this kind of life we may expect rich opportunities to learn faith, patience, humility, love, obedience to the Holy Spirit and dependence on God.
(149) It is the Prayer League way to move forward into new advances without hesitation as the Lord guides and reveals his will, trusting him to open doors, to supply what is needful for the work, and to give fruit and success to our labors according to his own dependable promises.
B. Rules for the Receipt and Disbursement of Funds
(150) Our Home Office is responsible for the comprehensive and transparent management of our financial resources. The Home Office may create a dedicated Business Office to help in the exercise of this responsibility. Every gift is acknowledged. Every expenditure is authorized by persons approved to do so by the Home Council. Accounts are carefully kept and audited annually by certified public accountants. Audited financial reports are made available to our entire community, and whoever else may have appropriate reason to request it.
(151) The Mission Council and Home Office are responsible as intercessors for our work and its needs, and stewards of our resources. We do not consider them responsible, however, to gather or raise financial support. The same is true for our workers themselves. We have agreed as a community to look to God for the supply of our needs, in confident dependence upon his grace. Our administrative structures serve simply as channels through which God’s may provide as it pleases him.
(152) Supervising Ministry Teams manage their own financial affairs, consistent with the principles described in this Handbook and in harmony with our Home Offices. Teams will elaborate policies and procedures suitable for their particular area of service, regarding appropriate housing and rents, the ownership of domestic appliances or vehicles, managing administrative overhead, internet connectivity, approved travel expenses, the hiring of national workers, and other matters. Teams will arrange for careful record of all business matters, and for periodic reporting to our Home Offices as requested by the Business Office. Teams may advise the Office of special financial needs, as they appear. Yet they will look to God alone to supply them, in the spirit of this Handbook.
(153) The Treasurer of the Home Council is responsible for overseeing these processes, or facilitating mechanisms for doing so.
C. The Designation of Gifts
(154) Donors may designate their contributions in many ways. We encourage the designation of gifts for the support of particular workers, or for the General Fund, as this makes
possible a wider and more equitable distribution of our resources.
(155) Tax-deductible contributions come under the control of our Business Office, and are no longer controlled specifically by their donor. If donors are not happy with this arrangement, it is our custom to return their gift.
The Typical Funds
(156) Donations may be designated among several typical funds:
- General Fund
- General Support Fund
- General Benefits Fund
- Worker Funds
- Support Fund
- “Work,” “Travel” or Ministry Fund
- Children’s Education Fund
- Field Funds
- General Field Funds
- Project Designations
- Estate Funds
(157) Donations may be received with occasional special designations, as well, including:
- Building Fund
- Other Special Designations
(158) We are able to receipt gifts designated for any of these established funds or projects. Gifts designated for funds or projects not approved by the Mission are typically returned to their donor.
(159) Gifts for the Mission as a whole, as well as all undesignated gifts, are received in our General Fund. Here they make possible projects and activities for the benefit of our entire community: general needs and administration, home offices and home office housing, community-wide publications and promotional materials, promotional advertisement and travel, briefing sessions, and so on. General Funds are administered by our Business Office in collaboration with the General Director.
(160) It is our commitment to apply General Funds, first of all, toward regular Home Office expenses. The remainder may be applied toward missionary allowances, if these are unmet by other designated contributions. Further remainders may be applied toward other approved needs.
(161) Monthly allowances are not made up retroactively, however, though our General Fund may at some later point have balances sufficient to do so.
General Support and Benefits Funds
(162) Gifts may be designated for “Missionary Support,” without specifying a particular worker or name. These gifts are applied toward monthly allowances unmet by other designated contributions. It is our custom to apply them before accessing the General Fund of the Mission.
(163) Gifts may be designated for our “Benefits Fund,” as well. Our Benefits Fund is used entirely for missionary benefits – including medical and disability insurance, housing, Social Security and pension contributions, and the like.
(164) A percentage of every gift designated for the support of individual missionaries is transferred to our Benefits Fund, in an effort to offset the actual cost of benefits expenses. The same percentage is transferred from gifts designated generally for “Missionary Support.” If our Benefits Fund is unable to cover actual benefits expenses, our Home Council may approve the transfer of undesignated Estate Funds, if these are available.
Worker Support and Ministry Funds
(165) Many of our praying friends and donors will want to contribute toward the Support Fund of specific missionaries. Such gifts are applied toward a missionary’s allowances and benefits expenses, thus relieving the General Fund and Benefits Fund from which this support might otherwise be drawn.
