The church can be involved in missions on several levels. Here are three.
Pooling is pretty obvious. Churches pool their resources, particularly their money… giving them to an outside body, such as a denominational organization or non-denominational mission agency. The involvement of the church in missions is extremely limited.
Relationship with missionaries/ministry sites: NONE
Church Training Needed: NONE
Strategy: LONG-TERM BUDGETING BUT NON-SPECIFIC
Missions Promotion: ANNUALLY (BUDGET TIME) BUT NON-SPECIFIC
Mission Locations: SOMEONE ELSE’S CONCERN
With participating, members of the church go on missions and serve on mission trips. Commonly, the work is short-term with little to no long-term strategy (at least from the church side).
Relationship with missionaries/ministry sites: SHORT-TERM
Church Training Needs: MINISTRY/REGIONALLY NON-SPECIFIC
Strategy: SHORT-TERM SPECIFIC
Missions Promotion: AS NEEDED SPECIFIC
Missions Locations: SHORT-TERM SPECIFIC
With partnering, the church is actively involved in missions work. There is an attempt to be part of the strategizing and planning and to develop a long-term ministry (either regionally or ministerially).
Relationship with missionaries/ministry sites: LONG-TERM
Church Training Needed: MINISTRY OR REGIONALLY SPECIFIC
Strategy: LONG-TERM SPECIFIC
Missions Promotion: ANNUALLY (CONTINUOUSLY) SPECIFIC
Missions Locations: LONG-TERM SPECIFIC AND STRATEGIC
I would suggest that a healthy church missions program has all three tiers making a complete pyramid. I think that it is good for churches to support missions outside of themselves. I also think it is good to support short-term mission sites as special opportunities arise. Not everything has to be long-term and strategic. But it would also be good for churches to be actively involved in strategic missions. Ideally, all three exist locally, regionally, and internationally.
At the pooling level, there is no differentiation between the different regions. However, in participating missions, it starts to matter as to region, and it becomes even more important at the partnering level.
Summing it up, a church should seek to be involved in multiple regions in multiple ways. However, being involved at higher levels of strategy and involvement should not mean removing the foundational aspects of the pyramid (as shown). Churches should be involved in missions, but please “Don’t get out of the pool.”