a group of people appointed to undertake a mission or take part in a formal process on behalf of a larger group.
That's the formal definition. But what is your definition? No, not the textbook answer. What do you really think of deputation?
Some people may define it like this:
That period of time where a missionary or missionary family goes from church to church, worn out and tired, until enough money is collected to go to the field.
Others may define it more like this:
The time in which a missionary or missionary family goes from church to church asking for money so that they can do the ministry God has called them to in another land.
Let me challenge you, if one of the above is your definition, to change your thinking about deputation. Transform your personal definition of deputation. Yes, deputation is a group of people set apart to do a task on behalf of a larger group, but let's add a few things to describe the time period when that group is being "appointed."
When my husband and I went to a meeting at our mission board for the first time, they used a term that we took to heart. They called deputation "pre-field ministry." That terminology transformed our thinking. It changed our perspective.
Deputation can be a time when you focus on what you can get from churches... OR it can be a time where you focus on ministering to those God places in your path. It can be a time when you focus on raising money... OR it can be a time when you trust God to supply the need, and instead spend your time focusing on being a vessel through which God can minister to people NOW.
Ministry doesn't just happen on the field. It happens everyday. It happens NOW. Just because God has called a person/family to another place doesn't mean to stop focusing on reaching out to serve others. Deputation isn't just a time period to get you to the place of ministry. It is a time period of a special ministry. If God has called you to the field, deputation is a part of the ministry He has called you to as well.
Do you realize how many churches are struggling? How many pastors and pastors' wives are hurting or overwhelmed? Do you realize how many churches need their fire rekindled (or sometimes ignited) toward missions? Do you realize the potential missionaries sitting in congregations? Do you realize there are people sitting in those pews who just need to hear that God can use them? Yes, I like the term pre-field ministry. It sure helped me to keep my focus on what I could give instead of what I could get from churches.
"But don't we need money?"
We heard a missionary presentation that really helped challenge our thinking about the money part of deputation. The missionary said, "God has already supplied 100% of our support. It's already out there. We are just going from church to church to find where He is supplying it from." Wow! That sure takes the pressure off!
If God has called you to go, He has already set aside 100% of your support. You are just going around to find which churches He is wanting to team up with you in the ministry He has called you to do. That kind of thinking takes away the "fundraiser" mentality. Deputation isn't about money (though it does take money to get to the field.) Deputation is about partnering local churches with you in ministry.
This thinking will change your attitude about every aspect of deputation. When a pastor turns down a phone call, rejects you, or chooses not to support you, then you know that is one God has not set aside to team up with you in ministry at this time. (I wonder how many heartaches in the future God has spared our family by NOT burdening certain churches to partner with us.)
The people of the church already know you need money. Let God deal with the money worries. He is a faithful supplier. Focus on grabbing your basin of water and your towel, kneeling down, and serving. Love people like He loves people, and then watch Him bless in His timing and in His way. Sometimes greater things than money are accomplished at the churches you visit.
So the first thing to add to our definition of deputation:
To be continued...Coming up...
Delightful Deputation (Part 2) The Family
Delightful Deputation (Part 3) The Fun
Delightful Deputation (Part 4) The Friendships
By Charity, Southern Asia