Paul anticipated being personally refreshed by the church in Rome with the people he knew and loved (Romans 15:32). Maintaining personal relationships takes time. Email communications, letters, phone or video calls, coordinating hospitality, and being flexible all take our attention and energy. Relationships must also be maintained if they are to be refreshing. The body of Christ is needed, far more than a missions agent or committee.
Responsible churches count the cost of missions and of sending laborers. They might overlook counting the legacy costs of missions which tend to creep upon them gradually as more and more servants are sent. What are the legacy costs of missions? How do we count them and even embrace them?
Investopedia, defining legacy costs in the business world, says:
Legacy costs are company costs associated with health care fees and other benefits for its current employees and retired pensioners. These costs are typically ongoing and will increase the company’s spending, while not adding to revenue. Pension plans are a prime example of a legacy cost.
Certainly, churches need to think wisely about these kinds of “typical” legacy costs – pensions and the like – incurred by those who get their living from the gospel. Foolish planning can cripple multiple ministries at the same time needlessly.
But specifically with regard to missions and the work of sending, I have observed that missions-minded churches need to give better attention to the holy legacy costs the Lord calls them to bear. These costs can be compared to corporate legacy costs in the sense that the costs continue even after the laborers have left the local setting. The congregation no longer benefits from the local fellowship and fruit of their loved ones as in times past when they were being trained locally. In our “what have you done for me lately” world, we can be tempted to either forget those we’ve sent or simply be overwhelmed by the needs.