Grace Community and Global Missions
Currently, GCC sponsors two mission organizations that focus primarily on the equipping of indigenous pastors around the world: HeartCry Missions and Training Leaders International. Instead of sponsoring a plethora of missionaries with menial support, we decided rather to give as generously as possible to a couple of mission organizations that we are in complete agreement with – theologically as well as methodologically. It is not the amount of missionaries that makes a church "missions-minded", but rather how sacrificially a church gives to the cause of missions around the world, for God's glory alone. In other words, we do not feel less spiritual because the globe on our bulletin board is not filled with a ton of pictures & pins & strings & names of missionaries, many of whom we don't know, nor pray about, nor really support financially.
Second of all, our conviction to be the best stewards possible with God's money means that we think it is wisest to sponsor indigenous pastors, if possible, rather than paying a ton of money to support a non-native missionary. For example, we could either spend a large sum of money up front to train up pastors in India, and then after training them, sponsor them for $60 per month. Or, we could send a family from North America, who would need $3000 or more per month. Moreover, this family would need time to learn the language, the culture, idioms, customs, as well as get used to their new environment, food, sicknesses, immunities...in other words, everything would be new, and the gospel would not get the initial focus needed.
The two organizations we sponsor are convicted that nationals are the best means to reach their own people. So they have made inroads and connections to build seminaries, hold pastors' conferences, provide Bibles and materials for the native pastors there that they might more effectively reach out to their own people. We have seen this with our own eyes (we went to India where a pastor's conference was held).
This is what Jesus did in Mark 5, where He healed the demon-possessed man. After being restored by Jesus to wholeness (a beautiful picture of salvation), the man asks to join Jesus on His journey. In response, Jesus tells him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how He has had mercy on you” (v.19). This is precisely what the man did (v.20). We think the same methodology is as effective today: rather than sending strangers to a foreign land, we let local people, who are known already in their villages, tell them the gospel in relevant ways that a foreigner never could.
Moreover, we believe this was Paul's own missionary strategy. Despite what most Christians believe, Timothy was not a pastor, but rather an apostolic emissary whom Paul would send into various cities where the gospel had made inroads through his pioneer mission (cf. Rom. 15:20). For example, in the city of Ephesus, Timothy's duty was not to pastor the church, but rather to gather and train up elders in the city, who would then themselves shepherd the flock there (see 1 Timothy, especially ch.3). Once Timothy's work was done, he would be sent by the apostle to do the same work elsewhere (for e.g. there is evidence this happened in Thessalonica, Corinth, and Philippi as well). The same thing was accomplished through Titus on the island of Crete (read Titus 1). Rather than setting up a “foreign” leadership in the church, the church was to pastored by locals. This also seems to be the Pauline pattern that Luke sets forth in the book of Acts (14:23).
Now I am not against sponsoring North Americans to go to other parts in the world to be missionaries, nor am I questioning their call. What I am saying, however, is that we could sponsor 25 times as many local pastors in India for what it would cost for me to go there. I would spend probably the first 3 years learning the language & culture to be even remotely effective in preaching the gospel in a meaningful & understandable way to them. Moreover, God has in His providence caused me to grow up in North America, where for the last 33 years I have been immersed in our own, different culture. Would it make sense for someone from India to come here at great expense to learn something I have ingrained in my very fabric?
Our conviction at GCC is that it is those who should be sent overseas are those who are going to take the gospel where it has not already been preached (cf. Paul's pioneer missionary strategy in Romans 15:20). If there are already churches in Mexico, why not let Mexicans who are theologically trained lead them? " But there are no thelogically solid pastors there", one might answer. Well, my response would be, "why not train the men who live there to become solid?" Is this not what the apostle Paul did? Moreover, practically speaking, one can sponsor 3 families in Mexico for what it would cost to send one North American family that is used to a lavish, posh culture. That just makes more gospel sense to us at GCC.
Finally, our desire at GCC is to ever-increase our missions budget, since God blesses those who endeavor to make His name known throughout the world (cf. Psa. 67). However, it is our prayer that we would not be so focused in getting the gospel out to other nations that we forget or overlook our own nation that God has commanded us to reach for His glory as well. Many churches are guilty of this, as it is much easier to give money to others to spread the gospel, than to cross the street and do it ourselves; it is much easier to pray for our persecuted brethren than to share the gospel to our co-workers and friends and perhaps share in their persecution.
Ultimately, our goal is that God's glory in Christ would cover this planet, the way the waters cover the sea.
In Jesus, and for His renown to the ends of the earth,
On behalf of GCC,