5 Transitions to Participate as Senders in God’s Global Mission Move from where you are to where you want to be

In my role of coaching churches to do missions well, five transitions have proven effective for churches to make an impact as missionary sending churches.

From Missionary to Missions

  • Rather than supporting missionaries who have a mission, own the mission so that you can be partners with the missionary. Having a common passion is the best way to care for the missionary since it validates their calling.
  • What is the response of a church when a missionary retires? Is it, “What do we do with the money?” (missionary focus) or “How do we carry on the ministry?” (mission focus)
  • A missions orientation helps the church discover who and what to support. When someone comes up with a missions idea or a young person wants to be supported for a short term missions trip ask, “Is this your idea, or is it a mission vision of the church? Find 5 others who are also passionate about this and are willing to form a team for this initiative.”

From Information to Motivation

  • Traditionally mission committees focus on informing the church about missionaries. However, we live in an age of excess information. The only information absorbed is that which is immediately relevant.
  • A better emphasis is to motivate the church by involving them in a decision making process.
  • Rather than presenting one missions project for people to support, provide three. Then get people to vote on which one will make the greatest impact for God’s global mission.

From Passive receptor to Intentional mentor

  • People often doubt themselves and are unwilling to put themselves forward. Appoint respected believers in the church to identify those who may be called into missions and ask, “What is God’s call on your life? Have you thought about it? Do you think God may have a plan for you to work in missions?” That can change the direction of someone’s life.
  • One church I coached was a university church with high turnover of students. They came up with the idea of using the four years as a time to mentor people into discovering God’s call. They did not wait for students to approach them, but initiated the conversation when students began attending.

From Cooperation to Identifying passion

  • Church leadership often thinks that their role is to decide what to do, cast a vision and then get people to cooperate with their plan.
  • Instead,
    • Pray that God would speak to people.
    • Assume that God’s Spirit is working in people’s lives.
    • Identify and support the passion that God has given them.
    • Ask: Where do people already have a passion for missions? Where are they already invested?
    • Celebrate and support that passion. Such people are already motivated.
  • One church used their map of the world in a unique way. Sticky notes were provided for people to put on the map with their name to show either where they had been, or where they had a missions interest. Conversations began and common concerns were identified.

From Supporting to Investing

  • The traditional way of support raising is VERY intimidating. Nobody wants to do it and it can be an overwhelming burden. We are called to bear each other burdens.
  • If the church is already investing in the mission (transition #1), then partnering means taking on the whole burden with the goer, even to the point of raising funds for the goer.
  • For example, ask the person going into missions to find 3 other people in the church to become a team for the mission. Together they meet, plan and act as if they were all going out on mission. With that perspective, working together with the missionary they can initiate prayer and financial support for the mission. That is real investment.

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Dr. Mark Naylor D.Th. Missiology, Trinity Western University, ACTS Seminaries Department, Faculty Member. Studies Communication, Languages and Linguistics, and Theology.

Mark served with Karen, his wife, with Fellowship International for 14 years, doing evangelism, church planting and leadership development. He continues with his responsibilities as the supervisor and primary exegete for a Bible translation project at ACTS Seminary. Besides coaching churches in missions, he loves training people to have significant conversations.

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