(166) Our Home Council establishes on an annual basis a goal for monthly living allowances for our workers and their families, in consultation with our workers and in view of changing economic conditions around the world. These target allowances are paid in full month-by-month if designated support, general missionary support, and our General Fund are sufficient. If funds are not sufficient for full allowances, our workers receive allowances in proportion to the funds available. All of our workers, whatever their location or position, share in this distribution as equitably as possible.
(167) We do not require specific levels of budgeted or pledged support before missionaries or workers undertake their assignments. When our missionaries do receive support, however, it is our expectation that they will receive it humbly and thankfully, acknowledging the partnership of their praying friends and donors and thanking them accordingly. They cannot serve alone. They serve in partnership with their praying friends and supporters, if they come to serve at all.
(168) Gifts may be designated for the Ministry Fund of specific missionaries, as well. Ministry Funds may be used for work-related expenses not reimbursed by other sources. Language training, travel expenses, administrative costs, equipment or vehicles, the education of missionary children, etc., are common examples. Gifts designated for a missionary’s “Work,” “Travel,” “Education,” and so on, are received and managed through this fund. Expenditures are approved by a missionary’s Supervising Ministry Team, or by the Home Office.
(169) In all of these areas of practical need, it is our intention to look to the Lord for his good provision in his good timing. If funds seem insufficient for the travel or training we anticipate, it is our custom to wait upon the Lord for his supply. We do not look to credit cards to make provision where God does not. Nor do we look to the Mission itself. It is our intention to depend upon God for the supply of all things needful for our lives and ministries.
Field and Project Funds
(170) Gifts may be designated for a field of activity or an approved project somewhere in the world. Gifts designated for a field or region are used for rents, administrative costs and similar needs in that area of service, relieving the General Fund from support of these items.
(171) Gifts designated for approved projects are applied to the projects for which they have been designated. Gifts designated for unapproved projects are typically returned to their donor.
(172) An individual missionary or worker may personally finance and operate a special project with the consent of the Mission. Funds employed in this way are considered a donation to the Mission, and the resulting project is operated under the supervision of the Mission. The General Fund of the Mission is not diverted for projects such as these, nor is the Mission obliged to assume financial responsibility for these projects or ministries. If the individual is unable to continue the support of such a project, it is curtailed or abandoned, and the individual bears any losses involved.
(173) It is our intention that approved projects are maintained by designated gifts. A supervising ministry team may apply some of its own undesignated general funds to the support of the projects it approves and supervises. If a project does not remain solvent, however, it is curtailed or abandoned. The General Fund of the Mission, if available, may be used for occasional assistance anywhere in our community, including projects such as these. The General Fund is never made responsible for the long-term maintenance of Mission projects.
(174) Policies and practices regarding the employment of national workers are decided by Supervising Ministry Teams, with careful consideration of national labor laws and related commitments.
(175) Projects involving major financial commitments or questions of basic policy require the consultation and approval of the Home Council.
(176) In answer to prayer and response to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, some of our donors and praying friends will make the Mission a part of their estate planning. We encourage planned giving of this kind, and are prepared to partner with our members, if requested, in making these arrangements.
(177) Estate Gifts may be designated, as well. If we come to know the desire of their donor, we will attempt to honor it as from the hand of God. Undesignated Estate Gifts are applied to Mission projects and needs as approved specifically by the Mission Directorate or Home Council.
(178) The Mission Council has approved the transfer of Estate Funds, if available, to meet the needs of our Benefits Fund, month by month.
(179) Friends and supporters may want to send “personal gifts” to particular workers, as a gesture of good will. The Mission does not directly facilitate gifts of this kind. Donors should note that “personal gifts” are not considered charitable contributions, for purposes of tax deduction.
(181) As stewards of these gifts, we may hold them lightly and invest them freely. We do not attempt to guard away our material resources against eventualities that may never come. We will not “bury our talents” (Matthew 25:18). To the contrary, we are happy to expend our resources freely and without restraint in service to God’s kingdom.
(182) But we will not expend our resources foolishly. As stewards, we will make every effort to employ our properties in the most effective manner possible (Matthew 25:27).
A. Acquisition and Ownership
(183) The ownership of lands and properties is not in every case commendable. Ownership requires a level of administrative overhead that may detract from other ministry efforts and limit our sense of mobility and possibility. Properties tend to “tie us down.” For the most part, therefore, we prefer to rent or lease rather than to own.
