Jeff Bartell

A "bottom line" kind of guy

thoughts on the local church and foreign missions

Borrowing from a good friend and Bible teacher, Jeff Adams, the best definition of God’s mission is to restore God’s image in lost man by means of salvation. Therefore, the definition of “missions” is simply the fulfillment of God’s mission by means of His people. So “missions” is all about making disciples of all nations who will ultimately become responsible members of local churches and participants in God’s mission. Here are some parameters that we have landed on at First Baptist as we seek to partner with others who are participating in God’s mission. These are practical issues based on my personal experience from 14 years in Albania as well as my understanding of the Bible and what I believe God expects us to look for. So when we look at missionary partners at FBC, we are looking for these things:

1. Aggressively evangelistic in a culturally relevant way. Believe it or not, a lot of guys out there do everything except initiate gospel conversations.

2. Effective discipleship that results in fruit that remains. (John 15:16) Who is really training nationals to do the work of the ministry and then trusting them to actually do it?

3. Involved in starting churches. Jesus gave His life for the church. If we do likewise, we can’t go wrong. (Eph 5:25; Acts 14:21-23) People come and people go but local churches remain. If it’s not a local church ministry, we don’t support it.

4. Target of becoming truly “indigenous” (self-governing, self-propagating and self-supporting). Is the ministry / missionary working himself out of a job? Is the ministry model one that the nationals can continue after the missionary (and his money) are gone?

5. A desire to be true partners in ministry. We don’t want to simply send money – we want to be their friends, partners, helpers. If they don’t want that, then we don’t support them.

6. Reach the least-reached. It is our desire to help get the gospel to those places in the world that have limited or no access to the gospel. We desire to lend our support to actually complete the great commission, rather than simply sending more missionaries to places where there are many already or there are existing, healthy, national churches.

Concerning finances / giving: Our goal as an American church is to live within our means and to invest in things that matter. In other words, we strive to limit our spending on ourselves and to make more available to those on the front lines of ministry service. I believe that it is our responsibility as wealthy Christians to significantly finance the gospel around the world. (1Tim 6:17-19) We prefer to support fewer men / ministries but to invest more substantially in each. (Phil 4:10) For us, supporting 100+ missionaries but giving each very little would make it difficult to really feel like true partners with each of them. Since our hearts follow our treasure (Matt 6:21), the more treasure we invest in a particular ministry, the more “connected” our hearts will be as well.

In order to facilitate all of the above, we desire to take people to visit missionaries to “see the fields” (John 4:35). Since the Bible says that “my eye affects my heart” (Lam 3:51), we find it strategic to go places where our eyes see God working in new ways. We also plan a missions conference every year and invite missionaries in to share their ministries with us. We get to know them personally and therefore feel more connected to the partnership. It is an annual time of celebration and focus on the nations needing the gospel.

Comment and let me know if you have some other practical issues that have been a help to you and your church’s international missions outreach!

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Comments: 7

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Jeff, The perspective that you bring to “Missions” encourages me.


Thanks Harry, Like many others I am simply trying to make sense of things and be a good steward of what God has entrusted to us.


Your six points on missionary partnership make a lot of sense to me. Thanks for sharing these thoughts.


Ke ra në shenjë. Të lumtë tastjera.
(Don’t bother “Google Translating” this, folks)


Thanks Jeff . . . it really is a heart issue. I pray that all of us at FBC will catch Jesus’ heart for the lost and fervently pursue them with the gospel. Awesome vision — get me excited! :)


Good stuff Jeff…Simple and concise, yet thorough – I’m stealing this!


Haha! Thanks Jay. Concerning anything that I come up with, “copyright” means you have the right to copy it!


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