Welcome to Missions on Point, the Propempo perspective on Church and missions. Welcome to episode 89 of Missions on Point. This is the second of a 14 part series on church-based missionary training. In this episode, we'll consider cultivating missionary candidates.
I want to apologize right away for the sound quality of the previous episode. Sorry about that. Totally my fault. We'll try to not let that happen again. I hope that you'll want to listen to the whole series. Even though you may not be directly involved in training missionary candidates, you do have a role if you're an active member in your church, especially if you know of someone who might be interested in pursuing missions. Producing, guiding training, evaluating shepherding missionaries is really a function of the whole church. Everyone should be involved to some point or other, at least in prayer and encouragement.
On the other hand, if you know of someone who is more directly involved in looking out for missionaries, whether that be somebody in your missions committee or missions team, or your pastors or people who are directly involved in sort of the flow of logistics and helping missionaries financially, or any other way, then please let them know about this series because they can learn some practical things that are going to be helpful.
There are just a couple of overarching concepts that I want you to grasp in this particular episode. One is building missions awareness. How does a church cultivate missionary candidates? It's by building missions awareness. The second overarching concept is giving guidance at particular points in individual Christians' pursuit of missions.
How do we build missions awareness? Missions awareness is actually a cultural kind of thing within the church. We want everybody to know that missions is a normal part of Christianity and of everyone's life. We all have a part to play, but that is done by building a culture of awareness across all age groups and across the church life. Think of starting with some basic graphical and visual things like is there a world globe somehow or a world map represented on your church letterhead, on your logo? Is there a world map or a globe in a prominent place where people gather or enter and leave your church facility and your auditorium?
Is there reference to missions or the great commission on the walls of your church in mottoes? Are there little blow-up globes that you would use even for nursery kids to play with? Do your teens understand that being a missionary is a legitimate vocational directional choice for them as they think about where they're going to go to college and how they're going to get their training and what they want to do with their life, how they want to invest their life to make a difference in the world for the sake of Christ and the gospel? Every Sunday school class, or whatever you call your weekly Bible study classes for children and youth and adults, ought to have a feature every year at least that features missions, missions stories, stories of how the gospel is going to other cultures and lands and the church is being planted in those places. Or people, we've spoken before in a short series on making the most of missionary biographies, so go back to episodes 61 and 62 to pick up resources on that. Go to propempo.com and download the missionary biographies packet.
Building this culture includes helping families be world Christian-minded by giving them resources for them to use in family devotions as their kids grow up. Usually, biographies are a part of that, but there are plenty of materials out available on the internet for children's missions education and awareness building to help them just see the different ethnicities around them and to understand a little bit about different cultures around the world as they pray for them for the sake of Christ and the gospel. Of course, building this culture in the church, you want your children to be involved in service to the church, so bring your kids along when you do practical service for the church in a wide variety of areas. It doesn't have to be when you're teaching adults per se, but if you're doing service around the church or doing errands on behalf of the church, bring your kids along and explain to them what you're doing and why you're doing it and what an impact it makes for ministry.
Train your kids to realize that looking out for service opportunities to serve other people and particularly to serve the church with regard to ministry is a natural, normal part of their Christian life and that could expand to vocational ministry in the future. For youth, we're thinking of possibilities to do more intense kind of service projects, whether that be local or cross-cultural within your metropolitan area or region. In today's world, we think of short-term missions and short-term missions projects, short-term missions trips, as an opportunity for building awareness, particularly among our young people, but really Christians of almost any age can be exposed to missionary work and what the ministry is like on the field by visiting the field and participating in it in some way. Our episodes 16, 17, and 18 deal with what is an effective short-term missions ministry and design, and you maybe ought to go back and listen to that.
I think it's important to not think of short-term missions as an end in itself, but rather a means to an end to recruiting and identifying those who have a particular gift or propensity toward loving cross-cultural work so that you can continue to guide them along the pathway toward becoming a missionary. We're not particularly fond of the idea that some people may become short-term missions junkies. That is, they go on every trip possible as much as possible. Somehow they have the financial means and ability to do that, and they're just putting a notch on their belt that they visited or been on so many trips. Unless they have a unique role in place in doing those things, I don't think it's wise to have somebody just go on a whole bunch of short-term missions trips.
One of the end results we're talking about on a short-term missions trip is that it has a positive impact back on the congregation as a whole to build a whole congregations' awareness of missions vicariously through those who have been on the trip, so there ought to be some kind of responsibility after you get back from the trip to communicate and transmit that kind of information and let it spread through the congregation with great joy.
