How to Become a Missionary

A potential missionary sits with his friends to discuss how to become a missionary
Are you interested in becoming a missionary but don't know where to start? Look no further! We broke down the process into 5 main steps most missionaries go through!

The pursuit of becoming a missionary is ambiguous. It starts as a dream, and the process of taking it from a dream to reality includes a lot of little “next steps” that aren’t super clear. 

In my role as a missions coach, that is exactly what I like to help people do. I help people take their best next step as they discern how God wants to use them in cross-cultural ministry. So, here is a simple overview of the main steps toward becoming a missionary.

Talk with Your Church

It’s easy to feel like cross-cultural mission work is an individual calling. But in the Bible, we see that this is actually a calling placed on the Church. Christ’s command to go into all the world was spoken to a body believers who wanted to advance God’s mission. So, as the Church continues to live out that mission, they will be the primary sender of missionaries

For this reason, I always ask hopeful missionaries to talk with their church before applying to become a missionary. This allows the church to be involved on the front end. It brings them into your story, gives them permission to speak in and have the space to support you in every part of the process

Many churches also have their own sending process for those pursuing mission work. So communicate expectations early for the smoothest and healthiest process.

A group of men pray together.

It’s important to have open conversations with your church early in your journey. These conversations should also include group prayer.

Find Your Fit

Missionary life is often romanticized. I’ll hear people say “I just want to go to another country and help people.” While I appreciate the sentiment, I think it’s important to remember the quote “Wherever you go, there you are.” The principal here being that you bring yourself wherever you go
 
Missionary work is hard. The culture is foreign. The people are new. So, while it’s important to hold plans loosely, it’s good to have clear expectations and boundaries as you pursue this transition
 
This is where casting vision comes in. Asking the questions: ‘What am I good at? What do I like to do? What country/people group/culture do I sense God calling me to?’ are so valuable as you take next steps in missions. And they’re great questions to have your church, missions coach or friends speak into! 
 
You may not have all the answers, but you’ll begin to narrow down your focus. That, in turn, helps settle ambiguity and gives more confidence moving forward.

Check out TEAM’s opportunities board to find mission roles that fit your skills and passions. The perfect role for you may be one you’ve never considered!

Select a Missions Agency

As someone who works for a missions agency, I can confidently say that our role in the process is distinct. We are not your church, but we can offer resources in partnership with your local church to send you out well. Things like: health insurance, help with support raising, cross-cultural adaptation training, helping your kids transition, finding schools and apartments in-country, etc
 
Don’t take these things lightly. You’ll need all the emotional and physical support you can get as you transition to another country. As you research missions agencies, check their theological beliefs against your own. See how they align with your vision for cross-cultural ministry work. Then, press into other questions about long-term care
 
Need help coming up with questions? Check out this guide from TEAM — or Pioneer’s great list of questions. I also recommend getting to know multiple agencies during your search. This will be a long-term relationship, and you want to make sure that it’s mutually beneficial.

Get Proper Training for Your Role

A woman sits with an open book on her lap.

Getting the right training may seem like a burden now. But once you are on the field, this training will give you a head start in ministry.

At this point in the process, you may just feel like celebrating. And you should! There’s been a lot of discernment and personal growth in this season. 
 
But now that you’ve answered the questions of where you’re going, what you’re doing and who you’re going to do it with, it’s time for more specific training. At TEAM, we hold two week-long orientations for new missionaries. These orientations introduce missionaries to departments within TEAM. They also help you set a budget, discuss support raising, talk about safety and more. This is the time to really press in! 
 
Your organization will most likely have trainings for you to attend. However, it may even be worth looking at outside sources, as well. Consider volunteering with a ministry that’s similar to what you’ll be doing abroad. Or take training on how to minister to certain religious groups, such as Muslims. These additional resources will serve you well as you prepare for the next season.

Raise Support

Missionaries most often have to raise their own support, or salary. This process can be daunting. However, there is a lot of biblical support for the value of support raising. And some of the most humbling and inspiring stories come out of people’s fundraising process. 

A man in Guatemala holds Guatemalan cash.

Fundraising may be one of the most intimidating aspects of becoming a missionary. Make to seek out quality resources for success!

 
While it is an intimidating task, your organization should have support in place to help you. And it’s good to understand that money is one tangible way people can show their care and love for you. If mission work is a calling placed on the church, that means some people will go and some people will support! 
 
One of those means of support is financial contributions. Giving financial support lets people take part in your work on the field. Plus, it gives them the chance to show their care for you.
There are a lot of great resources out there on this topic. A couple of my favorites areThe God Ask by Steve Shadrach or TEAM’s library of support raising articles. You should also check out this template to manage your growing support network.
Your next steps to becoming a missionary should be clear and fill you with peace instead of anxiety. Know that it’s OK to take these one at a time and go at your own pace. Also know that this calling is bigger than you, and God is faithful to see it through! The world is a better place because people, like you, are saying “yes” to God and letting faith lead them further.


You don’t have to walk through these five steps alone. Talk with a missions coach for help exploring your passions and finding your perfect role on the mission field. If we aren’t the right fit for you, we’ll help you find an organization that is. Wherever you are, wherever you may go, God is calling you to spread the Gospel. We want to help you do it.

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About the author

Jessica Hulbert
Jessica Hulbert

Jessica is Michigan girl born and raised. She currently works with TEAM as a missions coach, helping people pursue their calling as they walk with God to reach people all over the globe. She has been on 10 different mission trips, including London, South Africa and three trips to Guatemala City. She has a passion for learning about and immersing herself in other cultures. She believes by crossing cultures we see such a bigger picture of God.

3 Comments

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  • Hi, I need a missionary opportunity to serve God internationally. I feel that I am ready and I am equipped where ever God will send me. I am a teacher by profession. I am also a local christian musical artist in my country. I composed my own gospel songs. I also trained to be a missionary. I personally feel that I am competent with the abilities I have to utilize for mission purposes. God bless.

    Mark

    • That’s great Mark! I’m so glad you feel like God has called you to mission work. To start, you can search the opportunities page on our website (team.org/opportunities) to see what might be a good fit for you!

  • Hi Jessica! Thanks for taking the time to write this blog. I would love to hear more about your experiences and get some feedback from you on my current season of transition from being a missionary to being called to develop others. Is it possible to schedule a time to talk with you?

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