By Greg Petrie, District Representative, Northwest District
Is the DR Expansion Worth the Cost?
Village Missions currently has six District Representatives (DRs) serving rural pastors and churches. Why does Village Missions need to add two more District Representatives? Not only does it represent a significant cost increase to the budget, it also entails taking two more productive veteran missionary couples off the field. We realize this can add to the burden of finding new missionaries to serve a local church.
Why do that?
Our Primary Purpose: Serving Rural Pastors
The primary purpose of the District Representative (DR) is missionary care. Most of what we do boils down to serving rural pastors. We shepherd and advocate for the Village Missionaries serving in the small churches of rural North America. We find that to be a surprisingly rare role in ministry organizations.
One Village Missionary in our district has served about 30 years with other organizations. He said, “We’ve never had anything like this before. We’ve never had anyone to listen to us and encourage us and to intercede for us in a time of conflict.”
The District Representatives provide many things for the missionaries and churches.
The DR is a:
- Coach for those newer to ministry who need some guidance in how to be an effective rural missionary-pastor.
- Sounding board for those that need an outside perspective on a situation they are facing.
- Listening ear for those who are hurting.
- Mediator when there is a conflict between the missionary and someone in the church or the church leadership.
- Encourager of the discouraged—giving a couple the courage to stand firm and move forward in doing what is necessary and right.
- Something like a surrogate grandparent to the Village Missionary kids, someone they can talk to and show things to and play a game with.
Serving Rural Churches
Besides all of the things that happen on the twice-a-year visits to the missionaries, the DR also connects with the local churches.
Each DR serves as the liaison between Village Missions and the local church. The DR shares with them what is happening beyond their own community and the work of God that they are part of supporting.
The DR helps the local church to reflect and evaluate how they are doing in key areas of church health and encourages them in fulfilling God’s calling and purpose in their community.
In addition, there are many other aspects to the DR role.
- They organize and conduct an annual summer staff conference to provide a time of renewal and fellowship for the Village Missionary families.
- The DR is often one of the first connections for those sensing and exploring God’s calling to serve with Village Missions and the one who conducts the in-home interview as part of the application process.
- They will visit and meet with a local congregation needing a pastor and wondering if a partnership with Village Missions is right for their church and community.
- Visits and partnerships with Bible schools and mission conferences to share about Village Missions is also part of their role.
Doing It Better
The National Board of Village Missions recognized that the number of fields served (as many as 37) and the distances between them in the districts made it challenging for the DRs to do all this well. They desired that we not only be able do it well, but to do it better.
The DR Expansion allows the District Representatives to spend more time with a missionary new to the ministry or new to the field as needed. It gives them time with the local church leadership to provide training and guidance. And it grants them time to invest in those training to be Village Missionaries through the Contenders Discipleship Initiative (CDI) and Bible schools so that they would be better prepared to enter ministry.
Yes, some of the costs of having 8 DRs instead of 6 are significant, but the board chose to move forward in faith that the Lord will provide the resources. We anticipate that it will be an investment well worth it.