”The East White Oak Bible Church missions program exists to glorify God by fulfilling the great commission to make disciples of Jesus Christ in all the world. We pursue this mandate by evangelizing unreached peoples and establishing national churches where they do not exist and strengthening national churches where they do exist.
We rejoice greatly at the ways the Lord has blessed our focus on missions. East White Oak has a history of developing strong relationships with missionaries and supporting their work. At the first meeting of the church, there was a motion to establish a missions program for the church. Historically, over 30% of all giving at East White Oak is devoted to missions. We have a fantastic family of missionaries who are doing great works for the glory of God, here in the US and abroad. We have grown both in providing short term missions opportunities and in substantially supporting missionaries long term.
As we re-evaluated our priorities in 2016, we realized that only two of our missionaries are directly involved in ministry to unreached people groups and only four of our missionaries are directly involved in theological education. In order to emphasize these areas, we have changed our focus and shifted our priorities in accepting NEW missionaries to the East White Oak family.
East White Oak has grown in its vision to raise up missionaries from our body. We also have much to consider as we reflect upon the biblical command to make disciples of all nations and our own place in obeying that command. Most particularly, we have a burden in two areas: 1) Sending missionaries to unreached people groups. We see that we need to send missionaries to unreached peoples. We define unreached peoples as peoples where less than 2% are Christian, and the indigenous church is so weak that it cannot reach their own people. 2) The training of indigenous peoples to reach their own with the Gospel. We see that we need to send missionaries who are theological teachers, trainers, and mentors to pastors in places where the church is weak and cannot train their own leaders. We believe that God is calling our church into these two very strategic areas of ministry. These are the two priorities for accepting new missionaries into our East White Oak family.
Our missions policy has guided us in establishing these priorities. For example, the stated goal of our missions policy is to have 70% of supported missionaries serving outside the USA with the remaining 30% inside the USA. However, about two thirds of our regularly supported missionaries are serving in the US. This includes six missionary retirees. There are, of course, many reasons for the tendency of missionaries who are initially deployed to foreign countries to be back in the US. Some are promoted to executive positions within their mission agency. Some return due to poor health. Some return to care for aging parents or to help their young adult children to adjust to life here. All of these are good and prudent. However, what it means is that, over time, our missions force becomes more and more US based and less and less focused on unreached peoples and on theological education. This means that we must proactively target these priorities going forward.
The funding of missionaries is also something that we have prayerfully considered. Our recent policy has been to support many missionaries, each at a relatively low level of support. We have become convinced that there are many benefits to supporting missionaries at much higher levels, say, at 50% or 60% of their overall financial need. Here are some of the benefits:
- The congregation becomes a deeper partner with the missions work and knows the person that we are supporting.
- The training and vetting of the missionary is the responsibility of our church, not the missions agency.
- Time on home assignment is longer and deeper. The missionary serves as an additional staff member with the church while on home assignment.
- The retention of the missionary for missions service will be higher.
- Missionary kids have a real home in the US.
- The church provides an internship and training for the specific field of operation outside the US.
- The church becomes proactive in where it sends its missionaries rather than reactive to support what people want to do.
- Other churches and individuals are likely to support the missionary, knowing that significant support already exists.
We will, of course, make no changes concerning existing missionaries. We love our missionaries and their work! We are committed to continuing our amazing partnerships with our current missionaries and to providing for them and praying for them as we always have.
However, going forward, we will consider applicants for missionary status at East White Oak under the following guidelines.
- The applicant is a member of our church.
- The applicant is willing and able to accept the guidance of the church in determining the destination of service.
- Individuals interested in exploring missions at East White Oak are invited to engage in a Missionary Candidate Mentoring Program with the missions team of East White Oak. The MCMP is intended to serve as a time of contemplation, prayer, preparation and of discerning God’s will for one who is considering cross-cultural missions. It is geared toward the individual or family that would desire East White Oak Bible Church to be their sending church. For more information contact the church office, [email protected].
- The applicant is devoted to going to an unreached people group or to providing theological education to groups that cannot provide this education themselves.
- The applicant commits to an extensive internship at East White Oak, where they will be given opportunities to do the same things that they hope to do on the field, or there is such a depth of ministry experience here at East White Oak that amounts to the same thing as an internship. Only after such successful ministry will the application for missionary status be considered.
- The successful applicant will then receive 50-60% of total financial support from East White Oak.
- The successful applicant will commit to spending 50-60% of time spent on home assignment as a staff person at East White Oak with special attention given to promoting missions within our church.
With this vision for missions, both the goers and senders are in a much higher degree of relationship and commitment to one another. The senders at East White Oak will need to step up, both in commitment and in prayer. The goers from East White Oak will need to step up, both in submission to the church vision and in prayer for the prosperity of our ministry. These sorts of changes will require some additional planning for both goers and senders, and it is possible that fresh experiences in this new way of operating will necessitate continuing adaptation of the above plan.
The East White Oak missions vision statement makes clear why we have this missions focus. “The East White Oak Bible Church missions program exists to glorify God by fulfilling the Great Commission to make disciples of Jesus Christ in all the world. We pursue this mandate by evangelizing unreached peoples and establishing national churches where they do not exist and strengthening national churches where they do exist.” It is our earnest prayer that when we arrive in heaven and witness the worship of Jesus Christ by every tribe, tongue, people, and nation, we will be able to say, by God’s grace, we of East White Oak Bible Church made it possible for a least one of these people groups to be there. May God grant that desire.
The Missions Team at East White Oak