Spiritual Care

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Spiritual Care


What is involved in local church mobilization?

"Mission mobilization activity is more crucial than field missionary activity," observes Dr. Ralph Winter of the U.S. Center for World Missions. "Wouldn’t it be better to awaken one hundred sleeping firemen than to hopelessly throw your own little bucket of water on a huge fire yourself?" The concept of local church mobilization is to redirect the natural regression of church organization –
from: the Missions Committee does missions on behalf of the church
to: the Missions Committee mobilizes the church to do missions It is essential to understand the distinction. If a local church missions pastor or staff coordinator expends their energies in doing all the administrative work to keep in touch with missionaries, monitor their ministry, and makes all the decisions about who and how much to support them, then no one else gets the blessings, no one else shares the burdens, no one else knows how to pray. People need to have ownership, relationship, and partnership in order to be stakeholders and investors in the vision for ministry on far-flung fields. They don’t get that automatically. Team performance and productivity is hugely impacted by the contribution of everyone on the team pulling in the same direction. It is the local church mobilizer’s work to education, inform, inspire, and provide opportunities for that to happen. Local Church Mobilization is winning the participation and ownership of others to do their part in a Great Commission, both as individuals and as a body.

How can I help my church become more effective in missions?

Here is a short checklist typical of churches that are ineffective in missions:

  1. We never hear about missions
  2. We don’t know any missionaries
  3. We support missions (or missionaries) but we don’t know why
  4. We support missionaries by we don’t see the connection with our church
  5. We support so many missionaries we can’t keep them all straight
  6. We support missions work “all over”
  7. We’re working on our Jerusalem before we go to the uttermost parts
  8. We don’t even know how to begin to be involved in missions
  9. We let our denomination (or association) handle that
  10. We just don’t care. We have enough needs in our church to take care of.
Here are basic categories of way to help your church become more effective:
  1. Get some resources to help people pray for missions.
  2. Submit prayer requests reflecting God’s heart for the nations.
  3. Build relationships with real missionaries.
  4. Put up some excellent graphics of the world, or unreached people, or cross-cultural needs.
  5. Give John Piper’s Let the Nations Be Glad to your Pastor.
  6. Attend another church’s missions conference or emphasis event and take notes.
  7. Provide overnight hospitality to a missionary or missionary family.
  8. Find out the census demographics of your community.
  9. Get Operation World and use it to pray and encourage others to pray for the nations.
  10. Ask about getting a Missions Team (or Missions Committee) started, if you don’t have one.
  11. Ask about serving on the Missions Team.
  12. Help plan and execute a Missions emphasis event or conference.
  13. Find out how and how much your church supports missions financially.
  14. Give more to missions, however your church supports it, through designated giving or project giving or other means.
  15. Write a missionary or missions organization asking for critical or strategic projects your church can support.
  16. Become a prayer partner for someone from your church preparing for missions.
  17. Get involved with (or initiate!) a short-term mission team from your church in support of a ministry the church supports or is related to in some way.
  18. Pledge support to someone from your church going on a short-term missions trip.
  19. Become a mentor for a missionary candidate from your church.
  20. Encourage your pastor to use illustrations from missionary work in his sermons.
  21. Read missionary biographies and share them with your church friends.
  22. Offer to teach a class on missions.
  23. Create a fund-raiser for missions.
  24. Start a missions/missionary newsletter for your church.
  25. Add missions books (Bible studies, biographies, etc.) and other missions resources (CDs, DVDs, etc.) to your church lending library.
Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources. Today’s All-Star Missions Churches: Strategies to Help Your Church Get Into the Game

Why is church missions mobilization important?

Local church missions mobilization is important because: • The local church is the primary entity in God’s plan for fulfilling the Great Commission. The natural inclination of people and churches is to focus on themselves rather than to focus outwardly. • People need encouragement, inspiration, and relevant information in order to act. • Without advocates for the cause of missions, the myriad distractions of everyday life and programs of the church easily eclipse the Gospel-needy unreached people beyond the normal reach of the church. • Without specialists in missions, the church doesn’t have a local interpreter to communicate the differences and challenges of cross-cultural ministry “on the field”. • Without a mobilizer, many opportunities would never even be seen, many potential candidates never committed, many resources untapped, many blessings missed, many partners never connected, many lives among unreached people groups (humanly speaking) never touched with the Gospel. • “As long as there are millions destitute of the word of God and the knowledge of Jesus Christ, it will be impossible for me to devote my time and energy to those who have both.” – J.L. Ewen • “The command has been to “go,” but we have stayed – in body, gifts, prayer and influence. He has asked us to be witnesses unto the uttermost parts of the earth… but 99% of Christians have kept puttering around in the homeland.” – Robert Savage • From a human perspective, it is maddeningly unfair that so few of us would soak in oceans of access to the Gospel and the teaching of God’s Word while billions perish, spiritually languishing for a drop of knowledge of Christ. What is a “mobilizer”? A mobilizer is passionate about God and His mission for the world. Mobilizers make it their mission in life to spread God’s mission. They use all the resources they possess to spread the Word and reach people in need of God. Mobilizers spend time, money, and resources to influence others to follow Jesus and to be part of His global mission. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

How is church missions mobilization different?

Most of the resources in the missions world referring to mobilization actually refer to mobilization of individuals. They want to get individuals committed to becoming missionaries. Propempo recommends and provides links to lots of good resources and well-intentioned organizations that think of mobilization in terms of the individual. But, that is not what we’re talking about here. Local church missions mobilization is intentionally mobilizing the whole congregation of a local church (as much as possible) toward involvement in the Great Commission. Church mobilization seeks to educate, motivate, and provide opportunities for the church to be involved personally and to develop a sense of ownership in every aspect of missions and missionary ministry. Local church missions mobilization is usually within the scope of one or more staff members of the church and/or a missions team or missions committee or missions board which handles the unique responsibilities of promoting and managing missions interests of the church. Due to the amount of information and relationships which must be processed on a continual and timely basis, Propempo recommends that a designated group of specialists, as a “missions team” or “missions committee”, the authorized to have responsibility for this function. Often, in order to have the full attention and commitment of the church in the arena of missions, the missions team or missions committee must work closely with the pastoral staff and leadership body of the church. So, one of the significant differences between local church missions mobilization and the mobilization of individuals is the skill and dynamic of coordination, communication, and focus of multiple layers of leadership and relationships within the church and its extended ministries. Church missions mobilization is challenging and exciting. It is incredible to see “the lights turn on” for a whole congregation. It is amazing to see the fruit of a church fired up for missions begin to give more, pray more, expect more, then become much more focused on kingdom values. The ripple effect of doing missions well impacts all the ministries of the church and the mindsets of its members. Growing to be more outwardly focused as a congregation of world Christians is worth the work and sacrifice. Seeing well-trained servants sent into cross-cultural ministry, both short-term and long-term, has exponential, catalytic power for everyone involved. Ralph Winter, founder and director of the US Center for World Missions, dedicated much of his life and efforts toward individual mobilization. This following quote is significant for highlighting the priority of mobilization. It has even greater importance when applied to a biblical church centered view of mobilization. He said, “Suppose I had a thousand college seniors in front of me who asked me where they ought to go to make a maximum contribution to Christ’s global cause. What would I tell them? I would tell them to mobilize. All of them.” p.s. – Here’s a short list of ministries typically focused on individual mobilization:
Caleb Project (dissolved)
US Center for World Missions
the “Perspectives on the World Christian Movement” course (“Perspectives”)
The Traveling Team
“Going Deeper” retreats
Finishers Project
“Passion” conference Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

What authority or permission is needed?

If the goal is to stimulate and encourage the whole congregation to be involved in missions (and we will advocate that it is), then it is essential that someone or some group within the church be authorized to fulfill that function. For most churches this means that a Missions Team or Committee or Board be formed. Many churches may already have some group or committee tasked with some function similar to a missions team. It may be a special interest group, a missions affinity group, a women’s missions promotional group, or a men’s group specializing in construction projects. We will address the most effective composition of a missions team or committee later. But, suffice it to say now, the acceptance and effectiveness of this specialized missions body will be greatly enhanced by working within the normal structures and authority of its local church. The specific structure and authority of a missions team may be significantly different from church to church. Some churches are largely run by staff. Some churches operate within a specific prescribed order or tradition or within certain denominational expectations. Other churches are quite flexible in their structure and designations for specialized ministry groups. The specific name designation for admissions team and organizational structural assignment is not as important as winning the approval, blessing, and authorized scope of authority for their function. So what should the scope of authority be? In our view, the missions team or committee (or other name designation) should clearly have responsibility and authority, under the designated leadership of the church, to do the following:

  1. initiate and manage missions education for the church
  2. initiate and manage two-way communication with missionaries and missions interests
  3. guide and direct its own proceedings, including selection, training, and ongoing development of its own team or committee members
  4. provide for and promote a variety of means for its own church members to be involved in, relate to, support, and develop ownership of the missionaries and missions interests with which the local church has relationship and/or commitment
  5. plan and implement a church-wide missions emphasis event (at least annually)
  6. recommend and manage the churches missions budget and or financial partnership and support commitments to missionaries and missions interests
  7. facilitate the training and discipleship of would-be missionary candidates, including short-term missions participants and the logistical, strategic, financial, and service elements of short-term missions opportunities
What happens if the church is not ready to establish a mission team or committee? Is it possible for interested people to function like a mission steamer committee but without having the authorization as a recognized part of the church’s organizational chart? Yes, it is possible though limited. If the church leadership is not willing or prepared to establish a missions team or committee, then your first task is to persuade them to do so. Failing that, or if the timing is just not right, you and others interested in launching a missions team should strive to be respectful, positive, and encouraging toward your church leaders, while steadily praying and seeking to serve and fulfill as much of the above responsibilities as possible. At this point, you are simply church members functioning as an ad hoc affinity group with a special interest in missions. Through your helpful information, winsome approach, and unselfish service, you may went over the leadership. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

How can I get the ball rolling?

Here is a bullet point list of ideas to help you get started. Note that they’re not given in sequential order and some will be overlapping. Certainly you don’t need to do all of these; and, some may not even be possible or reasonable in your situation. You be the judge. • Simply ask your senior pastor, elder, deacon, or administrative council leader if you would be allowed to start a missions team/committee. • Begin asking around among your friends in the church who might be interested in forming a group to especially pray for, communicate with, and learn more about missionaries and missions interests of the church. • Find out if your church has ever had a missions team or committee. • Call, e-mail, or write your church association or denomination headquarters to find out if they have helpful information about forming a missions team or committee. • Ask someone who was on the missions team/committee from a sister or corresponding like-minded church in your area for ideas, foundational documents, and help in presenting the concept to your local church leadership. • Work on a rough draft of a founding missions team charter document or policy to present to your church leadership. • Brainstorm and compile ideas about how the missions team might help your church be more effective in missions and even have an impact on local outreach. • Pray together with friends from your church who are also interested in starting a missions team on a regular basis. • Discover resources listed on the side panel of this section or recommended resources from Propempo.com’s store or other places on the Internet. • Write a proposal for your church leaders and/or decision-makers regarding the benefits and activities of the missions team for your church. • Contact Propempo international about having someone make a presentation to your church leaders and have a missions team training seminar at your church.
• Organize an on-site or off-site retreat for those interested in the possibility of serving on a missions team/committee. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

What do I need to know to get started with church mobilization?

First of all, if you haven’t done so already, you should read a few of the sections previous to this one to give you an idea of the function and spear of responsibility of a church mobilization missions team/committee. You should start by doing some research and asking a lot of questions about your church’s track record, opportunities, and commitments and missions. Find out: • What missionaries or mission ministries does your church already support or have a relationship with? • By what means are they supported? Directly? Indirectly through an aggregated fund on behalf of your denomination, fellowship, or association? • How does your church identify funds for missions? Designated giving? A percentage of the overall budget? Faith promise? Special offerings? An annual project fund drive? Pledges? Sunday school offerings? • How have the missionaries or missions ministries funded by the church been selected? • By what criteria are funding commitments made and sustained? • What visibility does missions have to the church body, from the platform in public meetings, in the physical decor and communication pieces of the church? • Is there an annual missions emphasis event? If so, what is the participation level and how much priority does it have in the church calendar? • Has the senior pastor ever visited a missionary or missions ministry on the field? • Has there ever been a member from this church that trained and served (or serves) on the mission field long term as their vocation? • What is the level of prayer awareness of the congregation for missions, missionaries, and missions interests worldwide? • What is the percentage of gross income into the local church (except for capital and infrastructure project funds) spent for missions? • How does the missions giving compare with gross income on a per-giving-unit basis? Next, you need to find out what it takes for a new committee or ministry team to be started in your church. It may be a simple as filling out a form and submitting it to leadership for consideration. It may take a little more work for you put to put together a proposal. You might have to do some groundwork to find out who the original members of the missions team might be and recruit them. If your church has never had a missions ministry body, you might need to request an implement a special period for training the new group. If your church has had a missions ministry team in the past or has a similarly functioning group, you will need to discover their founding documents, as much as possible, and learn what you can from them. It is likely that a sister church or other like-minded church among those your church has fellowship already has a functioning missions team or missions committee. You can learn a lot from their experience. A phone interview or exchange of e-mails could save you a lot of trouble. Ask them for their mission’s policy or guidelines documents. Assuming that your patient research and respectful requests to launch the missions team are approved, you will be well on the way to building momentum for a fresh start. Don’t forget to persistently pray through the process. The point of it all is that God would receive the glory due his name among all nations. That begins with you and your church. So how you do it is as significant as what you do, because you’re doing it for his glory. We believe that having a recognized missions team serving the best interests of the local church is a highly effective means of bringing glory to God and fulfilling the great commission. So you can proceed confidently in God’s will. Please prayerfully consider making a donation to sustain Propempo.com and the ministry of Propempo International Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

What are the costs of chuch mobilization?

There are intangible costs:
– time and organizational effort for meetings
– long-distance communication with missionaries
– study and research to grow in the area of missions and keep abreast of current issues
– relational stretching, as you coordinate and work through issues with your missions team and church leadership There are tangible costs as well:
– expenses related to regular meetings and hosting those meetings
– increased expenses as the church takes ownership of missionaries and ministries in a new way
– significant expenses related to the shepherding and care of missionaries both on the field and home side including having church leaders visit them on the field
– costs related to education, publicity, and promotion of missions interests on church walls and bulletin boards, Sunday school rooms, publications, newsletters, etc.
– the costs of organizing and implementing an appealing, first-rate missions emphasis event on at least an annual basis
– procuring training materials and trainers or a consultant (e.g.-from Propempo) for ongoing leadership training of your church missions team, staff, pastors and leaders Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

How does mobilization for local missions relate to overseas missions?

This question is aimed at discerning the difference between local outreach and international or overseas cross-cultural ministry. It is true that the Great Commission, as found in Matthew 28:16-20, Luke 24:45-48, and Acts 1:8, includes both local and long-distance evangelism and discipleship. It is not limited to faraway cross-cultural ministry. However, it was certainly not intended to keep our ministry vision lowered to the community immediately around us. It is not even appropriate to “balance” church outreach spending between “Jerusalem” and the “uttermost parts”. Acts 1:8 does outline the extension of the gospel of Jesus Christ through concentric circles beginning in Jerusalem. However, the grammar indicates that the geographical commitments are not sequential; rather, they are simultaneous. Taken this way, each local church should conscientiously be engaged in ministry in their immediate community to people just like them, in their community to people not like them, and outside the reach of their community to people not like themselves. We don’t reach our Jerusalem first, then proceed to our Judea, afterward moving on to Samaria-like places, and finally deigning to go to the ends of the earth. In order to obey Acts 1:8, our churches (your church) must think through how best to be involved in each of these arenas at the same time. Thankfully, there are common threads of passion and commitment between local outreach and overseas missions. Both have a heart to extend the gospel of Jesus Christ to those who need it most. Both put a premium on personal, flesh and blood, ambassadors to articulate the Gospel and disciple converts in the faith. Both use a wide variety of means to accomplish their ministry goals, e.g.-literature, media, personal testimony and witness, small groups, technology, and personal spiritual discipleship. However, we shouldn’t jump to the wrong conclusion that giving 50% of our missions funds to local outreach and 50% to overseas missions constitutes a proper balance. The church must be involved in equipping the saints for the work of ministry. But it takes much less training and much less cost to involve far more people of the church in direct local outreach. It requires a much higher level of specialized training at far more cost involving far fewer people of the church to sustain viable overseas missions ministry. The spectrum looks like this: LOCAL OUTREACH OVERSEAS MISSIONS many people few people little effort much effort relatively inexpensive relatively expensive little training much specialized training shorter-term goals longer-term goals The church could use Acts 1:8 as a model template for developing ministry. Ask yourselves the questions, “What are we doing for evangelism and discipleship” in:

  1. our immediate community (Jerusalem)
  2. our neighboring communities or metro area (Judea)
  3. our nearby cross-cultural community/ies
  4. the unreached peoples of the world
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What is the scope of work of a church Missions Team (MT)?

Ideally, the missions team is the primary liaison between the local church and the ministry out in the field. The missions team is the primary communications conduit between local church leadership and the missionaries, between the congregation and the ministries it supports corporately. As such, the missions team helps frame the priorities in missions ministries which best express the biblical and practical goals of their local church. The following is a typical list of roles and responsibilities of a local church missions team. • stimulate prayer for missions among the ministries of the church using the most current information available from the workers and work on the field • develop a relational foundation for missionary care and shepherding • set priorities, goals, and promotion for missions funding, budgeting, and management • plan and execute the missions emphasis event at least annually • provide for regular communication and accountability with supported missionaries and missions entities • assist church leaders with appropriate information and education enabling them to fulfill their leadership role in missions with current understanding • provide avenues and motivation for congregants to become personally involved in missions • facilitate guidance of missionary candidates toward appropriate missions career goals in alignment with the doctrine and priorities of the local church • organize and fulfill meaningful short-term missions teams and projects • educate, inspire, and motivate church members to embrace their role in commitments as world Christians • develop media, publications, and promotional materials to facilitate all of the above roles and responsibilities Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

What documents do we need to get started?

At minimum, you need a decision in writing from the church leadership authorizing the development of the church missions team or committee or whatever title is appropriate for your local church. Soon after that you’ll want to have a simple one-page draft statement describing the projected roles and responsibilities of the missions team. At each point of development along the way it is wise to at least get the feedback of your churches leadership board, session, or council. Although it is always healthy to get their affirmation and approval of the details, it is even more important to win their support and positive ownership for the long-term effectiveness of the missions team. Sooner or later you’ll want to develop a larger policy or guidelines document which outlines sections which may include the following: • the biblical basis and foundation for missions • the role of the local church in missions • the qualifications, responsibilities of, and terms of service of the missions team and its composition • the financial and administrative reporting responsibilities of the missions team • the organizational framework of the missions team, its officers, and any supporting functions, e.g.-sub team, task force, ad hoc workgroup • a listing and description of the missions team’s roles and responsibilities • any established criteria or priorities for the selection of missionaries or ministries for support, continuing support, or termination of support • descriptions of internal processes for strategic decision-making, recordkeeping, budgeting and accounting, personnel selection, communication, etc. As time goes on and as experience dictates the missions team and/or its church leadership may want to adopt policies or guidelines for a mature and robust missions ministry in the church. You may want to research and/or develop policy or guidelines for other areas, such as these: • short-term missions ministry
• missionary discipline or termination • adoption of an unreached people group • adopting a strategic focus ministry or project • developing a mentorship and or approval process for missionary candidates to become missionaries sent out from your local church (even in partnership with an external missions sending organization) • developing and teaching missions courses for the congregation • establishing a program of missions education for children • developing and or recommending field partnership relationships between your church and a national church overseas or a specific strategic outreach goal overseas Please prayerfully consider making a donation to sustain Propempo.com and the ministry of Propempo International Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.


What do we call this church mobilization function?

What do we call this church mobilization function? Churches have many different names for the group assigned to manage, administrate, and mobilize for missions. The old-fashioned name "missions committee" works just fine. However, we encourage churches to use the term "team", because is is usually viewed as a more active, dynamic term than committee. Here is a brainstorm list of terms taken from actual name designations from local churches. Though your church may have specific naming conventions already locked in, you might consider any of the following terms. You can mix and match appropriately.

  • global outreach team (go team)
  • missions commission
  • missions committee
  • missions team
  • international missions
  • missions board
  • international outreach
  • foreign missions
  • missionary
  • advancement
  • task force
  • commission
  • great commission team
  • Acts 1:8
  • Acts 29
  • global
  • local
  • domestic
  • group
  • mobilization
  • evangelism
  • world
  • strategic global impact
  • missions leadership team
One of the issues you will face early on is the distinction or integration of local and global interests. Technically, the great commission includes both. Practically though, there are very significant ways in which management, promotion, and involvement function between the domestic and international side. Certainly there should be good communication and coordination between those two functions on the spectrum. Your church may decide that both fall under the same umbrella of leadership. Or, you may decide to separate them as to different teams. We would suggest that, when it comes to some annual celebration or missions outreach event, both the domestic and international side are well represented and promoted. Bottom line: the most popular and functional current terms for this function of the church would be global outreach team or missions team. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

How often should we meet?

There are seasons of missions team work and responsibility which will require you, or some subgroup, to meet more frequently. The standard meeting frequency is monthly. Often the missions team will take a break after the intense work of the annual missions event or over summertime when it’s harder for people to get together. If the missions team meets 10 out of 12 months per year, you’ll be doing well. On the other hand, it has been said that, “It’s difficult to operate an international enterprise with only one meeting per month.” For church having more than 200-250 people attending weekly worship services, it quickly becomes apparent that the missions team must grow and/or develop standing sub teams in order to accomplish all that needs to be done to effectively mobilize your congregation. So, while the team as a whole may only meet monthly, subgroups which report to the team and specialize in different areas of responsibility might also meet monthly. The annual mission celebration or missions emphasis event is often very time and labor intensive. Especially during the month immediately preceding and the week of the event, everyone on the missions team may be putting in extra hours to accomplish all the hospitality, logistics, promotion, and program management necessary to fulfill the event with a level of excellence. Another time intensive season is when you’re team is first forming or revising important policy or guideline documents which dictate the operation of the missions team. A lot can be delegated to competent people on an ad hoc task force or sub team for this purpose. Still, the entire missions team may add extra meetings to deal with the extra volume of work required. A third intensive season might be the annual budget process. Each church determines its own financial fiscal year. It doesn’t always coincide with the calendar year. But if your church has a budget process at all, at least your financial record keeping members of your missions team will have a significant amount of time invested in their part of the process. You’ll learn more about the comprehensive scope of missions team roles and responsibilities as we walk this church mobilization path together. For now, especially if you’re just beginning, think in terms of meeting monthly. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

What kinds of policies or guidelines do we need?

Initially, the mission team needs written approval from the elders or leadership board of the church to create or form a missions team. Then, the first task of the designated missions team formation leader will be to draw up a charter document. Different churches may call this charter document different things; but, they all fulfill the same function. This charter document might be called:

  • missions team bylaws
  • missions team policy
  • missions team guidelines
  • missions team charter
or some equivalent. This formative document normally would include sections with some detail in categories such as these:
  • biblical basis of missions
  • definition of missions for this church
  • definition of missions terms for this church
  • qualifications for missions team membership
  • composition and term of missions team membership
  • job description for officers and/or sub teams of the missions team
  • extent and source of missions funds
  • budgeting principles of missions funds
  • criteria for selection of missionaries or missions ministries to support
  • parameters of support for approved missionaries or missions ministries
  • framework for short-term missions
  • authority, roles, and responsibility of the missions team with respect to church leadership, including accountability
We encourage churches and missions teams to adopt two levels of documents. The first or primary level would be the bylaws or team policy framework which should rarely be changed. The second level of documents would be working guidelines and practical process documents which can be changed more frequently as needed. Changing guidelines or process documents should not require as thorough a review or complicated approval process. It is a mistake to keep adding more and more sections to the basic missions policy documents over the years every time a new issue or difficulty arises. Then it grows like the US tax code and is very difficult to change. Keep the most crucial structural document solid and little-changed. Then maintain process and other decision-making guidelines documents more adaptable and fluid as the need arises. Again, your church tradition and ethos may dictate exactly what and how those documents function. Respect the system! Make the most of whatever opportunities the Lord gives you. There are plenty of sample church policy documents available through the Propempo.com website. Just do a quick search. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

How should we write a policy?

Before you begin writing a policy, it is important to think of the goal as being as simple and concise as possible. Bullet points and numbered lists are allowed. You’re not trying to complete a complex body of legislation. Also, a policy level document is something that should not be changed very often. As we recommended in a prior section, it’s good to think in terms of process and procedure documents, along with guidelines, application forms, sub team documents, etc. being handled as guidelines which can be changed more easily as needed. The easiest possible way to write a policy is to take someone else’s and adopt it as your own. There are a number of good model church missions policy documents on Propempo.com. We know of at least one church that simply took one of those policies and did a “search and replace” function in their word processor to change the church name to their own churches name; and, voilà, they had an instant church missions policy. We don’t particularly recommend the “instant policy” method. However, gathering and examining several good church missions policies (or “guidelines”) can be an excellent way to shorten your development cycle. Put side-by-side, it is easy to notice and distinguish the meaning and applicability phrase by phrase and section by section. Doing so as a small editorial group could simplify the process using a virtual cut and paste method. It is important to get the right people on your policy (or guidelines) writing task force. You need to have people who understand the value of sound policy, those who are practical and people oriented, and those who have a knack for expressing things in a precise and down to earth manner. Often, it is necessary to include a cross-section of interested parties and leadership in the composition of your policy writing group. When the group first gets together, try to keep the big picture in mind. Start each session with prayer. Remember that the word you put on the page will have an impact on the lives of missionaries and their families, strategic field ministries, and ultimately the souls of the people they are trying to reach. An organization named ACMC (Advancing Churches in Missions Commitment, which no longer exists as a separate entity) published three editions of the Church Missions Policy Handbook. You might find a copy of this now out-of-print handbook. It doesn’t tell you exactly what to write in your policy; but it does give you a comprehensive checklist of issues or concerns for each item you might want to include in your policy. At a minimum you’ll probably want to address the following sections:

  • purpose statement, including scriptural basis
  • missions leadership team structure
  • roles and responsibilities for the MLT
  • boundaries, criteria and priorities for support relationships
  • financial priorities and processes
  • ministry philosophy with respect to alignment in doctrine, local church centeredness, missiology/methodology, missionary accountability, and the special relationship of “homegrown” missionaries sent out from your church
How long will it take? It depends largely upon the time available to dedicate to the task and the number of people involved. One person giving a lot of personal attention to it might be able to create a reasonable draft in one week. If your church ethos demands that you coordinate the input of a 10 or 12 person editing committee, it’s going to take a long time. If the chemistry of the group works well together in relationships and attitudes, it will take considerably less time than if the group is polarized or otherwise less than gracious in interaction. It’s not uncommon for a policy writing team to take 3 to 6 months to complete their first draft. Some churches might chip away at it in smaller segments over a longer period of time, e.g. up to a year. Generally speaking it’s not healthy to take too long. People lose interest and forget what they decided early on of the time they’re considering issues much later in the document creation process. Also, it’s much easier and more practical to start with a simple document and revise it over time as you learn how it is implemented in real life. Even discussing these issues will be a tremendous opportunity for growth and understanding of missions issues among your leadership. Becoming of one mind on these issues can be one of the most positively impactful activities for your churches biblical missions development. May God give you grace, fortitude, and tenacity to do this meaningful task well! Please prayerfully consider making a donation to sustain Propempo.com and the ministry of Propempo International Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

What’s the difference between “doing” and “mobilizing”?

A lot of missions teams fall into the trap of doing missions on behalf of the congregation instead of mobilizing their congregation in missions. Here’s how the two sides appear: Doing missions–

  • relationships with the missionaries are primarily in the realm of the missions team
  • communication with the missionaries is primarily in the realm of the missions team
  • all decisions, in any area of missions, are held onto tightly by the missions team
  • the annual missions emphasis event is basically an extended pep rally to get the congregation to pray for and financially support the work that the missions team does representing the church
  • almost all management of outreach and field visits are done by missions team members
  • no person or ministry of the church is allowed to do missions stuff without the approval and oversight of the missions team
  • everything about missions is perceived as being under the control of the missions team and the individuals on that team
Mobilizing in missions–
  • relationships with the missionaries are primarily in the realm of church ministries and small groups outside of the missions team
  • communication with the missionaries is primarily in the realm of church members and small groups outside of the missions team
  • many decisions about outreach and supporting services to missions or ministries, though guided by overall church missions guidelines, are made by individuals and groups outside the missions team
  • the annual missions emphasis event is a celebration of the whole congregation in which everyone feels that they have a part and something to gain by sharing in it
  • much management of specific outreach projects, short term ministries, and field visits are done by people outside the missions team
  • everyone feels that they have a part in their churches great commission outreach and that they have great liberty to pursue connections with supported missionaries and ministries
  • missions is perceived as being dynamic and maybe just a little bit out of control because everyone wants to get involved and it is more than the missions team can manage on their own
There is obviously some overlap in this exaggerated picture of differentiation between “doing” and “mobilizing”. For example even the controlling doing missions team wants everyone in the congregation to pray and to give in order to enable their missions goals. Likewise, even the facilitative mobilizing missions team needs to establish reasonable boundaries and administration so that people are not doing wild and crazy things that might be totally contrary to the church’s ethos, character, or doctrinal integrity. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

What are the primary functions of the Missions Team?

