Deputation: Serve Now to Serve Later

Deputation is a way to serve churches now that allows you to serve on the mission field later.

David and Susan Blazer touch on many of the same themes as Luke and Anna. While much has changed since they did deputation, some of the core elements are the same. After you watch the interview, I'll discuss two of those elements.

A Natural Network

Both Luke and David were already serving, before they started deputation. Luke was an intern at his church, and David was a youth pastor for a couple years. Completing deputation successfully requires building a network. Many people find this process uncomfortable. They feel like they are just trying to make friends for financial gain. It doesn't have to be like that though, and one of the best ways to build a natural network is to be involved in ministry before starting deputation. This will look different for each person depending on their situation. Sometimes people feel like they have to get to the mission field as soon as possible. While this passion is a good thing, it should be tempered by a long-term perspective of ministry. It might be more valuable to spend a couple years after college or seminary serving in a local church before starting deputation. This could be either vocational or lay ministry, but either way it will give you experience and maturity that will be invaluable when you reach the mission field. Many countries value age much more than the United States. Age means wisdom, respect. Heading to the mission field a couple years older can be a good thing in many ways. Another natural advantage is connecting with other pastors. It gives time for true friendships to develop, and feels less self-serving.

The downside to getting involved in ministry in the States is that it can function like quicksand. There are plenty of needs here in the States, and it is easy to get caught up in those and never make it to the mission field. We must fight against the mentality that "I'm the only one who can do this job." The reality is that if you leave your position to follow God's leading and serve overseas, then God will provide for His church and fill your position. There are many more people here qualified to fill that position than there are where you're going. It's also important not to get drawn into the comforts of American life and let those keep you from going overseas. Sometimes people say, "we were going to be missionaries, but then we had some kids, and got involved in our local church, and it just never happened." If that's what God has for you, great! But if He has called you to serve Him overseas then you better be faithful to that call. Yes, it will be harder to raise your children on the mission field, and no, you won't have all the conveniences of home, but that was just as true straight out of college as it is two or three years later. Consider getting a couple years of local church experience before starting deputation, but don't lose sight of the long-term goal.

We did everything that was offered to us. We never turned anything down.
Take Advantage of Every Opportunity

I love the above quote from Susan Blazer. Besides the normal Sunday church service, they did Awana, Christian school chapels, ladies' meetings, children's church, and VBS. To that I would add summer camp. The Blazers are right that it is more difficult to schedule meetings today when many churches have discontinued their Sunday evening services, but there are many other ways to serve the church, and when a church sees that you are willing to jump in and help out anyway you can, it makes a good impression. Most pastor's won't give you much if any time during the Sunday morning worship service, so offer to do Sunday School or children's church. Offer to hang out with the teens or attend a small group. You might not be getting the same exposure to the entire church, but focus on how you can serve that church and leave the rest to God. Don't just focus on Sunday either. Missionaries often overlook mid-week opportunities such as ladies' meetings, regional pastors' fellowships, and Christian school chapels. Along the same lines, never turn down a church because you don't think they can support you. First of all, you may be surprised at how much small churches give, and second, your focus should be on serving the church. It can be hard for smaller churches to bring in missionary speakers. Look at this as an opportunity to bless the church regardless of whether or not they are able to take you on for support.

Whether it's serving in a local church before you start deputation or serving in churches on deputation, serving now will prepare you for serving on the field. Get as much local church experience as you can, and take advantage of every opportunity. You never know how God will use these experiences in your own spiritual development and in your future ministry.

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