It’s never too late to include your church in your missions calling — whether you’re just getting started or have been on the field for years. But it can be hard to figure out where to start.
That’s the dilemma a reader recently shared on Instagram. So, we decided to share the five questions every missionary (or potential missionary) should ask their sending church. Plus, we have a free resource to help you keep the conversation going.
1. Will you go on this journey with me?
William Carey was a British missionary in the 1800s. When he decided to share the Gospel in India, he told a friend, “I will go down into the pit, if you will hold the ropes.”
The truth is, the missionary calling is too difficult to do alone. Everyone needs a support system to encourage, pray for and fund this God-given mission. Your church has the opportunity and responsibility to be on the frontlines with you.
It can be tempting to apply for missionary service and let your church know after you’ve begun the process. But asking your church to join the journey is a reminder that this isn’t a calling God gave you alone. It’s a mission to which He has called your entire church family.
2. How can I use my gifts in ministry?
Your church has seen you follow Jesus and serve inside and outside the church. They know your gifts, so they are well-suited to help you define your strengths and how you can use them on the mission field.
Some churches encourage potential missionaries to take personality tests like Myers Briggs or the Enneagram. Others may point out the hospitality skills you exude when serving on the welcome team. The deeper your church knows you, the more they will be able to endorse you and champion your ministry.
3. How can I grow in my ministry skills?
In the same way your church knows your strengths, they’ve also likely seen some areas for growth. Church leaders also know the skills and attitude it takes to thrive in full-time ministry. Ask your church leaders to share honestly how you can prepare now for life on the mission field. Then, see how you and the church can partner together to grow your ministry skills.
Sometimes, a church might suggest a book or a ministry class to grow your Scripture knowledge. Other times, you may benefit from sitting in on a few staff meetings to learn how to conduct church meetings. Some churches invite preparing missionaries to serve as interns or staff members. For a year or two before departure, the church gets to know them better, and the missionaries grow in church administration skills.
4. What is the best way to keep you informed about life on the field?
There have never been more ways to stay connected, even when you are across the world from your church. But that doesn’t mean every way is the right way to communicate. That is why we suggest asking your church the best way to stay connected.
Some churches may be all about social media. Create a Facebook group or blog page, and they’ll excitedly follow along and comment. Other churches respond best to video and would love to show a snippet of your life and story during service. Still, others prefer written letters they can hold and post on a bulletin board. Ask your leadership what works best for your church.
And, of course, there is how you feel most comfortable staying connected as well! Maybe the idea of videos scares you to death. Maybe you love creating cool graphics to help people understand the need on the field.
Work together to create a communication plan for staying connected with your church. What updates would they like to see, and how often would they like to receive them? Then begin implementing it as soon as you can — before going to the field, if possible!
5. How can I serve the church?
Some of the best church relationships happen when missionaries seek to serve their churches, not just their mission field.
As one recently-retired missionary said, “It’s not about me. It’s about the church’s work through me.”
Staying connected with your sending church invites your whole congregation into the work. The church becomes more aware of what God is doing around the world and how they can be a part of it. They realize missions work isn’t reserved for Christian superheroes.
Rene* is a missionary in the Middle East. But while she’s on home assignment, she leads workshops about how to share the Gospel with local Muslims. Through these workshops, her church understands her work more deeply and learns how to minister their own community.
Another missionary served on his church’s pastor search committee from the field. His church’s invitation to join the process showed he was still a valuable member of their family. And his experience leading a church plant helped in picking a great candidate.
When it comes to the sending church relationship, communication is vital. These five questions are a great start for developing relationships that benefit the church at home and abroad.
But if you want to dive deeper, download our Expectations Worksheet. This free guide will help your church and missionaries determine the purpose and goals for ministry, how to best care for the missionary, and what decisions the church should be involved in making.