As the missions team matures in its roles and as the church grows both in size and in missions involvement, the functions of the missions team will grow as well. Consider these primary areas of function:

  • prayer coordination
  • missions education
  • financial management of missions funds
  • promotion of missions, involvement, and missions events
  • missions emphasis events
  • communication with and hospitality for missionaries and representatives of supported missions ministries
  • short-term missions promotion, training, management, and debriefing
  • missionary care
  • local cross-cultural ministries
  • recruitment, orientation, and ongoing training for missions team members
  • communication and interface with church leadership and other ministries of the church
  • develop long-range planning and strategic focus goals
  • recruitment and church-based training and guidance for missionary candidates from your local church

In addition to the primary areas listed above your church missions opportunities and giftedness might lend itself to development along these secondary areas:
  • children's missions education
  • missionary or missions project fund development
  • counseling for troubled missionaries or conflict on the field
  • sharing your churches missions principles and process with other churches
  • developing resources for ethnomusicology, literature production, media implementation. technology support and services, security training and support, logistical equipment or supplies acquisition and shipping
  • guidance and placement for second career or retiree "finishers" in the missions workforce
These are simply suggestions. You certainly don't need to do them all at once from the start. Prayerfully, along with others who have an interest or a part in the process, select those functions are areas which are most fitting to your situation. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

What is our relationship to the church governing body?

The organizational chart might simply be dictated by your churches foundational organizational documents, i.e. - church bylaws, denominational structure for local churches, etc. Your church's tradition or usual practices may dictate the name or title of your missions team. Yet, we would like you to consider that the missions function of the local church best expresses the great commission purpose of the church. As such, the missions outreach functions as the heart or core driving all the ministries of the church. So, even though the missions team might stand parallel to many other church ministires on the organizational chart, there is a sense in which the flow of communication, information, and energy between the missions team and the church leadership must be especially clear and barrier-free. The missions team leadership and key church leaders must consciously work on good communication for the sake of the health of the church. One curious twist to the relationship between missions leadership and the church governing body or keep church leaders or senior pastor is the almost irresistible urge of missions leadership to inundate church leaders with too much information. We want them to read the books we recommend, watch stirring missions videos, and be just as enthralled and consumed with missions passion as we are. However, we must be realistic about the multitude of tugs and pulls from a thousand sources seeking their attention. The best way for a missions leader to earn the respect and full attention of your church pastor or leadership is to praise them for whatever attention they can give commissions, provide them with only the best information and communication to enable them to do their job well, screen them from superfluous information and contact, and discerning only ask for measured and realistic opportunities to communicate missions. Try to make sure that your input doesn’t overwhelm or exceed the capacity of your recipients. If the church leadership only gives you two minutes of platform time on a Sunday morning, then only take two minutes. Make them high quality. Use them well. Leave everyone wanting more. Then thank your pastoral leadership profusely for allowing you those two minutes. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

What is our relationship to the missionaries?

The missions team is the facilitator of relationships between the church body and its missionaries. The missions team acts as a matchmaker, account representative, personal investment counselor, and chaperone all rolled into one. There is no doubt that all the members of your missions team our missions enthusiasts and desire to be a part of or entirely hold the reins of relationship and communication with your missionaries. However, the prevailing principle must be mobilizing/involving the congregation and acting in their best interests. The missions team has a significant interest in staying up-to-date with communication to and from their missionaries, the missions team does not have to be the primary point of contact responsible for that communication. Often the missions team will delegate communication responsibilities to Sunday school classes or small groups. Practically, it’s important to have one person within the delegated group to be named as the responsible missions advocate for that missionary. The missions advocate keeps the missions team up-to-date and represents the news and prayer requests of their designated missionary to their small group. That same small group, coordinated by the missions advocate, can take responsibility for hospitality and missionary care on a regular basis. Remember that communication is a two-way street. It’s a good thing for the pastor to write a letter about leadership issues, major directions and teaching or ministry for the church, etc. to the missionaries directly at least on an annual basis. Someone on the missions team or in the church office can make sure that supported missionaries receive newsletters, bulletins, e-mail updates, etc. from the church office as may be appropriate (or preventing that kind of communication if it might be inappropriate, as in a high-security ministry environment). Missionaries like to hear tidbits of news and happenings within the church body. Missionaries also need to know who is their designated missions advocate. Besides routine communication, newsletters, and congregation-wide info, it is wise for the missions team to establish a sense of accountability and evaluation in the relationship. This can take place through some simple annual goals and accountability questionnaire. It is legitimate to ask missionaries about their marriage and family. It is certainly the responsibility of the primary home or sending church to ask personal questions in-line with a caring, shepherding relationship with their people on the field. It is better to discover issues in which the church might have a constructive counseling role well before those issues caused irreparable damage to your people and or ministries on the field. This might be a good place to mention some pitfalls in the selection process of missionaries to support. It is very common for the missions team to be pressured to consider for support a missionary friend or relative of someone on the mission team, or dear Aunt Sally, or Deacon Joe, or big-financial-giver Ferdinand. So, it is wise to establish the criteria, priorities, and credentials of those missionaries or ministries the church wants to support strategically before personalities and personal issues enter into the discussion. Similarly, there may be considerable pressure to consider FOP-s, that is “friends of the pastor”. Now the pastor is often in a position to have friends through seminary or previous ministry experience who are trying to get to the mission field and need support. It is a problem, though, to discover that within a span of a few years almost the entire slate of missionaries supported our FOP-s, without any particular coherence or alignment as a group with the church’s vision for missions. It becomes a bigger problem whenever that particular pastor leaves the church or retires and another pastor comes on the scene. Then what do you do? Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

How is missions funded at our church?

Here are some common alternatives:

  1. Denominational Fund – the church, out of respect for and obligation to their denomination or fellowship of churches, gives the recommended percentage to the denominational mission or missions or fund. Often, an additional annual funding drive adds to the percentage included in the general budget.
  2. General Budget – the congregation and/or leadership assign a dollar amount or percentage of the total budget to missions. Commonly, this represents a tithe, or 10%, of total giving. Many fall below that plateau; a very few aspire to 50%.

  3. Faith Promise – this method was popularized in the 1970s. It may have different names, but uses the same concept. Congregants pledge an annual amount to give to missions by faith “over and above” their regular giving. One of the benefits is, done properly, it does not negatively impact the general budget giving or regular offerings. Often churches are surprised at how much they can give using this method.
  4. Blended sourcing – part general budget and part faith promise. Churches who use this are tend to be transitioning from one of the above methods to the other. Yes, churches go in both directions.

    ======== 95% of churches that fund missions at all use one or more of the above means of funding ======
  5. Project Pageant - projects and funding packages are presented to the congregation or a select group of funding - enthusiasts to prioritize by vote of some kind.
  6. Personalized giving & tracking - the church doesn't support missions or missionaries corporately through the giving to the church at all; rather, the church encourages individuals to directly support the missions ministries or missionaries endorsed by the church and to report their giving to the church - which then claims corporate credit for the sum total.
  7. Endowment - this is a great and extremely rare means of funding. Over time, with the right emphasis and approach, the church may be entrusted with funds through wills, trusts, foundations, corporations, bequests, etc. assets which are managed in order to produce investment, divident, or interest income specifically for the support of missions.
Here are some other ideas as well:
  • designated giving
  • 5th Sunday giving
  • special fund-raisers, sales, craft shows
  • donation-based service projects
How does your church fund missions ministries? Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

How is the Missions Team accountable to the church leadership?

Most churches appoint or designate one person from their ruling board or council to at least represent them on the missions team. Presumably, every member allowed to serve on the missions team has the confidence and approval of the church leadership. Missions team membership is an important and responsible position. Each missions team member should have unquestionable character, a track record of service to the church, and a level of discernment and fortitude to do what is in the best interest of the church and in alignment with her doctrine and tradition. Besides significant financial stewardship, the testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ and his Church is at stake through the lives and ministry of your representatives scattered around the world. If an elder, pastor, or similar officer of the church is on the missions team, that person would regularly report the proceedings and decisions of the missions team to the ruling body. If not, then someone from the missions team, perhaps the chairperson, should have the opportunity to report to the ruling body at least quarterly. Financial summaries and a digest of decisions and activities of the missions team should be presented. Usually, the missions budget has to have the approval of the ruling body at least annually. Sometimes line item support decisions about who is supported or what is no longer going to be supported must be approved by the elders or board. It is wise to enlist the support and approval of the ruling body for guiding principles or boundaries around the decisions of financial support, strategic direction, and major activities of the missions team. Occasionally, a pastor just might (of course this is only hypothetical!) make some verbal commitment to a missionary, or missionary candidate, or mission official which obligates the church in some way. Doing so might put the church in a conundrum from which it might be difficult to back out. So, it is far better for the missions team to ensure that all the pastors and staff and ruling board members understand the criteria by which the missions team makes acceptable decisions about obligations of the church in missions. It doesn’t hurt to review those criteria from time to time in order to verify clarity about the criteria and the process. Be a good friend to your church leaders; and they will be good friends to the missions team. Sample "Guiding Principles" document Please prayerfully consider making a donation to sustain Propempo.com and the ministry of Propempo International Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.


How do we compose a Missions Team?

What are the questions you have to answer before you put together a missions team is this one: should you rely on recruitment or volunteers? By recruitment we mean selectively matching qualifications and skill sets needed for an effective missions team with people who you will approach and ask them to consider taking the job or drafting them. By volunteers we mean opening the slots needing to be filled to the church body at large and accepting whoever might be first to volunteer or the best fitted from among those volunteering to serve. Obviously, there is a balance involved. You don’t want to force someone to take the job if they really hate missions. On the other hand, you don’t want to be forced to accept people who lack the skills or knowledge necessary to do this ministry well. Recruitment also means that individuals you choose to go after for membership on the missions team might have to taper off or drop out of other valid ministry positions in order to give the missions team the time and effort it requires. While we recommend recruitment and general terms. We understand that you might have to have a meeting with a group of volunteers in order to explain the skills and commitment level needed in order to serve on the missions team. In that way, the volunteers may be somewhat self screening. In either case, the results are improved if you have pre-established, written qualifications and job descriptions. Prayerfully asking the input of other church leaders based on that information, you can solicit suggestions and nominations for the membership of the missions team. Orientation and training for new team members is essential to a high level of expectations and performance. Just to summarize, consider these steps: • pray, before, during, and after the process • write a draft list of qualifications, positions, and skills needed • solicit suggestions for nominations from church leaders who have a broad knowledge of people who might have those qualifications, etc. within the congregation • approach individuals, asking them to prayerfully consider the job • when you have enough recruits, spend some time with them in orientation and training for the unique, impactful role of the missions team • praise God for and work with those he gives you
Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

What are the qualifications of a Missions Team member?

Generally speaking, we like to think of qualifications in terms of 4 C’s: character, conviction, competence, and chemistry. Character refers to those biblical standards of virtue, ethical and moral purity, a sound Christian testimony with respect to their demeanor, marriage, family, and relationships in the church and community. Conviction speaks of sound judgment and decisions founded on implementation of biblical and doctrinal principles. Someone who has sound convictions has a solid, basic grasp of the Bible and how to apply it in real life. Competence refers to practical and ministry skills and gifts complementary to the work of the missions team. Chemistry is that subjective personality and attitude that indicates a person works well with others, understands appropriate deference and respect toward others, even in a heated discussion or conflict on an issue. Here are some typical character qualifications: • strong personal testimony of salvation • a healthy, growing spiritual life • a passion for the spiritually lost • dependable • cooperative • prayerful Here are some typical conviction qualifications: • strong commitment to the church • already active in ministry • a good student of the Bible • in alignment with the doctrine of your local church • humble and teachable • a can-do servant spirit Here are some typical competence qualifications: • leadership and organizational skills • financial stewardship skills • teaching or training skills • a strategic thinker • creative or design skills • computer skills • communication and writing skills • hospitable • world Christian minded • understanding and/or experience with the missionary task • Cross cultural or linguistic skills Here are some typical chemistry qualifications: • a reputation for capacity to work with others • ability to express themselves, yet with deference and respect • willingness to learn from others and even accept correction • a team player mindset In addition, you will probably want to state expectations of the position, e.g.: • meet once a month with the missions team • meet an additional one time a month with a sub team or task force • commit to continue to learn about missions • commit to serve the best interests of the church above personal interests • be quick to admit any conflict of interest and be willing to automatically recuse oneself from any decisions regarding that issue • faithfully attend church missions events • ead one area of missions team responsibility • commit to serve on the missions team for 2 years (or whatever term is decided) • be willing to influence other ministries in the church with a world missions perspective
Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

How do we organize the Missions Team?

Smaller churches often have a small missions team in which everyone must be involved in all aspects of missions team responsibilities in order to get it all done. Even within a small team, individual members may specialize in one area or another. Most churches, however, find it useful to split up the responsibilities in a variety of ways. Major spheres of responsibility can be appointed to an individual or sub team (subcommittee). Individuals or sub teams may even recruit volunteers to help them with specific skills and expertise related to their area of responsibility; those ad hoc members of the sub team (subcommittee) do not necessarily have to have official membership status on the missions team. Here are some suggestions for major areas of function or responsibility, along with ideas for secondary roles and responsibilities. These are samples and are not comprehensive. You will need to tailor responsibilities and functions in keeping with your unique church situation and tradition. Leadership and Administration • convening and organizing regular meetings • keeping records: mission team minutes, financial records, etc. • Chairing and moderating the meetings • facilitating creation of missions priorities, strategies, and goals • Interface with, encourage, and assist church leaders in developing the churches missions mindset and vision Congregational Involvement • stimulating, informing, and tracking prayer for missions ministries • training and managing missions advocates • encouraging participation in and managing short-term missions • tracking and reporting missions giving Financial Management • creating and tracking missions budget • keeping financial records and expenses in compliance with church and missions policy and financial decisions • make recommendations regarding missions budget line items and missionary support • provide giving records, as appropriate, to both donors and recipients of funds Missions Education and Communication • plan and implement the annual church missions emphasis event/s • provide opportunities for missions education through Sunday school classes, fellowship groups, Bible study groups, men’s and women’s ministries, etc. • Facilitate the dissemination of current missions prayer requests for missionaries, missions projects, people groups, the persecuted church, etc. • provide regular missions content for church-wide announcements, bulletins, newsletters, prayer request sheets, etc. • create and distribute appropriate promotion for missions events, missions opportunities for involvement, missions goals, etc. Personnel • assisting the missions team leadership in the recruitment, orientation, and training of missions team members • recommending and maintaining appropriate criteria and priorities for the selection of missionaries or missions ministries to support • prescreening missionaries and ministries requesting support • interviewing qualified missionary and ministry candidates • tracking church-based mentoring and training of missionary candidates from your own local church body • shepherding and communicating with supported missionaries and ministries with a goal toward encouragement and counseling for long-term effectiveness and healthy marriages and families • recommending changes in support relationships as the situation may dictate, including termination
Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

What records should we keep?

There are basically four types of records you should keep.

  1. Minutes of Meetings: A basic record of the proceedings of missions team meetings especially noting clear decisions and assignment of action items. This doesn’t have to be too detailed; it’s not like a transcript of government or court proceedings. But it is often useful to have enough statement of the flow or rationale of discussion so that the missions team can refer to it later..
  2. Financial Records: Depending on your churches financial set up, your church financial staff or financial officer may handle much of the routine financial management of missions funds. However, missions specific reports are needed on a month-to-month basis.
  3. Personnel Records: Every missionary or ministry that is considered as a viable candidate for support and those that are actually supported should have a file folder somewhere with information as to their qualifications, references, projected ministry, when and for how much and for what duration the church is committed to support them. Regular newsletters and prayer requests can be added to the file. Copies of e-mails might become too voluminous; but some note as to who is their primary point of contact or mission advocate within the church could be very useful. Personnel records, including application, contact information, passport data, health insurance info, etc. and personal evaluation of participants in short-term missions can be critical.
  4. Policies, Guidelines, and Process Documents: Either the leadership of the missions team or some file in the church should have copies of all policies, guidelines, and operational documents of the missions team.
These records are few in the beginning. But, Lord willing, they will grow over time as your missions ministries develop and expand and your church grows. You won’t regret keeping good records!
Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

How and what do we report to others?

Besides regular communication with them missionaries and ministries you support, the missions team should make every effort to report at least quarterly to your church leadership. Major decisions, significant events from the field, any changes in missionary relationships, financial stewardship of missions funds, recommendations for approval of new missions team members, short-term missions trips, and mission goals can be on your checklist. The church leadership body usually has approval authority over the missions budget and its details. You will need to be able to give rationale or defense of missions team decisions regarding significant changes from year to year. At least annually you will want to prepare a “state of missions in our church” report to the entire church body. Depending on how your church does it, this might be presented verbally in an annual church business meeting, or in written form distributed to your membership after the end of a calendar or fiscal year. You’ll want to include highlights of missions activities within the church, reports of special connections with missionaries who have visited or been approved during the year, and a simplified financial report of missions income and expenses. Opportunities to give a report are also opportunities to give praise. Individuals who have given extraordinary time, resources, or effort to enable the function and ministry of the missions team should be commended. Missionaries who have achieved a milestone in ministry or accomplishments on the field should be commended. If the church body as a whole has grown in some particular area of missions participation and involvement or has exercised particular faith and stewardship through difficulty, then the church body should be thanked publicly with sincere gratitude. Of course, regular reports happen within the missions team and its regular meetings all the time. Sub teams report to the whole missions team about their activities and decisions. Missionaries or short-term missions leaders report on the progress of ministry to the missions team. Status reports on ongoing functions and responsibilities of the missions team should be routine.
Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

How do we relate to church-supported missionaries?

Missionaries supported by the church might fall into several categories. Each category might have a slightly different level or type of relationship with the church body. Homegrown missionaries are those who, through however your church may define it, developed their missionary calling and status through your church. Your church is essentially there are home church and sending church. Other churches may support them also, but your church has the largest responsibility for shepherding and encouraging them for the long haul. We will encourage you to establish a core sending team for your homegrown missionaries. Homegrown missionaries need and deserve more information and communication than your average supported missionary. If the security in their field of service allows, you’ll want to see that they get regular church news. You might work out a system for the church office to send them a monthly packet of church bulletins, prayer request lists, newsletters, etc. If they have secure Internet available, they might be able to get some communication, even MP3s of sermons, through your church website. Supported missionaries or ministries that don’t originate from your church still need good communication also. They need to know who is on the missions team, who is their missions advocate, who or what groups are committed to regularly pray for them, etc. It’s good for them to hear at least annually from the senior pastor with a birds eye perspective about what’s happening in the church and what teaching is going on and what major issues the church body is facing. Certainly you’ll want to communicate any changes in policy or direction that may affect them and their support status with the church. You need to communicate the church’s expectations with regard to their communication and responsibilities to the church. This would include specific expectations for visiting and reporting to the church during stateside visits. Projects or strategic focus ministries may have a higher intensity of communication and relationship for shorter periods of time. For example, short-term missions teams have a tremendous need for communication, coordination, and logistical detail before and during their trip. However, after the trip the level of communication and relationship may drop dramatically. Furthermore projects or strategic focus ministries don’t necessarily need to know as much information about the internal family issues of the church. The engagement parameters are usually narrowly defined with specific boundaries, goals, and achievement milestones. Click here to see Propempo’s “Annual Information Report for Supported Missionaries” in PDF format Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

How do we organize Short Term Missions?

There is so much hype about short-term missions these days that, if you are not careful, you can find yourself in a situation where “the tail is wagging the dog.” You definitely should not believe all the publicity and advertising thrown out by mission agencies, specialty short-term missions organizations, and in Christian periodicals. Be careful to communicate well with your young people, young adults, and those that lead them that short-term missions is a tool toward fulfilling specific goals and ministry responsibilities of the church. It is not a necessity. It is not a entitlement. It most certainly is not a paid vacation. When short-term missions is done well, it is a win-win-win situation for everyone involved. It is a win situation for the short-term missions team, because they receive an intense discipleship in spiritual values and practice in servanthood. It is a win situation for the Christian workers on the receiving end, because they receive extraordinary manpower for certain tasks which they could never do alone or would take an extraordinary length of time to accomplish. It is a win situation for the ministry target population, because, given the right attitudes and work ethic of the short-term missions team, they have the love and transformational power of the gospel displayed in flesh and blood and word and deed before their eyes. Check out The Standards of Excellence for Short-Term Missions document online or in our resources. When we talk about short-term missions here, we’re talking about short-term missions projects involving more than one person and initiated by or through the local church. Your college aged young people and young adults will be confronted with many opportunities to join a short-term missions ministry or team through campus ministries or other organizations. There may be similar opportunities for field visits of your supported missionaries by staff, individuals, or married couples from your congregation. You’ll want to develop a whole separate set of guidelines and guidance for how those ministries may relate to your local church and particularly to funding or fundraising within your congregation. Those opportunities are not what we are discussing in this chapter of Propempo.com. There are things that you should do to capture, guide, and manage those individual short-term missions opportunities; but that’s not what we’re talking about here. You might want to go over to our Propempo.com Forum for Short Term Missions for additional input on issues, references, and resources. Every short-term missions project should begin with the proposal to the missions team outlining the details of who, what, when, where, and how. It should also state the intended goals of the short-term ministry and the training, orientation, and discipleship process for accepted participants. Though the primary objective of some short-term teams might be construction of one sort or another, we believe that every short-term team should have some spiritual ministry complement to it. That’s what makes a difference between some secular development organization and the church. Even if it is simply holding evening meetings in which the STM members can share their testimony or saying or bring some Gospel presentation such ministry should be part of the plan. Also, the STM team should plan for being a blessing to their missionary hosts. It is a strenuous and distracting exercise to plan and implement all the logistics for visiting STM team. So out of love and gratitude, the SGM team should go out of their way to develop personal interest in their hosts and generously helped them in some way beyond the specific work and objectives of the STM project. Every STM project team should have high standards built into their application for participation. A clear testimony of salvation, commitment to attend training and orientation sessions, and a prior determination to obey authority and guidelines are all helpful from the very beginning. You will have to decide how your church handles funding of short-term missions, e.g.: self-funded, fundraising activities, fund-raising sales, deputized support, mission’s budget allocations, special project donations. Many churches automatically fund a certain percentage (e.g. 20 to 35%) of short-term missions teams initiated by the church and aimed at existing supported ministries on the field. Many other churches find it practical to have the STM teams raise all their own funds, with particular exceptions for leadership staff, special equipment expenses, or other extraordinary components. The pre-field training program is one of the most, if not the most, important parts of any STM ministry. What other event or opportunity gives missions leadership the opportunity to intensely disciple participants who are highly motivated and committed to a cross-cultural experience? Taking advantage of this opportunity with between 4 and 16 weekly training and orientation sessions is unprecedented among other church ministry programs. Logistics management on the home side and the field side is important. Make sure that you’re planning and management are sufficient and timely enough to avoid crises when it’s time for implementation. Remember the saying, “Failure to plan on your part does not create a crisis on my part.” Talking through the entire experience day by day and hour by hour with as much detail as possible can help you identify needs that should be addressed. Talk through: • how your STM team is going to get from their homes to the airport? • handling baggage • ticketing and passports • appropriate dress and conduct has a group • arrival on the field, including immigration and customs • who is meeting you on the field • arrangements for transportation to your first meeting place or accommodations • daily meeting schedule, devotions, and work assignments • expectations for water, food, sleeping arrangements, etc. • emergency procedures and emergency contact information • expectations regarding attitudes and work ethic • completion targets and time goals • assistance and care for your sponsoring missionary or missionary family • departure packing, goodbyes, and related concerns • debriefing and evaluation • how are you getting back to the airport to leave? • Departure ticketing, immigration, customs • arrival immigration and customs at home • pickup and transportation from the airport • follow-up meetings, reports, and celebration • reporting about the trip to the missions team, church leadership, and congregation • conservation of spiritual progress in the participants and integrating their experience and newfound skills in local church ministries • recording lessons learned for access in planning the next trip STM can be challenging, exhausting, exhilarating all at the same time. It can also be of the most highly impactful periods of spiritual growth for your participants. It will almost certainly change their lives in vision. And, hopefully, it will prove to be a win-win-win situation for all parties involved. When done right, it is well worth the effort. We pray that your STM ministries will be so, for the glory of God. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources. Maximum Impact Short-Term Mission: The God-Commanded Repetitive Deployment of Swift, Temporary Non-Professional Missionaries The Essential Guide to the Short Term Mission Trip Sample STM Policy from FBC

How do other church ministries relate to missions?

Missionaries supported by the church might fall into several categories. Each category might have a slightly different level or type of relationship with the church body. Homegrown missionaries are those who, through however your church may define it, developed their missionary calling and status through your church. Your church is essentially there are home church and sending church. Other churches may support them also, but your church has the largest responsibility for shepherding and encouraging them for the long haul. We will encourage you to establish a core sending team for your homegrown missionaries. Homegrown missionaries need and deserve more information and communication than your average supported missionary. If the security in their field of service allows, you’ll want to see that they get regular church news. You might work out a system for the church office to send them a monthly packet of church bulletins, prayer request lists, newsletters, etc. If they have secure Internet available, they might be able to get some communication, even MP3s of sermons, through your church website. Supported missionaries or ministries that don’t originate from your church still need good communication also. They need to know who is on the missions team, who is their missions advocate, who or what groups are committed to regularly pray for them, etc. It’s good for them to hear at least annually from the senior pastor with a birds eye perspective about what’s happening in the church and what teaching is going on and what major issues the church body is facing. Certainly you’ll want to communicate any changes in policy or direction that may affect them and their support status with the church. You need to communicate the church’s expectations with regard to their communication and responsibilities to the church. This would include specific expectations for visiting and reporting to the church during stateside visits. Projects or strategic focus ministries may have a higher intensity of communication and relationship for shorter periods of time. For example, short-term missions teams have a tremendous need for communication, coordination, and logistical detail before and during their trip. However, after the trip the level of communication and relationship may drop dramatically. Furthermore projects or strategic focus ministries don’t necessarily need to know as much information about the internal family issues of the church. The engagement parameters are usually narrowly defined with specific boundaries, goals, and achievement milestones. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

How does STM relate to the larger picture of missions in our church?

A number of strong STM advocates would argue that STM is a leading or even a primary element in the progress of the gospel in difficult environments. Those arguments may be founded on good intentions but depend heavily on definitions of “progress” or “results” that are suspiciously lacking. Building a village church meeting structure is not church planting. Putting a roof on a community pavilion is not, in itself, kingdom building. Passing out gospel literature to random masses on the streets or sidewalks or beaches of a foreign country does not automatically result in positive long-term spiritual fruit. STM is not a magic wand that suddenly increases the number of long-term career missionary candidates, plants mature local churches in foreign cultures, and inspires whole congregations to greater vision and higher achievement in world missions. STM is a tool. It can be used well. It can be used poorly. It can be of great help to ministry on the field. It can be disastrous. There are stories of thousands of US STM participants descending on Tijuana Mexico every summer to conduct scores of vacation Bible schools in which thousands of kids from Tijuana rake in tons of gifts and crafts and “get saved every week”. Those US STM teams probably go back to their churches and report what marvelous results they had, while year after year the status and spiritual maturity of the church in Tijuana remains largely unaffected. Such extreme misuse and abuse of STM ministries must be avoided at all cost. There is a lot of valid criticism of STM ministry as a “glorified vacation”. Poor understanding and design leads to involvement in relief and development projects which ultimately hurt the recipients more than help. However, there is much to be gained by proper preparation and deployment of STM teams into appropriate situations. First and foremost, STM is an opportunity for intense discipleship of participants in Christian character, spiritual maturity, and a missions mindset. STM is a vehicle for stronger relationships with missionaries and ownership of field ministry. STM can provide significant manpower and skill sets to tasks otherwise impractical to the local missionary. STM is often an injection of missions interest for your church congregation, as well. In summary, should your local church be involved in shorter missions? Yes. If your church is small you should be able to work out a way for your interested participants to join an STM team from a nearby like-minded church. Even for a small to medium-size church, there are plenty of possibilities if you research them with the missionaries and ministries with which you already have relationships. If you are part of a larger church, just remember that the goal is not quantity but quality. Keep the bar high. As William Carey once said, “Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God.” Sample STM Policy from FBC
Propempo is a charitable mission organization, too! Please prayerfully consider donating to sustain Propempo.com and the ministry of Propempo International. You can give through automatic bank or credit card drafts by using your own online banking system. You can also give securely though Paypal. Just click on this message to go to our “Support Propempo” Donation page for further details. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

How do we promote missions involvement?

When we talk about promoting missions involvement, where not just talking about publicity. Promotional publicity may be a big part of promoting missions involvement; but we’re talking about winning peoples engagement and commitment. One of the primary purposes of the missions team is to build effective involvement in missions by everyone in the congregation, as much as possible. Obviously, this doesn’t mean that everyone in the congregation becomes a missionary to foreign fields. It does mean, however, that every regular attender of your local church should understand that they have a compelling responsibility to be involved in the fulfillment of the Great Commission. The process of promoting missions involvement is essentially convincing people to grow in increasing awareness and willing commitment to world missions. Facilitating your people’s understanding of God, his purposes, and his Word are foundational because of the irrefutable authority of these things. If people really loved God and respect his Word, they will more easily move along track taking them deeper into involvement in world missions. Mission’s education is a significant component. If possible you will want to look for opportunities to teach the biblical and theological basis for missions, missions history, missionary biographies, strategic missions issues, etc. Winsomely presenting realistic opportunities for involvement is essential. It is the missions team’s job to discover, develop, and design possibilities for support and involvement in outreach ministries both local and global. Support may be in many forms: moral support and prayer, material and financial support, direct personal participation, organizational endorsement, etc. The quality of promotional materials should be equal to or greater than the quality of similar materials used in other areas of your church’s ministry. Bulletin inserts, platform announcements, display screen ads/videos, handouts, flyers, brochures, display rack materials, video clips, CDs, DVDs, Internet web pages, sign-up lists, graphics, promotional items such as logo-ed pens, banners, stickers, magnets, etc. — you are only limited by your team’s creativity (and budget)! Send people in your church to Propempo.com’s Personal Involvement path. See there six roles for personal involvement: pray, share your faith, support, go short term, reach internationals, and mobilize. Find or develop resources for all of these roles and how they may be implemented by individuals, families, small groups, classes, and affinity groups in your church. We want every Christian in our church to become a world Christian.
“A World Christian is a disciple for whom Christ’s global cause has become the integrating overarching standard, affecting his/her values, perspectives, and life decisions.” — from World Christian Fellowship, WCFellowship.org Propempo is a charitable mission organization, too! Please prayerfully consider donating to sustain Propempo.com and the ministry of Propempo International. You can give through automatic bank or credit card drafts by using your own online banking system. You can also give securely though Paypal. Just click on this message to go to our “Support Propempo” Donation page for further details. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

How do we promote missions funding?

