We see evangelism and missions occurring on four levels as defined by Christ in Acts 1:8:
“But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”
Level 1 – Jerusalem – our immediate mission field. This includes the people our members interact with, the people living in the areas where our members live and the neighbourhoods in proximity to our church. It includes reaching people in the areas we live in.
Level 2 – Judea – our regional mission field. This includes other suburbs, towns, cities and provinces in South Africa. Seeking to establish new Bible-believing churches in South Africa , as well as assisting and cooperating with existing ones fulfils this part of the missions mandate.
Level 3 – Samaria – our cross-cultural mission field. This means crossing cultural and language barriers to reach the many other cultures in South Africa.
Level 4 – the uttermost part of the earth – our international mission field. This means sending and supporting church-planter who leave the borders of South Africa to preach the Gospel, establish churches and make disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ in other countries.
New Covenant Baptist desires to be a part of the Lord’s mission in all four of these levels.
New Covenant Baptist Church Missions Philosophy
i. While words like “missions” and “missionary,” are not in the Bible, they do describe something that we see in the New Testament.
ii. Our definition of these words will directly influence our decisions related to missions. In financial terms, this does not mean we cannot fund work that does not fit our definition of “missions.” However, it does mean that funding such work will fall under a different line item of the budget.
a. CHURCH PLANTING:
The entire process of preaching the gospel to unbelievers (1Co 1:17), teaching them to believe and be baptised (Act 16:30-33), and further instructing them (1Th 2:17-18, 1Th 3:10; 1Ti 3:14-15) to be knitted together in a covenanted body (Col 2:19) that is edified by the offices of pastor and deacon (1Ti 3:1-13), and that assembles together (Heb 10:24-25) for teaching, admonishment, and worship in reverence and awe (Col 3:16; Heb 12:28), and for the observation of the ordinances of the Lord’s table (1Co 11:2334) and the baptism of new believers (Mat 28:19).
b. PLANTED CHURCH / ESTABLISHED CHURCH:
A church that has been planted and no longer requires the presence of a missionary. See Appendix A for a tentative description of a planted church.
One directly involved in church planting whose primary role is that of preacher and teacher (Act 13:13, Act 15:36, 41). In some cases, a pastor of a local church may be classified under this title, when his own congregation is not yet self-supporting.
d. MISSIONARY HELPER:
One who does not primarily preach and teach but who is working in the field with a missionary, helping him in ways that assist the work of church planting (Act 19:22; 2Ti 1:1618; 4:11; Phm 13).
e. MISSIONARY CANDIDATE:
A man seeking financial support in order to act as a missionary, not as a missionary helper.
A person seeking financial support to act as a missionary helper.
g. INITIAL CONSIDERATION:
The deliberation of the elders, deacons and congregation prior to committing ongoing financial support to a candidate.
a) Our Aim:
The mission of New Covenant Baptist Church is to see the First Commandment become the first priority for all nations through Jesus Christ (Mk 12:28-29, Mt 28:18-20)
New Covenant Baptist church desires to be a faithful channel of the whole Christian faith, conserving and propagating orthodoxy, orthopraxy and orthopathy, to our children, our families, and our neighbours, from here to the uttermost parts of the earth. We desire to believe the Truth, embrace the Good, and love the Beautiful for the fame of His name and the good of all nations.
b) Our Action: To identify and faithfully partner with missionaries and missionary helpers who are committed to our aim as described above.
i. To identify:
The Holy Spirit revealed to the early church, by direct revelation, whom to set apart for church planting. In this dispensation we do not receive direct revelation, but we are well equipped to recognize those whom the Lord has prepared for this work.
a) Since at some point a missionary always performs the duties of an elder of the church he is planting, he must meet the qualifications of 1Ti 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9.
b) Those who are missionary helpers must be of proven Christian character (Act 15:3738), and are servants entrusted with church resources, hence, the qualifications of deacon are appropriate (Acts 6:16; 1Ti 3:813).6
c) This requires the elders, deacons as well as the congregation to spend sufficient time with a candidate under initial consideration (and his family, if applicable) that they are reasonably confident they know what he values and how he deports himself (and, in the case of a missionary candidate, how those of his children living at home deport themselves, if applicable).
d) All missionary candidates under initial consideration will preach or teach to the assembled congregation, to discern aptitude to teach. NCBC will lovingly and diligently strive to determine this aptitude. One sermon/lesson may be sufficient if a missionary candidate is well known to the congregation, but otherwise, one is simply not enough.
e) The pastors and deacons will review the doctrinal statement of each candidate under initial consideration. Where there are significant differences, they will consider asking the candidate for clarification, in order to learn how strongly the candidate holds his position, which direction he is going in his thinking, and how militant the candidate is on the particular point of doctrine in question.
