When God calls a missionary, He also calls a church to send them.
In my role as a mobilizer, I work with all sorts of missionary applicants. The only thing more distressing than hearing, “Oh, I don’t have a church,” is hearing, “Oh, my church doesn’t send missionaries.”
The success of missionaries hinges on the support of their church. So, how can you help your church catalyze a sending culture for the next generation of missionaries?
1. Personal Discipleship – We all know that discipleship matters. But it matters more in missions. A church focused only on ministering to the masses will struggle to identify potential cross-cultural workers.
Get one-on-one with your people. No missions conference can match the impact of hearing your own pastor or a close spiritual mentor say, “I’ve seen how you relate to new people in our church. You have potential for cross-cultural ministry. Have you considered missions?”
2. Pipelines – In Acts 13:1-3, we see God’s blueprint for a church-centered missions model. As the elders and teachers gather in worship, the Spirit selects Paul and Barnabas as missionaries. But that wasn’t Paul and Barnabas’ first day at the church. They were already teaching (Acts 11:22-26) and meeting physical needs (vv. 27-30).
Antioch may not have had a full-fledged “leadership development” track for Paul and Barnabas, but its example is instructive. Build a pipeline for prospective missionaries that includes interviewing them, and having them serve, teach, and contact agencies to better understand the process and requirements for service.
3. Preaching – God speaks most directly to us through His word preached. Rich, doctrinal preaching—that which draws out God’s heart for the nations, and culminates in the multi-ethnic scene of Heaven in Revelation 5—is a crucial mobilizing force.
True, preaching alone can’t spawn a sending culture. Yet, if we really believe the gospel is the power of God to save (Romans 1:16), we should also believe it has the power to send.
4. Prayer – God ordains to pick His workers through our petitions. “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers” (Matthew 9:37-38). Right after Jesus said this, he commissioned the 12 apostles to evangelize Israel (10:1).
Pray for missionaries in your church services, staff meetings, and alone. We cannot create a sending culture in our own strength. We must ask God to entrust the next generation of goers to us, and in-turn commit to faithfully “hold the rope” for them.
Alex Kocman is the Director of Long-Term Missionary Mobilization at ABWE, shepherding new career missionaries and their churches through the sending process. After earning his M.A. in Communication and B.S. in Biblical Studies, he served as an online apologetics instructor with Liberty University Online and a youth pastor at a multi-site church in Pennsylvania, where he honed his passion for the intersection of robust theology and mission.
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