We’ve already looked at options for how missions may be funded in your church. Now we’ll consider how to promote funding. This assumes that your church will grow beyond the traditional strictures of one annual donation drive per year or everything is sourced through a set percentage or allocation from the general fund giving of the church. It is important to have baseline “performance” data. It is also important to have a goal. A couple of common measurements used are: • What is the percentage of missions giving compared to the total, non-capital-project (i.e. – building, major repair/improvement, land acquisition, major equipment type projects) giving of the church? • What is the per-capita or per-giving-unit (i.e. – nuclear family units) giving to missions? • How does the growth of missions giving or expenses compare to the growth of general funds giving or expenses? • How does the growth of missions giving compare to previous years? – in dollars? or in percentage? • Monthly reports of missions giving vs. pledges and Year-To-Date data. If treasure investment is an indicator of heart priorities, as Jesus indicated, then these measurements should not feel threatening. Rather, they should be a valid indicator of the church’s priorities. Promotion for missions giving is strongly tied to values and rationale. “Why” is question that donor-participants will ask. Why should we give more? What is different? What vision or direction does my increased giving enable? Does the missions team earn the respect of the church in integrity and effectiveness of financial stewardship of the funds entrusted to them? Having a dynamic focus or goal is a very positive factor in promotion for missions funding. Even if it is only the satisfaction of raising the percentage another notch, people can grasp that. We have encouraged some churches to adopt a policy of encasing their missions giving by not less than 1% per year and committing to not retreat from the active percentage until they reach the goal of 25% of gross church income (less capital projects) given to missions. A few churches pride themselves in stretching to give 50% of their income to missions. While that is noteworthy and outstanding, it may not always be wise. There are a few church situations in which such a performance level might be commendable; e.g. – all the church properties and buildings are paid off; the church body is particularly affluent; or, there is some endowment fund for missions. However, we don’t recommend a 50% missions giving target for most churches. An annual appeal, based on a report of activities and stewardship, is usually the foundation for missions funding promotion. Clear and distinctive explanation and materials for “faith promise” along with clear goals for the coming year’s projected use of funds are common. Anything that can be said or done during Sunday meeting is helpful to keep the giving goals in front of the church body: concise and high quality PowerPoint slides, video clips, brochures, pledge cards, etc. Mission Advocates in small groups and Sunday School classes of all types and age-groups can remind congregants of the missions funding goals. Having a target date and making public the aggregate results of the drive are encouraging to all. As the church body matures, it might be worth discussing how your missions team or church leadership might tastefully approach and provide resources to your aging constituents about remembering your church missions efforts and/or the church general funds in their estate planning, i.e. – wills, trusts, bequests, endowments, etc. A presentation might be made to the seniors group annually or biennially, again only in a very tasteful and sensitive manner.
Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

How do we raise up missionaries from our congregation?

It isn’t trite to say that we don’t raise up missionaries from our congregation, God does. On the other hand, humanly speaking, church leaders and particularly missions team leaders have a role in challenging and guiding people in their sphere of spiritual responsibility toward high levels of service and commitment to the Lord, even full time vocational commitment. Andrew Murray’s classic thesis in his book, The Missionary Problem, shows that responsibility for decline of missionary interest in recruits lies with the leadership of the local church. Paul and Barnabas were tapped and set apart for missionary service while serving in their local church. Timothy was drafted (not a volunteer!) as Paul’s assistant on his missionary team upon the selection and recommendation of his church leaders. Paul’s request to the Roman church in Romans chapter 15 implies that the leaders of that church would have personnel and finances prepared to go along with Paul to his prospective pioneering ministry in the region of Spain. As we see local churches planted and developed through the book of Acts and the epistles, church elders and deacons and servants-ministers-apostles [note: lower-case “a” apostles] of the church were recognized by their character, gifts, and calling from within the local body. So, it should not be unusual to think that the local church would recognize those from among themselves who have particular passion and gifts for cross-cultural service to take the Gospel to the unreached far beyond the local scope of church ministries. This section will not deal with the issue of “a missionary call”. However, suffice it to say that, when the Lord gives and unquenchable urge to pursue the challenge of missionary service, coupled with qualifications and gifts observable to the body at large and to the church leadership in particular, the missions team should make every effort to take note, encourage, mentor, and guide such a one toward fulfillment of the church’s vision, goals, and priorities in world missions. Most long-term members and lay leaders in a good Bible teaching church already have enough knowledge and resources to begin specialized training as a missionary candidate. The process generally starts with a potential candidate letting someone know that they feel called to missions. Depending on their maturity and stage of life, the missions team can fuel that fire with prayer and appropriate assignments to build their Liverpool-theological convictions and practical ministry skills and experience to that end. The church elders or leadership body may have certain academic (whether formal or informal) requirements. In-depth mentoring, including personal counseling, should be assigned and tracked by leadership. The missions leadership will want to be involved with the selection of a prospective ministry and ministry target, hopefully in alignment with established church missions strategy, priorities, and/or focus. There is a choice about a sending agency partner and the terms of that partnership. Over time, the candidate will fulfill all requirements to be recognized by the church as a “homegrown” missionary. The church will be ready to celebrate the official commissioning of your missionary. The sending of a missionary from your own congregation is an awesome event and responsibility. Most congregations who experience it report that no other single factor has ever had such a huge impact on their church’s involvement and ownership of world missions. You are sending one of your own! This new missionary or missionary family has been tested and verified through your congregation. They have close family and relatives within the church. They have dear friends who have watched them grow and develop their calling. Many will give in support in hundreds of sacrificial ways, both small and large, to see their missionary, who represents them, be effective for the long term on the field reaching people for Jesus’ sake. There is nothing quite like the energy and enthusiasm of a church sending one of their own to the field! Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

What is our responsibility to missionaries sent out from our church?

It is a mistake at every level to assume that your homegrown missionary’s sending agency is going to provide the shepherding care needed over the long haul. When serious crises happen on the field or the missionary is terminated, the sending agency inevitably turns over the wounded missionary to their home church. If the sending church is going to be responsible for picking up the pieces of a shattered marriage, family, or life, it is in your best interests to be involved from the beginning and come alongside with preventative maintenance, pastoral care, conflict resolution, and strategic guidance all along the way. In a sense, we believe the home or sending church has a responsibility to ensure the financial support of your missionary. This doesn’t mean that all the funds have to come from your church. Rather, it means that your missions team or the designated support team for your missionary comes alongside to assist an advocate for whatever fundraising needs there are. Accountability during the deputation process, creative assistance in developing partnership materials and presentations, targeted prayer for the fundraising process, administrative assistants for mailings and phone calls–the home church can get involved in all these areas. Mental, emotional, and spiritual needs are best met through the like-minded fellowship and relationships of your church with your missionary. After all, your church knows them best; you helped guide and prepare them for the field. The local church training or mentoring process no doubt included many hours of private discussion and counsel in which there attitudes and outlook were tuned to meet the extraordinary challenges of cross-cultural living in their appointed place of service. Continuing to get beneath the surface and ask, from a foundation of genuine love and concern, the hard questions about their spiritual life, marriage, family relationships, team relationships on the field, how they’re handling difficulties, etc. should be practically second nature for the missions leadership of the church. The local church must develop and insist on a deep level of honesty and transparency with their missionary. The goal is long-term effectiveness for the glory of God. The stakes are high. So the level of ownership, communication, and loving concern must also be high. There is indeed a special responsibility toward the missionaries sent out from your local church. And, you hope and pray that other missionaries you support come from churches actively fulfilling their responsibilities as a sending church, also. Missionaries that have such a loving and generous accountability with their home church are the envy of other missionaries on the field.

How is "sending" different from "supporting"?

The short answer is this:
The sending church should take responsibility for guiding and shepherding and supporting their missionary in every way, from initial candidacy to retirement. The supporting church may have as little relationship as functioning like a paymaster or as significant a relationship and ownership of their ministry as the sending church, without having "the buck stops here" responsibly. One pastor, speaking to one of the supported missionaries of the church, said, "We may not be your sending church; but we want to become your favorite church." Such warmth and dedication bodes well for that churches relationships with all of their missionaries. As supporting church needs to respect the role of the sending church and, if necessary, encourage the sending church to step up their responsibilities. It is normal in the application process for support that the supporting church would ask the prospective supported missionary who is their sending church and who is the primary contact person in that church responsible for oversight of their ministry on the field Likewise, the sending church should find out the names and contact persons of other supporting churches of their missionary. There are a number of times when knowing that information can be useful. E.g.:

  • coordinating STM teams to their field ministry
  • making urgent prayer requests known on their behalf
  • coordinating promotion and development for special fundraising needs or projects
  • enlisting resources and help for special needs for counseling, housing, transportation, health issues, etc.
Certain crisis situations may require that the supporters back home act quickly and in concert with one another in order to respond best to the crisis at hand. Prior knowledge of contact information and a respectful acknowledgment of sending in supporting roles can be of great comfort and help if and when a crisis really happens.

How narrow or wide should our interests be?

It’s amazing how thoughtless church missions trends can sometimes be. In the 1970s (and possibly earlier) many churches thought it was virtuous to support as many missionaries as possible. The only way it was feasible for a local church to do that was to support missionaries for relatively low amounts. So, typically, a church would try to put as many stick pins in the world map as possible supporting as many missionaries as possible for $25 per month or $50 per month. If the church was financially able or had a special relationship with a particular missionary they might support some of them for $100 a month. One church made it their stated goal to put a missionary support pin in every country (or at least every continent) on the map. This is not only shallow, it exhibits an arrogant self-centeredness and extremely poor strategic value. The results of such thinking in using a total shotgun approach was superficial relationships with missionaries. Further, missionaries felt a financial obligation to keep a frenetic pace of travel during furloughs in order to touch base with tens if not scores of churches that supported them. We suppose it is possible to err on the side of being too narrow. If a local church consciously narrows their vision to an exclusive focus, they may miss out on the joy of learning how God is moving and working in other parts of the world. They may also limit or rebuff open doors of opportunity to their people who may feel called to express or pursue ministry in other areas which are not a part of that exclusive focus. The answer of course, as in many areas of Christian life and ministry, is a balance. The men and women and ministries your church supports should definitely remain in alignment with your doctrine and priorities. Your missionaries are, after all, an extension of your local church to the unreached world. Their teaching, methodology, and end goals should appropriately represent your church and its biblical distinctives (this is not to say your Western cultural expression). So, as your church grows, you will be able to take on an expanding number of missionaries, ministries, and foci. We recommend that you not take on more relationships then you can adequately fulfill to a significant amount of depth and accountability. It will probably be different from church to church. It becomes obvious that your church has too many missionaries and ministries on its support roster when significant life and ministry changes fall through the cracks and you don’t find out about it until much too late. One of the best reasons to cut back your missionary support list is that God is raising up more workers from your congregation which have become a financial priority. Another good reason is that your church leadership has agreed to pursue a particular strategic focus which, by attrition, will begin to graciously pare down those missions interests which do not fit. Balance, prayer, and grace need to be exercised generously. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

How do we avoid (or overcome) a shotgun approach?

If you are asking this question, it assumes that your presently not experiencing the shotgun approach. Prevention is always easier than the cure.

  1. Define missions for your church. If you don’t define it, that it becomes very difficult to figure out the boundaries of what is allowed and what is not.
  2. Establish the missions priorities of your church. It’s important for leadership and decision makers to have a common understanding of what is significant and important versus all the rest. There are always choices between good, better, and best in ministry. One of the most difficult skills is learning how to say “yes” to the right stuff and “no” to all the good stuff that can keep you from doing the best stuff. Also, there are missions ministries out there that are not even good or fitting for your church’s involvement. Commonly churches will identify pioneer evangelism, church planting, and leadership training among their top priorities. Further down the list may be such missionary activities as community development, field support ministries, and literature or media development. This is not to say that these things could not be strategic and on target for your churches missionary interests. I.e.- your church’s priorities might be appropriately influenced by your constituency, particular skill set, or strategic focus. It might also be highly influenced by the target ministry population. For example, if you have a prayerful vision to reach unreached people groups in a creative access Muslim country, it may be of highest priority for you to support someone through a Business As Mission platform; strictly speaking, that person may not look like the traditional, full-time church planter, even though their daily activities support church planting as the long-term ministry result. Typical ministries which fall lowest on the list are relief and development efforts which are strictly humanitarian and don’t have a specific Gospel, evangelistic, or church planting development goal or component.
  3. Set criteria for acceptance of missionaries for support. Included in the application process might be some review of their missions training and doctrinal alignment with your church. Many churches include specific requirements for accountability and communication, including prayer requests. We know of some churches who have unwittingly supported missionaries with divergent or even divisive views on important issues. Some churches have terminated missionaries who have failed to communicate frequently or well enough, thus preventing them from fulfilling their role in support and prayer. Clearly articulated expectations at the beginning will prevent problems and misunderstandings later. Train them early and, “when they are old” they will not depart from it.
Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

How should we select missionaries to support?

If you read the previous section, you will know that working with your missions team leadership (and church leadership) in advance can save you a lot of difficulty in the selection process. So, please take the time to:

  • define "missions for your church"
  • establish the missions priorities of your church
  • set minimum criteria for acceptance of missionaries with respect to qualifications, ministry goals or focus, etc.
After you have worked out that framework, then an application form that expresses those things will go a long way toward helping you make the support recommendation. You want to be diligent at this stage and then make a commitment to the right people. Having mutually agreed upon and understood principles for support priorities will enable the Missions Team (and church leaders) to more easily say, "No," to many good things in order to be able to say, "Yes," to the best things. Quite often your selection will want to identify two lines of priority: - relationship to the church -ministry type and goals with respect to the church's priorities If the candidate is "home-grown", has the required character and training, and is aiming at ministry in the highest missions priorities of the church, then that candidate is almost automatic affirmative for support. If the candidate does not understand or agree with your definitions, priorities, or doesn't meet your criteria, then that candidate is an easy one to decline for support. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

How can we hold them all accountable?

Expectations are important from the beginning. Your missionaries need to know what is expected of them with respect to accountability. The day-to-day activities of their ministry on the field will be accountable primarily to their team and/or field leadership. If you are the sending church, it is appropriate for you to request your sent missionary to release or allow the release of any quarterly, annual, or term field evaluations and reports to your church missions leadership. It is important to assure all parties involved of the church’s trustworthiness with respect to how such reports and evaluations might be used and limiting the circle of information to appropriate church leaders. Several Propempo resources in the Library section of Propempo.com relate to this topic. Samples of Annual Information Reports and similar missionary questionnaires will be posted there or connected to case studies in Propempo.com’s Community section. What kind of questions are appropriate for your local church to ask? Below is a list of suggested categories.

  • health issues
  • marriage and family issues
  • personal holiness, growth in sanctification, moral purity
  • behavior and adjustment of their children
  • financial needs
  • spiritual nurture and/or concerns
  • living conditions
  • quality, availability, and status or transportation
  • progress in language and culture learning
  • development of relationships with nationals (and/or national believers)
  • quarterly or annual goals
  • achievement or status of past quarterly or annual goals
  • "Blue Sky" vision or prayer requests (e.g.- "if only we had...", or "if only such and such happened...", or "if God gave us unlimited resources we would...")
In these days of virtually ubiquitous access to e-mail and the Internet, this kind of communication and interaction should be normal. Though, remember that your missionaries live a very full life. Often they feel on call 24-7. Sometimes they may be traveling or in the midst of a multi-day or multi week event which takes them out of the loop of normal communication. So they need grace for a long lead time to complete your questionnaire. Don’t expect to send it out one day and receive all the replies from all your missionaries back the next day, like you might from someone locally within your church body. Your procrastination (this is purely hypothetical) does not automatically create a crisis on their part to answer on your rushed timetable. Three notes regarding the implementation of accountability questionnaires for your missionaries:
  1. Missionaries, typically, are not eager to receive and spend the time necessary to complete lengthy, detailed questionnaires for accountability. There are two things that can make the process easier for you and for them: 1/ Don’t make them answer items to which you should already know the answer (e.g. – birthdays, allocation of service and type of ministry, field address), unless there has been some change in their basic information; and, 2/ Allow them to copy your church in the answers they have already produced for some other church’s questionnaire.
  2. Make sure that the missionaries who receive your questionnaires understand that your intent is for their good. Answers they give should be intended to improve relationship, prayer support, and shepherding. They should not normally be used as a qualifying litmus test for financial support.
  3. The depth and intimacy of questions asked is based on your track record of depth and intimacy of relationship. It is patently unfair to ask pointed questions about the couple’s marriage relationship if you have not already built a foundation of trusting relationship from which to pose the question. On the other hand, if you have already proven to be a caring, shepherding leadership to them, it is perfectly appropriate for you to inquire about the status and quality of their relationships with each other, with the Lord, with their team, and with their local community.
Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

How do we relate to their work on the field?

It is important to understand your role with respect to the work on the field. If your missionary is working under a sending agency, the primary responsibility for supervision, strategy, and results lies with the agency. If your missionary is sent out from your church, you have a significant responsibility with respect to partnership with the agency leadership at all levels directly affecting your missionary (assuming they are sent out under a mission agency). If your missionary is not sent from your church but your church feels a significant ownership relationship, then your communication and responsibility must be in harmony with the sending church and sending agency. Given these basic boundaries, your missionary is basically an extension of your church ministries. You will want to know about their ministry goals and how they intend to achieve them. You’ll want to be informed about prayer needs, obstacles or difficulties in the work, and specific milestones. In most cases, wherever possible, we recommend that the senior pastor and/or mission staff plan to visit each missionary of the church having a significant support relationship over the course of time. We will give some recommendations to pastors about this visit in another section, but suffice it to say here that the intention of this visit is not to put the visiting church leader and a spotlight ministry or a whirlwind tour of the country. The purpose of this visit should be pastoral, observational, and fact-finding in nature. It helps the church discover through its representative what life is like for your missionary. Though it may highlight concerns that may require more follow-up, it is primarily for encouragement and relationship building. Extended communication and visitation can produce awareness of specific details in which the church might serve the missionary by providing resources and assistance beyond the usual financial and spiritual support. You may discover that your missionary means a better water supply, or computer support, improved security, shipment of schoolbooks or games or periodicals. Leveraging the many ways which church members may travel in these days (e.g.-using frequent flyer miles, add ons to business travel, nonrevenue flight passes) can improve your opportunities for regular “missionary care” visits. When it is appropriate or may be needed, hopefully with the full knowledge and approval of field leadership, you may want to be involved in guiding and assisting in the strategy for ministry in their field. Certainly you will be involved through prayer. Field-based information and culture should prevail over any Western culture generated or oriented or initiated plans. However your missionary might have genuine need for a sounding board on strategy. That means you, as a missions leader, or someone designated might need to do a lot of study and investigation in order to get up to speed on the issues facing your missionary and the scope of strategies and methodologies which may fit. Be very cautious and sensitive about entering the arena of field strategy. There are so many relationships and cultural issues to keep in balance. It is best not to initiate, but to wait for an invitation to offer suggestions only based on the solid footing of your established relationship and reputation with your missionary. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadbale resources.

How important is it that our missionaries have the same doctrine?

Hopefully, this issue arises in the process of first examining and interviewing a missionary to determine their qualifications and fitness for support from your church. Occasionally, you may have this problem if the missionary changes their doctrine while on the field or if you have already had a support relationship with them before you defined some doctrinal criteria. It is not enough to assume that, just because a missionary candidate may come to you from some well-established mission sending agency, they are actually in doctrinal alignment with your church. Failing to ascertain the divergence could prove to be embarrassing and difficult in the future. Generic evangelical statements of faith abound; they are intentionally broad and might be interpreted in many ways. On the other hand, seeking to coerce missionary candidates to comply with every jot and title of your church’s statement of faith to whatever degree of specificity you require might be too extreme. We hope that, no matter what their role on the field, the missionary candidate has received enough Bible and theology training to have sound discernment about Christian life and witness in a cross-cultural context. You certainly don’t want to support a missionary for many years on the field only to discover that the fruit of their ministry would not be acceptable in your church. We’re not talking about styles of clothing or benign cultural practices. Can your would-be missionary be trusted to evangelize, disciple, train leaders, and plant churches following biblical principles and methodologies with which your church would agree? Unfortunately, every year Propempo receives calls from churches asking for advice about how to either correct a wayward missionary or graciously break off the relationship because of this very problem. While this is difficult, it is at least indicative of a caring church. More unfortunate are those situations in which the wayward missionary goes unchecked and teams on the field are fractured leaving their ministry in a shambles. Besides the problem of misrepresenting your church and its doctrine on the field, a supported missionary automatically receives a certain aura of authority and influence in the church. Especially when they come home, errant missionaries can have a very divisive impact on the church body. It’s always better to begin to deal with this sooner than later and with a loving attitude. Doctrinal misalignment is not always the fault of the missionary. Sometimes a church may change its doctrinal position. A missionary with a teachable spirit will be receptive to guidance and discipleship toward alignment with the church. In either case we recommend a Matthew 18 type process to graciously disciple, instruct, and “restore” doctrinal alignment and full, confident fellowship. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

What should be our priotities for funding?

This is actually a bigger topic than can be addressed in one small section. Churches may use a variety of criteria by which they evaluate priorities for funding. Typical criteria may be spectrums of:

  • domestic to foreign
  • near culture to cross culture
  • acquaintance to homegrown from the church family
  • support ministry to “pioneering” ministry
  • small field impact to multi field impact (leadership)
  • established field to unreached people group
  • lower priority ministry to higher priority ministry
Some churches have actually built an objective system by which relative points are assigned to the various options within each category of criteria. Then the missions leadership chooses a minimum sum of all these points to determine which candidates might qualify for further interview and evaluation. We recommend for most churches a fairly simple concept which assigns higher support values to missionaries with the closest relationship to the church and having the highest priority ministry (e.g.-unreached people group, evangelism, discipleship, church planting, leadership training). These two axes on a simple Cartesian coordinate graph are relatively intuitive and easy to implement. Homegrown missionaries targeting an unreached people group with pioneering evangelism and discipleship would receive the most possible support. Acquaintances of the church targeting a well-established field with support/admin ministry would receive the lowest support. It’s good to do some study and have some discussion about missions in general and mission strategy and specific before your team sets out policy on paper. It might be a good thing to have someone experienced in missions, and talk to your group or have a training about field strategies. One or more of your missions team might take the Perspectives course. Of course if this discussion is new to your team you’re going to face people who are very concerned about the ramifications of these decisions on missionaries with whom your church has already had a long relationship of support. We recommend that, for the sake of the discussion, you “grandfather” all present support commitments. Then, you can study and talk about the ideal without having the present possible discrepancies cloud the issues. After you have decided on your criteria and priorities you can go back and consider how to graciously bring your churches missionary commitments into alignment. There are a number of natural checkpoints at which natural attrition will bring your missionary commitments into alignment over time (e.g.- normal furloughs, attrition from the field, retirement, shifting of the missionaries field assignment, discipleship and guidance of the missionary in question). Propempo is a charitable mission organization, too! Please prayerfully consider donating to sustain Propempo.com and the ministry of Propempo International. You can give through automatic bank or credit card drafts by using your own online banking system. You can also give securely though Paypal. Just click on this message to go to our “Support Propempo” Donation page for further details. Come back to this page for further additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

How do we cut back our budget when funds are tight?

The issue of cutting missionary support has caused many a sleepless night. Many churches have made significant sacrifices to keep their missionary commitments on par even when finances for the church at large and the local staff may have fallen considerably. While this is admirable, there are times when the church needs to cut back on their missionaries support. Usually the financial crunch is not so unexpected that the possibility of cutbacks should be a surprise. So, it shouldn’t be a surprise to your missionaries either. Well before decisions about cuts have to be made, your missions team should inform your missionaries about the potential for impending cuts and asking them to pray for God supply and wisdom in your stewardship. The same principles applied to decisions about the amount of support for a missionary’s original support can be used as criteria to help you decide when and how much to trim your missions support budget. Some churches use a flat percentage cut across the board. Other churches use the opportunity to trim missionaries whose ministries fall along the edges of priorities and relationships before moving the scalpel closer. Some churches feel compelled, whatever the motivation, to try to make up support that has been cut as soon as possible, as financial income allows. Remember that, unless your people are under a denominationally subsidized system, financial support in the modern missionary era is entirely “by faith”. Missionaries do not have a guaranteed entitlement. Their dependence upon the Lord is a positive and real experience. So, your church doesn’t need to feel guilty when economic downturn pinches your missions giving. Good communication and gracious tapering off, rather than precipitous drops, go a long way toward reducing the pain of loss. Generally speaking, it is easier for a missionary to raise support while on the home side than it is from the field.
On a rare occasion, after you have informed your missionary family about potential cuts, you may hear back from one of them volunteering to receive less. There are missionaries out there who have more than enough and are willing to share the financial crunch rather than see others, who may need it more, suffer. Again, we underline that a strong, loving shepherding relationship and good communication facilitate this level of fellowship in ministry. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

How do we graciously release missionaries from support?

There are a number of reasons why the church might choose to no longer support a missionary. Here are some of them:

  • the church has split or disintegrated or closed
  • the missionary has left the ministry for which the church was supporting them
  • the missionary (or their agency) has diverged or departed from the churches doctrinal, strategic, or methodological values
  • the church has diverged or departed from the missionary’s doctrinal, strategic, or methodological values
  • economic hardship has hit the church family
  • the missionary has fallen into sin and must be disciplined or released from ministry
  • the missionary has personal issues which eclipse their capacity for fulfilling the ministry for which the church was supporting them
Good communication and a caring shepherding relationship make release from support easier. It is a good thing to inform the missionary as soon as the church missions leadership knows that release from support is possible. It is helpful to have a face-to-face debrief interview. It’s even better, though rare, for the missionary to initiate closure or communication when they sense such a cut coming. Gracious churches often specify a period of tapering down support over the course of 3 months, 6 months, or a year. If the cause of support cuts is a dramatic economic hardship, then you should not be embarrassed to explain that the cuts must be taken ASAP. If your church is the home or sending church of a missionary being released from support, you may go the extra mile to help the missionary raise funds to replace what is being lost. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

What responsibility do we have for missionary shepherding?

First of all you might want to think about what is missionary shepherding. By missionary shepherding we mean the loving, relational care and concern for their well-being and spiritual fruitfulness. If a Shepherd knows his sheep then the local church, especially the sending church, should know their missionary well. In order to know them well, the church, especially through its missions leadership, needs to interact with them and communicate regularly. Missionary shepherding includes knowing the health and status of their marriage, their family relationships, their physical and medical health, the key relationships in their ministry, the things that most commonly bring them joy or discouragement. “Missionary care” is often thought of as the mission sending agencies institutional human resource department or counseling functions. Think about it: most mission agencies don’t know their missionary as well as their home church should. Mission agencies get to know their missionaries through a few weeks of interviews, interaction, and paper references. Their home church gets to know them through time and real life experiences in the ups and downs of ministry and relationships in the church and in the community. The local churches in a better position to understand, probe, and meet the unique needs of their missionary. Just like a shepherd, the local church seeks to feed, nourish, guard, protect, and serve their missionary with the goal of enabling their healthy, long-term service. While regular communication and mutual prayer is important when the missionary is on the field, every opportunity for sympathetically growing deeper in relationship with them while they are home should be taken. Confidential interviews with leaders should be expected. Loving questions about their home and family life are normal in a shepherding church. Church pastors or mission leaders should inquire about their spiritual vitality, personal spiritual disciplines, and how they are getting spiritual nourishment on the field. One of the reasons the local church needs to be proactive in shepherding their missionaries is that, ultimately, the local church usually ends up with the responsibility of caring for missionaries with broken lives or ministries after the fact. How much better it would be for church to prescribe and pay for a missionary couple to go to a marriage retreat weekend rather than try to put together a broken marriage? How much better for the church to enter into solving an educational problem for one of the children then to have the whole family leave the field for lack of help? How much better for a loving church leadership to discover, confront, and turn back a missionary from sinful patterns and continue in viable field service then to be disqualified in shame? Along with cross-cultural living comes a large added layer of complexity and stresses. However, a loving church which accepts the mantle for missionary shepherding can help their missionary stay on the field, long-term, fruitfully, contentedly, for the glory of God. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

What responsibility do we have for missionary counseling?

