What are mission boards? Are mission boards biblical?
Mission boards are simply groups of people who oversee the activities of missionaries. Some mission boards consist of only a few people from one church, while other mission boards exist as large organizations. Are these groups biblical?
In Acts 13, a great example is found in the church at Antioch. Verse 3 notes, "Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off." This certainly would have also included financial assistance as well as the expectation of Barnabas and Saul (later known as Paul) reporting their results.
Acts 14:26-27 includes a summary of their return to Antioch following this mission trip: "from [Attalia] they sailed to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work that they had fulfilled. And when they arrived and gathered the church together, they declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles." Barnabas and Paul reported to the entire church in addition to the leaders who had sent them out as missionaries.
This simple early Christian example is often used as the basis for today's mission boards who oversee the efforts of missionaries. A mission board can offer assistance spiritually, financially, relationally, and in accountability.
Spiritually, a mission board can pray for the missionaries it oversees. Further, it can encourage prayer from other believers and churches within their influence.
Second, a mission board can assist financially. Mission boards often represent the combined giving of many churches and oversee the distribution of these funds to particular missionaries. This offers an additional group to determine needs, help raise funding, and offer assistance in distributing funds as needed and where needed for effective ministry.
Third, a mission board can assist relationally. Missionaries often feel alone in their efforts to serve cross-culturally. A good mission board can remain connected through mail, online contact, phone calls, and even an occasional visit to offer encouragement (Hebrews 10:25).
Fourth, a mission board offers accountability. The precautions provided by a mission board can help make sure finances get to the missionaries they support, are used as stated by missionaries, and can assist to provide reporting to church or other donors regarding the impact their finances have in reaching people through particular missionaries.
Though a mission board is not a requirement for a missionary, mission boards can offer much assistance for effective, biblical mission work to reach new people for Christ and make disciples of all nations.
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