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Traditional vs. Alternative Paths to Mission

We’re excited for our Executive Director, Larry McCrary’s, soon-to-be-released book,

The Marketspace: Essential Relationships Between the Sending Church, Marketplace Worker, and Missionary Team

In anticipation of its release, we wanted to repost a resource we’ve shared over the years that has shaped this new book of the paradigm shift from ‘traditional paths’ to ‘alternative paths’ to mission.


Traditional Paths to Mission

The responsibility to send, care for, and receive back missionaries belongs to the church, or, more specifically, to the local church from which they are sent. The church is strangely absent, however, from the most common paths to mission followed by missionaries:

As you can see in the above diagram, there are traditionally two main paths to the mission field—through a job transfer with an employer or through joining a missions agency. Either path can land the missionary on the field and lead to missionary engagement, disciple-making, and indigenous church plants. But where is the church in the process?

Alternative Paths to Mission

There is a better way. There is a way for the church to join in the work on the field and not leave her sent ones alone. There is a way for the church to learn from the experience of those it has sent:

As you can see in the above diagram, the traditional paths to mission remain, but the local church retains the sending authority given by Christ. Moreover, those paths are two of many and can be applied not only to international mission, but also to all of the missionaries who remain in the neighborhoods and communities where God has already placed them. In each case above, the local church retains authority in the life of the ones sent and helps them determine how engagement will happen. The missionaries are loved and shepherded, and the local church reaps the wonderful benefits of learning from the members’ experiences on the field. As a result, people in the local church become partners on the field and learn to think and act like the people they already are: sent ones.


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