(184) Mission teams may nevertheless propose the purchase of land or the construction or alteration of buildings in order to further their ministry objectives. Proposals are approved by the Executive Committee of the corresponding mission team. The Home Council shares in decisions concerning major commitments of this nature and retains final authority in case of dispute.
(185) Funds required for the purchase of land or properties, or the construction or alteration of buildings are ordinarily the product of specifically designated donations. If designated gifts are insufficient, mission teams may make request for special funding through Estate Funds, upon consultation with the Home Office.
(186) Upon approval of their supervising team, missionaries may use their own work funds or personal funds to purchase or improve property or to construct or repair buildings to be used for Mission projects. Funds used for this purpose are regarded as donations to the Mission. Their use does not merit special liberties or considerations regarding the administration of such properties or buildings.
(187) Properties, vehicles, home appliances, and other equipment purchased with Mission funds – whether designated gifts, work funds, or Estate Funds, etc. – are considered Mission property.
B. Eventual Disposition
(188) Mission teams must envision the eventual disposition of properties and buildings owned by the mission. Properties may become a burden. We cannot own them forever.
(189) Every mission property will require a particular and tailored strategy for its eventual disposition. Mission teams will elaborate such strategies upon the acquisition of properties. The Home Council will share in decisions regarding the disposition of major properties.
(190) In most cases, it will seem appropriate to sell or otherwise transfer mission properties into the hands of national colleagues who may use the property effectively. This should not automatically mean an associated national church body, however. It may be that another national colleague – perhaps a secular colleague, or even the government – may use the property more effectively.
Sale or Liquidation
(191) In other cases, it may seem appropriate, simply, to sell a mission property, a vehicle or equipment on the open market. Funds generated in this way become the responsibility of the Home Council.
(192) Missionary teams will develop specific policies with regard to the ownership and liquidation of vehicles, appropriate to each ministry context. Vehicles purchased with personal funds are considered personal property; proceeds resulting from their liquidation may accrue to their owner.
(194) Our identity in the church and the broad Kingdom of God enables us to pursue wide-ranging and creative partnerships in service around the world. We may expect to find colleagues in Kingdom service everywhere. Wherever possible, we will advocate interrelationship, interdependence, and creative partnership in common service to the King and his wonderful cause.
A. The Church
(195) The church of Jesus Christ is the holy company of the redeemed gathered by grace and commissioned for mission. This is our home. We are part and parcel of the church of Jesus Christ around the world.
(196) The fundamental expression of this holy company is the local congregation. In the local company of believers, we are nurtured in faith, convicted of sin, assured of forgiveness, and called and equipped for mission. Our staff, missionaries and praying members will make themselves active and responsible members of a local congregation.
(197) The mission of God commands the entire church of Jesus Christ, all of its members and all of its resources. It is not our ambition to “do mission” on behalf of our congregations or the larger structures of the church. We aim instead to equip the church and its members for involvement in the mission of God, directly and in creative partnerships around the world. We hope to catalyze wider missionary vision, deeper missionary surrender, greater and more adventurous missionary service everywhere. The mission of God is the domain of every community of believers. The mission of God is why the community of believers exists.
(198) This is the goal of our service wherever we are at work around the world. We earnestly desire individual expressions of faith – and the gathering of believers into communities of faith under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. We strive for maturing communities of faith that will come to include effective structure, pastoral and teaching ministries, worship and the administration of the means of grace, a diaconate of service, orderly discipline and disciple-making outreach. We will not presume to specify such details on our own; we may entrust emerging communities of faith to the powerful word of God, as St. Paul did (Acts 20:32). We will encourage the church to develop indigenously from the beginning, emphasizing its own national character and theological stance. We will pray, and give, and work to see the church grow in faith, authenticity, surrender, and mission.
(199) Where the church does not yet exist, we will bend every effort to plant its seed. Where the church has come to exist, we will work with the church – and under its leadership wherever possible. We will describe such partnerships in written agreements when it seems helpful. Under written agreement or not, however, it is our intention to stand in solidarity with the church in its mission around the world. We love the church and will serve the church. We will not tolerate cynicism or negativity regarding the church of Jesus Christ in the world.
B. The missions
(200) Beyond local congregations and synodical structures, the church around the world is organized in a wide array of agencies given to specialized outreach and service, like our own. Their common home in the Body of Christ binds such agencies together. We are members one of another; we will aim to walk in partnership rather than independently.
