The practice of “commendation” comes from the record of Paul’s missionary journeys. Paul was active in ministry in the growing church at Antioch. He and Barnabas became aware of God's call to evangelize and plant churches in Galatia. While the leaders were fasting and praying about this the Holy Spirit indicated to them all that God had called both of them to this work. (Acts 13:2-4). Then the church laid their hands on them as a mark of identification and prayed for them. In doing so they “commended” or handed them over to God for His care while they were away on their missionary service.
Paul and Barnabas spent the next two years evangelizing and making disciples which resulted in four new churches in Galatia (Acts 14:21-23). Having accomplished their goals, they returned to Antioch from where they had beencommended to the grace of God for the work which they had now accomplished (Acts 14:26, 15:40). CMML serves workers and their local churches that have adopted this biblical model. Thus commendation can be defined as "that act of an assembly whereby called and qualified persons are handed over to the grace of God for the purpose of accomplishing the goals of evangelism, discipleship and church planting in another locality.
Note several things concerning commendation.
- It is practiced by the assembly where the missionary worker is in regular fellowship.
- It requires that both the worker and the assembly sense God's clear calling.
- It concerns workers who are both qualified and proven before going.
- The assembly publicly identifies with the worker and his future ministry.
- Commendation does not imply the independence of the worker.
- The assembly commends or hands over the care of the worker to God because of physical separation from the church.
- Commendation does not confer any ecclesiastical authority or position.
- Commendation neither guarantees nor establishes eligibility for financial support, though the assembly should support him as God enables.
- Commendation is to the grace of God for "the work," that contributes, either directly or indirectly to evangelism, discipling and church planting (Acts 14:21-23, 26).
When the leaders of a sending church are satisfied that the potential workers are both qualified and called by God to this work domestically or in another country, they "commend" them (hand them over) to God for His gracious care, guidance and provision to accomplish that work.