Why I Am Excited About My Role as Director of Long-term Ministries


For several years, I’ve watched what the Lord is doing through Reaching and Teaching International Ministries. I’ve watched them serve like-minded churches in sending qualified missionaries to make mature disciples, establish healthy churches, and train local leaders. In January, I began working with RTIM as the Director of Long-Term Ministries. After seeing this organization from the inside the last two months, I am even more grateful to be part of it. I could give many reasons, but let me focus on just three.

Modern missions agencies must be committed to the conviction that the local church is the means and aim of global missions. This reclamation of church-centered missions has been celebrated by those at RTIM. This is not a mere motto or slogan. Embedded at the core of our DNA is the conviction that the local church has the authority and mandate to send missionaries.  

In these past two months, I have seen this priority play out in numerous ways. Our mobilizers and regional leaders don’t wait to contact churches once they meet potential missionaries. They talk to church leaders before even sending someone an application. While establishing a target for ministry, budget, and team, the church is involved in shaping their sent ones’ ministry. Our Regional Leaders and Member Care workers connect with churches to coordinate support for their sent ones. No significant decisions are made without the oversight of the sending church. It has been thrilling to hand the reins of missions back to local churches, which has not always been the case. Too often, especially over the past fifty years, parachurch ministries have held the reins.

The missionary task is deeply theological and must be grounded in trusting the ordinary means of grace. I came to this conviction during my own time as a missionary. RTIM celebrates biblical patterns for ministry—evangelism as biblically faithful proclamation of the gospel, discipleship to full maturity in the context of the local church, and equipping local leaders to guard sound doctrine and rightly divide the Word of truth for themselves and their congregations. These processes can’t be fast-tracked by efficient programs or methods. RTIM knows this, so we are committed to whatever it takes to be faithful to the task—even if it takes time.

The vast swaths of lostness around the world is real, and our task is indeed urgent. These realities cause some to balk at the long, slow work of teaching and equipping believers. But Jesus’s commission demands that from us. Our faithfulness to the task isn’t based on figuring out how we can complete the Great Commission. If we are to make disciples of all nations, then we know this task cannot be completed before Jesus comes back any more than our discipleship will be completed before we draw our last breath. This robust vision of the missionary task causes our organization to take the long view of raising up theologically trained elders who will faithfully entrust both doctrine and the skills of exegesis to faithful men who will likewise entrust it to faithful men. 

Finally, RTIM is chock-full of bright, thoughtful, and theologically sharp missionary practitioners. By leading Long-Term Ministries, I get to work alongside some of the brightest thinkers in modern missions who are shaping the way work is happening on the ground. As I considered the job, this kind of collaboration excited me the most.

            No surprise, this collaborative environment has so far been the most fun part of my job. The Regional Leaders—all of whom have significant missions experience—are some of the best missionary-theologians serving today. Our Member Care personnel are insightful and deeply connected with our global workers both in crisis and perhaps more importantly before crisis. Our Operations Managers are innovative and creative people who love to simplify the sending process and make it as efficient and supportive as possible. Getting to work alongside these brothers and sisters is an incredible joy.

If reading this prompts you to consider working with RTIM, then we would love to connect. If you’re a church leader looking for a partner to collaborate with in sending your members to the nations, then we would love to talk with you. Even if it turns out that we might not be the best fit, we are eager to recommend other organizations or teams. I have heard our president happily recommend another agency to someone who was committed to missions work but who held different convictions than RTIM. 

I know I said I would only list three reasons, but here’s a bonus one: this posture of suggesting other agencies and avenues for sending reminds me that RTIM is a kingdom-minded organization that holds its convictions tightly but is not competitive or tribal. We believe the strongest teams and churches are formed around shared convictions and theological commitments. But we also want to be quick to promote the faithful work of other organizations. There’s much work yet to be done while the Lord tarries, and I’m grateful for the privilege to be a part of that work through RTIM.

Matt Bennett

Matt serves as an Associate Professor of Missions and Theology at Cedarville University, and also as the Director of Long-term Ministry at RTIM. He obtained his Ph.D. in Missiology from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and served for six years in North Africa with the International Mission Board. He is the author of Hope for American Evangelicals: A Missionary Perspective on Restoring Our Broken House(B&H, 2023), The Qur’an and the Christian: An In-Depth Look into the Book of Islam for Followers of Jesus (Kregel Academic, 2022), and 40 Questions About Islam (Kregel Academic, 2020). He has written articles for 9Marks and The Gospel Coalition among other publications. Matt and his wife, Emily, live in Cedarville, Ohio with their three children Anabelle, Elliot, and Oliver. They are members of Grace Baptist Church, where Matt serves as an elder

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