How Long Has It Been?
Most churches have never sent a missionary from their congregation. Those same churches love missionaries. They support missionaries financially and pray for them. They would consider themselves missions-minded. Yet in spite of the interest and commitment to missions, they have never sent one of their own to the mission field. It seems incongruous to have an intense commitment to missions but never send one of your own. What is missing? May I suggest there are two key ingredients to a church becoming a SENDING church.
1. VISION: First, the church must decide that sending missionaries is something they want to do. It is really quite simple, but just articulating a desire is a major step forward in producing missionaries. If that aspiration is declared frequently from the pulpit and reinforced in consistent communication, the congregation will get the idea that this is important. But the first step is for the leadership of a church to say that this is something they desire. It is of course counterintuitive to do this. Why would a church want to send out one of their best. After all, you need all the help you can get for your church. Imagine what it must have been like that first Sunday after Paul and Barnabas left for the mission field. The church of Antioch would have sensed a massive void losing Barnabas as a great encourager and giver and Paul as a great theologian and expositor. It is understandable that a church would not want to surrender such men to missionary work. Every church that sends missionaries feels the loss and will struggle to fill the gap. Therefore, it will take sacrifice and surrender for a church to cast the vision of sending one of their own to the mission field but it probably won’t happen unless you set it as a goal.
2. TRAINING: Missionaries don’t just appear from no-where…. they are created. A church that wants to produce missionaries must have a system to develop full time Christian workers. The church must take seriously Ephesians 5:11-12; i.e. that it is the role of Pastors and Evangelists to train people to do ministry. The church that produces missionaries will view itself as a training center… an educational institution… a missionary factory. All the events and programs of the church will be targeted at creating Great Commission Christians. Training will be built into all age groups meetings. Children’s ministries will have missions in mind. Teens will be equipped, not entertained. Adults will equipped to “do,” not just “know.” If a church wants to send missionaries from the congregation it must have a deliberate and measureable plan to prepare them.
Biblical Ministries Worldwide has the resources to help you do both of these: create the vision and launch a culture of training. For more information, contact Paul Seger (firstname.lastname@example.org)