Welcome to Missions on Point, the Propempo perspective on church and missions.
Hello, welcome to episode 54 of Missions on Point. This is a short series on some of the questions that we get at Propempo that are the most common questions. And it's kind of fun for me because I relive in my head scores, if not hundreds of churches who have asked these kinds of questions. And of course, I'm answering in a generalized sort of fashion, but hopefully some of the information I give will be actually helpful to you and your church to turn the corner in answering some of these questions.
Maybe there's some of the questions that you should be asking yourself. Maybe you will have some questions just like these that you'd like to ask us. Please do. You can email us at email@example.com to give us input or questions, maybe suggest things that we should do in the podcast.
This week, the help question is this one. Help our church is not involved in missions. Propempo advocates for whole church involvement in missions, and I'll explain that a little bit as we go along. But let's start at the very beginning. Often we need to think first about the pastor or the pastoral leadership of missions. Pastors often need help in this area because they actually get no training through all of their multiple perhaps graduate degrees at seminary.
They get no specific training about leading missions or what is the role and place of missions in the life of the local church. That is practically a crime, but Propempo is here to help. So think about helping your pastor first. Help him get a vision for missions. You could go back to the series we had about seeing missions in the Bible to help him, and you could go back to episodes 12, 13, 14, 15 about pastoral leadership of missions in the local church.
But try to be kind. He's already overloaded with so many things. He doesn't need just a stack of books to read. He needs someone to come alongside and befriend him and advocate for him and with him as he learns the ropes and the special vocabulary of missions. Even when you do point him to resources, point him to just the cream of the cream, the very best stuff that he can grasp in short bits or focused amount of time so that he doesn't have to feel like he's thrown into the deep end of the pool without learning how to swim.
And be careful about your expectations, it takes us all time to learn new things. Your pastor, if he's not been exposed or had good training in this area, will probably need a significant amount of time and your friendship and advocacy in order to help him move along the path to the goal of being a good pastoral leader in missions. The old adage is kind of true. If there's fire in the pulpit, there's fire in the pews.
That just means that if your pastor doesn't see missions in the Bible, if your pastor doesn't understand missions, if the pastor thinks that missions is just a side issue that is dealt with by other people in the church, if he thinks that missions is not a part of his job, then we need to work on this issue and try to find a good solution.
One of the key things that you can do to help is build relationships and experience. Help your pastor become friends with missionaries. Help him spend some time personally with missionaries, talking with them about their work, their ministry, their cross-cultural living, what it's like to have the pressures and stresses of living on the field with a family. If possible, plan with your pastor to have him visit a field missionary that is related to your church and or supported or sent by your church.
That will open his eyes in fresh new ways to be able to see and smell and taste and touch and experience the climate, the culture, the living conditions of the missionaries, and sure enough, eventually that will build the bridges that help him capture a bigger vision. I remember a dear elder pastor mentor that I had in my early years in church planting ministry who repeatedly talked about his extended visit to a field that changed his life.
Much later in time another pastor visited us on the field and continues year by year over several decades to refer to that time as eye-opening and something that changed his perspective of missions, both practically and biblically as a pastor. If you do the field visit thing, I encourage you to not build in a lot of time and effort in providing the pastor a means of ministry.
In other words, don't put the pastor in the limelight. Don't have him doing a big series of preaching or teaching or evangelism or Bible studies. Have him primarily there as a shadow to the life of the missionary learning and absorbing all that he can about what it's like on the field, and it's those kinds of things that'll change his life rather than the limelight stuff where he just puts another notch on his belt.
The second major level and the second major area is the missions team most often called missions committee in most of our churches, but some churches may call it by some other name, global outreach, missions board, all kinds of names. But I'm talking about that functionary group that has responsibility for sort of maintaining and administrating the work of missions, connections and support of the church.
