“Triangles are special because they are exceptionally strong.” “Any structure requiring a strong and rigid construction depends on triangles to achieve that goal.” “Triangles hold large loads without collapsing or having their structure altered.” These are just a handful of statements that come up under a google search that explores the strength of triangles. If triangles are such strong and exceptional shapes for holding up under pressure, it should be no surprise that one of the best shapes should also be showing itself in the field of missions. After all, everyone knows that becoming involved in Christian missions in this world is at least a guarantee to face spiritual warfare, if not also a promise to face true physical danger. How might a triangle help reduce that stress?
One popular topic in the missions world today is the idea of a triad. Any such triad should form between the missionary (worker), the sending agency, and the sending church (the church from which the worker will be sent out). If triangles are such strong shapes, this triad formation is critical when the circumstances start building pressure upon the missionary. It is necessary to have an agency that also desires to work with the sending church so that the missionary will be receiving good communication from both supporting parties. It is necessary to have a sending church that understands its task to communicate with the agency as well as support the worker before, during, and after service on the field. It is necessary to have a missionary that communicates well with both agency and sending church so that they will all know how to interact with one another.
Listen up church-missionary-agency, and hear these words of wisdom:
1) Ecclesiastes 4:10 “Pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” Maybe a tag line should be added: “especially a missionary!” No one ever said serving as a worker in a field is easy, so it is obvious that the agency and the church are both needed to support the worker in logistical support, moral support, financial support, prayer support, and re-entry support. The worker may be the common link between the church and agency, but there is no law against those two working together without access to one another that only originates from the common link.
2) Ephesians 4:2-3 “2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Could three parties really work together and bear with one another and keep unity? Well, if the Spirit directs to a place of peace, then absolutely this can happen! If the task is to be finished and the goal is to be reached, it takes all three parties viewing the triangle as important. The triangle is stronger, but it takes all three angles to make it that way. Nobody has to be the sole initiator for the relationship to thrive. In this case, aim for a triad that looks like an equilateral triangle rather than obtuse or scalene!
3) Romans 12:16 “Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.” Church, just because the worker is from YOUR church does not mean the agency is of lower position. Agency, just because the church may not know everything there is to know about the field does not mean you are entitled to being conceited. Worker, just because you are the one actually going to the hard place does not mean that you can be proud. If all are obedient to individual callings, the Lord will be glorified!
The truth is that many bridges are composed of triangular shapes. Truss bridges, in particular, rely on triangles to distribute the weight throughout the bridge. Wow! What a wonderful concept for successful mission work to be achieved! Wouldn’t it be wonderful to distribute the weight so that the missionary doesn’t bear the entire load? What if the triangle could work together? Then, and only then, God could receive the glory, the church could fulfill Her commission, the agency could play its role, and the worker could heed his/her calling. With strong triads, bridges could be built over the waters of the oceans, over the depths of the canyons, and over the valleys of death and lives could be saved from the pits of despair. That is a triangle worth constructing!
Kirsten McClain serves in church missions mobilization as a church missions consultant for OMF. She has been serving churches and mission agencies for the last 20 years. She has a heart to see the church realize her potential in missions and is driven to be a mobilizer to this end. She lives in Georgia with her husband and three children, and she is ready to direct pastors to the various resources that OMF uses to come alongside churches and individuals so that they can do missions well. firstname.lastname@example.org