Now, let's talk about giving guidance in the candidate's pursuit of mission. Suppose you have someone who says, maybe that's a possibility. What can I do? Or, I'm in high school, I don't know if that's what God wants for me. I just had a call the other day from someone who said, what major should I choose in college to serve my goals to become a missionary in an unreached people group, high security kind of situation on the field? A lot of college and university students as they leave the nest, so to speak, and come in contact with a variety of situations including campus ministries and a lot of different students from other lands in their college or university have opportunities to have contact with them and maybe even short term opportunities through a campus ministry that puts them face to face with people of other cultures that have not had the access to the gospel that we enjoy here.
Those people may be called to missions or feel like God is directing them to pursue missions. They're in an ideal place for you to be able to step up and give guidance. Don't just allow outside forces to do it. You and your church should guide them in a way that is in tune with your church's goals and your culture and values and doctrine. Once you know someone like that in your church, then it's wise to develop some kind of a mentoring baton pass between people who will be helping them along and guiding them, encouraging them, praying with them. It may be an individual mentor, it may be a series of mentors, and we're going to talk about that in much more detail in episode 94 coming up.
It is absolutely right and good for godly leaders in the church to step up and give some vocational guidance to someone who is thinking that they want to become a missionary, and that has to do with training both post-secondary college university type training, perhaps it's Bible school, but even more than that graduate school kind of training for refining their skills and qualifications, perhaps giving them Bible and doctrine training so that they're better able to handle the word on the field.
It may include things like an internship, so stretching the short term missions idea with an arrangement with a missionary on the field, setting up an internship where they shadow for a longer time than two weeks or three weeks, more like two months to a year, maybe even longer than that, so that they really understand what missions is like on the field and in that field in particular by a solid missionary that your church has a relationship with perhaps supports and trusts.
There are other ministry mentorship kind of programs that you can hook into depending on your relationships with sending agencies or schools or seminaries that would serve you well in expanding that person's qualifications. Speaking of qualifications, we're going to expand that a little bit in episode 91, but I'll give you a quick review right now. We start with the six Cs, I call it.
The first is calling and the calling of an individual. It's not just this internal thing that they feel like they want to be a missionary, but it's observable by people around them. They seem to have a special gift or knack or ability to have cross-cultural relationships and the right kind of heart for ministry in the gospel.
The second C is character. This has to do with biblical character qualifications of a godly Christian.
The third one is conviction, which has to do with an understanding of the sweep of the Bible, its content and the doctrine that represents the major teachings of orthodox, evangelical Christianity.
The next one is competence, and this is experiential, meaning they are learning actual ministry skills by doing and being observed and evaluated, held accountable to others that are observing them.
The next one is chemistry. This one has to do with their people skills. Do they enjoy people? Do they get along with people? Do they communicate well? Do they work well under leadership? How do they resolve conflict? All of these are very, very essential skills for an effective ministry on the field.
The last one is cross-cultural capacity. That is the ability to want to learn and understand other cultures and enfold that into their thinking, particularly when they're interacting with the other cultures, but to love and appreciate and even embrace those things in their own lives. The good qualities of other cultures that they learn.
There is another one that kind of folds back into the character, but it has to do with initiative. Is it someone who has initiative is able to see opportunities and move toward taking those opportunities to minister, particularly in a cross-cultural setting so that they don't have to be told every move to make. You don't want someone that is just so compliant and lacking in initiative that you have to give them all the jobs to do, and all they're doing is checking the box. Now, there are places for people like that on the field in a serving capacity, but usually they're not the leaders and pioneers of taking the gospel to unreached people groups. Someone has to be able to have a lot of initiative on their own without someone telling them what to do and punching the clock or checking a box to get the job done.
We've talked a bit about short-term ministry and expanding that to internship or perhaps residency, but certainly the missionary candidate needs to be well known to the congregation because of their regular and frequent ministry within the congregation in the church. So there needs to be opportunity given for the missionary candidate as they grow and develop and mature in their qualifications to be able to minister to and with and through the local church so that you're seeing them in action and people get to know and love them because they are the family that is going to be supporting them on the field.
I trust that you will embark on this journey of building missions awareness and giving guidance to those that would be missionary candidates within your church, so that as we pray together, we would see God launch them out for his glory through the church and in Christ Jesus to all nations.
Thanks for joining us today on Missions on Point, the Propempo perspective on church and missions. I trust that you'll find more help and resources on the website, propempo.com. Please preferably consider supporting this ministry now to God be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus forever and ever. Amen.
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