Refuge Christian Fellowship Missions Stance
What is “Missions”?
Missions is popularly understood as an endeavor to accomplish the work of the Kingdom in regards specifically to the expanse, support, equipping, and continued sending of others to accomplish the same goals. Missions is a continued propagation of the upward call by Jesus to reach Jerusalem, Samaria, and Uttermost Parts of the Earth.
Missions’ dictionary definition is a ministry commissioned by a religious organization to propagate its faith or carry on humanitarian work. Popularly, in the church, a modern understanding would include an extending ministry into another culture or a foreign field.
The working understanding of Missions at Refuge Christian Fellowship is much more wholistic than the popular or dictionary definition and is an attempt to remain in keeping with the commission of the Apostles in the Gospel of Matthew and the Book of Acts.
"So the eleven disciples went to Galilee to the mountain Jesus had designated. When they saw him, they worshiped him, but some doubted. Then Jesus came up and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” - Matthew 28:16-20 NET
"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the farthest parts of the earth.” - Acts 1:8 NET
Based on these passages, Refuge regards any endeavor to evangelize the unsaved, disciple followers of Jesus, or minister to those in need in the name of Jesus to be in fulfillment of the Commission given by Jesus.
The objective of the mission would be to make disciples not decisions, and this done through and in the power of the Holy Spirit.
What is Refuge's Missions Focus?
The focus that Refuge has taken in regards to Missions is Discipleship in the context of the Church. (Matthew 28:19, Acts 1:6-8, 1Tim. 3:15, Titus 1:5) This is in order to be most effective with the resources the Lord has given.
The four major areas of focus in regards to missions are as follows:
- Supplication (Matt. 9:36-38, Eph 6:19-20, Col. 4:3-4, 2 Thes. 3:2, Rom. 15:31)
- Sending (Acts 13:1-4, Acts 15:40)
- Supervision (Acts 14:26-28, 1 Tim. 3:15; 5:15, Heb. 13:17)
- Support (3 John 5-8)
Local Missions include endeavors local to Refuge to evangelize, make disciples, and minister to those in need in the name of Jesus in our own community.
Uttermost Parts of The Earth (UPTE) Missions include endeavors outside our local community to evangelize, make disciples, and minister to those in need in the name of Jesus. This often includes ministry in other cultures and languages.
Different Mission Types
For Refuge to send into ministry and dedicate resources to an endeavor a mission trip or project, the mission or project must fall under one of the following three types of mission endeavor:
- Paul Ministry - Planting; building on no man’s foundation. (Romans 15:20, 1 Corinthians 3:6)
This would include delivery of the Gospel to a place where there is no presence of a church. The primary focus would be preaching and sharing the Gospel and establishing a church with independent leadership in keeping with the church planing models found in the Book of Acts.
- Timothy Ministry - Equipping. The continued equipping of the church and establishing leaders. (1 Thes. 3:2)
This would include any ministry in cooperation with a local church for the equipping of the saints or continued evangelism and establishing strong church leadership.
- Tychicus Ministry - Encouragement and coming along-side. (Col. 4:7-9)
This would include ministry to those who are in service of Jesus including encouragement, work projects, or assistance in the progression of the Gospel.
What Does it Mean to be “Sent”?
Refuge holds that those who share the gospel and accomplish the work of the church are called by the Lord and sent by church.
Every person who is sent by Refuge must meet with a Pastor to explain their call to a particular project or trip.
There are times in which individuals may be requested by the Elders to go in accordance with the leading of the Holy Spirit to accomplish a missions endeavor in keeping with what the Lord is at work in accomplishing.
Preparing for Missions
Refuge takes the sending of individuals to represent the Kingdom of Jesus Christ very seriously. It is the responsibility of the Pastors and Teachers to equip a member of the Body for the work of ministry.
Specifically, in regards to a mission endeavor, every person sent by Refuge must engage in mission training with either Pastor(s) at Refuge, a designated individual, team, or organization explicitly charged with the preparation of every individual being sent, or a combination of the aforementioned.
