Welcome to Missions on Point, the Propempo perspective on church and missions.
Thank you very much for listening. This is episode 157 of Missions On Point. We're in a series that is part of a book project on the centrality of the local church and missions. This part of the series is on restoring missions in the local church, and we're dealing with very practical things of how a local church centered missions philosophy biblically affects and impacts the local church. We've already talked about owning missions and answering objections that leadership often have to growing a mission's vision in the church. We talked about clarifying the goal of missions and raising up missionaries. That whole process. We talked about adopting a strategic focus and prioritizing support for missions in very practical ways. Most recently, we talked about mobilizing the whole congregation and missions and how that is important. Today we're gonna deal with growing a missions culture. What I mean by that is thinking about how a mission's culture in the church affects and informs different aspects of how you do ministry in the various ministries of the church, including some practical things about how short-term missions fits in.
This is going to be a cascade of ideas. I don't assume that you'll use all of them or that they will be used all of the time, but within the ministries of your church, how does every ministry express their connection to this global overarching purpose of God to reach all nations with the gospel of Christ for his glory? First is prayer. Prayer is essential. Prayer is something that God uses as his instrumental means to accomplish his will, his will on earth. Prayer is something that should be natural to every Christian. Prayer for missions and missions purposes should be woven into the warp and woof and lifeblood of the church in public prayer. In private prayer, it may mean that the mission's team needs to create some practical tools to enable people to pray and to help them know how to pray for missionaries and missions ministries.
Second is family devotions. It's great to recommend and to make available to families some missions related materials for their family devotions in our family's life, we've enjoyed looking at missionary biographies or stories of children from other cultures to whom missionaries are sent to teach the gospel and plant churches. The newsletters of missionaries can be used in family devotions as a stepping stone to guiding your thoughts and prayers about specific missions prayer requests. Thirdly is biblical and theological foundations of missions, and here we're talking about classes. They don't have to be all the time, but every couple of years there probably should be some sort of introduction to missions class offered, at least as an elective to young people and adults so that they continually are fed the biblical and theological foundations of missions. A third general category for growing a missions culture is classes or small groups.
One of the ways that all of your classes or small groups in your church can better get a handle on your missions ministries and missionaries is to make sure that they own a particular missionary family or particular missions ministry. So every class or small group should have someone that they're aware of that they routinely get more information and feedback and prayer requests for so that they can stay actively involved through prayer in that ministry. There's a whole other level that we deal with and other episodes of missions on point for missions advocates and for Barnabas teams or prayer and care teams. If every class or small group had an ownership of a particular missionary family, one person in the class should be appointed to be a missionary advocate for that particular missionary or missions advocate for that particular missions ministry, and they are the conduit for information about how to pray for them.
What is the most current news and events that are going on in the mission field that the class can pray for? So there's someone specifically delegated that responsibility to be a conduit of information to pray for and to get to know your missionaries. It particularly becomes important when that missionary visits your church. Then the mission's advocates and perhaps other small groups get together and say, Hey, we need to take care of this missionary while they're with us. Housing, transportation, health needs, internet phones, shopping needs, whatever their needs are, you go after that and try to fulfill it while they're with you. Other interesting and typical kinds of topics for classes or small groups would be a series on missions history or famous missionaries that you ought to know or the global status of missions, current trends in missions, mission strategy and church planting, process, missionary care, missionary candidate mentoring or discipleship group.
All of these kinds of classes will help your people understand and build a mission's heart and a missions culture within your church. I almost feel like I'm reading off a list of missions on point episodes because there are episodes on all of those things. You can go back in the list of all the episodes and pick out which ones you want to use and even use them for your class. A fifth area that I'm gonna lump all together is a lot of particular affinity group ministries in the church. I'm talking about children's ministries or youth ministry music, perhaps women's ministry, men's ministry, or a specific local cross-cultural outreach ministry. All of these give opportunities for teaching and discipleship at the level of the people in that ministry, and there are lots of resources out there to help you teach and bring into awareness all of those different affinity groups and their specialty.
I like to brainstorm about music. I really think that every musical group or worship team should do a foreign language song at some point in the year, especially around whatever missions emphasis time you may have in your church calendar. But beyond that, it's also good to feature Christians using their ethnic music and maybe even ethnic instruments as a special feature during a worship service just to get people attuned to thinking about other cultures and how the gospel is. Im impacting people from other nations. When your church is developing a missions culture, it's not unusual for people in the congregation to have their antenna up and see people that dress differently than them or speak with a different accent than they're used to, than with their awareness up. They go to them and ask, where are you from? Where did your family come from? How long have you lived here? Welcome to America. They just begin to open up their heart and a mission's culture to recognizing and being sensitive to the spiritual needs of people that are different than ourselves.
