Why Would A Church NOT Want to Send Missionaries from their Congregation?
We recently conducted five THINK-TANKS with pastors in four different states. The topic being discussed was how churches could identify, train and launch missionaries from their congregation. One of the questions we asked was: Why would a church NOT want to send missionaries from their congregation. Here is a summary of the pastor’s answers:
• INSECURITY: Pastors may fear that if they train people, someone else might do “it” better than them or potentially will lose their job. They may not want to be transparent enough to bring potential leaders close to them to adequately train them. Pastors may not feel they have enough qualifications to train missionaries, especially compared to college and seminary profs.
• SELF-FOCUSED: There is the temptation to build an empire in which case it doesn’t make sense to send away the best and brightest leaders. Some churches may be in survival mode so it would be a huge sacrifice to let go of key leaders. If you have trained leaders, it would be nice to keep them around and benefit from your ministry.
• PERFECTIONISM: Training leaders requires letting someone else do ministry and they will not do it at the same quality you could do it.
• TIME: Pastors are already over-worked and it would be difficult to add leadership training to their job description. The congregation may have expectations that don’t allow pastors to focus their time to equipping a few leaders.
• COST: There is a price to pay to let go of a key leader to be a missionary. He will no longer be giving which immediately impacts the church finances. But to make it worse, it will require more missionary support funds to support the person you are sending.
• EXPECTATIONS: We have traditionally outsourced training to colleges and seminaries. Our expectation is that institutions will handle training for us… they are the specialists. Yet there are many in their 30’s and 40’s who could be missionaries who won’t leave to study at an institution. Pastors may not see training as their responsibility. Church members expect attention from the pastor which doesn’t leave time to focus on training.
VISION: The pastor or church may not have a vision for doing anything outside of their local church. If the pastor doesn’t have a vision for the world, he won’t see the need to send missionaries from their congregation.
• IGNORANCE: A pastor may just not realize that training leaders is something he should do. Ephesians 4:11-12 makes it clear that equipping others is a key part of the pastor’s job description. Also, a pastor may not be aware of needs around the world and thus doesn’t have a heart for world missions or urgency to send more missionaries.
• NO MEN: There may be a lack of potential leaders to train. Though most churches have men, they are not perceived to be the raw material for leadership development. Pastors may not be able to identify those who could potentially be trained.
• INEXPERIENCE: Some pastors have never seen leadership training done in the local church. It wasn’t taught or modeled in Bible College or Seminary. The model of ministry for which they are trained may be primarily pulpit oriented.
• PRIORITIES: With all the demands on a pastor’s time, training leaders is just not a priority.
Pastor, prayerfully consider how many, if any, might apply to your ministry. Is it time to re-frame your thinking and your plans?