The need for missionary counseling generally refers to some crisis situation. However, the larger context of counseling in biblical terms is much more. Biblical counseling is discipleship, admonition, training, and rebuke. It is simply applying biblical principles, wisdom, and theological truths about God and the Gospel to everyday life. Hopefully your counseling role began long before your missionary first went out to the field. If you have accepted your church is significant shepherding role, then you will have been involved continuously in counseling your missionary family. But let’s turn to that crisis situation. Due to legal restrictions and IRS regulations, mission agencies are rarely able to take responsibility for long-term rehabilitation of a missionary with crisis marital, emotional, medical, or other overtly sinful behavioral patterns. Missionaries resign, sometimes voluntarily and sometimes under duress. Mission agencies come to a point at which they are no longer legally able to give tax-deductible receipts for donations designated for missionary or ministry which is unable to fulfill its functions in the mission’s authorized purpose. So, typically, the mission agency may notify the home church that the missionary is now your problem. Of course, the way your church handles this crisis may be quite different than other churches. It depends a lot on what your church’s view of and capacity for counseling is. How your church views the path of spiritual discipline and restoration plays its part. Sympathetically, the home church wants to have some responsibility for resettling the missionary family and getting them to be independent and productive members in the community. No matter which path you choose it can become a costly drain on resources, both financial, time, and personnel. The best church models that we have seen quickly develop a game plan and a point a task force or a person to be the liaison for achieving the goals of counseling or reintegration as the case may be. This is the point at which the churches policy or program with respect to a fallen staff member may come into play. Even if your church is not the sending or home church of the missionary meeting crisis intervention, when you first find out you should seek to discover if your supported missionary is receiving this kind of care or not. You may be able to help the home church do what they ought to do. Alternately, your church may offer to come alongside and assist in the process with resources or expertise that might help. Your missionary will definitely appreciate and be encouraged by your interest in their case. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

What happens when the missionary comes home?

Missionaries do come home. Sometimes for training, support raising, meetings with their home office, representation or promotion of their mission. Sometimes for an appointed period of furlough or home assignment. Sometimes for family or medical reasons. Hopefully, your supported missionary will communicate with you about the timing and reasons for their visit home. “No surprises” is usually a very good policy. You should be informed or find out about the duration of their stay, their goals or expectations about Thursday, when and where will be there arrival and departure, and what, if any, will be their logistical needs. The home or sending church often has priority in time, duration, and quality of opportunities with the missionary family soon after they arrive. The home church also has the greatest responsibility for meeting logistical needs. In today’s terms that may mean providing them with a mobile phone, transportation, accommodations, assistance with appliances, tools, kitchen gear, food, references for doctors, school, drivers licenses, shopping, possibly supply of seasonally appropriate clothing, and the list goes on. An honorable missionary homecoming can be a great time of rejoicing and participation by the congregation. It is a wonderful opportunity to forge deeper relationships and provide practical assistance with which everyone can identify. People rally behind the food drive to stock the cupboards, the preparation of the rental accommodations, the gift card shower to help the missionary family by whatever stock items or clothing they need. The church is eager to hear the latest stories of life and ministry on the field. They want to see the pictures, here the reports, and praise God for what has been accomplished through their distant representative in foreign lands. Thoughtfully give your missionary space to reconnect with their extended family and simply to rest. Help them plug in to church family life. Inform them about expectations regarding attendance at services or church programs. Help them understand how their family fits in to Sunday school classes, kids clubs, small group ministries, adult Bible fellowships, etc. get them up to speed on the local favorite sports teams. Give them administrative or technical assistance at producing their presentations, new prayer cards, newsletters, etc. They will probably need advice and IT support to understand and use the latest technology, even how to use a new smart phone! Listen well. Make priority time for them to talk and decompress with mission team leadership. Understand that their children may be confused and have significant cross-cultural stress because they have spent most of their young lives in what they consider as their own home culture overseas. Help them build realistic plans for their time at home. Bottom line, a missionary coming home should be a little bit like a joyful family reunion. It doesn’t happen very often; so you have to make the most of it when it comes. Make sure they know that they are loved. Make sure they know that, even when you have to say difficult things, they are accepted as valued members of your church family. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

How do we help a missionary re-enter back home?

Since we have already dealt with ideas regarding a missionary returning home for a furlough or home assignment, we will treat the term “reentry” in this section as referring to the missionaries terminal leave back to their home country. Missionaries could reenter back home permanently at any stage:

  • after only a short time on the field, due to severe culture shock, maladjustment, disease, or any number of personal issues
  • after one term of service, due to a variety of reasons, including the possibility of interpersonal relational stress
  • after several terms of service, due to completion of a specific ministry goal, civil or international war, sociopolitical rejection, loss of a valid visa, etc.
  • after a long career of service, due to physical incapacity, request to assist in the home office, or retirement
Communication in the context of loving shepherding relationship is, again, key to unlocking any difficulties that may arise in the reentry process. Appropriate and thorough debriefing with your church pastoral and/or missions leadership staff is essential. Take care to not rush this. Pushing too soon to effect an intense interview schedule is unnecessary. Remember that your dear missionaries are probably reeling in heart and mind from the magnitude of making such a huge shift in their life. Even if they are retiring, they are retiring back into a culture that has changed drastically while they’ve been away for years and years. Their home country, its culture, and its technology has made radical progress since their first departure. If your missionary family is returning home for good after less than 20 years away, they may face even more crises trying to find a new career at midlife. Most missionaries first leave for the field declaring their unswerving commitment to a life of service overseas, proclaiming God’s call on their lives, and making large sacrifices vocationally, emotionally, and materially in order to go. Coming back some time short of retirement can carry a stigma which is difficult to shake. Now they have to explain to everyone why they came back. And those reasons are not always so clear. And those reasons do not usually include some real reasons between the lines or behind the scenes or buried deeply. So, you can see that debriefing needs to be done in a sensitive, loving way. You may need to dig a little bit to find out from your missionaries what their real financial needs are. It’s not unusual for missionaries retiring from the field to still need some level of support for some years to come. Many of our older missionary friends have given little thought to retirement support and may have made large assumptions about the level and quality of financial security under a government Social Security system. They may not have raised funds for or contributed to a corporate retirement account. Missionaries who have not attained retirement age and come home permanently have probably not built up enough retirement income and don’t qualify in years. The church doesn’t have responsibility to assume financial management for all their needs. However the church may have responsibility to find out what resources your reentry missionary has and to help them connect with public or private resources to help them in their situation. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

What happens when a missionary retires?

Celebrate! This is the crossing of a finish line in a marathon race! Make sure they have time to be properly honored and told her story. Give them access to Sunday school classes, small groups, and the youth group. Help them put together presentations that give glory to God and perspective on their ministry over the years. Really very few missionaries who start out for the field so young and energetic get to serve for 25 to 50 years on the field. That level of faithfulness, sacrifice, and steadfast service should become a respected model for everyone in your congregation. Now, those honored servants will have special needs. The missionary enterprise in North America is at a unique juncture in history. There was a huge wave of missionaries going out to the field in the 10 to 15 years immediately after World War II. Most of those went out with bright ambition and filled with faith to new fields, new horizons bristling with opportunity for the Gospel. Most of those have already retired. New missionaries, going out in the 1960s and 1970s, stepped out to push those pioneering boundaries even further geographically, technologically, and linguistically. In the footsteps of the earlier generation, mission agencies and their missionaries often thought in terms of “the Lord will take care of you” without planning for financial security in retirement. Thankfully, most mission agencies by the late 1970s to mid-1980s started building serious retirement increments and plans into their missionaries support schedules. There have been agencies (and still are!) which counseled their missionaries to opt out of Social Security. So, missionaries who left the shores of the United States assuming that “the Lord will take care of us”, the church will take care of us, God’s people will take care of us, and made no provision for retirement finances and even opted out of Social Security, those missionaries have nothing. Hopefully, your candid conversation with your missionaries will include some indication of their financial plans for retirement. Their resources for retirement may include : their family, their inheritance, their capacity for meaningful work or contribution to ministry for remuneration, Social Security, other government programs for insurance or disability, special missionary retirement facilities, arrangements with their mission agency, some level of continuing support. It would be wise for someone in your congregation to sit down with your missionaries early in their planning stages, even 10 to 20 years before their anticipated retirement, to help them think through financial planning for their future. It’s a good thing to establish regular checkpoints for tracking with your retired missionary no matter where they settle. Find out about their ongoing health concerns, their relationship with their family, and their financial status or needs. If they settle away from your church area, it would be gracious and helpful to make sure that someone from your church stops by to visit them from time to time to check up on them. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

What happens when a missionary has a major change?

Any major change is a signal for reevaluation. Hopefully your church and your missionary have such good and frequent communication that this major change is no surprise. When there is a major change you need to ask some of the original questions that you ask of any missionary applicant for support. Does their new ministry fall within your churches missions ministry priorities? Are they still in alignment with your churches doctrine and values? Are there good reasons for the change with which your church leadership would agree? How does the missionary’s change affect your churches relationship with their previous ministry and their prospective ministry? How does their new ministry fit into your church? And, how does your church fit into their new ministry? There is another aspect of relationship which all major change calls into question. That is the relationship between your church missions leadership and your missionaries sending agency (assuming there is one). Hopefully you are on a 1st name basis with your missionary’s immediate organizational leadership. Also, hopefully, if you were the home or sending church your missionary would have tipped you off to this decision so that your church’s guidance could be part of the equation. You must enter that arena with great respect and care; you are the outsider; you don’t know as much about the local culture or environment; you don’t know the larger personnel needs of the mission. However, you should know your missionary and their ministry capacity and their family concerns as well or better than a regional manager. Take care to not always side with your missionary by default in every dispute. They might be in the wrong. You need to hear both sides of the story. Your role just might be to admonish your missionary and get them to honor and comply with the authority of the mission. When a major change happens and your church missions leadership is an agreement, then appropriate information needs to be disseminated through church leaders to the entire church body as soon as possible. You don’t want the missionary returning home for a quick visit to find a Sunday school class has been praying for the wrong ministry for a whole year. Affirm your missionary of your church’s continuing love and support. In the case of a major change happening and reevaluation concluding that this new direction is not in line with your church’s priorities, you should inform your missionary as soon as possible of the probable changes to their support. Explain the reasons behind the decision and the process of transition from their previous support level to whatever may be the new support level (or none). Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

How do we handle a problem missionary?

We hope that you have read some of the sections previous to this one. If so, you would have learned about the importance of shepherding care for your missionaries. You will already know about the priority of regular communication. A “problem missionary” should never be new news to the home or sending church. One of the issues you will have to face right away in dealing with a problem missionary is discernment. Who should you believe? And, to what extent? No doubt you will be getting information from different sources, some of which may be extremely troubling. If you have had any hint of problems with this missionary, you will know that you shouldn’t completely trust their perspective exclusively. You must do whatever it takes to hear “both sides of the story”. You probably had some inkling that this particular missionary might have this particular kind of problem before it ever emerged. In the pre-field training process, or in the evaluation as a missionary candidate, or in counseling prior to their leaving for the field, you probably had or should have had some indications that would give you for warning. Ignoring the problem never works. Problems tend to only grow worse and larger in scope the longer their left unattended. It’s best to get together directly with the missionary, face-to-face if possible, or by Skype or by phone or by Internet chat. Tell them what you know or have heard via a third-party or even a rumor. Ask them for an explanation. Also ask them for a reference to verify their explanation. You may need to seek a separate, private interview or audience with their spouse. Even then it’s best, if possible, to find an objective third-party. If the problem behavior is a one-time event, then it may be handled in a completely different way than if it is a consistent pattern of behavior. If it is overtly sinful, then it may be handled in a different way than an irascible personality trait. If it is discerned to be destructive to their testimony or ministry, decisions may need to be made much more quickly. We have known instances in which the home church pastor completely changed his personal plans to travel to the field himself in order to deal with the situation face-to-face. This would only be required in the rarest of situations. Typically, the field leadership really can be trusted to do the right thing and to act in the best interests of the missionary involved and their home church when the communication and information is flowing freely. Sometimes assistance from the home church might be in order for someone to accompany the missionary and or their family back home in order to best guide and protect them as they travel with all the logistics of family, luggage, multiple check-in’s, immigration checkpoints, etc. The missionary may face difficult debriefing and discipline issues with the home office. The home office may request to visit and/or debrief the home church leadership regarding the problem. Usually, if the problem is of such magnitude that the missionary has to leave the field and/or leave the mission, the home church will get some notice from the mission. On the other hand, some mission agencies, fearing litigation, completely close down communication about the issue while abruptly terminating the missionary with little or no explanation to there supporting churches. In such cases, the church may not have opportunity to get additional or objective perspective on the problems caused by the missionary on the field. Whatever the official position of the mission agency (or the missionary, or whatever “they” decide will be the public reason) the church should not fail to try to get whatever information, good, bad, or ugly, about their problem missionary in order to best serve them in correction and restoration. Missionaries are real people with real problems and real sin. It is only by God’s grace that they are able to serve at all. No one has a right or entitlement to serve as a missionary, supported by God’s people, no matter how strongly they feel about their call or how brilliant they think their ministry or strategy may be. There are biblical disqualifications for ministry. There are also legitimate incompatibilities in ministry. There are predilections of proud and sinful personality and sinful behaviors which discredit and negate an otherwise effective ministry. Sending churches must sometimes exercise tough love by speaking the truth with grace and not giving in to enabling support. If you have a problem missionary, deal with it! Get to the bottom of it quickly! Find out both sides of the story as soon as possible. Do as much as you can to balance grace and truth, while providing the resources for your problem missionary to overcome their problem, if possible. Protect the testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ and His Church. Propempo is a charitable mission organization, too! Please prayerfully consider donating to sustain Propempo.com and the ministry of Propempo International. You can give through automatic bank or credit card drafts by using your own online banking system. You can also give securely though Paypal. Just click on this message to go to our “Support Propempo” Donation page for further details. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

How can we help the church build ownership of a field ministry?

Every field ministry has multifaceted interest for your congregation. Every field ministry has unique challenges in logistics, housing, transportation, technology, children’s education, visa requirements, ministry goals of environment, etc. If you simply ask your missionary what challenges they face on the field in these areas, you’ll get answers which help frame possibilities for your congregation to be involved. It may be as simple as a housewife in your church collecting magazines of common interest to send or give at some regular interval. Current prayer requests provided in a format that families can easily access and use are very helpful. Small groups “adopting” a missionary family and remembering every member of that family on their birthday is a simple way for even children to make handmade cards and get involved. If your church is the sending church you will probably want to develop a “sending team” or “Barnabas team” or support team. This smaller subset of the church has larger ownership of the missionary and their field ministry. They get involved with support at every level: encouragement, prayer, logistical, financial, communication, and reentry. Of course, there’s nothing like visiting the field for people in your congregation to get a feel and taste for life and ministry there. They will get it in their blood. It will become wired into their DNA. Coordinating with your missionary to host a short term ministry team from your church to do specific things that would be difficult or impossible to do without that manpower are incredible opportunities for building ownership. Opportunities abound whenever your missionary visits the church. People love to get to know missionaries as real people sitting around the table eating meals, sharing their house, playing games together, going on outings together, etc. Many young people point to personal contact with missionaries in their family home as an integral complement of their eventual call into missions. Help your missionary find ways in which your church family can identify with special concerns or environment on the field: tradesmen, hobbies, professionals, architecture, crafts, unique geography or geology or marine life or agriculture, all of these things are commonplace to the missionary on the field; but there are also touch points of curiosity and interest for your church family to relate to that field ministry and develop a sense of ownership. Establishing a "Barnabas Team" - policy from Bethlehem Baptist Barnabas Team Roles Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

How should we recruit new members to the Missions Team?

Different churches think in very different ways about volunteer staffing of their church ministry teams or committees. Your church may have a preestablished pattern or ethos which determines how you recruit new members to your missions team. Based on your churches expectations, whether through denominational tradition or independent practice, you may be virtually required to have a cross-section of the church body on your missions team. In other words you might have representatives from the youth group, the women’s ministry, the men’s ministry, the leadership board, etc. each appointed for a particular term of service to the missions team. While representatives seem like a noble democratic ideal, this arrangement is far from functionally effective. Some churches rely on a volunteer basis. Put up a sign-up list; see who signs up; choose from those. This also is less than ideal. Most ideal, but rarely attainable, is outlining the skills and expertise needed to operate an effective missions team then go after and recruit those people as members. It seems that most mission teams are comprised of people who have serious interest in world missions and are also very busy in other aspects of church ministries. People who have a heart level interest in missions are usually also very interested in outreach. Often they come to the table with some preestablished ideas and preestablished relationships; therefore they have a preestablished agenda. One key to having an effective missions team is to provide enough common orientation and training that everyone is using the same terminology in the same way, understands the framework of the missions team, understands that the missions team serves the church rather than doing missions on behalf of the church, and is willing to lay whatever personal agenda they have aside in order to best fulfill the ministry of the missions team. A little formula that has been helpful to us in recent years is an extension of that found in a book entitled, The Trellis and The Vine. Obviously willingness and availability are required. Beyond that you’re looking for:

  • character
  • conviction
  • competence
  • and chemistry.
Character speaks to exemplary Christian virtues and integrity. Conviction speaks to values based on biblical principles and godly wisdom. Competence speaks to specific skills needed on the team. Chemistry speaks to interpersonal relational skills and capacity for teamwork. Don’t forget to pray before, during, and after your process. Don’t forget to ask your present team members for their input and consensus regarding new ones coming on. Don’t forget to keep the entry bar high as you give new candidates required reading, orientation, and training in order to bring the men. Many churches have found it useful to have an observation period for new candidates or new team members before they are allowed to vote on issues. One reason for this is that new members may have no history of understanding of particular issues or procedures. A number of churches have found it useful to appoint married couples to the team together. This makes it easier to maintain a sense of continuity, even when one or the other of them can’t make a meeting, because they will keep each other informed about the proceedings and delegated responsibilities. As your church grows, so may the number of your missions team. Most churches find it most helpful to divide and delegate various areas of missions team responsibility to sub teams comprised of at least one missions team member responsible for that area but mostly non-missions team members who are serving on an ad hoc basis for that area. For example, it takes a lot of people to put on a good annual missions conference. All the people helping with the preparation and logistics of the missions conference don’t have to be on your missions team. In fact if your missions team does it all every year, you’ll probably have to get a new team every year. Remember that our philosophy of ministry for the missions team is to get the whole congregation involved. So it is of even higher value to recruit the involvement and participation of many people in the congregation in various smaller areas of the missions team responsibility. So, develop “Missions Advocates” in your small groups to promote prayer and care for your supported missionaries. Over time you will find out who are those most eager to help with various aspects of missions team ministry. Those people become prime candidates for future missions team member slots. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.


How can we get our church excited about missions?

There are a number of elements which can reliably get your church excited about missions.

  • personalize missions by getting your people face-to-face with real live missionaries
  • present them with quality media (e.g.- printed materials, graphics, audio visuals, video)
  • clearly communicate practical ways and opportunities by which they can get connected, involved, and support missions ministries
  • develop channels for building long-term relationships with missionaries and their field ministries
  • facilitate detailed and personal prayer for missionaries and their real-life issues (e.g.- living environment, cultural challenges, children and family issues, specific ministry goals)
All of these elements typically come together in some kind of annual missions celebration. Traditionally, strongly missions minded churches held special missions oriented meetings and events for an eight-day missions conference, starting on a Sunday and running through the following Sunday. In today’s world, most churches adopt a less intensive program using a half-week format (Wednesday through Sunday), a special weekend of events (Friday through Sunday), or a special series of weekends (quarterly or a couple Sundays in a row). The missions emphasis event or missions conference becomes a highlight in the church calendar. It is a celebration in which God’s work through the church to the world is displayed and everyone is invited to participate. The missions conference is a unique opportunity in the church’s life to focus on what God is doing by way of outreach to the community and to the nations. It is usually an unprecedented opportunity to launch new initiatives, promote missions education, and build stronger ownership with the missionaries and ministries you support. The key elements for getting your church excited about missions all come into play at the annual missions conference. But, your missions team also needs a plan to sustain those elements through the year. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

How should we celebrate our church involvement in missions?

Your local church’s celebration of involvement in missions can take many forms. While we strongly recommend a featured annual missions emphasis event which, typically, it eclipses all other church programs or augments those programs to emphasize and celebrate missions during that emphasis time period. Here are some ideas to stimulate your imagination and creativity:

  • special missions teaching for the children's Sunday school or kids clubs
  • historic missionary biographies through dramatic reeanactment or role-play
  • physical passport-like documents which guides the users through some simulated missionary experience or global cultural exposure (from room to room)
  • lots of interesting ethnic food
  • international dress-up dinners
  • breakfast meeting with Q&A with featured missionary guests
  • funding pledge drive
  • missions movie night with popcorn and soda
  • video or Skype interview with missionaries from their field allocation
  • event launching missions banquet
  • missionary reports with plenty of audiovisuals
  • display tables with information and artifacts from the field
  • special speaker/speakers
  • plenty of colorful decorations and international flags
  • a catchy, biblically motivated slogan or theme
  • special seminars or workshops for missions education or training in specific missions involvement
  • announcement and launching of short-term missions trips or projects for the coming year
  • orientation and training for missions advocates from Sunday school classes, Bible study groups, or home groups
  • opportunities for people to sign up for specific funding or prayer support of specific missionaries and ministries approved by the church
  • opportunities for contributions, both in cash and in-kind, for local mercy ministries or local outreach
  • recruitment and orientation of new missions team members
  • public recounting and giving God glory for specific missions achievements over the past year
  • public recognition and prayer of commissioning or dedication of missionaries present, short-term missions participants, and missions team members
  • reports from pastors, staff, or congregants who have visited missionaries on the field
  • special times/times or spaces/rooms dedicated during the missions event to special prayer for your missionaries and ministries
  • missionaries meeting with home groups or Sunday school classes
  • offsite meetings or meals at restaurants, public parks, private swimming pools or bonfire areas featuring missionaries or world missions ministries
  • special music during services with a clear missions message or outreach emphasis
  • guests musicians, choral groups, ethnic music presentations, etc.
  • short, high impact skits driving home a point of missions information or application
Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

What should be the purpose/s of a missions event?

First and foremost, you’ll want to take care to give glory to God. His agenda for His glory in Jesus Christ is the whole reason and motivation for missions. In addition to giving proper focus and attention to God and His word, you’ll want to consider the following purposes for your missions event. Note that your missions emphasis event will be most effective if you don’t attempt to accomplish all of these purposes at the same time. Choose just a few key purposes per year.

  • general missions education
  • challenge and how-to-s of personal missions involvement
  • missions awareness in the world
  • missions awareness in the community
  • deepening relationships with supported missionaries
  • the biblical basis of missions
  • the theological basis of missions
  • missionary characters and experiences in the Bible
  • demographic understanding of unreached people groups
  • adoption of an unreached people group
  • historic and contemporary motivations for missions
  • opportunity-awareness for missions involvement through your local church
  • commitment-motivating biographies and mission stories
Year-to-year you want your congregation to look forward to the annual missions event as something that is fun, a change of pace, informative, and personally challenging. It’s perfectly okay for your missions team to leave your church wanting more. You will always do well to highlight the Lord Jesus Christ, the Gospel, the biblical priority of missions, and personal relationships with missionaries. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

How often should we have a special function or event?

It is rare that a church is able to hang on to the 25 year old tradition of an annual eight-day, Sunday-to-Sunday missions conference. The age of multi-tasking, super-busy lifestyles, and multimedia entertainment shortened attention spans require other approaches. “Less is more” may apply here. Quality may be more important than quantity. It is of great advantage to keep a consistent diet of missions information and opportunity to learn and grow in missions through many means throughout the calendar and ministries of the church. With the challenges of modern culture and time-sensitivity before you, your Missions Team should plan for missions events to complement your congregation’s needs. We’ve already presented a scope of possible purposes for a special missions event. So, let’s first consider the single, once-a-year event. Most churches now hold an annual weekend mission “conference” or “celebration” event. It is a key time to have supported missionaries present. Special events fill the agenda from Friday evening through Sunday evening of the weekend. This seems to be a reasonable minimum. Some churches have a special Sunday for missions emphasis programming and platform time once per quarter. There may be good reason in your church annual calendar to take advantage of other key events to emphasize or supplement missions education, training, or stimulus, e.g.: evangelism or Bible conferences, outreach campaigns, community service projects, etc. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

What are the best ways to communicate missions information?

Common principles of communication are relevant to this topic. Still, you and your Missions Team must be the judge of effectiveness for your congregation. If your church responds best to oral announcements, then by all means use oral announcements. On the other hand, if it is really important, you should plan to use multiple channels of communication: personal, oral, audio, video, email, print media. Effectiveness generally falls along the spectrum of personal and direct vs. impersonal and indirect, e.g. – Face-to-face:
Small group
Large group
Direct contact:
Personal telephone call
Personalized email
Personalized snail mail
Indirect contact:
Announcement or insert in the Sunday bulletin
Mass mailing
Print posters or bulletin boards
Video clip features
Mass/Group email The most effective is always the direct, face-to-face appeal. Timing is significant also. Your event promotion should begin ASAP, well before the event but after prior calendar priorities. If your missions celebration occurs with predictable regularity, people will be able to anticipate the scheduled event. A variety of means and media will increase your audience reception and response.
Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

How do we get more people involved in doing the missions event?

Your Missions Team needs to get others from the church involved in the missions event. Though it’s not the most noble motivation, you need to get others involved so that you don’t work yourself to death trying to do it all yourselves. Creating, planning, promoting, executing, and cleaning up afterward is a huge undertaking. In fact, most Missions Teams can slip into the mode of spending 80-90% of their time just on financial budget management and the annual conference. Then they wonder why they’re not accomplishing much in the way of church mobilization. so, if for no other reason than to spread the workload, it is important to recruit others to share the work. It is also essential to get others involved for dynamic mobilization reasons. When people become involved, they have more ownership of the goals and agenda of the event. people having responsibilities for any role are more likely to attend and value the event. Recruiting others and delegating responsibilities is, in fact, a form of missions mobilization. So, how do you get others involved? First, divide up the areas of responsibility into discrete parts. Put different Missions Team members (or the Event Sub-Team) in charge of each part. Get them to recruit their own specialist team and provide orientation and training, as necessary. What are those parts? They will be different from church to church and even from year to year, depending on our purposes, the theme, emphasis etc. But, those parts may include :
AV – auditorium sound & presentation system support
Room set-up logistics
Food preparation, presentation, and clean up
Graphics and print materials support
Special events for kids, youth, seniors, men, women, etc.
Worship & music
Handout materials
Video development and/or presentation
Drama, skits, role play, first person biographies, etc.
Special music features
Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

What are best practices for a missions event?

  • Pray for God’s guidance and blessing for His glory.
  • Pick your dates.
  • Start planning early.
  • Choose a theme and purposes.
  • Select a speaker that can deliver your theme, especially biblically.
  • Assemble your event leadership team and get them to start assembling their area responsibility teams of volunteer recruits ASAP.
  • Begin public promotion as early as reasonable, considering the church’s calendar and increasing in frequency, variety, and intensity until the event. Remember that quality is more important than quantity.
  • Hold planning and orientation meetings with event volunteers well before the event time.
  • Organize and put due dates on event areas/agenda activities.
  • Pray through the event!
  • Do an evaluation survey and have a post-event evaluation meeting with your event leadership team.
  • Record lessons learned for next time.
  • Thank everyone involved profusely.
  • Praise God!
Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

How can we include or target children?

A missions education and exposure focus for children as a part of your annual missions event is one of the most strategic things you can do. There are a number of great reasons why you should do so:

  • children are insatiable learners
  • children have a natural curiosity for colorful cultures around the world
  • children’s interests spread to their parents
  • children are often more willingly active participants than adults
  • children receive and believe simple facts about the Gospel and the great commission readily
  • the natural energy and enthusiasm of children makes them fun to teach
There are many missions resources aimed at children’s missions education. Will try to select some of the best, to our knowledge, and include links to those documents or sources for your benefit below this section. Here are some ideas to prime the pump of your thinking:
  • Children love biographies, particularly stories which include other children.
  • Children enjoy sampling, scene, and touching elements of other cultures, including clothing, food, foreign toys, and different implements of everyday life.
  • Children like imagination and travel. Put together a trip to the mission field, or a simulated “day in the life of…”, Or a missions conference “passport” in which they must visit different stations or rooms or displays to receive stamps of proof or accomplishment of their learning.
  • Use role-play as a method of teaching and activity.
  • Redefine M&Ms as referring to missions minded kids. The news M&Ms to reinforce attentiveness and retention things are teaching.
  • Introduce simple missions songs, even foreign-language songs that parallel ones they already know.
  • Teach them simple active games that children in other lands play (especially those countries or people groups supported by your church or featured in your missions event).
https://www.wycliffe.org/resources/kids-activities http://www.kidsonmission.com/ https://www.christianbook.com/page/church-supplies/childrens-ministry/childrens-missions http://www.kidzana.org/get-resources/ http://www.missionresources.com/teachkidsr.html Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

How can we include or target teens?

