MissionSpeak: January 2016 - Is it advisable for a missionary or missions organization to have a missions philosophy? Why?

January 2016 - Is it advisable for a missionary or missions organization to have a missions philosophy? Why?

Steven Hight Steven Hight

     Each of us has a philosophy about life and work, whether conscious or not. We presume and believe certain things and react to them in appropriate ways, thus shaping our lives.  The consistency with which we follow our chosen pattern is our measure of success.

     A person with a biblical understanding of the world will act in a markedly different manner than one whose comprehension of society is based on untrue assumptions or on emotion. Do we realize that a man’s sinfulness caused him to do wrong, for which he needs to repent; or do we simply excuse him and enable him to repeat his sin?  Do we believe that all men were made in God’s image and thus possess a certain dignity, or do we think that some people belong on a less-than-human level?

     Our philosophy – what we believe – will shape our ministry to, and treatment of, others.

Eric Himelick Eric Himelick

     Everyone has a philosophy whether he knows it or not. We all live out our worldviews and beliefs, but we may not realize that’s what we are doing. A fish doesn’t know he’s wet. A missionary may say, “I don’t have a philosophy; I just follow the Bible.” Even a statement like that indicates a basic philosophy, but there are many more details: How will he structure the work that he does? Will he seek to train people do the work or will he do it all himself? The Bible doesn’t specify any of that. His “default philosophy” will likely be what he has seen and been taught by others elsewhere.

     A missions philosophy should be both biblical and intentional. Without thinking through why we do what we do, we may end up doing things that are more harmful than helpful in the long run. 

Steven Mowery Steven Mowery

     If one indicates he/she does not have a mission philosophy, that in itself IS a mission philosophy.   Whether we know it or not, every one of us has a missions philosophy.   We may not have written it or clearly articulated it, but we have one.   The questions are:  1) Is our mission philosophy strongly substantiated / supported by the Scriptures?  2) Is it relevant to the contemporary world?

     Yes, it is advisable for both missionaries and mission organizations to articulate their mission philosophy.   Often when a conflict arises in ministry, a portion of the conflict can be traced back to philosophical differences.   Missionaries and their parent organizations need to be a good fit.  Understanding each other’s philosophy is key to making adjustments for effective teamwork…or ministry separation.   Organizational philosophy includes:  Why do we exist?  As a mission organization, if we cannot clearly answer that question, we need to consider closing down.

Marc Sankey Marc Sankey

Yes. Because having a good and evident philosophy:

  1. gives the organization a template to follow in decision making.
  2. motivates leaders to develop and declare the organization's purpose.
  3. provides potential missionaries with an understanding of an organization's nature and direction.
  4. attracts quality missionary candidates who are impressed with an organization that knows who it is and where it is going.
  5. aids current missionaries as they create ministry strategies for their fields of service.
  6. allows mission boards to operate with more efficiency since they understand and rally around the direction of the organization.
  7. encourages donors to give when they see the implementation of the organization's philosophy
  8. glorifies God, as the organization guided by a thoughtful and biblical philosophy, advances His kingdom effectively around the world.

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