Philosophy of Missions
What is missions?
Christian missions flows out of the mission of God (missio Dei). We are on mission because God is on mission to save the world through the establishment of his kingdom. The kingdom of God advances as the gospel is proclaimed to every nation, and in response, people surrender their lives to Jesus’ rule and authority. Jesus commands us to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in His Name and teaching them to obey all that He has taught. We are called to be “salt” and “light,” giving metaphors to both preserve and enlighten the people around us. This is a responsibility given to every believer—to be a verbal and living witness to the good news that the Bible proclaims. All believers are responsible to carry out this task in their day-to-day life, where God has placed them.
In order to carry out the fullness of Jesus’ command, we heed God’s call to send missionaries to the places where His Gospel has not yet reached people. The missionary physically carries this message to the receiving culture and community, as the Holy Spirit works in the hearts of those who hear the Gospel spoken. We seek to both spread the knowledge of God’s salvation plan to all peoples and see God bring people into His Kingdom, who will live with the hope of eternal life with Him, and in obedience to His example and command.
How do we engage in missions?
Thrive seeks to engage in missions by verbally proclaiming the Gospel as well as reflecting the example of compassion and service displayed by Jesus. The verbal proclamation of the Gospel calls people to repent from their sin, embrace Jesus’ saving sacrifice, and accept his kingship in their lives. However, if our actions are not consistent with the example of Jesus, verbal proclamation alone will not compel the non-Christian to a life in Christ.
While proclamation of the Gospel is the primary work of missions, we cannot ignore the pertinent needs of the people and communities that we reach. Therefore, we aim to be models of Jesus’ love as well as carriers of His message, recognizing that preaching the Good News cannot be divorced from displaying a character that reflects the compassion and radical love that Jesus displayed.
In order to become an effective gospel witness, the missionary must engage deeply in the receiving community and culture. This involves developing meaningful relationships with non-Christians, verbally sharing the gospel with them, and discipling those who respond in faith to the gospel message. Whenever possible, the missionary is also expected to be an active member of a local body of believers. The ultimate goal of these endeavors is to see a thriving local church filled with passionate and mature disciples, who are witnessing to their own communities and embodying God's love through acts of compassion.
We strive to work in partnership with local churches and ministries, standing shoulder to shoulder as co-laborers in God’s harvest. Through these partnerships, we aim to grow long-term relationships, which help believers in both churches to grow deeper in their knowledge of, and obedience to Jesus.
Regular communication between Thrive churches, missionaries and the local churches or ministries is an essential foundation for the health of these partnerships. Thus, a clear channel of open and regular dialogue must exist in all Thrive partnerships.
Our desire is to facilitate the development of local leaders, helping them to grow in humility, service and vision to God’s call. Through their knowledge of local customs and history, these partners play a vital role of bridging the cultural, spiritual and language gaps between Thrive churches and the fields we seek to reach. In some areas, direct investment in national missionaries may be the most effective means of spreading the Gospel and sharing the burden of Kingdom proclamation within His Church.
How do we support missions?
An integral part of the missionary task is the investment in missions partnerships through sacrificial financial, prayer, and relational support. This support is to be offered in a manner that does not foster dependency or paternalism, but helps to move the partners toward greater empowerment and sustainability. The goal is a vibrant relationship between the sponsoring church and missionary partner.
A network is not able to offer the robust encouragement, support, and accountability for missionaries that local churches are able to provide. Therefore, as a network, Thrive will not directly sponsor missionaries. Instead, all Thrive missionaries will be sponsored and sent by a local Thrive church.
Member churches will have the opportunity to share their missions callings with one another, through jointly-sponsored projects and short-term missions teams. When appropriate, we will aim to provide the most relevant skills and support to missionaries and partner churches by employing the varied resources and people of all the Thrive churches.
How do we decide where to do missions?
The leading of the Holy Spirit is the most crucial determinant to the selection of areas to serve for the Thrive Network and its churches. Thus, Thrive leaders and members are to be in earnest prayer and fasting, seeking God’s call for direction in the work of missions.
Thrive churches are to seek out partnerships where meaningful, long-term relationships can be developed, whether through the permanent placement of a long-term missionary or through serial short-term teams. In fields where a long-term Thrive missionary is not present, a “bridge person” who resides on the field is to be identified, who can safeguard both the interests of Thrive and the local partners. In forming partnerships, preference is given to local churches over para-church organizations.
Thrive churches are to regularly evaluate their relationships with the missionaries and ministries they support, ensuring that they are in alignment with the guidelines provided by this statement.