Commendation is an event, a milestone, a date marked in the memory of the mission worker being sent and also the local church that is sending them. Commendation should be meaningful, memorable, and should convey some of the weight of what is happening. What is happening? As the Scriptures say, “the believers had put them into God’s care and had sent them out to do this work.” (Acts 14:26 NCV) Someone is dedicating some or all of their time on this earth to radically crossing cultures for God’s glory, bringing the Gospel message to men and women who are lost and without hope!
Commendation is vital and it says some profound things. Commendation communicates to the worker that they have a team of supporters rallied behind them, ready to meet their needs as they give of themselves. It communicates to the local church that this person being sent is an extension of our body – one who represents our God and represents us. It reminds us that those who stay share in the same calling as those who go – to fulfill the Great Commission wherever we are, wherever God has placed us. Commendation says to the worker “we’re behind you”, it demonstrates to the worker that the local church affirms the Lord’s call.
So, church leader, COMMEND your workers. Send them off in a way that is equal parts celebration and charge, gravity and grace. Workers need to know that God’s people are behind them, that they’re not in this alone, that it is a serious and Godward thing they have begun.
The Commendation Process
In order for a commendation to be meaningful, it is generally expected that prospective workers have been in fellowship at the sending local church for at least several years, and fully engaged in the life and ministry of that local church, playing an active role and serving the Lord in various ways. The ideal mission worker will leave a big hole to fill and be sorely missed in the sending local church.
1. The process of a local church commending a worker through MSC begins with the letter of commendation.
MSC encourages local church elders to commend a worker to the Lord for the work to which he/she has been called and to communicate this in a carefully written letter. This letter should be a page or less, and briefly cover the following points in a sentence or two each:
- Who: describe the worker, their spiritual life, their history / involvement in the sending local church, their family, children etc
- Where: the field to which they are going. If the intention is to join a work or workers already on the field, please specify.
- What: the nature of the work they will be engaged in
- When: date of departure and, if not longterm or indefinite, the length of time the commendation is in effect.
- Signed: by at least three elders , with one person specified as the primary contact for MSC with full contact details including email address.
2. Once MSC receives this letter, which may be scanned and emailed or posted, we get in touch to arrange a time to meet the worker(s) and the leadership of the sending local church.
The format of these meetings is flexible and arranged according to needs and scheduling of the local church and the workers. A sample which works well is to meet with the worker(s) in the late afternoon or over supper, then meet around 6:30 with the leadership of the sending local church for about a half an hour alone, and then have a half hour together with the worker(s) and leadership. This may be followed by an open meeting at which any interested people may hear a presentation about how MSC works in partnership with the local church, and a presentation by the worker, and from the leadership of the sending local church.
3. Agreements are signed by MSC, the sending local church , and the worker which form the legal framework allowing us to send charitable funds abroad, and to treat the worker as a legal agent of MSC Canada.
4. The worker completes and returns worker profile forms, biographical information which will be used in Missions magazine, and privacy forms indicating what level of exposure they are comfortable with through various media.