The leadership should be aware that some who proffer an orthodox doctrinal statement nevertheless treat as Christian brothers those who deny the fundamentals of the faith. A candidate who does this says he believes the truth, but shows by his affiliation that he considers it of little importance. The elders and deacons will bring such affiliations to the attention of the candidate in the course of diligent fact-finding and, if appropriate, admonishment and exhortation. Prior to any congregational vote on initial financial support of a candidate, the missions committee will report to the congregation on the candidate’s doctrinal position.
f) The elders and deacons will consult a minimum of two personal references for a candidate under initial consideration, one of which must be the pastor of the candidate’s sending church. An elder will personally contact each reference.
ii. and faithfully partner:
Upon recommendation of the elders and deacons and congregational approval by formal vote, NCBC will commit to regularly and fervently pray for and give money to a worker.
a) In order to strive for authentic partnership, in which each partner shares significantly in both risk and reward, NCBC will adhere to the principle of multum non multa, “much, not many.” It is better to support few candidates at a high level then many candidates at a low level. A church that supports 100% of one missionary’s need is no less “missions minded,” and likely even more so, than a church that supports 100 missionaries at 1%.
b) Partnership requires three things:
First, the missionary or missionary helper must maintain doctrinal and philosophical similarity to NCBC. While latitude must be granted, if a missionary adopts a doctrinal or philosophical position judged by the leadership to be severely at odds with NCBC, partnership is strained (Amos 3:3).
Second, the missionary must maintain adequate communication regarding his activities, needs, and challenges. While the busyness of missions places missionary worker under pressure, a written update at least once every two months is needed. The financial need is to be communicated to the leadership of NCBC, so that it is clear what percentage of support he is at, and what portion of that support NCBC is fulfilling.
Third, the missionary must not adopt a position, verbally or otherwise, which becomes subversive to NCBC. Publicly criticising its held beliefs or practices, explicitly or implicitly, or otherwise undermining its leadership or ministry, demonstrates that partnership is not mutual.
c) NCBC will consider herself a true partner of each worker, and pray fervently for the churches being planted. This requires sustained interest in the work – an interest that is both stimulated and informed by regular updates from the field, and attention to the unique social, economic, and political conditions under which the worker is labouring. The elders and deacons should consider how to improve not only this flow of information to the congregation, but also how to improve similar communication from the congregation back to each worker.
d) As a true partner, NCBC will remember the aim that she shares with each worker and will not forget the planted church(es). When praying, she will pray not just for the worker, but also for the planted church(es). When inquiring after needs, she will inquire of the planted church(es) as well as the worker. When a member is considering a visit, NCBC will consult not only the worker, but also the planted church(es). In so doing NCBC will not only treat these sister churches with the respect due the body of Christ, but will also edify them by exercising their discernment.
iii. with missionaries and missionary helpers who are committed to our aim as described above:
The elders and deacons will share this statement of missions philosophy with all workers and all candidates under initial consideration, and invite their comments on it.
a) This is an excellent way not only to learn to what extent a candidate or worker shares the same aim of NCBC, but to encourage thoughtfulness on the part of the candidate or worker. The elders and deacons should consider using a written questionnaire for this purpose.
b) Prior to any congregational vote on initial financial support of a candidate, the elders and deacons will report its findings in this regard.
A) These priorities are guidelines that are true with “all else being equal.”
a) Since “all else” is never perfectly equal, NCBC must exercise discretion in following these guidelines.
b) Pragmatism, the philosophy that ends justify means, is deeply entrenched in churches worldwide, so that the things of God are debased to attract and retain disciples by appealing to their appetites. Therefore, the elders and deacons should be especially attentive to the methods the candidate or worker has been using, and intends to use, in making disciples.
i. One worker may merit higher priority over another by his qualifications or affinity with our aim as described above.
ii. These guidelines are intended to aid in the initial consideration of candidates and in the budgeting process. They are not intended to suggest that support for a worker should ever be withdrawn simply because a new candidate has a higher priority. NCBC is committed to the idea of faithful partnership with those workers whom she supports and who continue to meet the criteria described above.
