Personal Relationship in Missions
We believe in the primacy of personal relationship in the sending and supporting of missionaries from a local church context. Ministers and missionaries are not meant to run alone. The most important asset a person in full-time vocational, cross-cultural (or domestic) ministry needs are biblical friendships. This need, while certainly not negating the need for financial support, far outweighs it in terms of importance. Biblical friendships consist of, but are not limited to, active prayer for (I Thess. 1:2-3), encouragement in (I Thess. 7-8), listening patiently to (James 1:19), and speaking the truth in love toward (Eph. 4:15) the other. The place where those friendships needs to be modeled is in the leadership of the sending church or churches.
Three Essentials in Missions
Our understanding of Mission falls out along three different lines. First is the theological foundation.When you look at nature of God, you see the intra-trinitarian relationships that ultimately result in sending. At the heart of the missio dei is a God who sends in love. The inner beauty of this foundation of the intra-trinitarian relationships are demonstrated in the life of Christ as He related with, and to, his Father in the power of the Holy Spirit to complete the task of securing our redemption. In particular, the manifestation of submission, obedience to commands, and the role of prayer are integral in the development of missions at Parkside Church Westside.
Second, the leaders at Parkside Church Westside need to see themselves as more than the check writers. As a sending church, we need to take the lead as a relationship catalyst with those who are sent out to be ministers locally and globally. This role falls to more than simply the lead pastor's job and elders. Everybody in the church plays a part. The practicalities applied by Jesus in relation to carrying out His mission need to be the priority of the church leadership in carrying out theirs. These priorities include, but are not limited to, an unwavering commitment to obeying the commands of God privately, submission to authority, and faithfulness in prayer. Since every local church has a culture, their people think, act, speak, give, and decide according to the norms of that individual church culture. The leaders of the church are the culture builders, rather than the reactors, and are the individuals responsible for communicating the norms and standards of Parkside culture to the people who one day will receive support. The responsibility for discerning the call of prospective missionaries happens best in the context of sustained friendships. Our hope is to create ministry structures that help people serve with an eye toward relationally evaluating whether pursuing missions is best in a vocational sense for life.
Third, the sent ones (missionaries, both locally and globally) must be catalytic in building relationships with us before ever being sent out. While there is so much stress on cross-cultural missionaries understanding and being able to exegete the Bible in the culture they will minister in, it is of primary importance that they have a solid foundation of our internal culture before they ever step foot on an airplane. Rather than seeing the church as the giant ATM that gets accessed with a support letter, the prospective missionary's focus must be on learning internal processes over a longer period of time which includes a willingness to submit sincerely to the leadership of the church, a focus of obedience to the commands of Scripture, and unwavering prayer. While the agency plays a critical role in field training, support and field assimilation, the missionary should see his/her primary support as spiritually, relationally, and directionally from Parkside Church Westside.
Our Involvement in Missions
Since we are a church plant, the best way to discern the call to ministry is to get involved in the life of the church. We will ask that question frequently as involvement in serving in even the smallest ways is the best avenue to test gifting, learn about people, and gives the leadership team a chance to get to know prospective mission-minded people. Eventually, we will, Lord willing, move to a support model that resonates with Parkside Church.