Here's the key concept, the missions team... Whatever you call it. The missions team should be there to mobilize the entire congregation, not just represent them in decision making and administration on their behalf. That paradigm shift is huge. Instead of doing the work off in the corner on one night a month missions meetings, they're actually trying to include and infuse the whole congregation with missions, ownership and responsibility.
Get people involved, informed, and in touch with the issues and the people and the ministries of missions, and it'll make a huge difference in how the congregation owns it and it'll make a huge difference in answering the question. Help our churches not involved in missions. What do we do? So it sounds like a circular argument, but it's not. Ironically, the answer to getting your church involved in missions is to find ways to get your church involved in missions.
And again, just like the pastor, it comes down to relationships and experience. If people in your church get to know missionaries personally, that will make a change in how they view the whole ministry of missions for themselves and for the church. Many churches know who they support very specifically because they're supported through Independent Faith Mission agencies.
But when a church is a denominational church, sometimes there is this big barrier of anonymity where the church is just sending money to a central office of missions somewhere and they don't build personal relationships with missionaries. They may not even know specifically the names of missionaries or where they work or what their ministry is. So churches that are denominational that primarily support missions through some element of the budget that gets sent to a central Missions Office, have to work much harder to develop those relationships with individual missionaries and missionary families.
Having them in your homes, having them in the church, having them minister in the church and relate to the church people makes a huge difference. The other thing is to give your church people experience and missions. Part of that can simply be local that is experiencing cross-cultural contact with international people in your own community or metroplex or college campuses. Encouraging your church people to adopt a foreign student or a foreign exchange student, to have them in their home for special events, particularly around special holidays like Thanksgiving or Christmas or Spring Break or Easter.
Intentionally getting to know people from other countries that have immigrated to the states and are working in your community. Always ask people, where did you come from? When did you come here? Welcome to America. We're glad that you're here. Again, relationship and experience is the key. If it's possible to get some of your church people involved in a legitimate short-term missions trip, particularly if they're helping some of the missionaries that you support or have relationship with on the field to enhance or extend, expand their ministry in some way, that is a great way for your people then to get into their system, the understanding and knowledge of missions that they take back home with them to further develop in prayer and study and communication and relationship.
So I'm going to go back to the missions team. It's the missions team work to do that for your church family to provide means and opportunities to connect with missionaries even on the field and to get your people involved in the work of missions, providing them with the latest, greatest information, prayer requests, communication tools that you can so that they become personally involved and develop a sense of ownership and responsibility.
You can do this through the small groups in the church that is Sunday school classes or literally small groups, Bible study groups, whatever's going on in the standard church calendar, to have those groups adopt a particular missionary and pray for that one in a more concerted effort and a relational connection. It's a lot more than just assigning your church to have everybody sign Christmas cards to kind of send to the missionaries and mass.
And a big help for you in doing this as a mission's team is to just simply ask your missionaries what do they need? What kind of communication do they do? How can you better communicate with them? How can you assign missions, advocacy or relationship connections with small groups in your church to them? Is there something special that they could do with regard to a short-term missions trip in organizing a small or medium size perhaps group of people coming to assist them in ministry to do something that they can't do on their own?
Part of the big overall cause behind the help our churches not involved in missions problem is that churches have largely abrogated their responsibility for raising up, training, sending and shepherding their own missionaries. If our churches would get a handle on that, then the whole church would be involved. It's really different when you have skin in the game, when someone from your church family goes into missions, it makes a huge difference in the perception and the urgency and the intimacy and the depth of relationship and ownership that a church has for missions.
When a church doesn't do that or if they just pass off their missionary candidate to a mission agency and more or less wash their hands of responsibility, it's kind of like a warm, loving family giving up parental rights to their child for the agency to adopt them, and yet they are yours, church. You need to take responsibility for them and you need to get your church involved in missions. There's lots more on this kind of thing on our website @propempo.com. Visit it.
Contact us by email, firstname.lastname@example.org. We'd love to hear your feedback. Thanks.
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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