How to Identify Missionaries in Your Church
If I were to give you a one-question test right now, how would your church fare?
Here’s the question: Are there people in your church interested in sharing the Gospel cross-culturally?
If you are like many churches, your answer might be, “I don’t know.”
A commitment to mission work often involves a deeply personal call from the Holy Spirit. But because everyday communities can see how an individual is gifted, church communities have the remarkable opportunity to call out the cross-cultural gifts they see in potential missionaries.
What does this actually look like? Here are four ways you can proactively identify and prepare your congregation to serve cross-culturally:
1. Normalize cross-cultural work.
Tell stories from the mission field and other countries that don’t just elevate missionaries as the best Christians. Share videos, blog posts, newsletter articles and podcasts that show how normal people followed God’s call to share the Gospel in another culture. These stories show your congregation not only that God calls every Christian to share the Gospel, but also that He could be calling them to serve in another culture.
2. Identify characteristics of a potential missionary.
What factors are important for a missionary to possess? You might think, We have no idea; we’ve never served overseas! And that may be true. But has your church appointed elders or deacons? Hired a pastor? Many skills you might look for in a church leader would also apply to someone you are sending to another country to lead others to Christ.
As you identify skills that would be helpful in cross-cultural ministry, identify those in your congregation who display those skills. You can even ask if they have considered serving as a missionary. You never know how God has been moving!
3. Create opportunities for discussion.
Westside Baptist Church in Gainesville, Florida, has sent dozens of missionaries, and not by accident. Every quarter, they host an evening coffee house, where anyone who is interested in cross-cultural ministry can meet with church staff and former missionaries to discuss how God is moving in their lives. Some people get plugged into international work locally, while others are sent to countries around the globe!
Creating a space to discuss missionary service not only normalizes cross-cultural missions, but also shows that your church expects God to call people to share the Gospel overseas.
4. Develop a Personable Process.
When someone comes to you and says they might be interested in missionary work, do you have a process in place to disciple them? When you have a strategy in place to engage those interested in missionary work, it helps support and grow that interest, as well as prepare the potential missionary for service.
You can find examples of missionary service pipelines from two churches here and here. While these are larger churches with well-established missions backgrounds, that doesn’t mean churches without that background are excluded.
At TEAM, we believe every church can help prepare potential missionaries. Read about the four ways churches can help prepare missionaries in order to create your own process!
Want to start identifying missionaries in your church? Download this free checklist now with 15 questions that will help you assess their strengths and opportunities for growth.
One CommentLeave a comment
I love the article! As a pastor in SE Asia, I learned from it, and I will put some things into practice.
But may I correct something?
“You can even ask if they have considered serving as a missionary.” EVERY saint _must_ not only consider this, but also tell our Lord that they are willing to go.
The problem is that people think they need a mystical ‘call’–a personal, miraculous command from the Lord–to consider becoming a missionary. All Isaiah heard was the need, and “Who will go?” Then he offered himself to the Lord.
My ‘call’ was the same. I heard about the need (in a sermon), and then I offered myself to the Lord. THEN he began to guide me supernaturally.
According to Matthew 28:18-20, EVERY Christ-follower must be part of reaching unreached cultures. Jesus told them to make disciples in all nations, teaching them to obey EVERYTHING Jesus commanded, including the command to reach all nations. So every generation of disciples since then is to obey that command.