B) NCBC gives priority to missionaries over missionary helpers.
a) NCBC gives priority to missionaries who are members of NCBC.
b) NCBC gives next consideration to missionaries who are being sent to fields of vital interest to NCBC.
c) NCBC gives next consideration to missionaries who have finished a course of study at a seminary of like beliefs.
d) NCBC gives next consideration to missionaries who do not have seminary training but who are being sent from churches of like beliefs.
a) NCBC gives next consideration to missionary helpers who are members of NCBC.
b) NCBC gives next consideration to missionary helpers from other sending churches of like beliefs.
c) NCBC gives limited support on a case by case basis, upon recommendation of the elders and deacons and approval of the congregation by formal vote, to church members visiting a planted church.
What should be in place so that a church may be considered established and no longer in the church planting stage? Church-plants can look dramatically different in differing context, and so the following should be considered a guideline, one having emerged out of a more sophisticated, urban environment. Nevertheless, before a church-planter leaves, ideally some form of the following should be in place:
1) Statement of Faith. The church’s doctrinal position outlined in its statement of faith, and any other essential positions that need to be clarified in position papers.
2) Church Covenant – the core commitments of membership need to be made clear in a covenant that summarises the responsibilities of members.
3) Constitution, containing the previous two, as well as sections for membership, church offices, committees and ministries, meetings, finances and amendments. This constitution to be adopted at the same time that the first leaders are ordained, and the charter membership formed.
4) Pastoral Staff Roles & Deacon Roles Defined. Beyond the outline contained in the constitution, a more detailed description of particular responsibilities is needed, along with a clear idea of leadership structure.
5) At least two deacons and one or more staff or bi-vocational pastors to be trained, identified, and ordained before the church planter leaves. Pastors/ deacons’ meetings need to begin with the church planter, with their structure and frequency planned.
6) For those in vocational ministry, contracts to be drawn up, detailing responsibilities, leave, pay, dismissal, etc. Proper payroll administration to begin.
7) For the pastors, a minimum of a six-month training internship in Pastoral Theology, Church Administration and Church Leadership under the church planter. For the primary pastor-teacher, ideally seminary training in exegesis, theology, and preaching, and other disciplines. For the pastors’ wives, some months of mentorship under a the church-planter’s wife. The internship programme to be in place for the national pastor to use with those he trains.
8) For the deacons, basic training in their roles, and particularly for those undertaking the financial administration.
9) Membership Classes begun: a proper understanding of the church, its doctrine, and the responsibilities of membership to be taught before charter membership is taken in.
10) Financial Policy & Procedures drawn up (including remuneration). Procedures for collection, counting, depositing, recording and drawing up of statements, along with procedures for checks, credit-card use. The church’s first budget should be drawn up by the church-planter, with line-items for ministry. A process for evaluating and adjusting pastoral remuneration should ideally be in place.
11) Building Fund/ Administration. A five to ten-year plan for procuring land & buildings, either independently or in concert with the sending church, should be in place.
12) Legal Compliance & Protection. Make sure the church complies with laws regarding taxation, nonprofit/ religious bodies, physical property & assets. In litigated societies, policies or position papers on homosexuality, weddings, divorce, counselling, child workers, and sexual harassment to be in place. Legal insurance may be advisable.
13) In concert with the national leadership, certain philosophies or policies should be worked on, or at least begun in outline form. These would include philosophies of worship & music, missions, mercy, and counselling.
14) The first church business/ member meetings should be held under the church planter, with an appointed clerk, and minutes taken.
15) National support network. The national leadership that is left in place should be connected with likeminded people in geographical proximity, to provide pastoral encouragement, accountability, pulpit supply, ministry wife support, and other logistical matters. The church-planter should not leave until he is confident that the national has support outside his local church in the form of a nationally based network/ association, or from the sending country if necessary.
The phases of a church plant, from beginning to end, might be thought of in five phases.
1) Phase One of a church-plant – gathering up disciples & training them in leadership/membership responsibilities. Church documents and policies to be written/ taught.
2) Phase Two – Leadership internship begun. Membership classes begun. Encourage financial consistency. Place rough deadlines before the church & monitor financial independence.
3) Phase Three – national pastor in senior role with other leaders functioning for several months while church-planter monitors. Support network developed and national pastor introduced to it. The rest of the above 15 items in place.
4) Phase Four – pastors and deacons ordained, membership chartered, constitution adopted, building fund begins, church-planter departs.
5) Phase Five – the national pastors continue to develop the ministries, evangelism, discipleship, fellowship & administrative aspects of the church.
Adopted by the congregation of New Covenant Baptist Church on 25 March 2012, revised in 2017.