(201) When it seems helpful, we may pursue formal partnerships with like-minded agencies, describing the arrangement by written agreement approved by our Home Council. It may seem helpful to elaborate written agreements when partnering in the support and direction of specific missionaries or missionary projects, for example, taking into account lines of accountability, security considerations, provisions for pastoral care and professional development, periods of service and home assignment, and other details.
(202) More often, however, we will simply work together as opportunity presents itself. We refuse to participate in the vain pursuit of individual acclaim or the preservation of institutional or denominational advantage. We will work always toward the goal of humble and productive cooperation in the broad mission of God.
C. Beyond Church and mission
(203) If Jesus our Lord is sovereign, we may expect to find him at work wherever and however he pleases. He is not bound by human formulations of spiritual and secular, heavenly and earthly, eternal and temporal, sacred and mundane, and the like. If Jesus is sovereign, he is Sovereign over all.
(204) This means that we may find our Lord at work beyond the boundaries of the visible church. We will find him at work in governments, businesses, medicine, art, our shared political and economic life – in any and every stratum of human experience. These domains represent valid opportunities for partnership in service to the Kingdom, as well.
(205) We may feel it appropriate to assign members of our fellowship to pursue opportunities such as these. Such partnerships will be described in specific and detailed agreements with governments, businesses, or other partnering agencies, upon consideration and approval of our Home Council.
(206) While our Lord Jesus may be found at work however and wherever he pleases, we are mindful that he has promised to work for our salvation through one agency alone: the word of God, convicting of sin and delivering grace. This message of law and gospel is our only unique gift to the world, and by far the most significant. We may find many opportunities for partnership and service in many domains of human society. But the only service that leads others to heaven is announcement of the Good News of Jesus Christ, the Redeemer. In every partnership and every service, whatever its domain, we will watch for opportunity to share the heavenly word of God.
(208) Our community is bound together by common commitment to a shared set of principles and values, described throughout this Handbook. Together they form the heart of our way of life and our mission in the world.
A. Jesus at the center
(209) Jesus Christ stands at the heart of all things (Colossians 1:17). He is the image of the Eternal Father (John 14:7, Colossians 1:15). He is the message and theme of the Holy Spirit (John 15:26, 16:13-15). Jesus Christ, God the Son, is the center of our faith, our homes and families, our life in community, and our mission in the world. The life we live we live by faith in the Son of God (Galatians 2:20).
We want to know Jesus. He is “the apostle and high priest of our confession” (Hebrews 3:1), “the pioneer and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). We are to “come to him” (1 Peter 2:4). “It is he who we proclaim” (Colossians 1:28).
(210) Knowing Jesus Christ centers our life of faith and service in the world. They are not based upon our own efforts or accomplishments: what we ourselves may or may not do. They are based upon Christ: what he has done and continues to accomplish on our behalf.
B. Depending on his grace
(211) Jesus has secured and still sustains our eternal redemption. Jesus opens the way to God’s wonderful throne of grace (Hebrews 10:22). Because of Jesus and his work of redemption, we may depend upon God for everything necessary for life and service (2 Peter 1:3, Matthew 6:33).
(212) The dependable grace of Jesus frees us from the anxious need to supply ourselves from the limited store of our own abilities. This makes possible an unlimited advance in our work. God’s riches are immeasurable and his promises trustworthy: we may therefore advance continually, accept recruits as rapidly as they volunteer and qualify, and press ahead with new projects and involvements in the full expectation of his added supply.
(213) Dependence on Christ as gracious Lord sustains us in our calling when other ties may fail. Christ makes us heirs of the kingdom of heaven! Now we may face hardship with joy, endure privation with contentment, and suffer loneliness and adversity with the courage of faith. Funds might run short and fail. The Mission may disappoint us, or even cease to exist. Yet the Lord will never fail us (Deuteronomy 31:8). We may put our trust in him above all.
(214) This fundamental relationship of faith will challenge our attitudes and shape our behaviors at every turn.
- We will not solicit human supply. We are thankful, surely, for the faithful support of our praying partners and friends. Yet we will not look to our own cleverness or marketing skills to elicit it. It is our pledge to depend upon God’s provision alone, in answer to prayer.
- We will avoid indebtedness – except the debt to love one another (Romans 13:8). We believe in the manner of Hudson Taylor, that God’s work done in God’s way cannot lack for God’s supply. We will not look to banks or credit cards to provide what God does not.
- We will share our time and our possessions with generosity. Our properties and bank accounts, whatever they may be, are not our own (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). We are God’s dependents. All that we have belongs to the Master.
