Partnering policies – Dangers involved!
As in physics, where all positives have a negative, the same can be said about a mission policy, although I do believe that the positives are greater than the negatives. But I think it is important to take note of a few problems which may develop when a congregation writes a mission policy. I can think of at least three potential problems which actually probably boils down to one problem:
- The mission committee and the congregation as a whole can become too rigid in implementing the policy. An example which I have seen: A certain congregation has as part of their policy that they want to focus their involvement with missionaries with whom they have regular contact. This sounds commendable. They then started supporting a missionary and his family in a country thousands of miles away. After some years, nobody had been sent to visit this missionary. Due to financial constraints in the congregation they had to cut on their expenses and falling back upon the policy they decided to greatly reduce their support for this missionary, because they did not succeed in having regular contact with them!
- Obedience to the mission policy may become a greater priority than obedience to God and sensitivity towards the voice of the Holy Spirit. A mission policy is an excellent guideline, but ultimately the will of God should dictate what needs to be done. Say for example a mission policy says that a certain form of support will be given to a missionary – perhaps in the form of money. The policy says that no extra money will be considered. Then something happens: One of the children develop a deadly disease and needs to be flown out to another country in order to save his life. At that point obedience to the Holy Spirit becomes more important than obedience to the policy.
- If the policy is not regularly updated, it becomes ineffective and without purpose. A mission policy cannot dictate involvement for the next ten or twenty years. Ideally, it should be reconsidered and revised if necessary annually or at the very least every two years to ensure that it is still effective and meeting the needs.