Number six, and the last major category for our episode today is Shortterm missions. Many churches call them short-term projects or short term missions projects. That's okay. Short-term missions can take many, many different directions and flavors, and I've worked with churches that have had short-term missions go like off the leash in a not healthy way in drawing people and resources outside of the church because it's exciting. It's exciting to travel, it's exciting to experience a different culture. It's exciting to do something practical and useful that you can see has been accomplished when you go to the field and create that construction project or whatever.
However, in this episode, I would like you to consider some key principles that will help you understand and utilize short-term missions better in the mission's culture of your church. The first thing is that every short-term missions project or trip, whether it's two people or 25 people, needs to have a ministry purpose behind it. You are trying to advance the ministry of the missionary family that you're going to. It is not for the purpose of just giving an exposure on a trip to the people in your church, although that does happen. But you intentionally build in a ministry purpose and goal and all the people in the short-term trip, all the team members on the short-term ministry have been properly trained and oriented to have this spiritual sort of outlook. They're there for a spiritual purpose. The second thing in a big overarching principle is you want to design it in such a way that it is a win, win win. It's a win for the participants because they get a special discipleship opportunity for their own spiritual growth. I'll talk about that in a minute, but it's also a win for the host, whoever it is on the field that is hosting them and providing all of the logistics for transportation, for housing, for food, and the logistics for whatever the ministry is, and it's also a win for the target people. That is, there must be some kind of spiritual impact on the target people. The whole thing is supposed to be ministry and spiritually oriented.
The next really big principle is discipleship. You'll never have a better opportunity in your church life than discipling those who are going on the short term missions trip or project. They will do almost anything, jump through any kinds of hoops in order to be allowed to go on this trip, and you should take advantage of that in a positive way. Disciple them in servanthood, in humility, something about the language that they're going to and the culture that they're going to show them God's heart for the nations and how this particular short-term missions venture plugs into that help them to understand their own spiritual responsibility, to live godly lives and to be an example and to have a fresh day by day walk with the Lord in their own personal disciplines. Make sure that you build in team devotionals day by day and a kind of debriefing that encourages them to think about what God has done in their lives through this trip and all the experiences leading up to it during it and just after it so that you can serve the spiritual fruit that has been gained through the short term mission's opportunity.
So don't be afraid to spend 6, 8, 10, even 12 Saturdays working on those things to build them up and to encourage them and to develop them in such a way that their lives are changed, even if they never actually went on the short term missions, they have had a huge investment of discipleship of their own spiritual life. It almost goes without saying, but they need to understand the gospel and you ought not to be taking very many people that are not genuine believers. They need to be able to express the gospel verbally as well as demonstrate it in their lives and as a team when you're going. Another principle for design is what I call the spiral curriculum, and what that means is that as young people begin to do short-term missions, they have fewer days involved, fewer less financial commitment, and the target ministry they're going to is not as far away.
So you might have a service project trip in your downtown cross-cultural urban area. You might have something that is across the state or in another part of an adjoining state that is relatively cross-cultural nature, but it's growing in terms of time. So the younger people are going for maybe five days as they grow and they go into another step or level of short-term missions. It may be 10 days, it may be two weeks, and you continue to increase that. You don't allow people to go on a three month short-term missions experience unless they have done the lesser steps below that and proven themselves faithful and eager to do it at the highest level. You may have a collegian between semesters at school who is going for two months to maybe six months. If they're more than that, then they're basically a missionary intern in their learning under a missionary for a longer period of time.
The last bit to be aware of is to have post-trip conservation of spiritual growth and responsibility to the local church. It should be built into your plan and design. The people coming back from a short-term missions experience get to share their life and testimony and experience with others in the church, maybe youth with the youth at least, but the larger picture, the whole church knows about what happened on the short term trip and the value of investment in the lives of those who went partly because they're the ones who have been giving the money to make it possible, but they've also prayed and they have relationships, and we want ultimately to see missionaries raised up through the spiral curriculum to become full-time career ministry workers planning churches in unreached areas of the world. So in wrapping up this topic, I just want to ask you to think about how can you tell that your mission's culture is effective?
And this one little test might help you when your congregation takes initiative, when members of your church actually take initiative to cross cultures in order to share the gospel with someone who is different than them when they cross lines of geography or language or culture in order to proclaim and demonstrate Christ to others when they're taking the initiative and it's not a specific plan or program of the church. You know that your church has a mission's culture, may it be so in all of our churches. Thanks for joining us today on Missions on Point. We trust that you'll find more help and resources on our websites at propempo.com and missioserve.org. We are so thankful for those who support us, enabling us to produce this podcast now to God be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus forever and ever. Amen.
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