Churches Spearhead Programs for Missionary Preparation
ACMC Deals with the Nitty-Gritty
Where are all the volunteers going?
In many cases, volunteers home churches have been unprepared to help them follow up on their decisions and help them hurdle barriers of preparation and finance. And such is one major reason for ACMCs Conference on Missionary Preparation (COMP) to be held at the Masters College in Newhall, California, December 29 through 31. This will be the fourth such conference held in Southern California.
What makes a COMP different from other mission conferences?
Whereas some mission conferences are completely local church-based, and others are oriented to agency recruitment, a COMP allows delegates to interact with leaders who have served as missionaries and who have had extensive involvement with both local churches and agencies.
You get to meet people who are working on a day-to-day basis equipping people at the local church level to become missionaries, says Phil Arendt, missions pastor at First Baptist Church in Modesto, California.
Tom Telford, ACMC Northeast regional director who helped direct a 1982 COMP in Philadelphia, said a COMP takes delegates a step further than Urbana. Urbana conferences expand vision; a COMP deals with the nitty-gritty issues of getting to the field.
Telford cited the example of a young man from his church who went as a missionary to Irian Jaya after attending a COMP conference. He went to a workshop on life plannning, and realized that he needed to get serious about getting to the field, Telford said.
Indeed, COMP conferences have had a tremendous impact on past delegates. Cecil Stainaker, a missionary on furlough, is currently helping Grace Community Church in Panorama City, California, develop its candidate preparation program.
Stainaker has been asking Grace Church missionaries what training experiences they found most profitable during their mission candidacies. A large majority cited ACMC COMP conferences. Several even urged the church to make attendance at a COMP conference mandatory for all Grace Church missionaries.
Al Mount, Grace Churchs pastor of candidate training who will lead workshops at the December conference, said he believes the conference will primarily benefit two types of people: those who have already made a commitment to cross-cultural ministry and who are asking the question, How do I get there from here? And then those who are committed to being local church-based senders of missionaries.
Workshops at the conference will include a wealth of information both for future missionaries (Mapping Out Your Future: Steps to the Field; Things I Wish I Knew Before Going to the Field; and How Do I Know Im Called?) and for senders (SendersWhat Can They Do?; Prayer for Missions; and Predicting Success as a Church Planter).
John MacArthur, Luis Bush, and Ralph Winter are among the plenary speakers scheduled to discuss issues of candidate preparation and the necessary character qualities of missionaries.
For more information, write to ACMC, P.O. Box ACMC, Wheaton, IL 60189, or call (312) 260-1660.
The MissionLink project envisions a global evangelical network, bringing educational institutions here and abroad into partnership with churches and mission agencies. MissionLink will focus on programs on all continents that prepare individuals who are already involved in service to be better Christian workers.
Brewer noted that the Bible presents learning, living, and ministry as an integrated wholean approach exemplified by Jesus training of his disciples. Since MissionLink will assume much of a missionarys training can be gotten while he is active on the field, or in transit to and from his furlough assignment, Brewer feels it is a legitimate attempt to incorporate the best of the training available in our Christian colleges and seminaries into a more biblically-based education.
The meeting drew professors from Fuller Seminary, Biola University, Masters College and William Carey International University. There also were executives from a number of locally-based mission agencies. Before MissionLink is formally launched, a follow-up meeting is planned for the Chicago area in January. It will test reactions of another set of potential participants.