Do you remember the days of paper maps? I can’t tell you how many times, I have ended up at the wrong place or arrived late, because I didn’t have a map to guide me, the map I had was outdated, or I didn’t comply with the map guidance. The same thing can happen in missions ministry.

If a church has not established principles to guide their missions ministry, their work will be less effective, less productive, and less strategic than it could have been. They will waste time, trying things that they shouldn’t. And, they may have a strategy, but it won’t be as good as it would with guiding principles.

Guiding principles are like a road map to your destination. They start with principles from God’s word that define your ministry and shape your philosophy. Your guiding principles and philosophy will influence your strategy.

In global missions, churches often fly by the seat of their pants and do whatever feels good in the moment or whatever they have seen another church do that they think was good. Well-meaning people often fail to develop their own plan for fear that it will somehow foil the Holy Spirit’s plan for them. Well, first the Bible has a lot to say about planning, and second, none of us is powerful enough to thwart God’s plan.

Just like I needed a map to guide me to my destination, churches need guiding principles for their missions development. Having guiding principles keep them more focused, effective, and strategic. A leadership team can usually define their guiding principles in a day in 6-10 main points. These don’t define what you do, but they guide you in the process to help you stay on track.

Some questions to consider as you develop your guiding principles of missions might include the following:

  • Can we work with people whose doctrine is slightly different?

  • What is our church’s biblical responsibility in global missions?

  • What is the role of our missions committee?

  • What are some key relational elements to guide our missions ministry?

  • What groups should we be reaching … region, language, culture?

  • What guides our financial commitment to missions?

You may email me if you would like to learn how I can help your missions leadership one-on-one.

David Selvey

Dr. Selvey is a global missions coach with Missioserve Alliance. He offers workshops and coaching opportunities to help churches be better missionary senders. He helps pastors and missions leadership develop and articulate their theology, philosophy, and strategy for global missions.

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