Growing up in the States, we were in every church service our church held throughout the week. We couldn’t play sports which would interfere with our church attendance on a regular basis. We knew almost everyone in our church and would volunteer to help out whenever possible. My family was involved in the inner workings of that local church. We were also active in regional conferences and would faithfully attend or participate in those events as well. Often one or both of my parents were asked to speak or lead something. That is how I grew up.
Many people are still that way and that is what keeps a local church healthy. But I find a downtrend in that involvement among missionaries and their families. Now I know this is not true all across the board. I think it depends on the type of ministry one is involved in. If you are working in an area planting one church you will typically be more involved. When you are working in health care, community development, education, or with a larger group of churches with some established leadership, we tend to pull away.
Our kids are not learning how to be involved as much as we were growing up. They don’t go to Sunday School outings or Youth Group as often because of the cultural differences. They may or may not be involved in mid-week services depending on how far away they live. Often it is just the Sunday morning service and even that can be hindered as they may be here one week and in a different fellowship the next week.
I understand how hard it is to participate two-three times on Sunday and mid-week when there is a language barrier, let alone cultural differences. I struggle sometimes even listening to a sermon in which there isn’t a lot of meat spiritually because of the spiritual level of the local pastor.
So we start to disengage ourselves from that body of believers in a local church because our job is with many churches or because we don’t understand everything. We are handing over leadership to nationals and in doing so we have to back out. If we are there in the Bible studies the questions will defer to us rather than the local leader. But what are we teaching our kids?
How involved should we remain? We are the missionaries who are here to teach and lead spiritually but we aren’t involved in our local assemblies here on the field? We are hardly involved in a local assembly when we are on furlough either because of all our travels.
Are we spiritually involved with our fellow Body Members?