If missions education is strategic for children, it may be even more strategic for youth. While young people may not be mentally and emotionally adults, they are physically and philosophically young adults in their most formative years. From early teen years to early 20s (and some individuals even later) young people are questioning and testing their identity, their beliefs, and their guiding principles for life. Teens are at an ideal age to teach them the glorious truth of the gospel. Even if they may have made a profession of faith at an early age, they now possess more mature thought processes and logic to understand, appreciate, and appropriate the gospel in their lives. They’ll have a clearer grasp of their own sinfulness and need of the gospel. They will better appreciate the magnitude of the grace, mercy, love, and righteousness of God in the gospel. They can be more captivated by the life and work, the death and resurrection, the condescension and exaltation of our Lord Jesus Christ. They are at a point in their lives where they need to own, believe, and understand the great biblical doctrines of the Christian faith for themselves. It is a wonderful time of life to press home to them the gospel, in all its beauty, necessity, and exclusivity. For example, our friend Paul Borthwick writes in his book, Six Dangerous Questions: if biblical truth shapes our worldview, we have inescapable, compelling motivation for missions: Who is Jesus?
Do I believe in Heaven?
Do I believe in Hell?
Does Christianity matter?
Do I believe that God wants to use my life?
Whose agenda will I live by? Key principles for maximizing opportunities to inspire teens for missions include :

  • be interactive – design times for small group discussion, prayer, etc. regarding the implications of what is presented
  • be relational – use actual missionaries whenever possible
  • be vivid – graphic, expressive examples, artifacts, stories, pictures, video, etc. make it real to them
  • be practical – anticipate the questions: “What difference does it make now?, What impact does this have on my plans for my life?, How should this affect me?”
  • be fast-paced – there are times to slow down and be serious; but, in general, consider a pace that keeps teens engaged, active, and involved
  • be appealing – use compelling promotional materials and announcements at youth gatherings leading up to the missions event
  • be bold – Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior! The Gospel is the only way anyone can receive salvation! God commands His people to go and make disciples of all nations! Don’t hold back on asking for and expecting a high level of commitment to Christ, to the claims of the Gospel, and to missions. Young people are highly impacted by a clear call to commitment.
Create a youth track for your missions event. You can use the same theme and personnel resources as the main conference; but gear youth sessions specifically for youth. One of the main goals is for believing young people to consider missions as a legitimate choice on their list of options for their future. As growing “World Christians” missions should become a priority in their life no matter which educational and vocational path they take. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.
Six Dangerous Questions

How can we include or target young adults?

Young adult singles, in particular, are especially good candidates for doing missions. This can take many forms. However a focus of your annual missions celebration event might include communicating to young adults options which could be especially fitting or appealing to them. Young adults are also in a formative stage of life in which they are establishing habits of stewardship, ministry, and relationships which will last their entire lifetime. Young adults also tend to have more available time and technology related skill sets that can be implemented in the cause of missions, if they do not already have young children. Young adults need processing time. They need the opportunity to discuss and interact with concepts affecting their life. Single young adults have unique opportunities to develop ministry skills and experiences more than any other time in their life. It is very stimulating and encouraging to young adults to hear testimonies of other young adults who have experience the joys and hardships of volunteering in missions, in ministry and service, both domestically and internationally. Young adults are highly attracted to community; one of the strongest appeals is for their peers to invite them to “get in the game” and use their young adulthood for God’s purposes. Here are some examples of opportunities to present to young adults:

  • training or ministry on the mission field

  • shadowing or being a Timothy to one of the missionaries supported by the church
  • functioning as a nanny for a missionary family
  • spending one school year as a homeschool teacher or governess for one or more missionary families
  • spending two weeks to six months doing whatever projects are needed on the field
  • sign up to participate in or lead a short term ministry team
  • apply for a mission agency short-term project or vision trip
  • provide technical or logistic support for missionaries on the field (much of which could also be done from “home”), including:
  • computer tech support, software application training, graphic design, layout, and production, website development, Internet email distribution management, printing and mailing (or email distribution) of missionary prayer newsletters, photography, videography, PR materials development and production, security systems, data security and VPN management, etc.
  • preparation in and through the local church

  • participating in a Perspectives class
  • becoming part of a church leadership or practical missionary training class
  • enrolling in evening Bible school or seminary classes to fulfill mission agency (or home church) biblical and theological development requirements
  • teach a children’s Sunday school or Bible club class
  • volunteer to disciple teens in the youth group
  • volunteer to lead evangelism or outreach ministry for the church in the community
  • assist with church visitation and/or sports outreach and/or literature distribution
Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

How do we get missions events into the church calendar?

Let’s take the worst case scenario. Suppose you’re in a church which has never had a special missions event or celebration. Suppose your pastor and/or leadership has many other priorities over missions. Suppose your congregation is unacquainted with the concept of missions or skeptical about the rationale or benefits of missions. Most church missions advocates wrestle with the difficulty of carving out enough time in the church calendar to give proper priority and visibility to world missions. So, it is not unusual problem. Begin by thinking of the most fundamental issues. In order to get your desired end result, that is consistently getting a special missions celebration event into the church calendar, you need to build consensus support among the decision-makers. Come alongside your pastor/s and leadership in positive and encouraging ways, helping them understand the biblical basis, priority, and essential nature of missions. Take them to training and exposure events or missions trips to enlarge their vision and fuel their passion for God honoring, kingdom building, spiritual growth producing missions discipling of the nations. Don’t overload them with a mountain of trivial facts and statistics or an endless stream of unrelated missions stories. Don’t give them a stack of “key” missions books and magazines, which will probably end up alongside several other stacks of books and publications that other people in the congregation want them to read. Try to limit your submissions of materials and expectations to only the crème de la crème, top flight, impactful resources. Any time you get a chance to view, attend, and/or hear a quality missions presentation and then interact with your pastor or church leader about it’s content, that opportunity is priceless. Warm, friendly, sympathetic input over a period of time will win over your pastor and leadership to supporting a missions event in the church calendar. How can we say this so confidently? It is because the word of God, read and studied objectively, unequivocally shows God’s heart for the world. No sincere believing pastor and church leaders can ultimately resist such compelling, living evidences of the priorities of world missions for the local church. Even church leaders who may be driven, however subtly, by self-serving, self-seeking motives for self-centered kingdom building, must eventually concede that the most substantial spiritual growth both in depth and breadth comes through a God centered missions driven focus. If church leaders are concerned at all about the spiritual helps of the church and growth of their members, they will make way for at least some annual missions emphasis event. It may not be too much to share the anecdote of a nationally known pastor. This pastor is presently well-known as a man passionate for missions. He has written multiple books and preached in scores of conferences on the theme of biblical missions. But there was a time when he regarded missions as a side issue of the local church. Missions leaders of his local church conducted the annual missions conference while this pastor went on vacation every year. One year the missions leadership staff person approach this pastor insisting that he cancel his vacation in order to be the speaker for the weeklong missions conference because the planned speaker couldn’t come at the “last minute”. Though the pastor argued against it the missions leadership staff person’s insistence won the day. The pastor ended up canceling appointments and locking himself in his study to pour over God’s word and develop his messages for the missions conference. No one was more surprised than that pastor to find such a compelling depth of material, which he had never previously seen so clearly. The resulting messages were published in book form as Let the Nations Be Glad, by John Piper. That study change the direction of Bethlehem Baptist Church and the life and ministry of its pastor. And we all are beneficiaries of God’s grace through that transformation. If you are struggling with the question of how to get missions events into the church calendar, don’t give up! Keep working in positive and constructive ways to help and educate your church leaders toward a Biblical missions mindset. Use whatever opportunities you have to slowly but surely grow missions in your church. Take what you can get and build on it with excellence so that your congregation, your audience, will love it and long for more. Most churches today, if they have not already been doing it for decades, will not allow for the old-fashioned eight-day conference, from one Sunday through the next Sunday. Most churches today deal with the annual missions conference as a “long weekend” event, Friday through Sunday. You may be able to stretch the event through an entire week by providing resources and special opportunities to use the normal meetings and events of the church week in a special way for missions. E.g.- AWANA has a missions night, the use group features a special missions video, the young adults have a young missionary candidate present his or her work, the midweek service features a missionary report, Sunday school classes are populated by missions team members prepared to give great missions biographies, etc. Some churches are able to designate one Sunday per quarter as a special missions emphasis Sunday. It may not mean that you get to have a missionary speaker each of those Sundays, but you may be able to give some special missions report or presentation during the service on those Sundays. It is particularly significant to the congregation when you can highlight missionaries whom they know and have relationship with personally. These are also opportunities to present missions projects and support needs as you build your missions stewardship commitments. If you are finding resistance, don’t despair. Just keep doing what you are allowed to do; eventually the tidal surge of acceptance and expectation among the congregation at large will buoy up the leadership to a place of acceptance. On the other hand, it may be possible that your expectations are too grand or unrealistic. You may have to pare down your hopes to match whatever is most appropriate for your congregation and your situation. Again, prayer is a wonderful way of adjusting your attitudes as well as those of your church leaders. So pray. Trust God. Keep doing the right things. Propempo is a charitable mission organization, too! Please prayerfully consider donating to sustain Propempo.com and the ministry of Propempo International. You can give through automatic bank or credit card drafts by using your own online banking system. You can also give securely though Paypal. Just click on this message to go to our “Support Propempo” Donation page for further details. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

Can we get more platform time on a regular basis?

If you haven’t read the previous section about getting a missions event on the church calendar, you might want to do so before reading this section. The same principles apply. Make sure that your expectations are appropriate. Realize that every ministry of the church would like to have more platform time, more announcements, more support of the senior pastor, more opportunity to address the whole congregation. In today’s church culture limited time in services means that it must be managed by a tight awareness of priorities. Usually this means that missions platform time must be balanced with the concerns of other ministries which are also important. A “missions minute” must be kept to 60 seconds. It should be crisp, quality, attention-getting, stimulating the audience to want more. Feeding the pastor or the one giving the pastoral prayer in the service with a world missions prayer request is a simple and powerful means of communicating in a way that is appropriate and spiritual in tone. Missions video clips should be of good quality and well edited so that it is time well used, no dead spots, no drag in action, no cliché-ish repetition of the obvious. Short testimonies of short-term missions participants touch hearts. People want to know results from the field from all the prayers, funds, and help of the congregation to its missionaries and field ministries. Just because missions is an important priority for the local church doesn’t automatically grant platform time on a weekly basis. Coming alongside in working with your church leaders to provide the best available missions information, inspiration, and opportunities will when you and your missions team the proper platform presence. Know that platform time behind the mic is not the only means of communication available to you. Worship folder or bulletin inserts, when done well, are good opportunities. Scrolling announcement pages on the screen are helpful. Email to the congregation, with appropriate graphical appeal and links to further information, can be very effective. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

What promotion and communication is most effective?

In general, the effectiveness of promotion and communication flows along the same lines as any type of communication. It is most effective when it is most personal; it is least effective when it is least personal. The most effective promotion and medication is a personal invitation delivered in person face-to-face. It is most effective in a one-on-one setting. But it can also be effective if one missions advocate or missions team member is making an appeal to a small group or Sunday school class. Effectiveness diminishes as the audience grows. Effectiveness of communication also has a relational component. The youth group will be most effectively reached by someone they recognize and relate to. That might be the youth pastor or it could be a respected member of the youth group. Similarly a well-known leader or participant in the ladies Bible study is the best person to promote a missions event or communicate missions information to the ladies Bible study. Personal communication delivered through a less personal vehicle can be moderately effective. Phone calls, email, social media postings on the Internet, hand written notes or invitations, etc. all fall into this category. Less personal communication includes flyers, bulletin inserts, handouts, bulk mailings, group emails, etc. The least personal communication and promotion are passive instruments, like posters, bulletin boards, general public address announcements, etc. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

How can we get our missionaries more involved in the celebration?

Having real-life missionaries as a part of your mission celebration is important. People relate most to people. Time and time again the testimonies of missionaries shows that meeting and connecting with real-life missionaries while they were young had a major impact on their calling to the mission field. The involvement of missionaries in your celebration puts flesh and blood to the commitments and priorities of world missions. Their stories of life and ministry on the mission field give an added dimension to whatever missions presentations take place. Even smaller churches find it useful to adjust their missions event schedule to enable the presence of one (or more) of their supported missionaries. Though we view missions to be of such priority that we would encourage you and your church to have a missions emphasis or celebration event even if your missionaries could not participate, it’s worth a delay or adjustment in your schedule to focus on a missionary presence with you. Some churches shape a missions emphasis event weekend around the timing of a missionary visit. So the presence of their missionary drives the calendar date and timing of that churches event. Larger churches, or churches which have a regular pattern of missions priorities, find it most useful to have their missions event at around the same time each year. Those churches encourage their missionaries to plan to be involved at that time in the calendar. So the missionaries adjust their home assignment or furlough schedule in such a way that they can be present and participating in their supporting church’s missions event. Remember that missionaries typically have a limited amount of time and availability during their home assignment or furlough. During their time “at home” they have to take care of lots of personal business, medical and dental concerns, educational responsibilities, mission agency requirements, perhaps required training or credentialing for their work on the field, perhaps responsibility for training and orientation of new missionary candidates. They may already have a schedule developed for them by their mission agency to represent and recruit for their mission. So it is of utmost importance that the missions team in your church communicate realistic expectations as far in advance as possible directly to the missionary. In order to do so, the missions team must find out what the home assignment or furlough schedules of your missionaries are. Invite them to be participants as soon as you know their schedule coincides with the projected time of the church’s missions event. Let them know as soon as possible what their respective responsibilities and opportunities might be. Are you going to have them address the children’s Sunday school class? Youth group? Have a Q&A session with the men? The ladies? Will your missionary speak from the platform on a Sunday morning? Or, do you have an invited main speaker that will take care of the messages of the main sessions? Don’t forget to care for the missionaries logistics and hospitality. An invitation to participate in your church’s missions event presumes that you will take care of the expense to get them there and house them and take care of their meals and other needs while they are with you. If you invite a missionary to come directly from the field to your missions event, your missions conference budget may need to take care of that cost. Having one of your supported missionaries at your missions conference is a special opportunity to “get beneath the surface” with them at every level. Make sure that you allow for opportunity for the missions team (and possibly those in the congregation who have a special connection to them) to find out how they’re doing in their marriage, their family, their health needs, their spiritual walk with the Lord, their emotional stability, the relationships on the field, etc. it’s a wonderful time to minister to them and provide counsel and resources to meet their needs in so many ways more than just providing financial support. Pray for them publicly and privately. Let them know their loved. Doing so will ensure that they are eager to participate in your missions conference every time they are able to do so. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.


What can the Missions Team do to inspire congregational involvement?

First of all, going back to the basics of the Missions Team’s purpose, the missions team needs to understand that it is not their duty to do missions on behalf of the congregation; rather, it is their purpose to mobilize, as much as possible, the entire congregation to be involved in missions. The missions team should use every available means and avenue to inform, inspire, and involve the people of their church in missions. Inspiring the congregation is a process in which the people’s vision and ownership of world missions becomes tangible and desirable to them. It involves good communication and the kind of networking which builds bridges of relationship between individual congregants and the work or workers on the field. When people realize that missions is a high biblical priority and one of those things that gives God greatest glory and that they themselves can be a part of that, they respond with joy, commitment, and energy. They become stakeholders in this great purpose of the church. The missions team role in facilitating and inspired congregational involvement brings together many of the elements of church mobilization: prayer, Bible study, awareness of missions history and strategy, stirring biographies, missions workshops, classes, and conferences, discipleship opportunities through short-term missions trips or projects, media of all sorts (including Propempo.com), personal connections with real live missionaries. Exalting God and his purposes for his glory spread to all nations, clearly seen throughout the Scriptures, inspires the love and devotion of his people to accomplish it. The ringing motto of the Moravians who sacrificed so much to spread the gospel in their era says, “to win for the lamb the reward of his suffering”. Seeing the glory of Jesus Christ and his Gospel proclaimed to all nations inspires true believers toward those scenes in Revelation 5 and Revelation 7 which show the conclusion of people from every language, tongue, tribe, and nation worshiping him around the throne of God in heaven. Faithfully bringing to light the powerful theme of God’s salvation through the Scriptures inspires his people to obedience and commitment, like his messengers, prophets apostles, and missionaries down through history who have gone on before us. Preaching and teaching missions in the Bible has an inspiring impact on its hearers. Connecting people as closely and directly as possible in relationship to missionaries and mission work on the field as a special inspiring result, as well. People love people. People relate to people. People empathize through relationships with people. Missions work is all about communicating truth to and through people. Connect your church people with real missionaries on the field, in prayer, in financial support, in practical ways, through conversation, presentation, technology, etc. They will grow in love and relationship; their families will be inspired to believe and support and maybe even join the ranks of those real-life, everyday heroes of the faith. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

How can the MT cultivate imaginative involvement?

What captures your imagination and stimulates you to get involved? Those same factors apply to missions mobilization of your congregation. Factors that fuel people’s vision and imagination:

  • grasping a compelling need or rationale
  • seeing or hearing something from a fresh or unique perspective
  • understanding the beauty, grandeur, or great purpose, especially as it may relate to or require their role in it
  • something heroic
  • something that seems impossible or too difficult or too large to accomplish
  • something shocking or appalling that begs to be made right, resolved, or reformed
Factors that stimulate involvement:
  • strong biblical rationale or basis for the work
  • a clear strategic focus: “doing this will result in or enable that”
  • a clear call or invitation to join the work
  • a clear path for them to volunteer and be utilized
  • clear roles and/or job descriptions which define their involvement
  • opportunities to make an impact and/or see results from their involvement
  • time, term, or cost limits
  • recruitment by trusted friends or leaders
  • compelling stories of others’ involvement, especially peers with whom they relate
  • graphic or video visualization of the opportunity
All of these elements describe in some form or perspective the impact of the gospel on the most profound need of people everywhere. God’s grace and mercy through the gospel accomplishes the impossible, by bringing spiritually dead, hell bound people to spiritual life, changing their heart, transforming their mind, giving them an entirely new family and outlook, and assuring them of heaven. It is compelling, glorious, fantastic, a relic, and impossible (apart from God’s grace). The spiritual condition of people without the gospel is catastrophic, terminal, a crisis begging for a solution (which God has supplied and given to us to proclaim). In fact, the grand overarching purpose of God to see his glory proclaimed in all the nations and the greatness of the gospel of Jesus Christ is sufficient motivation for all believers to be fully committed with all of our imagination and resources to see this accomplished. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources. See J. Piper’s sermon-jam on “Go, Send, or be Disobedient”

What inspires?

Here is just a shortlist of ideas to “prime the pump”. We are sure that if you get some creative, missions minded people around the table you’ll come up with many ideas of your own.

  • A compelling biblical argument concluding with application in the form of personal commitment and involvement
  • graphic presentation demonstrating the needs
  • descriptive personal testimony of the needs or of the work
  • anecdotal stories affirming that “it’s worth it” or “you can do it, too”
  • good quality pictures of participants and recipients
  • challenge and invitation from peers
  • a call to action from one person of the people group you’re trying to reach
  • live Skype type interaction with people on the field, particularly at some milestone event
  • some kind of presentation featuring children from the mission field
  • short testimonies from new believers on the field
Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

How can we get children excited about missions?

Children relate especially well to other children. When they see children, like themselves, from other lands and other cultures, they are immediately drawn in. Their natural curiosity and high-capacity for learning new things enables them to identify with international children quickly. Stories about MKs, videos or PowerPoint presentations featuring pictures from children overseas, even a simple display of artifacts or clothing from other cultures can captivate them. Don’t neglect to help them understand and visualize the geography, topography, and names of places around the globe in missions. You don’t have to apologize for telling them about a child from some foreign place that has a named that is difficult to pronounce and lives in a city or village that’s difficult to pronounce. It’s helpful if you add a little bit of description as to the meaning of the names, if you can. But part of the intrigue is the differences: names, clothing, housing, transportation, food, pets, toys, games, etc. As kids pick up on the lifestyle and gospel needs of children connected with your mission fields, they will “infect” their parents with the names and stories that they are hearing. So, you actually get more bang for your buck in missions mobilization by including the children in relevant ways. Children love to pray for things they identify with. They can pray for MKs as their friends. They can pray for the children that our neighbors to their MK friends. They can give their offerings. It’s even more fun to give offerings for missions when the vehicle is interesting, like a globe bank, little M&Ms tubes, a piggy bank shaped like one of the animals from that country, etc. Children also love to use their imagination to travel to foreign places. They can be explorers on the Amazon, or frontiersman in some remote mountain range, or scientist-researchers looking for a cure to that epidemic in some foreign land. They can be encouraged to come dressed for the part. They enjoy role-play. So, as you teach them, pique their interest and curiosity by having a “special guest” or “celebrity appearance” related to the message you want to get across. Many churches have used some kind of travel metaphor with a mock passport issued to each child in order to transport them through the missions event timetable around the world, to the locations of their supported missionaries, or through the life of a missionary from childhood to the field. The props you use are limited only by your imagination, your budget, and available space. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

How is inspiration communicated to others?

One of the concerns of this question is not only how to inspire people but how to make that inspiration contagious to others. One of the key elements is genuineness, authenticity, and integrity. While your missions vision should be challenging and lofty, it must also be potentially attainable and true. Your congregation needs to be convinced that your mission goals, whether it be for a short-term missions trip or a one time project or the long term goals on a particularly difficult field, carry a sense of ownership identity. They should feel confident that, “This is right. This is what God wants. This expresses who we are as a church. Our leaders are all on board with this.” Another key element is faith and hope. This also is intangible. People need to feel that the missions task is doable. In order for them to own it and pass it along to others, they need to have hope that, by God’s grace and with his help, it can be done. It may be difficult, almost impossible, but it is the very thing that they are persuaded God wants to do; and he is absolutely sovereign and able to do it. A third key element is a plan. A strategic plan for a large vision breaks down the huge, audacious goal into tangible, not so frightening, doable steps. When at least the broad strokes of a reasonable plan is articulated well, people have “handles” in which to grasp, hold onto, and pass along the missions vision. They need to know that their leaders have thought and prayed about it long enough to formulate a reasonable plan. It is not a problem to change parts of the plan as time goes by. Circumstances change, key players may change, the whole environment may change; so the plan can be modified to suit the additional information and circumstances that come along. Quality promotional materials support and facilitate the communication of your inspiring mission goals. The quality of your materials is a reflection of the value of your goals. Use color, good graphic design and layout, quality media, etc. Too often, missions interests are downplayed or downgraded in people’s minds because the quality of the media used to promote missions is noticeably poorer than any other ministry of the church. Taking the time to put a quality piece in the hands of or presented to your congregation will pay big dividends in their ability and desire to inspire others to become involved. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

How can missions infuse all the ministries of the church?

There is an illustration which might help us describe a shift in church ministry philosophy which brings it into a more biblical, outreach orientation. Most churches operate their planning and budget from year-to-year as if the ministries of the church were visualized in a pie chart. There is only so much budget to go around; therefore each ministry is in competition to in large their slice of the pie. It’s a zero-sum game. There are losers and there are winners. There is no thought of resources beyond the capacity of the congregation. A growth year plan simply takes last year’s budget and increases it by some percentage. A declining year plan tightens the fiscal belt and reduces every ministry’s budget by some percentage. On occasion, the altruistic priority of missions allows for mission support to be sustained for a time even if all the other ministries in the church are reduced by financial realities. This kind of thinking makes great commission ministries a peripheral part of the pie, jostling for position, priorities, and resources.
A different approach, one which we think is more biblical, places the great commission purpose of the church at the center of every ministry of the church. [[{“type”:”media”,”view_mode”:”media_large”,”fid”:”86″,”attributes”:{“alt”:””,”class”:”media-image”,”height”:”331″,”typeof”:”foaf:Image”,”width”:”554″}}]] For example, the nursery ministry goal is not simply to do a good job of babysitting toddlers and infants. Rather, the nursery ministry goal is to enable the families of those toddlers and infants to receive the gospel and be taught the word of God and to be saved. An aggressively great commission centered nursery ministry will intentionally try to meet the parents and engaged them in evangelism with the gospel weather at the church site or in their homes. That kind of nursery ministry uses and leverages their opportunities to be involved in gospel outreach, not to mention exceeding expectations in caring for those toddlers and infants. The worship team, tech support, and music ministry participants in the church with a great commission centered ministry philosophy makes sure that all of their participants are growing believers, able to share the gospel with their friends and contacts, and having a vision for using their skills and opportunities in worship to direct the whole congregation to do so also. The service providers, suppliers, and support staff consistently hear the gospel and find encouragement in discipleship for their lives through the worship team and all those involved with them. The youth ministries realize their obligations to clearly proclaim the gospel and invite use to own Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. They also intentionally equip their students to competently and aggressively share the gospel among their peers. Youth leaders realize that the students are making life decisions and patterns which will affect the direction and stewardship of their entire lives during these years. Because of their great commission centered ministry philosophy, these leaders want to consciously disciple believing teens and young adults to become active world Christians. Some of these teens may go on to become missionaries with additional encouragement and training. Small group ministries and Bible studies that have a great commission ministry philosophy at their center our missional and have concrete outreach goals for and through their participants. Church ministries with a great commission ministry philosophy at their core are not in competition. All of them are striving toward evangelizing and discipling their constituents and their constituents’ communities. There are no winners and losers; all the church ministries are on the same team. Resources are seen, by faith, to be bountifully supplied without limit by God for his purposes and priorities. The goals for each ministry are in alignment with the great commission goals of the church at large. World missions is owned by every ministry because it expresses the corporate involvement of precisely what each ministry is doing locally. Implementing this shift in local church ministry philosophy will make a difference in the content and curriculum of each ministry. How thoughtful and practical it becomes is dependent on the ability of each ministry leader (and their staff) to understand this vision, articulated, and practice it on a day-to-day, week to week, month-to-month basis. When it happens, it can radically revolutionize the outlook of a church and its ministries. It will certainly make local church missions mobilization easier. Every church ministry leader becomes a local missions mobilizer. The task then of mobilizing the congregation for cross-cultural missions involvement becomes a very natural progression. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.


What is a missions focus?

One of the most frequently asked quandaries presented to Propempo to solve goes like this: Our church supports missionaries scattered all over the globe. There seems to be no consistent rationale for supporting them. They have widely disparate ministries and goals. Our congregation has little sense of ownership or relationship with our missionaries. It seems like a shotgun approach barely held together by some relationship to our pastors, past or present. How can we change this? How can we bring a sense of focus and strategic effectiveness to our church’s missions commitments? A missions focus is an intentional commitment, giving priority attention and resources to one particular missions goal, project, or relationship. As we’ll learn in coming sections of this chapter on “Focus,” walking through the decision process in selecting the focus should not imply that your church drops all previous commitments and relationships to support other ministries. Likewise, it doesn’t mean that you are limited to one single focus. However, choosing a focus for your missions efforts can be one of the most effective, liberating, and galvanizing things you can do in missions leadership and mobilization. There are a number of remarkable Bible examples of dynamic results from a strategic focus:

  • the building of the Tabernacle and all the articles for worship of Jehovah in the wilderness
  • the building of Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem
  • rebuilding the walls around Jerusalem by Nehemiah
  • Paul’s ambition to go to “the regions beyond, where Christ has not been named”
One outstanding example is an observation from God Himself in Genesis 11:6 upon the building of the Tower of Babel: “And the LORD said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them.” Suffice it to say that God attributes tremendous synergistic value to the efforts of a group of people truly focused on a specific strategic goal. We’re not guaranteeing miraculous results. Yet, we have seen over and over again how God has used a focus to enable a congregation to achieve previously unimaginable ministry results on the mission field for the glory of God. We hope that you will prayerfully consider leaving your church through a process of identifying a strategic missions focus. (Note: see the distinction between a “missions focus” and a “strategic missions focus” in a later page in this chapter. It will be a blessing to everyone involved. We’re excited about this new online resource! Content is in the process of being created and ported. Please check back often and subscribe to our feed at https://propempo.com/rss.xml to be notified of updates. Prayerfully support Propempo.com and consider contributing to its content. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources. [[{“type”:”media”,”view_mode”:”media_original”,”fid”:”87″,”attributes”:{“alt”:””,”class”:”media-image”,”height”:”300″,”style”:”width: 157px; height: 206px;”,”typeof”:”foaf:Image”,”width”:”229″}}]] Your Focus on the World is an excellent, motivational guidebook for the process of identifying a strategic mission focus in harmony with your congregational connections and values. It doesn’t impose a specific direction for your focus, but encourages strategic values, relationships, and outcomes. The book is full of real-life case studies of churches from a wide array of backgrounds and traditions which have gone through similar processes with good results. Contact Catalyst Services directly to obtain the book and related materials.

What types of focus are there?

The workbook entitled, Your Focus on the World, by Ellen Livingood of Catalyst Services calls the various types of focus “your focus gateway”. These practical categories help you understand at least some of the major categories of target ministry goals for developing a strategic missions focus. Here is a short list of four primary strategic focus types: Project focus

  • completion and dedication of a New Testament translation
  • development of an indigenous Bible school
  • development of clean water, electrical power, or agricultural improvement to a needy area
  • building a town or regional primary care clinic or community resource center
Missionary-centered focus
  • providing needed resources and or infrastructure improvement for a particular missionary or missions team on the field
  • supplying short-term teams with some regularity and frequency for VBS, English tutoring, sports clinic, literature distribution, business development, or similar outreach ministry activities
  • providing MK education resources and/or teachers
  • funding the most visionary ministry goals of a particular supported missionary and/or their team
People group or place focus
  • committing to whoever or whatever advances the evangelistic entry and pioneering church planting efforts among a specific people group or place
  • brokering the cooperation among any number of groups interested in reaching a particular unreached people group or place with gospel centered ministry
  • providing training and/or scholarships for first-generation Christians of a particular people group or place with the intent of going back to reach that indigenous group
  • recruiting, training, and sending out of your own people for the sake of pioneer church planting among a strategic unreached people group
Sister church focus
  • consistently sending short-term teams of various sizes and skills to assist in development, discipleship, and training of a selected sister church in a cross-cultural context on the mission field
  • developing strong ties and relationships between the chosen sister church leadership and your church, including the possibility of the pastors speaking in each other’s pulpits
  • “adoption” of key leader candidates in the sister church for additional training
  • utilizing personnel from a sister church on the mission field to provide specialized cross-cultural training for people in your church, especially those planning to go and minister in that mission field context
We’re excited about this new online resource. Content is in the process of being created and ported. Please check back often and subscribe to our feed at https://propempo.com/rss.xml to be notified of updates. Prayerfully support Propempo.com and consider contributing to its content. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

What is a strategic missions focus?

