Today Robinson is an Assistant Professor of Missions & Evangelism at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He explains the role of the local church in mission by pointing out how churches are made up of individuals saved by the grace of a missionary God who chose to fulfill His mission through His Church. Those who have received the gospel declare it to a lost world, and the cycle continues as new believers in turn share their faith. This applies both domestically and globally, as the local church is the primary sender of its members.
"The local church is central to God's global mission," he said. "It is dangerous when missionaries are sent to the ends of the earth without remaining vitally connected to the life of their sending church." The role of the sent one is critical in reporting back to his sending church, as modeled by missionary greats Hudson Taylor and John G. Paton, who lived in times when technology didn't allow for easy communication through the internet and Skype, or a relatively quick plane ride home.
Just as vital, though, is the responsibility of the sending church in supporting its sent ones. Robinson highlights the need for the sending church's "continued shepherding and spiritual oversight of their missionaries after they've been sent. . .to provide ongoing counsel, encouragement and exhortation.
"There must be a reciprocal relationship between local churches and their missionaries" he said. Robinson understands many churches simply are not doing this because their leaders are ill-equipped and unprepared to lead their flocks in such a vision. Many may feel overwhelmed or are so program-driven that the voice of local and global missions simply isn't loud enough to demand a spot on the priority list. But there is hope.
"Pastors need to be equipped to think and live mission ally," Robinson said. "When a pastor understands he and his congregation need to live like missionaries locally, they will then begin to see how they can make a difference globally." According to Robinson, one step in the right direction involves a bit of humility.
"I wish churches (in America) would stop looking at missions primarily for what we can get out of involvement," he said. "Often our churches go into the world assuming we, not Christ, are the hope for the world. We need to get over our own personal 'Savior complex' and recognize there is only one Savior. He is a global God -- the God of the Universe. That humility will help us to go out not only to serve, but to learn and be challenged ourselves."
Robinson said how churches go about reaching the nations needs to be firmly rooted in God's Word. "Strategy shouldn't be developed divorced from a careful exegesis of Scripture. We see in the Scripture examples of what He has already blessed. We should do those things," he said. "And when we act in accordance with what He has revealed there (pray, evangelize, make disciples, gather together for worship, develop leaders and multiply churches) we can expect Him to do what He alone is capable of saving and empowering."