If a husband and wife, family, or specific team are being sent, every individual must be engaged in training. This includes any youth or children.
Preparation will be contextual not only to the mission endeavor but also contextual to the endeavor.
If the individual, family, or group is returning to an already visited ministry or endeavor, there is still a required time of preparation at the discretion of a Pastor at Refuge.
If a team is being sent on a missions endeavor, it is required that the entire team engage in training
What About Mission’s Organizations?
The Mission’s Organization or Agency exists as a support and to come alongside the sending church.
The expectation is that the sent individual will report back to Refuge at a regular intervals during a trip as well as a report to the body upon return to the United States.
It is also the expected that the sent individual or sent team would be responsible to Refuge as the sending agent. Refuge will strive to maintain close ties to those sent and will not rely on an agency to accomplish the responsibility of the local church.
In some cases, Refuge may delegate specialized training to a Missions Agency.
On Short Term Missions
Technically, a mission trip less that three years is considered a Short-Term Missions trip according to modern accounting. While this is the technical, missiological understanding, three years still sounds very Long-Term for most people.
The conceptual understanding is that there is a defined end, or at the very least an end time in mind.
A short-term trip is regarded as the same in all respects to a long-term trip with the exception of finances and status upon return.
On Long Term Missions
Long-Term Missions is technically a missions trip that is longer than 3 years. Another way of defining a Long-Term Missions trip would be a missions endeavor that either does not have an intended end date or there perspective of the missionary or Refuge is to remain in the status of “Sent Missionary.” This would be a “career” missionary in modern vernacular. There are some that would continue in this regard in work that brings them back to their home country and culture as Long-Term Missions if they remain in the “Sent” status from their home base. For instance, working with an sending agency or missions organization would be regarded as a Long-Term Mission position in the minds of many missionaries.
It is the position of Refuge that Long-Term Missionaries are in a position that would generally require and be deserving of continued support without an end date in mind even if the objectives of their missions work changes.
Because of this status, Refuge would not seek to enter into a relationship with a career or Long-Term Missionary in a resource or financial manner unless wisdom could show support cost had been “counted” (Luke 14:26-33). Plainly stated, unless it could be displayed that the amount of money promised to a missionary could be given without borrowing from another ministry for more than two quarters of budgets consistently, there would simply be no promise or resources or finances given to the missionary.
If a missionary is called to Long-Term missions and is sent by Refuge, the manner of continued support will be evaluated on a case by case basis by the Refuge Leadership Teams.
Discrete Missions Endeavors
There are certain ministries and Missions Projects that are more sensitive and require the discretion of Refuge and its Leadership Teams.
Communication concerning the calling, preparation, funding and reports for missions endeavors and ministries that may prove to increase risk for a minister or church or will only be communicated verbally.
These ministries will not find representation on the website or in publication of materials or sharing of information on social media. Any communication will be handled by specified individuals.
Upon the completion of an mission endeavor, a debrief period will be required of all sent individuals. The debrief period is included in the understood timeframe of the mission endeavor.
Debrief is regarded as a time for caring for the soul of the sent. This will include discussion of events of the trip, working through any sin issues that may have been revealed during the trip, Spirit-filled self-reflection,
Generally, one day of debrief will be required for every week of ministry up to but not exceeding 6 days. This time is to serve the individual not to increase their burden, so debrief details will be finalized by the Missions Team Leader before the trip begins.
While this debrief time may take place upon return, it may be accomplished any time after general ministry has ended.
Debrief will normally include at least one pastor or elder, but may be completed with the Mission Team Leader.
Discipline and Disqualification
The eldership reserves the responsibility to end a relationship with a missionary who has been disqualified from the ministry for similar reasons that would qualify an individual for church discipline as prescribed in Scripture (see explanation of Church Discipline in Refuge Membership Documentation).
Disqualification is not a permanent status and restoration will be determined on a case by case basis.
For an individual on a short-term endeavor, the sidelining of an individual will be under the discretion of the Mission Team Leader, until the matter can he heard by the elders.