It is possible to adopt a missions focus that is not a strategic missions focus. Earlier, we defined a missions focus as: A missions focus is an intentional commitment giving priority attention and resources to one particular missions goal, project, or relationship. We have seen that a missions focus can be classified in one of four major categories: a project focus, a missionary-centered focus, a people group or place focus, or a sister church focus. A strategic missions focus is an intentional commitment giving priority attention and resources to a strategic missions goal, project, or relationship. As missions consultants to local churches, Propempo urges churches to consider researching, adopting, and implementing a strategic missions focus. We think of Romans 15 as a criteria for “strategic”. There, Paul makes it clear that it is his ambition is to preach the gospel where Christ has not already been named; that is where people have little or no access to the gospel. It’s where the church does not yet exist in sufficient strength to evangelize their own people group. There are some such people groups that have no known witness, whether national or expatriate. “Strategic” in this context means especially strategic to fulfillment of the Great Commission, that is the discipling of all people groups (nations) and establishment of biblical, reproducing, indigenous local churches. Qualifiers for “strategic” are:

  • unreached people groups
  • unengaged unreached people groups
  • limited or no access to the gospel
  • creative access people groups or countries
  • environments in which overt proselytization may be considered offensive or even illegal
  • regions in which evangelical Christianity represents less than 5% of the population

Many churches engage in missions foci that are not strategic. Well drilling and primary health care or dental care clinics amongst a well evangelized population having a long history of indigenous, evangelical churches are examples. Village chapel construction projects, youth VBS STM’s, literature distribution in Western cities, summer camps in highly Christianized regions, and pastoral training of candidates coming from strong indigenous churches are all examples of a legitimate missions focus which do not meet the criteria as particularly strategic to fulfillment of the Great Commission. Given this strategic framework we prayerfully encourage you to think in terms of adopting a strategic missions focus. We believe that every local church has been invested with grace gifts from God and bridges of relationship and/or connections which would facilitate their own local church’s capacity for participation in a strategic missions focus as their part in helping to fulfill the Great Commission, to the glory of God. Eph. 3:20-21 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. We’re excited about this new online resource! Content is in the process of being created and ported. Please check back often and subscribe to our feed at https://propempo.com/rss.xml to be notified of updates. Prayerfully support Propempo.com and consider contributing to its content. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

How does what we're doing now bridge to a focus for the future?

As you prayerfully study your church, your world, and your existing missions relationships, there are many factors which can enable you to discover or discern a strategic missions focus. Here are some questions, as examples, that should help you in the process.

  1. What are the ministry strengths of your church?
  2. How has God endowed your church leaders with particular missions interests or passions?
  3. Are there already significant and strategic ethnic connections within your congregation?
  4. Do you already support a missionary, team, or project aimed at or bordering an unreached people group?
  5. Does some missionary or ministry you already support naturally springboard toward a more strategic pioneering work?
  6. Is there an unusual number of people in your congregation with a particular set of skills or resources which could be used to open doors in a strategic missions ministry (e.g.- medical, mechanical, educational, technological, engineering, business, financing/banking, sports)?
  7. Does your church already support a missionary with a vision for a neighboring unreached people group?
  8. Has your church been captivated by ministry potential because of recent contact or world current events?
  9. Are there potential missionary candidates in your congregation who have a burden for a particular people group workplace?
  10. Does your community have an unusual number or type of immigrants or refugees from an unreached people group or strategic language group?
  11. Does your church have particular fellowship or associations/affiliation with other churches which may have an existing strategic focus in which your church can share?
  12. Is there a significant ethnic student population in your metro area or region which could be accessed as a resource toward reaching some strategic area or people group of the world?
  13. What strategic areas of the world are most logistically accessible to your church? (i.e.- if your church is along the East Coast United States, the regions represented by Europe, the Middle East, and North and west Africa would be easier to access and support; if your church is along the West Coast United States, the regions represented by the South Pacific East Asia and East and South Africa would be logistically easier)
Prayer and information should be your close friends through this process. The relationships and connections you have now have the seeds of future fruit in a strategic focus. Though your purposes should remain steadfast, the actual picture of your vision will become clearer and more sharply defined as you move forward. Congregational participation through prayer and information sharing will yield greater ownership when the final decisions are made. Inform your missionaries that you are walking through this process. Ask them for ideas. Find out if one or more of them have had a growing burden for a particular strategic target. You might construct a congregational survey tool to find out more answers to these kinds of questions. We’re excited about this new online resource! Content is in the process of being created and ported. Please check back often and subscribe to our feed at https://propempo.com/rss.xml to be notified of updates. Prayerfully support Propempo.com and consider contributing to its content. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources. 3.6.4

Why should our church have a strategic focus in missions?

Here are a few reasons, based on real life observation, that you should consider determining a strategic focus and missions. Some of these are articulated in other sections of this chapter on “Focus” in our path/book of “Church Mobilization.”

  • The visionary direction of a strategic focus will stimulate greater interest and prayer.
  • Having a strategic focus enables you to say “no” to many other worthy but less strategic opportunities.
  • The strategic focus galvanizes your attention, resources, and energy to achieve specific long-term results in ways far beyond “normal” missions.
  • Your church leadership and congregation will have a much higher degree of ownership of a strategic focus compared to missions-as-usual.
  • The capacity of your church missions leadership to think strategically about priorities and effectiveness on the mission field will be greatly enhanced by the process and pursuit of a strategic missions focus.
  • The mobilization of your congregation to be involved in many aspects of support and participation are enhanced by a strategic focus.
  • The probability that your church might identify, train, and send out someone from your congregation to that ministry is raised significantly when you have a strategic focus.
  • Ownership of the challenges of a strategic focus by your pastor and church leaders improves the visibility and urgency of missions to the whole church.
  • Corporately thinking through a plan to reach your strategic focus goals sharpens those skills for all the ministries of the church.
  • There is something about coming together to accomplish a seemingly impossible task that unites and develops a creative synergy unlike anything else.
  • If every biblically-centered, like-minded church adopted the remaining strategic pioneering church planting opportunities remaining in the world, then the universal church would be doing a much better job of fulfilling the Great Commission and seeing all nations reached with the Gospel.
We’re excited about this new online resource! Content is in the process of being created and ported. Please check back often and subscribe to our feed at https://propempo.com/rss.xml to be notified of updates. Prayerfully support Propempo.com and consider contributing to its content. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

How do we define, discover, or determine a strategic missions focus?

There are a number of ways that God might lead you and your church in this process. All are providentially under the control of our sovereign God. So, you can proceed with confidence and even risk-taking courage, as you seek to glorify Jesus Christ. That’s His will; that’s what He wants us to do; that’s what He will empower and enable! Because this is true, you want to saturate the whole process with prayer, before, during, and after the research and decisions are made. Get your congregation praying with you and your church leaders for His guidance and direction as you study, inquire, and survey for that best matching strategic missions focus/vision. Your strategic focus might come into your awareness through communication with your missionaries, analyzing the cross-cultural bridges and connections of your congregation or your metro area. Your focus may arise from an overwhelmingly positive response to a presentation of some critical need or strategic unreached people group. You might learn of a special opportunity in a conference or periodical that you follow up with more questions and research. There are many elements to building a strong rationale for making a particular choice about your church’s strategic focus. Take heart comfort in the fact that, if your motives and goals are genuinely in tune with God’s purposes, you cannot make a mistake. God will direct you. That doesn’t mean that the resulting decision and implementation won’t be difficult. On the contrary, if you are following in the footsteps of Jesus, you will encounter tribulation and persecution and difficult circumstances along the way. Still, Jesus is worth it! The lessons your congregation will learn, the spiritual maturity and heavenly perspective gained, are also worth it. Here are two charts which, in brief, give an overview of the elements you might consider. Check out the resources, below and in this “Focus” chapter of the “Church Mobilization” path/book, for further study. [[{“type”:”media”,”view_mode”:”media_large”,”fid”:”90″,”attributes”:{“alt”:””,”class”:”media-image”,”height”:”371″,”typeof”:”foaf:Image”,”width”:”480″}}]] [[{“type”:”media”,”view_mode”:”media_large”,”fid”:”91″,”attributes”:{“alt”:””,”class”:”media-image”,”height”:”328″,”typeof”:”foaf:Image”,”width”:”480″}}]] We’re excited about this new online resource! Content is in the process of being created and ported. Please check back often and subscribe to our feed at https://propempo.com/rss.xml to be notified of updates. Prayerfully support Propempo.com and consider contributing to its content. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

What is the role of church leadership in approving a focus?

It’s a common saying that, “If there’s fire in the pulpit, there will be fire in the pews.” Having the key leaders and pastors of the church involved in the process and owning the results is invaluable. As your church embarks on the journey to actually achieve your strategic focus vision, you need all the support and solidarity you can get. If participation and ownership of key leaders and staff is important, the participation and ownership of those who will bear the primary burden of implementation is at least equally essential. So, the missions advocates can’t mobilize the church to embrace a strategic focus without the leaders; and the leaders can’t implement one without solid support and help from the missions activists of the church. Choosing a strategic missions focus is no small matter. it will commit personal and financial resources of the church for long time. Presentation of the data and rationale of your options to the church leadership should be a regular agenda throughout the whole process until all have come to final agreement. Decisions and agreements of church leadership need to be properly documented; there may be times coming that some will doubt or question what was done and how and why it was done. Answer their questions, as much as possible. Call on resource people from outside your congregation to add expertise, experience, and validity to what you are doing. Call Propempo! – this is part of what we do. Propempo can consult and guide your church through this process. We don’t have a cookie-cutter approach; your church’s unique identity, tradition, and bridges are taken into account. Plan to announce and celebrate your strategic focus decision with the whole congregation. We’re excited about this new online resource! Content is in the process of being created and ported. Please check back often and subscribe to our feed at https://propempo.com/rss.xml to be notified of updates. Prayerfully support Propempo.com and consider contributing to its content. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

What process should we follow to select a focus?

We cannot emphasize the importance of prayer through the process enough! Solidarity, unity, and commitment is built slowly and surely by a consistent pattern of prayer: praying together, praying corporately, praying as leaders, praying as a strategic focus research or task force or survey team. The steps suggested here do not have to be accomplished in exact sequential order. Some can be accomplished simultaneously with others. The order may be changed in order to be more appropriate or more logical for your situation.

  1. Survey your congregation

    • find out what cross-cultural connections and relationships they have
    • find out if they have professional skills or relationships that might come touch the direction of a strategic focus
    • ask if they have any involvements, activities, knowledge, or experience that might add fuel in a particular direction
  2. Survey your present missionary or mission agency relationships

    • where do you presently support missionaries or projects? are those close to known unreached people groups or other strategic needs?
    • find out if there is already a specific strategic vision or direction
    • find out if there is a personal vision to be involved in a specific unreached people group
    • ask if they have suggestions for your church's decision
  3. Survey the data:

    • research and educate your decisions makers and/or focus task-force about unreached
    people groups, world needs, strategic missions areas needing staffing or resources
    • pray through Operation World data, Joshua Project Data, etc.
    • look at up-to-date demographic information (CIA World Factbook)
    • learn about creative access, Business As Missions, tentmaking platforms, etc.
  4. Survey your community:

    • is your city a sister-city in some strategic region of the world?
    • from what country or region are there significant business interests in your area?
    • are there significant business, immigrant, refugee, student populations from key strategic unreached areas near you?
    • are there already community service or outreach programs (TESL, immigrant services, etc.) for those related to unreached people and through which your church can become involved?
    • what is the demographic composition of your community? does that have any bearing on your alternatives for a strategic focus?
    • does your metro area airport serve one part of the world more than others?
  5. Seek to discover bridges from all this data to your choices for strategic focus:

    • see if there is a pattern emerging from all the research and data
    • take it to the next level by making specific inquiries for more information
    • attend a ministry conference or strategic fellowship meeting of workers or national church leaders from that area to ask more questions about needs
    • map your findings on a real map
    • put together visual representations of your findings; sometimes making a graph or chart helps everyone see the connections or data more clearly and intuitively
  6. Plan a survey trip:

    • allow for one or more trusted church leaders and/or strategic focus research/task- force members to visit one or more of your “finalists”
    • ask questions, take pictures, talk to nationals, find out about the political, social, religious, economic, physical climate and living conditions
    • try to imagine yourself (those doing the survey) what it would take to get there, to live there
    • find out what are the language, culture, logistical, and living condition requirements for long-term ministry there
    • prepare a report with an executive overview and recommendations as well as documented details for the decision-makers
  7. Prayerfully select, promote, and disseminate your decision
We’re excited about this new online resource! Content is in the process of being created and ported. Please check back often and subscribe to our feed at https://propempo.com/rss.xml to be notified of updates. Prayerfully support Propempo.com and consider contributing to its content. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

How can we involved the congregation in researching a focus?

Involvement and participation in the process builds acceptance and ownership. This is the case with development of any vision. Remember a primary purpose of the Missions Team is to mobilize the congregation for and in missions. Therefore, it is very important to include your congregation in the process of selecting and committing to a strategic missions focus. First, get your congregation to pray for the process. It’s a big deal to commit as a Body to a strategic focus. Plenty of time, talent, and treasure will eventually be invested in that focus to achieve your goals. Take time and priority to pray as a congregation:

  • that God would lead,
  • that those researching and gathering information would be diligent and receive the best information in depth and scope available,
  • that the relationships and timing would come together in an overwhelmingly affirming way
  • that everyone would see understand and embrace the rationale and direction of the final decision as fitting and glorifying to God
You can muster prayer for this process in public pastoral prayer, in small groups, in Sunday School classes, in discipleship groups, in kids’ clubs, in mens and ladies Bible studies — basically permeating your church body life and meeting schedule. Survey your congregation to discover possible connections and relationships to potential strategic focus targets, people groups, or goals. Select one or more persons with specific skills to assist, participate in, or lead the strategic focus research or task force team. Ideally you want a good mix of missions minded or cross-cultural experienced people with skills representing:
  • good research and recording/reporting skills
  • good cross-cultural understanding
  • availability to meet with some frequency
  • possible availability to travel on a survey trip
  • skills, ability, and/or position from which to communicate to the congregation and its constituent ministries
  • a passion for the Great Commission
  • a team player
Find out who might be able to help the research process with excellent connections or research skills for community and metro area demographics. This person/s would be helped by ability to summarize and interpret that data for the team. Recruit additional help for the congregation to help with the promotion of the process and the final selection. You’ll probably want to have high quality print and media presentations. Definitely make it a priority to have a significant launching event that includes the whole congregation. The announcement of your strategic focus should not be quiet, even if specific might be “high security”. Lead the congregation in praising God and encouraging them to continue to be involved through prayer and giving and relationships.
We’re excited about this new online resource! Content is in the process of being created and ported. Please check back often and subscribe to our feed at https://propempo.com/rss.xml to be notified of updates. Prayerfully support Propempo.com and consider contributing to its content.
Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

How do we communicate it to the congregation?

We’ve already mentioned how to get your congregation involved in the process of determining the strategic focus. Presumably, this means that your Missions Team or the SF Task Force have had a good bit of communication on this topic already. We suggest making the announcement of the final decision a celebratory event, even if only a special five-minute presentation in the Sunday morning worship service. Video clips, brochures describing the process and steps along the ways, the ways in which God answered prayer in making vital connections, something about the target people group or project, including relevant top-view information about culture, language, spiritual needs, etc. Put something into their hands. Make additional resources available to them. Don’t forget to inform your supported missionary family. This may affect or involved them. It may also have a long-term impact on their support and relationship with the church. If there is time or at an additional special meeting, you can give more details and have a question and answer session. As much as possible, you want your congregation to be well informed and excited about charting this course toward a strategic focus. Keep updates are frequent and regular as is reasonable. If you want people to keep praying (and you do!), then you must be responsible to keep them properly informed. Tell them about answers to prayer; ask them to intercede for specific needs; allow them to help in extraordinary ways beyond the usual prayer and giving channels. We’re excited about this new online resource! Content is in the process of being created and ported. Please check back often and subscribe to our feed at https://propempo.com/rss.xml to be notified of updates. Prayerfully support Propempo.com and consider contributing to its content. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

How do we begin to fulfill a strategic missions focus?

Step by step. That’s the short answer: Step by step. It’s not profound. This is a God-sized goal that will take God’s guidance and enabling to achieve. Yet, you have responsibility, too, to plan, anticipate, and grow as you strive with your congregation to reach your strategic focus goals. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. How do you make a journey of a thousand miles? One step at a time How do you make it through a time of great stress or tragedy? One day at a time. Now that you have a strategic focus, your research that led you to this point and good counsel in missiology and strategic planning will help your identify your first priorities. Is it people? Do you need people on the field to effect your strategic focus? Then, you’ll need to work on preparing your people or finding others who in alignment with your goals and local church ideals to meet that need. You may already have a missions agency partner that would be your reference point for people in your strategic focus. Maybe you met people on the field in your research and decision phase. You’ll need to process them into relationship with the church and/or support as you move ahead. That might mean making a visit to your church, even for an extended time, to meet key leaders, to present the vision, to update them on the unique challenges of that direction or goal. Is it finances? You may need to craft new ways for people to be involved financially. It may mean setting up a new account in the church books just to keep track of the strategic focus giving and expenses. You may need to develop special giving vehicles or designations for your congregation. You will almost certainly need to develop some promotional materials which highlight the needs and give people information about the means and opportunities to give. Is it other resources? Are there people or groups working in, with, or tangentially to your strategic focus? Do those people or groups represent resources you need or could use to achieve your goals?

  • Think a bit outside the box: Bibles in the right language or dialect?
  • Media: literature, music, video, broadcast media, Bible study materials?
  • Special outreach opportunities to employ: TESL classes, youth camps, sports camps, primary or specialized medical-dental care?, concerts, sports evangelism?, literacy classes, construction projects?, well drilling?, VBS-type or “five day club” type outreach to children?, micro-enterprise development, skills/job/trade training programs, etc.
We have found that literally developing a concept timeline on paper is a very useful tool to visualizing and articulating the many steps and elements involved in working toward your long-term goals. Putting time segments to steps on a list, help you be more realistic about what needs to be done. Now is the time to look at all the possible resources and means toward reaching your visionary goals. Oh, … don’t forget to keep praying. We’re excited about this new online resource! Content is in the process of being created and ported. Please check back often and subscribe to our feed at https://propempo.com/rss.xml to be notified of updates. Prayerfully support Propempo.com and consider contributing to its content.
Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

What should we expect as we commit to a focus?

We hope that the celebratory event unveiling and strategic focus to the congregation will create a sense of awe and elation. Certainly there is a mountain-top emotional release upon completion of a daunting task like bringing all the prayer and research of the process to completion. You may have to answer a lot of questions from the curious and interested. You will probably realize that there is some key communication piece that was overlooked or neglected which now becomes important to complete and distribute. Your clear commitment to a strategic focus must be followed with practical first steps. The congregation will expect a report and updates: What are we doing now? How is it going? Have we accomplished initial milestones toward making it a reality? If there have been others integrally involved in the decisions process, such as mission agency partners, missionaries on the field, key consultants, resource people, then will want to know about your decision and perhaps help you decide and implement those first steps. Keep them in the loop of communication. If the strategic focus is big enough or different enough, you may need to appoint a separate team or committee or task force just to manage the development and implementation after the decision is made and publicized. We’re excited about this new online resource! Content is in the process of being created and ported. Please check back often and subscribe to our feed at https://propempo.com/rss.xml to be notified of updates. Prayerfully support Propempo.com and consider contributing to its content. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

How does a focus change our financial commitments?

Adopting a new high priority tends to displace other priorities down the list. This doesn't mean that you need to do anything radical or different right away. It does mean that you may be re-evaulating your missions ministry priorities in light of your new strategic focus. If God has led you to a decision which is already in harmony with things that you're doing or people that you're supporting, there may be a little change at all. In fact, whether due to adopting a strategic focus or due to establish a fresh outlook on your church missions priorities, we usually recommend that the missions team and church leadership "grandfather" everything and everyone that is presently supported. Working through the details of transition which reduce or cut support relationships in light of your new or clearer priorities is an issue discussed elsewhere on Propempo.com. There are clear opportunities for planned attrition of missionary/missions/project support which does not align with strategic goals and relationships; e.g. – “Furlough” or home assignment times, a move to a different ministry assignment, a move to a different mission agency, retirement, return for long-term to the home country, etc. Every missionary hits a transition time at least every four years or so. Remember, your initial commitment to support was not actually a “for life” or “until death do us part” commitment. If their doctrine or practice diverges from your church’s, you do not want that representing your church as an extension of your ministry. Below is an example of how one church charted out application of the principles Propempo teaches regarding missionary funding decisions. [[{“type”:”media”,”view_mode”:”media_large”,”fid”:”93″,”attributes”:{“alt”:””,”class”:”media-image”,”height”:”311″,”typeof”:”foaf:Image”,”width”:”480″}}]] We’re excited about this new online resource! Content is in the process of being created and ported. Please check back often and subscribe to our feed at https://propempo.com/rss.xml to be notified of updates. Prayerfully support Propempo.com and consider contributing to its content. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

What is the duration of a missions focus?

The duration of your commitment to a particular strategic focus will depend largely on the nature of your goal/s and your relationship. Typically a project focus, for infrastructure or technology or production of something, has a clearer, shorter term commitment. e.g. – A focus to establish an indigenous Bible school might have a well-established timeline for hiring faculty and staff, erecting buildings, classrooms, dorms, etc., establishing library or textbook curricula resources, and so on. While establishing reproducing churches amongst a traditionally resistant and remote culture requires more flexibility and patience. So, first of all, the duration may be determined by the type of goal or goals of your focus. Secondly, the duration is determined by you and your church leaders. What is YOUR purpose in adopting this particular strategic focus? We know of a church that adopted a ten-year plan to have a strategic focus on each of three major unreached segments of the world for approximately three years each (to fulfill the ten year cycle). Their overarching purpose was to participate in those segments of the Great Commission (but not exhaustively) and to familiarize their congregation with those needs, giving them opportunity for personal involvement. They choose to find ministries they could pour themselves into for a briefer three-year period each for: Chinese, Hindu, and Muslim populations. Their goals for their own congregational exposure, opportunity, and involvement superseded specific long-term goals on the field. Many churches adopt an unreached people group, to do all that they can within just a five year period. After that time, the church is free to choose to continue, to pick another arbitrary time limit, or to move on to something else. Lastly, the duration may be a function of your church’s direct involvement. As long as you have your people or your specific interests directly involved in the focus, the church supports it. When and if your people or interests move somewhere else, then the church’s focus moves with them. Remember that in this world time and added information can change quickly. Your decision for a strategic focus today may seem perfect; a year from now, with added information and experience, it may not see as wise and wonderful. That’s OK! A dear friend refers to an old cliche: “When the horse dies, dismount.” Or, following the title of a once-popular book on Christian leadership: “Sacred cows make gourmet burgers.” You don’t have to feel defeated if you need to make a change due to circumstances beyond your control. God is still sovereign! He has had his plans for your maturity and growth in holiness through every circumstance. He is able to make the disappointments and seeming defeats in gracious stepping stones, building blocks, milestones of progress for you and your church’s spiritual growth and the ultimate progress of the Gospel. Pray! Continue to trust God; and get back into the next strategic focus for your church, to the glory of God. We’re excited about this new online resource! Content is in the process of being created and ported. Please check back often and subscribe to our feed at https://propempo.com/rss.xml to be notified of updates. Prayerfully support Propempo.com and consider contributing to its content. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

How will we know when we have completed our focus?

You’ll know when you have completed your focus. In fact, you should plan a celebration of reaching the finish line. It’s true that how you define the end product may differ significantly from the time your first envisioned it. Vision is like that. Over time, experience and information and circumstances add perspectives that we could not have anticipated at the beginning. It’s OK. But, as you approach that completion mark, you’ll know. It’s important to have a special time of recognition and to praise the Lord for whatever progress and goals have been achieved through your strategic focus. Draw the whole congregation together to rejoice and celebrate. Find creative ways to recount the highlights of development and milestones along the way. Connect field celebration with home-side celebration: a dedication service, a live Skype call, an interactive media presentation, a party! There are some things that might be markers for your completion:

  • opening of a new facility
  • dedication of a New Testament translation
  • public presentation of a new publication
  • launching of a new program or curriculum
  • constitution of a new church or indigenous group
  • graduation services of a training program
  • a group initiation ceremony or service
  • relocation of your key personnel resources to another project or area or people group
We’re excited about this new online resource! Content is in the process of being created and ported. Please check back often and subscribe to our feed at https://propempo.com/rss.xml to be notified of updates. Prayerfully support Propempo.com and consider contributing to its content. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

What if things don't go well with our missions focus?

Remember that God is sovereign. He is still in control and His ultimate purposes and glory will not be thwarted by anything. No disappointments or mishaps take Him by surprise. If our theology of God is right, we ought to never lose hope. Are there disappointments and discouragements in unmet goals? Yes. We can learn from the difficulties and apply that growth in wisdom and humility and holiness to the next focus. If we have made a good effort and things don’t turn out the way we thought, we still cling to God and to principles from His word as we continue to try to please Him in everything. A dear friend quotes: “When the horse dies, dismount.” In the words of a once-popular book on Christian leadership: “Sacred Cows Make Gourmet Burgers.” Don’t despair! But do move on! Take the things you’ve learned and use them for God’s glory in the next endeavor. People will fail; circumstances will change; doors may close; but God’s purposes will ultimately prevail; Christ will build His church. Jesus wins! We’re excited about this new online resource! Content is in the process of being created and ported. Please check back often and subscribe to our feed at https://propempo.com/rss.xml to be notified of updates. Prayerfully support Propempo.com and consider contributing to its content. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

Can we change or modify our missions focus?

Under the Lordship of Christ, your local church is in control of the decision about a missions focus. The field missionary has no independent authority over the decision. The circumstances may be a factor, but they don’t determine whether or not you can change a decision or direction in and of themselves. Every strategic focus vision has a termination point. Every vision shifts a bit with time and experience and more information. It’s absolutely OK to routinely evaluate (at least on an annual basis) what progress is being made, how intermediate goals are being met (or not met), the effectiveness of the people and strategies involved, etc. When adjustments are called for, make them. It’s possible that you will need to make a significant shift in defining the focus or change the focus completely. Have you ever dreaded saying, “no” to something, worried over the ramifications and what people might think? Then, when you actually do screw up the courage to say, “no”, almost immediately after it feels so good and right. Try to remember that feeling of relief and calm as you make the tough decision and begin informed all the principals involved of your changes. It will confirm to you how fitting and genuine is the decision to make the change. Don’t be fickle; try to make sure that you’re doing it for the right reasons. If there is a pattern indicating a lack of commitment, then you should reevaluate your decision making process and try to move forward with stronger resolve the next time. Don’t quit a focus just because it is difficult or due to “lack of fruit”. If you’re doing the right things and your people in place are doing the right things and all for the right reasons and motivation, then let God take care of the results and faithfully persist. We’re excited about this new online resource! Content is in the process of being created and ported. Please check back often and subscribe to our feed at https://propempo.com/rss.xml to be notified of updates. Prayerfully support Propempo.com and consider contributing to its content. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

How do we quit a missions focus?

Assuming you have been prayerful and deliberate about making the decision to move away from or quit a missions focus, there will be any number variables and concerns which might influence the process. Factors calling for a slow disengagement and eventual release of commitment:

  • change in definition of the goal or vision
  • planned departure, dismissal, resignation, or reassignment of "your" personnel
  • transfer of responsibility for the focus ministry to other churches, organizations, or individuals
Factors calling for a planned completion point for your commitment:
  • milestone achievement of your focus vision goal/s
  • celebration of fulfillment of the focus goal
  • installation of indigenous leadership for continuing the ministry focus
  • clear circumstantial evidences of closure - whether political, strategic, resource availability, etc.
Factors calling for a quick retreat and/or immediate release of commitment:
  • confirmed moral failure of the worker or team
  • confirmed pattern of unethical communication or handing of funds
  • dangerous credible threat to the workers or related terroristic activity placing workers in jeopardy
Do all things with grace, as generous as possible, and with good communication to all parties involved. This would include : workers affected, including team, country, region leaders, mission agency representatives, perhaps other churches who also have significant ownership and partnership in the focus work and goals. Giving fair notice and a gradual tapering off of support would be in order, unless there are mitigating reasons not to do so. Appropriately notifying your congregation is another aspect requiring grace and integrity, speaking the truth in love. Some among your congregation may also be affected because of their own personal commitment to that project or goal (above and beyond the church’s corporate commitment). Don’t advise, expect, or demand that they also terminate their relationship, unless there are mitigating reasons to so advise. We’re excited about this new online resource! Content is in the process of being created and ported. Please check back often and subscribe to our feed at https://propempo.com/rss.xml to be notified of updates. Prayerfully support Propempo.com and consider contributing to its content. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

When should we choose another one?

Being proactive, we would hope that you and your leadership team are open and seeking another strategic focus well before crossing the finish line with one at hand. Because the process of selecting and choosing a strategic missions focus can take quite a bit of time and energy, you should consider starting that process at least one year prior to the time you would want to make the new focus public. Go back and follow some of the recommendations we’ve made about the process: survey your present missionaries, read the trends of events, opportunities, and concerns in strategic places around the world, start the process of praying through possibilities. We think it is wise to have some idea about the nature of your new focus to announce soon after the prior one is complete. What event or celebration would be the venue to unveil a new focus? What information or communication pieces are needed to launch it? How does the new focus correlate to other things or other priorities your church is presently doing? We’re excited about this new online resource! Content is in the process of being created and ported. Please check back often and subscribe to our feed at https://propempo.com/rss.xml to be notified of updates. Prayerfully support Propempo.com and consider contributing to its content. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

How do we keep momentum and interest?

