This is a question began rattling around in my head a few weeks ago while in Zambia and I’ve been curious to hear what you folks out there think.
In spite of the fact that the Scriptures only describe two church offices in any detail, missionaries have become an unofficial official role in the church along with others like Sunday School superintendent and youth pastor. The problem is that it leaves us with a vocation that lacks biblical definition. This is a wonderful boon on the one hand because we can launch thousands of missionaries in a short period of time since all we really need are people with the willingness to “go” somewhere, anywhere. No real need for extensive training. No red tape to slow the process down. Here today, gone tomorrow. But what kind of people end up being sent? How many of them should not only be kept home, but be locked away? How many of these will go into the field adding to the already heavy load of the local mission or even disrupt the work there because of unresolved or undetected character or theological issues?
Instead of missionaries, should we instead think of them as elders or deacons that will be sent abroad (like church planters, I suppose) and therefore hold them to the same character and doctrinal standards? Wouldn’t it be better for churches at home to strive toward sending over-qualified candidates into the mission field rather than anyone who’s “willing”?
What do you think? How does your church do it?