When you think of mission, the likelihood is you picture people travelling, even if only down the road, in order to reach people who might need help in a number of ways. When travel has become easier than ever before a lot of the ideas wrapped up with mission are about the developing world, building schools, playing with orphans, or particularly in the Vineyard movement, planting churches.
The problem is that the partner is often forgotten; the quieter, the hidden, the often underappreciated partner does not travel but is still integral to the mission: they are the homekeepers.
“After Paul and Silas came out of the prison, they went to Lydia’s house, where they met with the brothers and sisters and encouraged them. Then they left.”
Acts 16: 40, NIVUK
When Paul ventures out in the Book of Acts, he doesn’t sleep on the streets, he is often welcomed into a home, or church meeting in someone’s house. On a number of occasions he isn’t even founding churches, they already exist, he visits and encourages and teaches in Christian communities that might be small but are already living in places where they are the minority. In order for those churches to exist, they couldn’t only have missionaries.
Churches are not simply free-flowing schools where you wander in for a couple of years learning and then wander off for the rest of your life to teach “the heathens”. For a church to exist, and not just exist but thrive, there needs to be a dedicated family of Christians willing to support eachother, learn from eachother, and grow with eachother. It is only then that they can be the home-from-home, a place of sanctuary and rest, for that weary traveller.
If you are the missionary (or a church-planter), if you have been called to go out, make sure to show your gratitude to those who take you into their family and community. They are what will make your journey easier, will sustain you when things look bleak. They will adopt you into their family for however long you need and encourage you to keep on going. Be good to them, you bring joy and teaching with you, but it is no use acting as if only you have something to offer.
If you are the homekeeper (or supporter), if you have stayed put whilst watching others leave to exciting adventurous locations, make sure to remember you have a purpose and be the best you can be in your hospitality. The missionary’s job is not easy, but they bring with them encouragement and stories of Good News that will help to sustain the faith of your church and community. Be good to them, their road is tough and they are often alone in their wanderings, but God has called them to it and they need you.
These two halves are both equally important: one refreshes, the other sustains, and with God they become the trinity of the church we need to be, moving and rooting ourselves deeper in Him.
Be thankful for the other and thankful in yourself, God gives us enough work to keep everyone busy.