Someone comes to you, their pastor, and says they feel called to ministry. That’s awesome! But what can your church do from there?
The temptation could be to send potential missionaries from your church to a missions agency and let the organization take care of the rest. While agencies have valuable resources for churches, many agencies agree: The local church is the one God has called and equipped to fulfill the Great Commission.
That means the church gets to play an important role in assessing and preparing missionary candidates for global ministry.
Below are four areas where church participation and support can lay a great foundation for cross-cultural ministry. Read and then download this free checklist with 15 questions church leaders can ask future missionaries.
The very first step in helping someone interested in serving overseas is asking, “Is this person ready for overseas ministry?”
Your church’s input in assessment is so helpful because the church has valuable insight into how the potential missionary serves and lives in community on a regular basis.
When a church asks questions and finds that, yes, a person is ready to serve as a missionary, then your congregation knows it can fully support your missionary and their ministry.
If the answer is no, your church can help prepare a candidate for future ministry as God opens doors.
- What steps have you taken to assess the prospective missionary’s readiness for service?
- How enthusiastically can you recommend them to TEAM or another missions agency?
- What reservations or questions do you have about their readiness?
- Talk with the candidate about their calling and experience.
- Discuss how the church can assist them in preparing for that calling.
Preparing to move and minister in another location brings unique challenges and excitement, all of which makes it important for the missionary to have someone outside their missions agency with whom they can share their struggles. Mentoring gives future missionaries the valuable opportunity to learn from someone more experienced in ministry.
This does not have to be a series of formal meetings. The simple agenda is to find out what God is doing in the church member’s life and for more experienced believers to share what God has taught them along the way.
- Does the potential missionary have a mentor from our church to walk beside them in the application process?
- If the potential missionary has a mentor from your church, connect with that mentor and share your appreciation.
- If the potential missionary does not have a mentor, connect them with someone who has served in ministry or on the mission field to walk through the process with them.
Your missionary doesn’t cease to be a member of your church body when they leave for the field. Instead, he or she is sent as an extension of your local church, and so it is important to make connections between the missionary’s ministry and your church’s purpose.
At TEAM, we believe God doesn’t call individuals in isolation from their local church community. In other words, cross-cultural ministry placement is not just decided by the missionary, or by the agency, but instead is an extension of the local church’s mission.
- How would you describe the ministry assignment(s) being considered?
- How do they align with the mission and vision of your church?
- Inventory your church’s missions focus and ask what God is calling your local congregation to accomplish.
- Talk with the missionary about how their ministry helps fulfill that purpose.
No missionary can succeed in the field alone, but instead, they need people standing behind them with prayer, care and financial support. It is helpful to set the stage in the application phase for the type of support your church will be able to give and what you are expecting of your missionary.
Miscommunication can easily occur when there is an ocean between you and the missionary, so asking questions now helps create a firm foundation for your partnership to come.
- How will you care for your missionary well as they prepare for service overseas and once they are in their ministry area?
- Sit down with the applicant and talk through how your church can best support them. Some topics for conversations that are good to talk over are expectations in communicating, accountability, finances and missionary care.
Is your church currently walking alongside potential missionaries? Download this free checklist now with 15 questions that will help you assess their strengths and opportunities for growth.