- We will attempt lives and ministries on a sacrificial scale. God has made us stewards of his resources for the sake of his mission in the world (Matthew 25:14ff.). It is our pledge to steward his resources as frugally as we are able, in order to follow him in mission as widely as possible.
- We will aspire to humility – the only reasonable attitude for stewards and dependents. We aspire with the Apostle Paul “not to think of [ourselves] more highly than [we] ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned” (Romans 12:3).
C. Commissioned to his service
(215) Our relationship with Jesus Christ makes us participants in his wonderful mission. We are “holy partners in a heavenly calling” (Hebrews 3:1). “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.... So we are ambassadors for Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:18, 20).
Service and Proclamation
(216) We understand ourselves called to lives of service and proclamation. Service and proclamation: each is integral to our calling. One is not “higher” than the other. Neither is dispensable.
(217) By “service” we mean doing good to all people in the name of Jesus Christ, in order to overcome evil, to heal and to help, and so to make life more like God the Father wants it to be (Hebrews 13:16).
(218) By “proclamation” we mean explicit and intentional communication regarding the Person of Jesus Christ, his blessed life and work, and the redemption won for all nations and tribes, peoples and languages through his blood shed at Calvary (Acts 4:12). We mean preaching and teaching the Word of God and announcing his wonderful Kingdom in order that sinners might repent and come to believe the Good News. We understand ourselves called with the Apostle Paul, to “open eyes” in order that men and women everywhere “may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in [Jesus]” (Acts 26:18).
...where the Good News is not known
(219) We believe ourselves called to this ministry, in particular, where Jesus Christ is unknown or little known, among those who enjoy little access to the promises and benefits of the gospel of salvation. They may be rich or poor. They may be young or old. They may be ill and despairing or apparently healthy and well. Where the Good News is not known: here are called to serve.
...in Christian community
(220) We will pursue our calling in community with our Christian sisters and brothers, whenever we have the opportunity. Our devotion to Christ will mean loyalty to his Body – other members of our own fellowship, and the whole Body of Christ around the world. We are called by God and enabled by grace to love our fellow workers, to bear their burdens and weaknesses as if they were our own (Galatians 6:2), and to exert a strong influence for faith and unity at every opportunity (Romans 12:18).
(221) We must beware of the temptation to grow impatient with one another, or to separate ourselves from our fellow workers. We are sisters and brothers of one family, redeemed by one Savior, and called to one cause (Ephesians 4:4-6). We aspire to gracious, open solidarity with the entire family of Jesus Christ around the world.
D. Surrendered to his Person and Cause
(222) We believe ourselves called, finally, to the Way of the Cross. The Savior poured out his soul as an offering for sin, “becoming obedient even unto death” (Philippians 2:1-11). This same Spirit now indwells his disciples: they must be poured out as well. We understand ourselves called to costly, self-giving, sacrificial service that others might have opportunity to know and believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord. We believe this Way of the Cross a fundamental principle of spiritual fidelity and fruitfulness. “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps” (1 Peter 2:21).
(223) This is a Way that will exact a cost: the cost of the cross itself (Luke 9:23-24). It may demand years of persevering service, wholesale application of one’s gifts and faculties, sacrifice, prayer, and rigorous labor. It may demand courageous service in some perilous corner of the world, or investing oneself in an unattractive corner closer to home. This is a Way that means turning aside from costly comforts, a larger income, material possessions, or places of personal advantage, honor and privilege, and deliberately choosing the way of poverty, loss, privation, uncertainty, humiliation and whatever else it may cost to bring the Word of God to as many people as possible.
“Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (John 12:24-25, NRSV).
(224) We have come to understand that separation from loved ones, loneliness and heartache, setbacks and discouragements, long hours of labor, and faithful pleadings with God and with human authorities, when lived in love and faith, may be considered parts of our “falling into the earth” as grains of seed. We dare to believe that the grain of seed sown in faith will deliver “much fruit,” in the fullness of time.
(225) This is a Way that may take pleasure in necessities and distresses, when they press us closer to Jesus. It is a Way that aspires to “have the mind of Christ” in everything – who came not to please himself or to insist upon his rights, but to give his life for others and to serve without reserve or calculation of personal benefit (Philippians 2:1-11). He came “not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). This is the Way, we believe, to advance in our work, deepen our faith, spread “the aroma of Christ” wherever we go (2 Corinthians 2:15), draw men and women to the Savior of the world, and promote revival in the Church everywhere.