People, pictures, and present tense. People relate to people: the joys and sorrows, sympathy with the struggles of everyday life, common issues with family, relationships, and ministry. People related to visual presentations: slide shows, video clips, Skype-type connections. When your people see what they're praying about, they're more likely to remember and sustain interest. People relate to present-tense: the more current and immediate information you can communicate, the more urgent and important is your content. Provide opportunities to respond or track the news stream: email, prayer requests, sign-ups, response mechanisms, focus groups, etc. Kids for kids: if there are MKs involved, then setting up peer-group connections will keep it freshly before all those families. Some indicator or barometer of progress-to-date based on the end goal is a very common need of supporting the work. We’re excited about this new online resource! Content is in the process of being created and posted. Please check back often and subscribe to our feed at https://propempo.com/rss.xml to be notified of updates. Prayerfully support Propempo.com and consider contributing to its content. Remember that Propempo is a charitable mission organization, too! Please prayerfully consider donating to sustain Propempo.com and the ministry of Propempo International. You can give through automatic bank or credit card drafts by using your own online banking system. You can also give securely though Paypal. Just click on this message to go to our “Support Propempo” Donation page for further details. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

What if our focus is a really difficult one?

The short biblical answer is: Jesus is worthy! Maybe you’ve chosen to adopt a traditionally resistant or creative access people group as your focus. Maybe the socio-political climate has become more difficult. Maybe you’re dealing with unavoidable personnel losses. Unless you’ve limited your participation or responsibility to a certain time frame, stay the course. C.T. Studd said it this way, “If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him.” A common truism we teach quite often is: “It’s not a problem; it’s a teaching opportunity.” For your congregation to have a full-orbed biblical understanding of the role of suffering, persecution, and difficulty under the hand of almighty, sovereign, loving God, in the accomplishment of His purposes is a good thing. We’re excited about this new online resource! Content is in the process of being created and ported. Please check back often and subscribe to our feed at https://propempo.com/rss.xml to be notified of updates. Prayerfully support Propempo.com and consider contributing to its content. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

How does church initiative relate to agency initiative?

We need to be honest about the sources of initiative and the responsibility for initiative. The originating source of new missions initiatives, under the Lordship of the Holy Spirit, are most often missionaries or mission agency leadership who devote priority time and resources to thinking about and exploring strategic needs in the world. They generally have much more time and resources to devote to such prayerful strategizing than church leadership; in fact they have an organizational conflict of interest pushing their visionary aspirations because they want their organization to recruit personnel, prayer, and pesos from your congregation; they need to think big, edgy, audacious goals that keep it all coming into their orbit. Your church mission candidate wanna-be-s gets excited about a presentation on their campus or at your church missions conference or some recruitment event or experience sponsored by a mission agency. The candidate or the agency lobbies for or promotes the new visionary initiative fully expecting your church to fall in line with support. If you are part of a denomination or strong fellowship of churches with a common missions agency serving it, that mission will leverage their influence to get all member churches to commit to the new initiatives streaming from their offices. A passionate missionary candidate can make passionate case for your church going along with “their” vision initiative. “This will change the world. This is better than, more strategic than, more guaranteed-results-than anything ever!” Of course, they probably have no basis in discernment or experience to evaluate strategies or projected results; but they’re excited about the possibilities. Don’t discount or disregard the initiative of a prospective missionary candidate’s vision or the vision appeal of a solid mission agency. It’s very possible that God is using this external source to stimulate you and your church leadership to consider it. Still, it doesn’t mean that you don’t apply the critical thinking and decision-making skills needed for any significant commitment in the life of the church. Go back and read through the process of selecting a strategic missions focus and apply those same principles here. Ask the questions: Is this fitting for our church?, Is it in line with our church’s goals and vision?, Do we have the connectedness or network or partnerships to enable this vision? etc. If your church is proactive in praying, researching, and thinking through issues of forward-reaching vision, then by all means move forward with the initiative — at least in the concept. You’ll need to take responsibility to find those partners, networks, or relationships to enable the vision. If the initiative comes from an agency or outside-influence, take the time to proceed deliberately and with good counsel. Call Propempo and ask for consultation! Ask other local churches about their experience doing similar things with the same initiators. In the end, it doesn’t matter so much who started the idea. What matters is the confident assurance and solidarity of your church leadership that this initiative is one to which God is leading you to commit. Take your time; ask the right questions; get everyone on board. Don’t let someone highjack the process to end at a different destination than one to which you all previously agreed to pursue. Someone may be on the superhighway of adrenaline charged excitement; help that one see that he/she needs to wait for the other leaders, and maybe the whole church, to get down the on-ramp and catch up to highway speed to merge with the flow of God’s Spirit taking you to that wonderful future vision focus. We’re excited about this new online resource! Content is in the process of being created and ported. Please check back often and subscribe to our feed at https://propempo.com/rss.xml to be notified of updates. Prayerfully support Propempo.com and consider contributing to its content. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

What happens when our focus has a major shift on the field?

We’re going to assume that this question doesn’t refer to obviously POSITIVE shifts. Positive shifts are a lot easier to deal with and to celebrate. Perceived negative shifts, on the other hand, can be a problem (read that: “teaching opportunity”). Notice we used the term “perceived” negative shift. Many times, in the providence of God, changes which we think are negative at first, turn out to be positive, or at least neutral, in the end. e.g. – While the evacuation of all missionaries out of China as Communism swept the country was universally perceived as a tragedy, in the long term God has used it to stimulate and strengthen the cause of Christ and His church far beyond all expectations. Now, there are still major deficiencies in the church at large in China; and there are still widespread concerns for institutionalized persecution; however, the growth and development of Christian witness in China against all odds has been very encouraging. Having stated the above, what about those shifts that seems genuinely negative and detrimental to the goals of the ministry focus? Well, count on Romans 8:28 being true! Apparent setbacks and difficulties, even rapid retreats, do not automatically mean that you should give up your strategic focus goal. If your strategic focus was legitimate before the catastrophic event, it is probably still valid after the event. Though, you might have to go back to the planning stages just to figure out a different or new way to approach achieving your goals. You’re likely going to be forced to build more time into the plan; you might have to wait on the Lord and pray in other personnel to do it. You might have to put the focus “on hold” and do something else for a year or more, until the environment or presenting problems change enough to approach that goal again. Probably the most important thing is to not lose heart. Pray. Communicate among your team and with all parties involved. Keep people informed about the decision process and whatever alternatives you and your leadership might be considering as solutions or alternatives. If you want to maintain some continuity and momentum with the original focus, you may choose something else that is supportive of those goals, though different, or you may choose something that is tangentially related (e.g. – in geography or in personnel) though quite different in outcomes. The test is about strategic value and feasibility.

  • Does the major shift on the field prevent the original goal? or, it is just a setback?
  • Does the major shift eliminate some key component/s to achieving your strategic focus goal/s? or, can it be approached with slightly different resources to aim at the same goal/s?
  • Does the major shift take the focus goal out of feasibility? or, is there a related goal equally strategic but different than originally considered?
No matter which way you turn on this, if you are sincerely seeking God’s glory and counting on His leading and sovereignty in all things, you will probably not make a mistake. You will be able to announce whatever adjustments are decided and continue, with momentum and continuity, to pursue the new adjusted or revised strategic focus with the support of your congregation. We’re excited about this new online resource! Content is in the process of being created and ported. Please check back often and subscribe to our feed at https://propempo.com/rss.xml to be notified of updates. Prayerfully support Propempo.com and consider contributing to its content. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

How can we recruit other churches and resources to our focus?

We sincerely hope that you will be used of the Lord to stimulate others churches to be involved with your church in your strategic missions focus. The impact for all involved can be a great blessing. Your focus will get more prayer, more attention, and more resources. Your field-side ministry may get additional teammates, pastoral visits, and short term workers. The partnership churches will be blessed, encouraged, and challenged by the faith-stretching effort. Lord willing, your focus will be accomplished sooner with better end results. Interaction with partners will sharpen and complement your planning and management process. Seeking church and other partners for your strategic focus may stimulate your church to enlarge its breadth of fellowship with others. Denominational affiliations, church associations and fellowships, pastoral fellowships, llike-minded church affinity groups and conferences, geographical or metro spiritual issue or ministry outreach forums, all these are potential recruiting grounds for your focus. Your missions team will need to develop information and brochures or promotional materials explaining and presenting the needs, the rationale, the goals, the biblicial basis, and the plans for your focus. You will need to answer questions of partnership terms: who is in charge?, who makes decisions?, what rights and responsibilities do partner churches have for the resources they provide? how do the parties relate together on this side of the water?, on the other side of the water? The benefits of seeking partners far outweigh the liabilities, even if there are no tangible results from other churches. Their awareness, prayers, and respect for your church’s strategic focus all have a positive impact. Your church’s preparation for promotion of your focus among other churches will, in itself, sharpen your case for support and refine your own thinking about your approach and your goals. Go for it! We’re excited about this new online resource! Content is in the process of being created and ported. Please check back often and subscribe to our feed at https://propempo.com/rss.xml to be notified of updates. Prayerfully support Propempo.com and consider contributing to its content. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

How do we coordinate with other sources for our focus?

As you adopt a strategic focus, you’ll become very interested in all the potential resources that could help you reach your ministry goal. Some of those resources might be:

  • additional field personnel for your team or the larger focus team
  • an administrator or coordinator on the sending side
  • Bible translation or copies of the Scripture in a variety of forms, ease of transport, and portions
  • printed evangelism and discipleship materials appropriate to the language and culture
  • media: music, Internet websites, DVDs, CDs, television programming/broadcasts, radio
  • training for your personnel: personal development, spiritual development, biblical & theological foundations, support raising, culture & language acquisition, security/contingency, target religious background, evangelism & discipleship skills, church planting expectations and methodology, historical models
  • agency partnerships having experience and expertise
  • network of local or nearby-related indigenous Christian leaders
  • legal & government officials
  • transportation liaisons
  • technology & communications experts
  • financial advisors
  • personalized support teams (advocates)
  • and more!
It is important to correctly identify the position from which you wish to coordinate other resources:
  • Is your church the leader-initiator? Are they helping you?
  • Are you coming into this strategic focus following another entity which is the leader-initiator? Are you helping them?
  • Are you coming together with others as equal partners? Are you equally helping each other?
It is also important to clarify these roles and the specific goals of each party:
  • translation groups tend to want to work exclusively on translation, but not church planting
  • publication groups tend to want to work on the process of publication, but not directly with the target people
  • technology groups tend to want to serve your technology needs, but not supply personnel or finances to your end goal directly
  • churches might be more willing to follow your lead or work with genuine cooperation, while agencies tend to want more control
  • everyone who gives long-term personnel commitments will want some role in the process of how those personnel are managed and shepherded on the field
These consideration can all be worked out with sound relationships and good communication. There is no substitute for a mutual agreed upon document outlining parameters and responsibilities. Consciously commit to at least an annual check-up on the cooperative relationship agreement. We’re excited about this new online resource! Content is in the process of being created and ported. Please check back often and subscribe to our feed at https://propempo.com/rss.xml to be notified of updates. Prayerfully support Propempo.com and consider contributing to its content. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

What should mark the conclusion of our involvement in a focus?

Well, it’s been a long journey. Your church has grown in faith and spiritual maturity as you have partnered with Christ in accomplishing God sized goals. The journey started with carefully, prayerfully selecting a strategic focus vision for your churches missions outreach. Patiently, as your congregation grew in knowledge and respect of that special strategic ministry, you saw God give spiritual fruit for your labors. Now is the time to go back to those original goals. Ask (or research):

  • What were the parameters and expectations of the strategic focus?
  • In what ways were those original goals or expectations modified with additional experience, or change of circumstances, or change of personnel over time?
  • What were the key observable milestones as it all developed and move toward completion?
  • What new things were learned in the process?, What virtues developed?, What new perspectives?
  • How does your team better understand God’s sovereignty?, Field ministry?, Church planting?, Caring for missionaries?
  • In what ways is God using completion of this strategic focus in the ministry of your church?, The field ministry?, The missionaries involved?, The ministry target people?
Try to appoint a task force to spearhead the celebration process and/or services marking the completion of your strategic focus. This is indeed a milestone for your church every bit as significant as the dedication of a new building, or the installation of a new pastor, or the mortgage burning ceremony showing release from the long-term debt. With just as much care and energy as you originally promoted the strategic focus and recruited resources as widely as possible, you should enthusiastically enlist the cooperation of all parties involved in the celebration events. Don’t forget to celebrate on both sides of the water, at home and on the field. Make sure you recognize God as the hero of the story. Without His help in enabling, without His desire to see Jesus exalted among all nations, without His endowment of resources, talent, stamina, and grace, none of this would’ve happened. The kind of stories you tell in celebration of completion of your strategic missions focus are the legends and models for your church corporately and your congregants individually for years to come. Celebrate with great joy and relief in this wonderful accomplishment. Give God glory! We’re excited about this new online resource! Content is in the process of being created and ported. Please check back often and subscribe to our feed at https://propempo.com/rss.xml to be notified of updates. Prayerfully support Propempo.com and consider contributing to its content. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.


What is missions training in the local church?

The Missions Team is charged with missions training in the church. This includes a wide scope of training opportunities throughout the ministries of the church and across the many opportunities. In general, missions training is simply educating, ministry skills and vision development aimed at instilling a passion for world missions to the highest level of commitment each participant is capable. For most people in your congregation, it will simply be awareness training about world missions, missionary biographies, the task of church planting, awareness of unreached people groups, and a solid grasp of the Gospel. Some will be involved more directly in missions mobilization and leadership. A few, we trust, will sense the irrepressible desire to serve in cross-cultural fields themselves. Training and orientation may start at the top, with the pastor/s and staff. Exposing them to the biblical truth and priority of God’s heart for the nations is foundational to missions getting into their thought processes, prayers, and planning, as they go about the execution of their responsibilities. The Missions Team itself must train and orient its members for effective and knowledgeable service to the congregation. Some members of the missions team may become specialists in specific types of ministry or opportunities or training. Certainly, Short Term Missions team leaders, organizers, and participants should have fairly intensive and significant training as part of their experience. The congregation can and should be exposed to missions training on a variety of levels, equipping them for effective world Christian participation in the Great Commission, as well as different issues facing missions and missionaries today. Last but not least, anyone seeking to be a missionary candidate requires a high level of interest, guidance, counsel, mentoring and both formal and informal training in order to complete their journey of growth to the field. Doing so usually requires a more extensive and organized program of activity, observation, skill building, and character development in very practical ways within the local church’s supervision and tutelage. We trust that each of these training challenges will energize your church and produce abundant spiritual and practical fruit in your church, and ultimately on the mission field. We’re excited about this new online resource! Content is in the process of being created and ported. Please check back often and subscribe to our feed at https://propempo.com/rss.xml to be notified of updates. Prayerfully support Propempo.com and consider contributing to its content. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

Can a local church train missionaries?

Local churches MUST train missionaries. A big part of the problem is that local churches don’t understand that, unless they get involved in the training of missionaries, they are giving up their God-given responsibilities and prerogatives to do so. Ephesians 4 makes it clear that churches must be involved in equipping the saints for the work of ministry; that includes missions ministry! Leaders and workers of the church are developed by the church. The Apostle Paul, himself, earned his leadership and missionary role in the context of serving the local church faithfully for years before he was sent out. Missionary training in the local church is analogous to the education of children in a home. Parents are given responsibility for training up their children. The Scriptures do not stipulate that it must all be done in the home or by the parents. The parents are free to delegate authority and responsibility to whatever resources are best for each child. For particularly gifted parents, that might mean that their children could be completely schooled at home. For most families, it means a blend of home-school coops, public or private school along the way, matriculation in a recognized college or university. For yet others, they may decide that, given the opportunities and needs of their child or their family, they are happy for public schools to provide education under the close care and supplemental spiritual input and integral participation of the parents. In any case, the parents have the responsibility and authority to make the choices and do what is best for their children. Similarly, the local church guides and supervises the education and training of its candidates for ministry in and through the church. The leadership may delegate certain technical or formal aspects of training to sources outside the local church; but, ultimately, the church is responsible for helping choose a path and alternatives that maintain the integrity of doctrine and teaching desired by the “family” of that local church. There is a somewhat defensive reason for missionary training in and through the local church, as well. Unfortunately, local churches have too long allowed mission agencies and missionary training institutions to assume responsibility for the ministry preparation of their people with very limit oversight or question from the local church. Although most, if not all, of these institutions were founded “as an arm of the local church” or “to serve the interests of local churches”, over time they become an entity unto themselves. If local churches abrogate responsibility in this area, others will take it up. Others may not have the best interests of local churches at heart. They certainly do not inculcate the high regard for and ethos of the local church and spiritual service within the local church, unless they consciously facilitate it. Only a sound local church can instill the value and life-on-life discipleship of “body life”, community, and unselfish service. If you expect your missionary candidate to appreciate and desire to reproduce the dynamic of a culturally appropriate indigenous local church, then they had better experience it and love it well before they ever leave for the field. We want to see reality more than theory, flesh and blood relationships more than paper and ink, practiced prayer more than wishful thinking. There are lots of churches out there doing an outstanding job of mentoring and training their missionary candidates. See the model documents below. Caveat — Though the terms and conditions of Propempo.com spell it out, we should reiterate it here: Just because an external document appears as a link or download here doesn’t mean that Propempo agrees with or endorses everything about it or its source. Neither does it imply that what we offer here is the most current version available. You’ll have to check with original sources to request more information. Bethlehem Baptist Church Bent Tree Bible Fellowship College Park Church Elmbrook Church EPC West Liberty Bible Church Grace Church of Dupage Moody Church We’re excited about this new online resource! Content is in the process of being created and ported. Please check back often and subscribe to our feed at https://propempo.com/rss.xml to be notified of updates. Prayerfully support Propempo.com and consider contributing to its content. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

How do we train congregants to be World Christians?

One of the big-picture goals of every church is to see their people interdependently engaged in ministry. The most obvious expression of this is the recurring urgency of finding teachers and nursery workers, youth sponsors and choir members, VBS staff and kitchen helpers. Efforts to fill the slots needed to operate local ministry needs eclipse the bigger vision for the Great Commission. Too many of our churches easily slip into a fortress mentality, out of touch with the rest of the world. The Missions Team needs to work hard to raise the bar of expectations that every member can grow to become a “World Christian”. So, what is a “world Christian”? The first use of the term was in a book entitled, Marks of a World Christian, by Daniel Johson Fleming, in 1925 (c) The International YMCA. It is written in a devotional style and presents the concept that every Christian, not just missionaries, should be gripped by a passion for and consecration to God’s transforming glory to be displayed around the world. While we might quibble with his doctrinal framework and expectations, the concept itself is very useful. It has been adopted and used extensively over the past thirty years. Here are some more contemporary definitions of “world Christian”: Definitions of a World Christian “A World Christian is a disciple for whom Christ’s global cause has become the integrating overarching standard, affecting his/her values, perspectives, and life decisions.” Taken from World Christian Fellowship, WCFellowship.org Gailyn Van Rheenen’s glossary, in the text book Missions: Biblical Foundations and Contemporary Strategies — World Christian: “a day-to-day disciple for whom Christ’s global cause has become the integrating, overriding priority for all that He is for him. He actively investigates all that his Master’s Great Commission means…[and] then he acts on what he learns. A World Christian is a Christian whose life-direction has been solidly transformed by a world vision” (adapted from Bryant 1999, 703; this article is an excerpt from Bryant’s 1979 book, In the Gap). In an appendix of the Perspectives on the World Christian Movement reader/book, an article entitled, “What it means to be a World Christian”, from an article by David Bryant, “In the Gap”, originally published for Inter-Varsity Missions, 1979: What shall we call this distinct group of Christians who have taken a stand that says: We want to accept personal responsibility for reaching some of earth’s unreached, especially from among the billions at the widest end of the Gap who can only be reached through major new efforts by God’s people. Among every people group where there is no vital, evangelizing Christian community there should be one, there must be one, there shall be one. Together we want to help make this happen. For a moment, let’s call them WORLD CHRISTIANS. World Christians are day-to-day disciples for whom Christ’s global cause has become the integrating, overriding priority for all that He is for them. From Perspectives appendix, an article by Steven Hawthorne entitled, “Serving As Senders”: … the “World Christian” decision [is] to take on personal responsibility for reaching the unreached, orienting one’s entire life around his global purpose. You get the idea. If we could even aspire to train everyone in our congregation to become a world Christian, …

  • we would never lack for volunteers for ministry
  • we would not lack for funds for missions
  • we could have a steady stream of candidates for cross-cultural service
  • everyone would attend to world news with a sharper Gospel-oriented perspective
  • supporting and caring for our missionaries would be a competition among the people
  • active evangelism across every by way of life would be second-nature to all involved
So, how do we train people to become world Christians?
  1. Pray with expectation that they will.
  2. Faithful teach the overarching purpose of God to display and proclaim His glory in the person and work of Jesus Christ among all nations throughout all the Scriptures.
  3. Get them in personal, visual, relational contact with the Gospel needs of the world.
  4. Make opportunities for special exposure and teaching through every avenue of church ministry, but especially in some missions-focused event annually.
  5. Bring in the best speakers and missionaries possible to present God’s work around the world.
  6. Give opportunities for people to be involved in the ministry and lives of those serving in Gospel ministry around the world.
  7. Give feature pieces of literature, video, weblinks, etc. through every means of communication with some frequency.
  8. Allow testimonies from your people of how their lives were impacted by connecting with world Christian ideals, personal service, spiritual fruit, Short Term Missions, relationships with internationals, witnessing opportunities, enriching relationships with missionaries, field visits, etc.
  9. Encourage missionaries to challenge and relate to people just how wonderful, encouraging, and helpful are the efforts of world Christians among the congregation to sustain their efforts around the world.
  10. Pray publicly for these goals.
We’re excited about this new online resource! Content is in the process of being created and ported. Please check back often and subscribe to our feed at https://propempo.com/rss.xml to be notified of updates. Prayerfully support Propempo.com and consider contributing to its content. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

How do we train congregants for significant personal involvement?

1. Point them to Propempo.com’s path for Personal Involvement! 2. The most effective means of discipleship in personal involvement is modeling and life-on-life demonstration of truth. Tell them; show them; coach them; correct them; mentor them; get to find another person to train in the same disciplines. 3. Create opportunities for missions involvement. Everyone can give at least a little (proportionately, as per Apostle Paul). Everyone can pray. Almost everyone, except those profoundly impaired, can witness. Many can be involved is support, in some form or fashion. Some can go short term. A few can go long term. All of these take some planning in order to prepare and present opportunities for people to be involved. 4. Realize that people are more likely to get involved if their doing it with others they love and respect. Church leaders need to be notiecably involved and talking about it. Sunday School classes, small groups, Bible studies, kids’ clubs, service groups – all can adopt some aspect of missions involvement to feature and own as part of their DNA. 5. Lavishly thank and praise God for those who are involved, especially those who do outstanding things in service of the missions efforts of the church. We’re excited about this new online resource! Content is in the process of being created and ported. Please check back often and subscribe to our feed at https://propempo.com/rss.xml to be notified of updates. Prayerfully support Propempo.com and consider contributing to its content. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

How do we train STM leaders?

Short Term Missions (STM) in the local church has long been alternately branded as a blessing or a curse. As with most ideas in missions, STM itself is not evil; it’s what you do with it and how you do it that makes it either an asset or a liability. STM leaders are the vanguard for effectiveness of the short term missions project and opportunities of your church. STM leaders need to understand a proper framework for STM in order to train and lead participants in helpful ways. What STM is NOT (or should not become):

  • a litmus test for your church’s achievements in missions; i.e. – the more STM participants, the higher your church ranks in missions achievement
  • a sponsored and all-expense-paid vacation
  • a burden to the missionary hosts
  • a stumbling block to the indigenous recipients or observers
What STM should be:
  • a WIN-WIN-WIN situation for participants, hosts, and recipients
  • an intensive spiritual discipleship experience
  • an opportunity for selfless service
  • a positive, couldn’t-have-done-it-any-other-way, contribution to field ministries
  • a unique cross-cultural growth opportunity
  • a stepping stone to long term relationship with missions and service in the local church
  • a personal skills and gifts development laboratory for the Kingdom
  • an opportunity to stretch participants’ faith in a sovereign, loving God
We recommend the unique training and orientation program of Culture Link. Visit the CultureLinkInc.org website for more information. Code of Best Practice in Short Term Mission Standards of Excellence in Short Term Missions (Overview) How Short Term Mission is Becoming a Two-Way Street Short Term Missions Policy at FBC We’re excited about this new online resource! Content is in the process of being created and ported. Please check back often and subscribe to our feed at https://propempo.com/rss.xml to be notified of updates. Prayerfully support Propempo.com and consider contributing to its content. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

How do we train MT members?

We see three clear stages of Missions Team training. The first is when a new team member first comes into membership. Some churches require a training and orientation period of 3-6 months, attending MT meetings, studying the missions policy, and just seeing how it all operates prior to having voting rights and official responsibilities. These days we would recommend that every team members read a few key books, such as Let the Nations Be Glad, Serving As Senders, and When Helping Hurts, as basic orientation. It wouldn’t hurt to require new team members (and old team members!) to visit Propempo.com and at least scan through the Church Mobiliization path as part of their orientation. Below, there is a downloadable page of suggestions for Missions Team training materials. The second stage of Missions Team training is ongoing training. This ranges from a less formal awareness of current world events and trends in missions through literature and publications to a more formal training, such as all team member being encouraged (and scholarshipped?) to take the “ Perspectives” course. We encourage the MT Leader/Chairman to assign books and articles out to MT members for reading, review, and report back to the MT. Dividing up the labor and refreshing skills and passion through these sources can help. Everyone on the MT doesn’t have to read everything that is flowing through the missions publication pipeline; but individual reviews and overview of key materials can be a blessing to all. Some MTs “require” each MT member to participate in a church-sponsored STM team or project every 3-5 years. This creates a large sense of ownership and gives first-hand experience with the STMs and the field personnel. A few MT members may be blessed to have the capability to visit field missionaries “on their own”. This care and shepherding is invaluable to them personally, to the missionaries, and to the Missions Team. The third stage of Missions Team training is specialization. As God gives you MT members with specific experience, interest, or inclination, you may find that one of them is really a specialist in financial management, non-profit legal matters, Muslim ministry, heart for unreached peoples, a particular strategic focus, HR development, biblical counseling, prayer, communications, Internet implementation, technology. it’s not necessary for everyone on the MT to be expert in all these areas. However, it is a great asset for one or more team members to pursue increasing knowledge, resources, and expertise in any number of those areas. They become key to the practical application of those skills and resources to the mission task of your local church. Missions Team Leadership & Training Missions Resource List Missions Team Training Resources Glossary of Missions Terms Keys to an Effective Missions Team

How should we help and enable pastors?

We’re going to speak of pastors in the singular. Most churches have a senior pastor or primary teaching pastor that also has some responsibility for overall leadership of the church. Larger churches with multiple staff pastors may have one assigned to missions leadership. So, we’re talking about working with the senior pastor or the pastor responsible for missions. The goals of enabling or educating your pastor in missions are:

  • To fuel his biblical vision for world missions
  • To supply him with the best current and relevant information about missions
  • To inform him on the most important news and developments in the lives and ministries of he missionaries you support
  • To facilitate his role in leadership of missions for the whole church
The first step is to become his ally. Try to understand and sympathize with his position. Most pastors have little more than a cursory knowledge of missions in general. They have it even less training and experience in managing the missions ministries and efforts of a local church. Unless your pastor has had a personal interest in missions, he has probably never studied anything more than the required missions history class in Bible school or seminary. Preaching, Bible study, and theology fills his mind and priorities. His congregation continually pushes reading material and outside meetings on his desk. His stack of books “yet to read” Is growing faster than his stack of books “already read” is reducing. He doesn’t feel like he needs yet another ministry pushing him to make their ministry his highest priority, much less a ministry he doesn’t really have sufficient training or inclination to understand. He needs a sympathetic friend, an ally, to help him grow and fulfill his role in missions leadership of the church. If there is opportunity, take your pastor to a missions training or exposure event. Meet with him after a missionary speaker has visited the church to process the information, claims, and propositions made. As you help him develop missions discernment, you may find that you need to study and develop more discernment yourself. Give or direct him to only the very best missions resources. Don’t clutter his desk, his mind, and his time with every resource that crosses your path. Communicate with him using only the shorter, concise version. Under his time and he will grow to appreciate your support of his role. Your pastor does not have to be the expert in all things concerning missions. Find a way to get him in contact with your missionaries. He will grow in appreciation of their commitment and the difficulties of their cross cultural work through relationship. If at all possible, develop a plan and an expectation that he would visit each of your church supported missionaries, especially those sent from your congregation, on the field. Then, when he goes, make sure that he is not the visiting star, in the limelight, doing ministry. He needs to go as an observer, learner, encourager, not as a visiting superstar. This is counterintuitive to most pastors. They feel that they want to be useful and employee their gifts in ministry on the field. Some may feel that they are expected to be spiritually fruitful among the target population while they are there. On the contrary, what the missionary needs most is empathy and understanding. What the congregation needs is a leader that has a sense of personal empathy for their supported missionaries. The pastor should be more concerned about spiritual shepherding and nurture of their representative worker on the foreign field than “glory stories” of their personal ministry on the field. Among the key resources that every pastor should be familiar with is John Piper’s book Let The Nations Be Glad. The story behind the publication of this book is significant. As the lead pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, John piper was initially disinterested in missions. It was one of those ministries that ran by itself. They had a significant organizational structure for handling that. They had an annual, week-long missions conference. Piper planned to have personal vacation time during that week. However, one year the planned keynote speaker of the conference was unable to come at the last minute. The missions pastor impressed upon John Piper the necessity of his canceling his plans for personal vacation and filling in for the missing speaker. When he reluctantly agreed to do it, he canceled all appointments and locked himself in his study to develop the messages for this missions conference. Never before had he seen or received training in the comprehensive and pervasive passion of God for his glory extending to all nations. This series of messages developed for that missions conference became the basis of this book. The “missions awakening” of John Piper has been providentially used of God through this book to awaken many pastors to the strong biblical support and vision for world missions throughout the Scriptures. We would also encourage you to point your pastor in the direction of the Church Leadership pathof Propempo.com. It is easily accessible, free, and provides many insights and resources to help church pastors in their leadership of world missions in their church. If your pastor is willing and available, he could accompany you to the Perspectives class. There are a few Perspectives alternatives designed for pastors which distill the 15 week class into one long weekend. Busy conferences designed for pastors and church leaders include breakout sessions or tracks for missions topics. You might encourage your pastor to utilize that resource at least every few years as a refresher course. You may also need to process that input with him in order to harmonize it with your churches approach and experience. In summary:
  • be your pastor’s ally
  • supply him with only the best resources, honoring his time
  • spend time with him to develop his missions IQ and instincts
  • get him connected in relationships with real missionaries
We’re excited about this new online resource! Content is in the process of being created and ported. Please check back often and subscribe to our feed at https://propempo.com/rss.xml to be notified of updates. Prayerfully support Propempo.com and consider contributing to its content. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

What is invovled in training missionaries through the church?

