URCNA Missions Committee Approved
Rev. Michael Brown (Christ URC, Santee, California) posted this announcement last week (June 14) about the approval of the URCNA Missions Report by the 2012 URCNA Synod in Nyack, NY:
The United Reformed Churches in North America now has official mission policies, a missions committee, and approved the establishment of a missions coordinator! Missions Report passes! Historic day for the URCNA!
A historic day indeed! All URC missionaries at home and abroad should rejoice in this news. This last Lord’s Day, I announced this to our two small congregations in the Philippines to encourage the flock.
Here’s the Missions Report in full (22 pages, PDF).
Here are some quotes from the section on the doctrine of missions:
On God’s mission:
From beginning to end, the scriptures reveal clearly the heart that God has for his lost children, and his purpose to save sinners throughout the whole earth. In Genesis 3:9, immediately after Adam’s fall into sin, God called out, “Where are you?” not only to judge man but also to make the covenant of grace with him, promising to send a savior, the seed of the woman (Gen 3:15). Just as God clothed Adam and Eve in animal skins in order to cover their shame (Gen 3:21), so also he would cover all of his sinful people in the perfect righteousness of our Savior who would die for our sins (2 Cor 5:21).
On the the goal of the church’s mission:
The reason Christ sends his church into the world by his authority is to make disciples: Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (emphasis added). The main verb in this sentence is not “go” but “make disciples.” Christ did not commission his church to make mere converts but to make disciples who are set apart by and devoted to Christ and the Christian faith. The life of Christian discipleship begins at baptism and continues in instruction from God’s Word until death. Throughout their pilgrimage in the wilderness of this world, disciples are being nurtured in the faith, trained for good works, and sustained with the nourishment of the gospel.
On the means of the church’s mission:
Christ’s disciples are made through the ministry of his Word and sacraments. Jesus commissioned his church to baptize and teach: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (emphasis added). It is his Word about his victory that we are called as the church to announce to the world. We are subsequently to baptize those who receive that announcement, and to nourish believers with the Lord’s Supper and continual proclamation of the gospel. Thus, it is through the ordinary ministry of Word and sacrament that disciples are made, and then spiritually nurtured and equipped for good works.
While God does supply his church with men especially called to and equipped for this task of preaching (Eph 4:11-12), redeemed sinners are all made witnesses of Christ, and should not be able to contain within themselves the good news of our gracious Savior. In gratitude we should all seek to bring glory to Christ by sharing his gospel with other sinners… We are called, then, not only to live as salt and light for him (Mt 5:13-16), but also to be prepared to speak to others about our hope in him (1 Pt 3:15).
If we do not remain committed to the primary means of fulfilling our mission by planting churches and evangelizing our neighbors, we will neglect the calling God has given the church. If we are not actively spreading the gospel to our neighbors, communities, and to our nation, then we are withholding the riches of God’s grace in Christ from sinners who have no other hope of salvation. And, as one URCNA church-planter said, “If we are not planting new churches at home and abroad, the Lord’s vineyard among us will wither and die.”
Here are some of the portions that I believe will have an impact on the Philippine mission:
On the priority of support:
Moreover, every URCNA congregation should prioritize their giving to URCNA missions over, above, and before para-church organizations and non-URCNA mission works.
Because of our duty to fulfill the Great Commission and our obligation to our missionaries as articulated in Church Order Article 47, URCNA congregations should not fund para-church organizations or non-URCNA mission works if URCNA missionaries or church plants are lacking funds. It is essential that we have our priorities properly ordered.
[My comment: Over the years as a foreign missionary of the URC, I have always been uneasy over a small portion of my support coming from non-Presbyterian or non-Reformed churches and individuals. If what I’m preaching, teaching and practicing are contrary to those of my supporters, why should they continue supporting our mission? On the other hand, why would our URC churches support missionaries and parachurch organizations that are adamantly hostile against our cherished doctrines and confessions such as the doctrines of grace, infant baptism, covenant theology, regulative principle of worship, psalm singing, amillennialism, and many others?]
On the grounds for forming a Missions Committee and appointing a Missions Chairman-Coordinator:
The formation of this committee responds to:
- our need to work together as federated churches, as required by the Scriptures, our confessions and our Church Order;
- the substantial growth in the scope of domestic and foreign mission activities of URCNA member congregations and classes;
- the sense of standing alone that exists among many of our member congregations, missionaries and church planters;
- the desire of URCNA churches to be more effective in fulfilling our Lord’s Great Commission.
Two of the tasks of Committee Members:
(c) Committee members shall maintain contact with domestic and foreign missionaries within their respective classes;
(d) Committee members shall request financial data pertaining to support of missions from the churches of their respective classes. This financial data will be published to the churches along with amount of money needed to support URCNA missionsâ€¦
Some of the tasks of the Chairman-Coordinator:
(b) The Chairman-Coordinator shall maintain contact with domestic and foreign missionaries;
(c) He shall maintain contact with calling churches for current needs and financial status of their mission work;
(d) He shall encourage congregations to support financially foreign and domestic missionaries and remind them of the priority of such works with respect to para-church organizations;
(f) He shall visit missionaries periodically for encouragement, exhortation, and preaching/teaching/counseling, in order to assist the calling churches and missionaries as requested by either party;
(g) He shall maintain a missions webpage on URCNA.org (the official website); the missions webpage may include the following:
â€¦ The Chairman-coordinator may assist in mission trips and other needs of mission works as requested by missionaries and their overseeing Consistories.