For an unrepentant individual who is disqualified while on a short-term trip, it may be necessary for the individual to return home. This decision will be made together with the Mission Team Leader and the eldership.
Any monies or resources given or raised by an individual who is disciplined out of a mission endeavor, whether Local or UPTE, will be rolled into the Missions Fund not be returned to donors. There is no process for returning of funds for this reason.
Our Missions Fund is set up to enable anyone to intend or designate funds for a particular Missions Project. However, offerings and gifts given to a project may be redirected to another Missions Project.
Most instances of this will be in response to an over-funding of a project. If a Project meets its monetary necessities and still has funds left over, those funds will be redirected to another Missions Project.
While the contribution policy at Refuge Christian Fellowship allows for the leadership at Refuge to use any given funds as needed, it is the desire and intention of the elders at Refuge to use Missions Funds in fulfilling the Great Commission of Jesus Christ, whether in a Local or Utter-Most-Parts-of-The-Earth (UPTE) sense.
On Finances and Giving
Our objective in directing funds to missions is to fund the planting, growth, and health of the Body of Christ, which is the representation of the Kingdom of God on earth.
Refuge maintains a General Missions Fund. The fund is distributed to various missions projects based on each projects needs and resources available. The General Missions Fund provides funds to both Local and UPTE missions projects.
Any unused designated funds will be rolled back into the Missions Fund to be used for other missions projects or endeavors. Any amount of money raised or given beyond the needs of any mission endeavor will go back into the Mission Fund to be used at the discretion of leadership for any other mission endeavor.
The budget proposal includes a list of items needed for the endeavor. Close estimates can be provided if specific amounts cannot be determined. The proposal will be evaluated and needs to be approved by a majority of Elders and Deacons. The proposal may be approved entirely or in part and adjustments will be noted. Anything that is not included in the approved budget proposal will need to either be purchased personally by a sent individual or be approved through a supplementary budget adjustment request.
All resource items purchased (tents, ropes, etc…) will remain a partitioned to Missions Resources for future use unless explicitly given to an individual.
If any amount of money is needed beyond what is in the Missions Fund, this money may be solicited from the members of Refuge, from outside of Refuge, or through fundraising.
One time gifts would be an acceptable manner of blessing a Long-Term Missionary according to a need and in keeping with the Spirit’s leading of the Elders and Deacons. Missions one-time gifts should be used from the Mission Fund and not be given in excess so as to borrow from another ministries budget unless the gift is given expressly from the specific ministry.
Partnering with Others
Refuge will often partner with other individuals, group, projects, or organizations. Refuge will only partner or come alongside other UPTE missions endeavors that fulfill the Refuge’s stated Missions Focus.
Individuals sent by Refuge who are ministering in a Timothy or Tychicus type of ministry will partner with a like-minded fellowship local to the project or endeavor. This is in keeping with our call to make disciples, which entails a continued encouragement in faith and sanctification of a believer and not simply decisions from individuals with no further discipleship through a local fellowship of believers.
Local Missions may include partnering or coming alongside others that do not completely adhere to Refuge Missions Focus. One objective in Local partnering is to have a presence of the Gospel with our neighbors and to be a city on a hill (Matthew 5:13).
Because of the ability for continued relationship, followup, and ministry this type of partnering is understood to be a part of the Local Mission.
At any time that a partnership with another individual, group, project, or organization is deemed to be a hinderance to the progress of the Gospel in our local area, the partnership will end. This decision will be made in finality by Refuge leadership including the Elders.
Our Call to Missions
It is the understanding according to the Scriptures that there is no Spiritual elite that is specially called to missions. All who are called by the Lord, filled with the Spirit are called to make disciples as they are going throughout their life.
However, since the sending of an individual or a team requires accountability to the leadership of Refuge, only members of Refuge will be allowed to be sent on a missions endeavor.
The only exception to this will be a mission endeavor done in cooperation with another church. In these cases, the team members will submit to the Mission’s Team Leader who in turn will be held accountable to the leadership of Refuge.