We have already shared a number of model local church missionary training programs through downloadable resources in earlier sections of this chapter on “Church Mobilization – Training”. More resources are available in this and other sections of the website. For more insights from the missionary candidate point of view go to Propempo.com’s “Missionary” path. Two huge misconceptions create rose-colored lenses for missionary candidates and their church missions leadership. The first misconception is that a formal Bible training institution adequately fulfills missionary training requirements. The second misconception is that the missionary sending organization provides adequate screening and prefilled training for your missionary candidate or appointee. Let’s think about how to overcome that first misconception. When we think about missionary qualifications, we should immediately go to the Bible for answers. Though our modern world has filled our minds with a wide variety of types of ministries and missionaries across a broad spectrum of opportunities in the world, including the very challenging environments of “creative access countries”, the Bible is our authority and basis for understanding what qualifies a Christian leader. The standards found in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 are timeless. The basis for qualification in Christian ministry, including missionary workers, our spiritual maturity, blameless character, biblical conviction, and competence in personal ministry skills. None of those things are qualitatively addressed by a formal training institution. Academics are important. Formal Bible and theological training should be a part of the development of your missionary candidate. However, formal training is no substitute for long-term relationship and observation in the context of a strong local church. Only observant church leaders can affirm or verify a missionary candidates character in the community, practical application of biblical convictions, and competency in ministry skills through discipleship and experience. While formal training institutions supply a structured shortcut to needed educational training, apart from the local church they can never confirm a candidate’s fulfillment of biblical requirements for ministry leadership. Let’s think about how to overcome that second misconception. Nearly every evangelical mission sending organization was founded with the intention of serving local churches with specific expertise and vision for world missions. Unfortunately, nearly every evangelical mission sending organization, over time, becomes an end unto itself. The mission agency culture has evolved to the point at which it really knows their candidates very little. They don’t have a particularly long term relationship with them; and, even then, the relationship is often conducted at a distance. Agencies are over dependent on third-party references and questionable screening tools to assess their much needed candidates. They have an unintentional drive for corporate growth and fulfillment of their independently derived vision for ministry. This conflict of interest situation persistently results in shortsightedness with respect to the true biblical qualifications of candidates. When presented with a candidate having passion and drive to get to the field, without confirmation of a loving and involved local church, the agency has little choice but to accept them and guide them toward arrival on the mission field. So, the mission sending organization may have internal screening and preparation requirements yet still have gaping holes in the bottom line biblical and practical training requirements for their candidates/appointees. Your church’s diligence to guide and ensure the qualification and competence of your missionary candidate will be a huge blessing to the mission agency partner with which they serve. Typically, a church that prayerfully and carefully mentors their own missionary candidates produces missionaries who exceed the requirements and expectations of most sending organizations. The local church rarely has the resources to fulfill all the training requirements of a solid missionary candidate. So the church must rely on delegated external resources to fulfill those specialized roles and education. However, there is no substitute for the local church as the seedbed for producing biblically qualified missionary candidates and appointees. BILD proprietary curriculum for church-based training (PDF 4.7M) To Every Tribe missionary training curriculum (as an example of the scope of curriculum) David Livingstone’s summary of missionary qualifications Call to Ministry – the Sovereign Grace Ministries perspective Process for Sending FBC MIssionaries Missionary Candidate Evaluation – Singles Missionary Candidate Evaluation – Marrieds Missionary Candidate Evaluation materials packet Missionary Training Class Syllabus, Faith Bible Church, 2008-2009

What should be the process?

The means of achieving the disired end results vary widely, depending on who you ask and what is their frame of reference in training. You should examine the previous sections of this chapter on the Propempo.com website and take a look at the free resources provided as downloadable PDF documents. Common consensus indicates that the typical process proceeds as follows, not necessarily in exact order:

  • an individual indicates to their church and/or church missions leadership that they are seriously considering missionary service in the future
  • the church or church missions leadership takes note and assigns a mentor, prayer partner, and/or trainer to begin the training process
  • the candidate is assigned and tracked through various church ministry responsibilities, including some leadership and management of other people
  • the candidate is placed or guided in specific cross-cultural experiences and observed, debriefed, and evaluated
  • the candidate takes a short-term missions survey trip to the church guided field of choice or one very similar in cultural and geographical characteristics
  • the candidate in roles in classes to obtain formal training in Bible, theology, and missions
  • the candidate is given specific, in-depth examination and counsel with respect to past or present behaviors and experiences which might impinge on their Christian testimony and character
  • church leadership tracks with and observes the development of the candidate throughout the whole process and makes gracious, discerning judgment about the fitness and calling of this candidate for the field
  • the church leadership and candidate together research and decide upon the most effective mission agency partner to facilitate the candidates final preparation, support, and departure for the field
  • the church provides a support team of individuals committed to pray for, resource, and advocate for “their missionary” on a continuing basis
  • the missionary, church leaders, and support team continue to evaluate concerns and opportunities on a continuing basis
Serving As Senders Loving the Church and Blessing the Nations We’re excited about this new online resource! Content is in the process of being created and ported. Please check back often and subscribe to our feed at https://propempo.com/rss.xml to be notified of updates. Prayerfully support Propempo.com and consider contributing to its content. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

How does church training relate to formal schooling?

Formal training is an irreplaceable resource to the church in the training of their missionary candidates. In these days and times formal training can be acquired in many different ways. The means you use or the school you recommend may depend upon the life circumstances, age of the candidate, and location of the church. The usual means for a young adult is Bible school or seminary, or perhaps a Masters level program in any like-minded Christian institution of higher learning. For those who have already begun a secular career and/or a family, night school or Internet-based distance learning may be the most fitting. For some mature persons, who may have had good Bible and theology teaching through many years of church experience, a guided course of independent study under the tutelage of a senior church staff pastor might be sufficient. We refer you to a previous section entitled: “Can a local church train missionaries?” to recall the analogy made with church-based missionary training to homeschool education. Quality formal schooling provides a unique service to church ministry trainees in that it accomplishes as large body of academic information and thoughtful application of principles in a relatively short and intense period of time. But the issues of applying that knowledge and the development of character and practical skills is the domain of the local church. We’re excited about this new online resource! Content is in the process of being created and ported. Please check back often and subscribe to our feed at https://propempo.com/rss.xml to be notified of updates. Prayerfully support Propempo.com and consider contributing to its content. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

How does church training relate to agency requirements?

Choosing the right missions agency partner is one of the most important decisions you can make as your candidate prepares for the field. There are lots of factors involved in choosing the best one. Your church and church missions leadership will want to carefully and prayerfully research several agencies to determine which one provides the best alignment with your church beliefs and goals and missions. Your choice of commitment to a missions agency partner will then put your candidate through the grid of preparation and requirements of that mission. Different missions have vastly different requirements. We refer you to a previous section entitled: “Can a local church train missionaries?” to recall the analogy made with church-based missionary training to homeschool education. Missions specializing in youth and young adult culture across a wider spectrum of doctrinal beliefs and fellowship will, naturally, have far fewer requirements. There expectations and level of training upon entry is far lower because they tend to work in a sphere of shorter-term commitments. Most of their personnel are coming to them with the idea of serving anywhere from two weeks to two years. Agencies specializing in various levels of support or mass media ministries will have requirements for specialized or technical training for each area of expertise. They will want candidates who have certification and/or experience in their particular field, such as: Publication/s, radio or television broadcasting, engineering, promotion and mass marketing, translation, computers, mechanics, finance, Internet technologies, etc. Agencies focusing on church planting among unreached people groups will require specialized training and/or experiences with the intended host culture, religion, language, etc. They will have higher standards for language and culture acquisition, understanding of biblical and theological bases for church planting, etc. Mission sending agencies which primarily due ministries ancillary to or preparatory to evangelism and discipleship will have their own requirements, as well. These include such ministries as community development, disaster relief, training and outreach aimed at social outcasts or fringe groups, provision of basic necessities such as provision of possible water, well drilling, primary health care clinics, outpost medical or educational facilities. There are an increasing number of opportunities for developing professional ministry training for national pastors and missionaries around the world. These roles require a higher level of biblical-theological education, including graduate-level degrees and a continuing pursuit of higher education accomplishments. The church should not be daunted by the difficulties or time involved in shepherding their candidate through the process of training and preparation requirements for effective long-term ministry on the field. Proper training produces a higher probability of effectiveness and fruitfulness. It is worth the time and effort. However, the local church should not give up its leadership role in equipping and verifying their candidate’s fitness for the field. When the local church is clearly shepherding the process their candidate usually exceeds the requirements of the mission agency, because the church has also dealt with those intangibles of relationship, character, conviction, and competence on a long-term practical basis. We’re excited about this new online resource! Content is in the process of being created and ported. Please check back often and subscribe to our feed at https://propempo.com/rss.xml to be notified of updates. Prayerfully support Propempo.com and consider contributing to its content. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

What kinds of partnership can a church have with a sending agency?

100 years ago, this question would probably have been turned around. That is, the question would have been, “What kind of partnership can a sending agency have with a church?” 100 years ago it was much clearer that they sending agency role was to come alongside and serve the local church. Sadly, such a stance is rarer today. Besides the understandable slide of organizations toward self interest, there are actually many legal and societal pressures on sending agencies to retain a certain distance and independence from “outside” influence or interference. Such a climate makes church-agency partnerships more challenging to establish. However, there are encouraging trends. Fueled by ubiquitous access to information and a shrinking world, in terms of economy, travel, culture, etc., mission agencies are no longer the exclusive experts on logistics, communication, and support of workers on far-flung foreign fields. Who could have guessed 20 years ago that a worker in Tibet could have a live video call with a local church 12,000 miles away? Who could have guessed that a missionaries primary means of receiving their support on a regular basis would be through their home city ATM? How could we have known that English would grow to become the most accepted language medium around the world for the World Wide Web, business, media, and the scientific community? Added to the enormous increase in information and management capacity of the local church is the growing willingness of mission agencies to accept a larger role for local churches in their missionary’s life and ministry. We are greatly encouraged by mission agencies who intentionally seek their relationship structure which includes the local sending church in the ongoing shepherding and supervision of their missionary workers. Different mission agencies are at different stages of understanding and implementation of partnerships with local churches. Most evangelical mission agencies are more than willing for a particular local church to become the primary source of personnel and support for one or more missionaries or a whole missionary team. Some agencies are willing to go a step further. They wouldn’t allow for routine field visits from the pastoral staff. They might encourage the balance of authority and decision-making with the sending church for major allocation or ministry decisions of the missionary involved. All agencies need to maintain their IRS-required control over funds and employment terms of their people. However, many are willing to discuss what shape and color that takes for a particular local church desiring to enter into the life and ministry of their second missionary in order to fulfill the common ministry goals of both the church and mission. The key here is that the local church must ask the question. The local church must initiate the conversation. If the local church does not ask, then the default position of the sending agency will be that they are in total control of the candidate/appointee once they have signed the dotted line agreeing to membership in their organization. The mission should not be blamed for that default position. Rather, the local church should help the mission understand what we feel to be a more biblical role and responsibility of the local church in the entire process. As we often say in Propempo, “it’s not a problem; it’s a teaching opportunity.” There is a thorn along with the flower of possibility. Your local church missions leadership and candidate may feel that you have identified the perfect mission agency partner for the proposed ministry, only to discover that the mission wants nothing to do with a local church partnership in the process. You will have to make a decision as to whether or not to proceed with membership in that mission organization. Another possible problem is that the mission agency talks a good game with respect to church partnership but, once the missionary is on the field, actually acts in a completely different way. Through the lens of experience we have found it most helpful for the church to establish a written partnership agreement with the sending agency. A partnership agreement or memo of understanding outlines the roles and responsibilities of each party and tries to anticipate resolution of concerns before they happen. A partnership agreement should also include routine evaluation as to the effectiveness of the agreement. It should include a means to revise the agreement or dissolve the agreement. We will include one model partnership agreement below. Model Church-Agency Partnership Agreement We’re excited about this new online resource! Content is in the process of being created and ported. Please check back often and subscribe to our feed at https://propempo.com/rss.xml to be notified of updates. Prayerfully support Propempo.com and consider contributing to its content. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

What is the role of the church in confirming a missionary call?

Note: This section on the missionary call is taken from an article entitled, “Thoughts on the Missionary Call,” from our previous Propempo ministry website. The prior link was: propempo.com/drupal/node/55 — but, the article in now here. We apologize for any confusion. Thoughts on the Missionary Call I'm going to upset a lot of people by what I say here. But this is what I believe in, because this is what I think the Bible teaches about "the missionary call". First of all, it is interesting to note that term "missionary call" does not exist in the Bible. Secondly, it is good to observe that much confusion about "the missionary call" exists because it is entwined with foggy thinking about know the will of God, in general. What "calls" do exist in the Bible? Just to eliminate the human side, we're talking about "the call of God" or God calling people. We're not talking about people "calling on the name of the Lord" for salvation, or "calling upon the Lord" for deliverance, as in the common terms of the Old Testament. There is, primarily, the effectual call to salvation (Ro 1:6; 8:30; 1 Co 1:24; Ga 1:15; 2 Th 2:14; 1 Ti 6:12; 2 Ti 1:9; He 3:1; 1 Pe 2:9). The Bible also speaks of God calling believers with respect to fellowship with Christ (1 Co 1:9), sanctification (1 Th 4:7), liberty (Ga 5:13), peace (1 Co 7:15; Co 3;15), glory and virtue (2 Pe 1:3). We load the term “call” in ways in which the Bible does not specifically do so when we speak of Abraham’s call, Jonah’s call, Isaiah’s call, Moses’ call. We have been told for years that every missionary needs to have a unique encounter with God or, at least, have a neon-lighted proof-text from Scripture in order to “be called” to the mission field. Yet, take an honest look at how our understanding of Scripture gets twisted beyond a simple, straightforward reading of the text. God “called” to Moses, for example, in the usual common sense in which one person calls out to another person across the room or across an open space saying, “Hey, come over here. Let’s talk.” Now, these guys did actually have God speak to them in some way (we aren’t told the means exactly). And, it was special revelation, to be sure. However, it was more like specific instructions or insight into what God wanted them to do as they continued their relationship with Him. It was not the same thing presently touted or even expected of a missionary call, like a lightning flash, magic wand, presto-change-o, total makeover of occupational direction. Abraham was still a herdsman; he just moved to a different country in response to God’s specific direction as he grew in relationship with God. Jonah was already recognized as a prophet; he went on a short-term assignment to Ninevah by specific direction of God and, presumably, returned to Israel. Isaiah was also recognized as a prophet; he was given instruction and encouragement to continue on in the face of opposition and unresponsiveness. Moses thought that God had prepared him and would use him to deliver his kinsmen before the burning bush experience (Ac 7:25); he made a mess of it himself; after 40 years of additional training in wilderness survival, shepherding, and reconnaissance, God spoke to him to get him back on the deliverance leader track, — only doing it His way. Also, we must note, that these encounters with God giving the recipients additional instruction and encouragement all took place before the canon of Scripture was complete. Sometimes, when speaking of biblical characters or Bible “models” for a call into Christian ministry, we leave our good common sense at the threshold and enter into the house of devotionalized mysticism. For example, if we talk about a friend or public figure following their “calling”, we don’t even momentarily think that they had a personal meeting with God in which God showed them by special revelation which vocational path to choose. Rather, we commonly understand that the person in question, using their training, personality, opportunities, and wise counsel made a good common-sense decision to pursue a career which fit their abilities and goals. Now, we need to underline a basic theological understanding that the canon of Scripture is closed. God does not give any more objective, normative revelation to believers outside of the Bible. Our Bible, that we all have in our hands, is the complete, objective, normative, sufficient Word of God. Establishing this point does not absolutely rule out God “speaking” to someone with respect to a “call” of some sort. Such a subjective call will be dealt with later. However, for the moment, this understanding certainly does rule out that kind of subjective “call” applying to anyone other than the individual who felt or “heard” it. Normative means that it becomes authoritative for everyone. “No more normative revelation” means that God no longer gives anyone revelation which binds others to obey it. In case you’re keeping track, I’ve just offended those who give any credence to a modern-day “word of prophecy” or a “word of knowledge” or a “word from the Lord”. I’ve cut across the grain of a whole cadre of pastors (not just charismatics!) who tell their church, “I’ve had a vision or a word from the Lord … that we all have to follow, build, obey, etc.” Next, let’s talk briefly about “God’s will” and what it is NOT. Understanding God’s will is not about trying to plead, cajole, or somehow out-stare God into divulging revelatory information about one’s future which gives additional insight by which a decision can be made. Discovering God’s will is never about God telling you somehow (by what means?) what decision is the right one so that you are absolved of responsibility to make the decision. “Waiting on the Lord” may be a decision for indecision, a cop-out. Scouring the Bible hoping for a proof-text to jump off the page with just the right guidance is also an abuse of Scripture. OK, quick score check: I’ve just offended a big bunch of dear traditional saints who have claims to using these subjective methodologies for years, with a testimony of their effectiveness. I submit that they have a great theology of the sovereignty of God but little practical grasp of the doctrines of revelation and bibliology. They don’t confidently apply the principles of God’s word – because they’re straining with misapplication of God’s role vs. their responsibility. I’m not saying that reading the Bible a lot and praying for God’s guidance are wrong or misguided! On the contrary, I affirm these are right and good. However, waiting for or basing a decision on some subjective intuition through some extra-biblical revelation from God is absolutely contrary to sound teaching. We are clearly taught that God’s word contains everything we need for life and godliness (2 Pe 1:2ff). It is profitable for our guidance in every way; it is the means by which we become equipped for every good work (2 Ti 3:16-17). God’s word is a light for our path; it holds the principles by which we are accountable to conduct our lives and make decisions. It is the content by which our minds are renewed and by which we attest the will of God in our lives (Ro 12:1-2). The progressive sanctification process of renewing our minds to discern the will of God does not include extra-biblical revelation. Meadors makes a good case for understanding God’s will through developing a strong biblical worldview (see Decision Making God’s Way, Baker 2003). A biblical decision-making process certainly does include searching God’s word for applicable principles, seeking godly counsel and accurate information. So, what does all the preceding have to do with a “missionary call”? Simply, there ought to be no requirement for or expectation of a special missionary call (in the sense of some extra-biblical revelation or insight). All of the so- called biblical evidence or models of a special missionary call are descriptive rather than prescriptive. They are individual-case or unique directives given before the completion of the canon of Scripture. Some present-day missionaries may claim some special revelation as a basis for their missionary call. Yet, if you pry beneath the surface a bit, their real basis has a lot more to do with objective things than subjective things. When it is primarily subjective, it is usually pretty weak, non-repeatable, and insufficient. Subjective stuff is not normative or consistent! Stepping back from a mystical, devotional commitment to subjectivism, you can see how fickle and wild such a position can be. Note: I’m not arguing that subjective experience doesn’t happen or that it should be completely disqualified or discredited. I am arguing that it should never be the foundational basis of a missionary call. A subjective experience should not be a prerequisite for becoming a missionary. Mysticism or subjectivism can have many unbiblical sources or causes. Such extra-biblical experiences are unreliable, untestable, and unrepeatable. They may be valid and significant to the individual. Yet, they are poor footing for confirming someone’s missionary call. Unfortunately, legends persist. Though there is much good in Sills’ book The Missionary Call, he winds up being inconsistent by allowing too much credit to subjectivism and using examples of great missionaries of the past who, in my view, put way too much emphasis on a personal experience of extra-biblical revelatory guidance. As I mentioned above, I think that when you dig deeper into those dear saints’ testimonies, I think you’d find that they have much more solid footing for their call in God’s word, a passion for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and a personal commitment to ministry. If you read their stories carefully, it seems that whatever personal subjective event they experienced was, in their heart, a tipping point of decision or assurance to keep moving into missions rather than a brand new direction which they had never considered previously. What are we to think, then, about a “missionary call”? I’m convinced that the problem of a missionary call, like that of knowing God’s will, or even like that of Christian decision-making, is much simpler and profound than a fleshly formula or an expectation of emotional chill-bumps. To put it in perspective, let’s recall the big picture: the big, overarching purpose of God through all of Scripture and all of time is God’s glory. It’s important to realize that everything is about God and His glory; it’s NOT about us or me! To somehow expect or demand (?!) that God is obligated to impart some personalized sense of foreknowledge is pretty arrogant. It’s presumptuous. It’s trading walking by faith for a false sense of walking by “sight”. I like Jim Elliot’s perspective. Here’s some of the things he said:
“Missionary are very human folks, just doing what they are asked. Simply a bunch of nobodies trying to exalt Somebody.”
“Our young men are going into the professional fields because they don’t ‘feel called’ to the mission field. We don’t need a call; we need a kick in the pants.”
“Rest in this – it is His business to lead, command, impel, send, call or whatever you want to call it. It is your business to obey, follow, move respond, or what have you.” It is a pressing fact that God has called His church, His people, to go and make disciples of all nations (Mt 28), to preach to the Gospel to everyone (Mk 16), to proclaim forgiveness of sins in His name to all the nations (Lk 24), to be sent as He was sent (Jn 20), to use our resources “that all the ends of the earth may fear Him” (Ps 67), to “preach the Gospel, not where Christ was already named” (Ro 15). These are commands and purpose statements. They are marching orders. Though it does take a certain amount of qualification and fittedness for the task, it does not require more than simple obedience to God’s word and passion for God’s glory to motivate someone to become a missionary. God and His Word are sufficient basis.
Yet, I believe, there is something more … Someone saying, “I want to obey the Great Commission. I want to be a missionary,” is not enough. Confirmation of “the call” does not happen in a vacuum. We don’t allow someone to lay hands on themselves to ordain themselves into missionary ministry. The context of confirmation is the local church. If the friends and leaders of the individual in their local church context don’t observe and affirm the skills, dedication, initiative, and missionary-mindedness of that individual, then he or she should not be encouraged into missions. The local church witnesses and develops missionary candidates emerging from their midst. They attest to the veracity of God’s calling, in the sense of confirming the mix of gifts, skills, training, inclination, opportunities, etc. The candidate must, obviously, be involved to the hilt in the ministries of their local church. Changing geography doesn’t make someone a missionary. The potential missionary must be faithful and involved in ministry at home before they’re given the stressful and expensive opportunity to serve far away. Character counts, too! The local church is in the best position to intimately know and disciple a missionary candidate. Missionaries sent overseas should meet the same, stringent biblical requirements of vocational ministers in their home congregation. So, what constitutes a missionary call? In my humble opinion, a missionary call is discerned when the individual candidate/s exhibit these seven marks:

  1. A solid understanding of the biblical concept of the glory of God and His global purpose to see Jesus Christ glorified in all nations.
  2. A high view of Scripture; a commitment to know it, obey it, apply it, teach it, proclaim it.
  3. A personal conviction to pursue missions ministry, in obedience to God’s Word and given the appropriate opportunity. If the candidates are a married couple, each of them should meet all these marks of a “call” including being convinced that they should pursue missions.
  4. A serious commitment to ministry in and through personal involvement and relationships in a local church (home church/sending church) context.
  5. Strong personal spiritual vitality and maturity, observable by others and exemplified in excellent character matching that of biblical qualifications of church leaders.
  6. Confirmation of local church friends and leadership as to the candidate’s consistency and effectiveness in local ministries and fittedness (including appropriate training) for the projected missions ministry.
  7. No hindrances preventing the candidate from going and/or sustaining an “above reproach” testimony for Christ, the Gospel, and His church.
p.s. – Paul was a missionary long before Ac 16. See Propempo.com/books-media for resources in missionary training An excellent book on understanding the role of the church in confirming a missionary call is: Test, Train, Affirm & Send Into Ministry We’re excited about this new online resource! Content is in the process of being created and ported. Please check back often and subscribe to our feed at https://propempo.com/rss.xml to be notified of updates. Prayerfully support Propempo.com and consider contributing to its content. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

What is the role of the church in ongoing traning for sent ones?

One of the distinguishing characteristics of a long-term effective missionary is their passion for lifelong learning. This is evidenced in their persistent practice of asking questions to learn more about language and culture, current mission trends, church planting, leadership, biblical discipleship in counseling, working with people, etc. The church has a role in encouraging lifelong learning behaviors. It can do this through graciously urging their sent missionary workers to set personal development goals. The church can also provide for training opportunities, seminars, resource books and materials, time away from the ministry or home assignment responsibilities, a study leave or sabbatical, etc. Because most missionaries have some form of regular Internet communication, the church can provide some spiritual nurture through downloadable sermons and resources online. If you are pastor attends a spiritual enrichment conference for pastors during your missionaries furlough or home assignment, provide for your missionary worker to go along with him. Some overseas workers require continuing education units or certification classes in order to retain their license in their specialized field of work. Upgrades and technical education or advanced degrees as a product of ongoing studies are not unusual opportunities, if your missionary is so inclined. The basic role of the church in the process is to stimulate and encourage your missionary toward a humble teachability and thirst for growing in knowledge and wisdom so that they can be the best, most effective missionary possible for the glory of God. We’re excited about this new online resource! Content is in the process of being created and ported. Please check back often and subscribe to our feed at https://propempo.com/rss.xml to be notified of updates. Prayerfully support Propempo.com and consider contributing to its content. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

How can the church pursue ongoing missions training for church leaders?

The need for specialized training increases proportionately to the size of the church. When the church is relatively small and has only one or two staff pastors, the leader of missions in the church is probably going to be a layperson who is passionate for missions. Assuming employment responsibilities and a family, a lay person has limited availability and resources to pursue specialized training in missions and the management of missions in the local church. Opportunities for relatively inexpensive and accessible specialized education in local church missions has declined over time. Apart from the Perspectives course, there is very little standard training in missions available. There are, however, a significant range of resources available in print and online. We trust that you’ll find Propempo.com to be one of your greatest assets for ongoing missions training. The downloadable resources, recommendations, community of forums and case studies, and inexpensive media options available on Propempo.com are exceptional. The most common current method of providing missions training for church leaders is to obtain the services of an outside speaker, consultant, or trainer. It is not too difficult to identify a resource person from your nearest metro area or friendly mission agency relationships to provide a presentation or training in their area of expertise. Propempo staff often serve in this capacity. The additional benefit of having Propempo staff come to your church is that our experience and church centered philosophy of ministry uniquely equip us to consult and advise your church in becoming more effective in missions. We love to come alongside churches and help them identify a strategic focus and then help them design how to achieve it. The right question is not as much “how” you pursue ongoing training, but that you do it at all. If you build a culture within the missions team that all members are expected to read and study and interact and grow in their understanding and skills for the good of the church, then you will not need to invent ways for Missions Team members to be trained; they will voluntarily on their own seek out ways to grow and develop themselves for God glory both in the local church and as far as it reaches overseas. When Missions Shapes the Mission: You and Your Church Can Reach the World We’re excited about this new online resource! Content is in the process of being created and ported. Please check back often and subscribe to our feed at https://propempo.com/rss.xml to be notified of updates. Prayerfully support Propempo.com and consider contributing to its content. Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.

Advance to Church Leadership

Advance to Church Leadership

We’re excited about this new online resource! Content is in the process of being created and ported. Please check back often and subscribe to our feed at https://propempo.com/rss.xml to be notified of updates. Prayerfully support Propempo.com and consider contributing to its content. The next path-book, “Church Leadership,” on Propempo.com will help you walk through six steps of local-church missions leadership. It will help you discover and develop your role and responsibility to teach, guide, and model a heart for an involvement in missions. It will also encourage you, as a church leader, engage you congregation in missions and appropriately delegate ongoing leadership of church mobilization to others. Look for resource links to documents and resources in each section. Walk on! Please prayerfully consider supporting Propempo.com and the ministry of Propempo International


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