Audio Transcript:

Welcome to Missions on Point, the Propempo perspective on Church and Missions. Thanks for listening to episode 93 of Missions on Point. This is number six in a 14-part series on church-based missionary training. This one will deal with the steps of the book from Here to There. Here to There was a book created for the cross conference and people who are potential missionary candidates. It's a brief and practical primer on how to get to the field from that original feeling that God may be calling me to missions. So we're going to walk through the book. The book is available at and you can get it in paperback form or PDF. You can also get it on In the Amazon search field< type in Here to There Propempo and it'll pull it up right away. You can buy it in paperback, used book or a Kindle version.

For our purposes in this series, it is a very practical overview of how to look at the steps that a candidate has to take toward getting to the field. It's not descriptive of the amount of time involved because the time involved could easily be years, but it is very descriptive and has helpful resources in it in each chapter for the steps that a candidate might take. Another hidden feature is the ecclesiology of the whole process. If you've been listening to Missions on Point, you know that we feel that biblically, the local church is the central agent of God's work in the world, and it's through the local church that missionaries are developed and sent and shepherded in order to plant and grow healthy, indigenous, biblical churches in the place or people group to which those missionaries go.

I do hope you'll buy the book. For the sake of this series, it does provide a really good and helpful framework for us to walk through what the missionary candidate goes through, and hopefully, along with the partnership and assistance of their local sending church. The prologue or introduction to Here to There sites a simple statistic that says only about 15% of those who claim that they feel God is calling them to be a missionary actually make it to the field. There are a lot of circumstances and personal concerns that arise between the time of their original calling, subjectively, and then objectively, what happens in life and things that deter them or distract them or remove them from qualification to go to the field.

I think it's important that candidates know that right up front, it's okay to pursue going to the mission field as a missionary. It's also okay to not make it all the way through the process. God has his purposes in growing us in godliness and in walking with him by faith, regardless of which vocation we end up pursuing. It's also an added incentive to say, "Hey, I want to be one of those 15%." The first chapter is Get Talking, and what that means is we really think it's a good idea for the missionary candidate to begin to share with their friends, their church leaders, others who have spiritual impact in their life, that they have this sense that God wants them to pursue missions.

It's a good thing. However, in days of saturation of social media, it is not a good idea to put that on social media. The reason is that social media content tends to stay there almost forever. If you're going to an unreached people group or a high security kind of place or country, that content is searchable, connected with your name or online identity. Those countries or places may use that against you and prevent you from even entering in. So it's not wise to broadcast your missionary call beyond the circle of friends that are very interested and that you trust. The second chapter is Get a Strong Foundation, and it basically says, "Let your church leaders know that you want to be sent over there." They need to know right away. They need to partner with you to come alongside you, to mentor and disciple you, to train and equip you, and to guide you through the key decision points of getting to the field.

The third chapter is Get Experience. Everyone, no matter what your job is, you need to sharpen your skills for the field that you're going to and the particular work or ministry that you're going to, through practical experience. Don't wait till you arrive on the field to get that experience. Get practical ministry skills and spiritual godliness skills here while you're in the States in a nice, warm, friendly environment. The next chapter is Get Connected, and this is a key decision point of selecting a mission agency that will partner with you in the process, and your church can help you make the best decision regarding what kind of agency best fits their particular tradition, their doctrine, their interests, their strategic focus and your skills, and what part of the world that would be in. Different missions may have different levels of competency and experience in those particular fields or even language groups or types of ministry.

The next chapter is Get Focused, and this says you should start beginning to focus and learning everything you can about the country, the people, the culture, the language of the place you're going. Now, if you're going to a minority people group, then you may not be able to get too much information about them, but you can about the surrounding majority people group, and there are lots of avenues besides the regular missionary and mission avenues to discover those things. Do some groundwork research in anthropology, in culture, in language acquisition, in all the skills and tools you need for crossing cultures and language to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ there.

The next chapter is Get Approved. So every mission agency has these requirements and hurdles you have to go through in order to become a full member of their sending agency. That's usual and normal. Almost no one arrives at candidate orientation school for a mission agency that doesn't have some additional requirements to fulfill, if only in the area of counseling and growth and experience. Almost every mission agency has some minimum Bible and theology requirements that you may have to get if you haven't already gotten those things. Simultaneously, your local church may have some specific requirements for you with regard to your longevity in ministry in the local church and your leadership status within the local church.

Those things in and of themselves may take some time. Some churches that commit a very large amount of support for missionaries that arise out of their church require people to work for three to five years in their church and go through a mentorship process to prove themselves as they minister in the local church, in order to be fully approved for funding. The next step is to get a support team. After you've been approved by your church and mission, one of the key things for most missionaries that are not within a denominationally supported mission's role are going out under a faith supported basis. Typically, that is either as a personal support basis or a pooled support for the team or the field.

In any case, the missionary is expected to use their network of friends and churches and ministries that know them in order to present their vision for ministry and give them an opportunity to partner with them financially to support their work on the field, so that they can go to the field and not have to work or raise their own money in a job in order to sustain their life and ministry on the field. It also frees them up in a way so that they can dedicate more of their time to do direct ministry activities rather than vocational financial wage-earning activities.

This is not to say that continuing the partnership development support raising function doesn't take time even when you're on the field. It also is not eliminating the very real possibility that if you're going into a closed or limited access country, you may have to have a wage-earning job proven to the government in order to sustain a visa to stay in the country and do the ministry to which you're called. Nevertheless, this building a support team is an essential part of ministry, for prayer, for emotional encouragement, for spiritual nurture and shepherding, as well as the financial benefits.

Note here that support raising has been in existence from the first century on. Jesus and his band of disciples were actually financially supported by others as they roamed around the land of Palestine. Paul certainly was supported by others, not just his home sending church, but notably the church in Philippi, and by Paul's request, it would've been the church in Rome to send him to another unreached people group in Romans:15.

The eighth chapter is Get Over There. We speak of here to there, meaning here being the home site and there being that mission field out there. And once you've fulfilled all of these things over the process of time and hard work and experience and partnership of others, then you need to plan your time to actually leave and go there. That's when the work really begins for you to really learn the language and culture and dive into that as first priority for the first years that you're on the field. But your church and you and your family and others concerned would love to have a wonderful celebration, commissioning kind of service for you, so that they're announcing the completion of all these requirements and the next step of you actually leaving your home and going overseas to work in the mission field.

There are some suggestions in that chapter about all the possible elements you could have in a commissioning service or commissioning day to celebrate with your church this grand event. There is a post-logue chapter, and it refers to what if we don't make it to the field? What if we intended to go and we got halfway through or three quarters of the way through or almost all the way to the end of the process, and it just didn't work out? That's happened for many reasons. It could be that the country is politically closed and you're just not able to go yet. But in the post-logue, it says, "Don't consider this as being a second class citizen in God's kingdom. It is still all part of God's will and in his providence that you don't go."

So what do you do with that? Don't become depressed and a recluse because you're ashamed or embarrassed. Rather, use all the good training and experiences that you've had in God's kingdom within your local church to help others in the process, to help them understand the importance of each step of the process, and to work on your missions team or your missions committee to be involved in mobilizing people for missions. That is a very important role and often neglected.

If you have missions experience, even as a candidate in training, then you have something to offer to the body of Christ where you are, and you can encourage others to pursue that vision that you yourself maybe were not able to do at the time. It's still possible in God's big plan that you would use it in going to the field in some form or fashion in the future, even if it's for leading short-term teams, or casting vision on a vision trip, or accompanying others, visiting others on the field so that you can encourage them in their work.

In addition, there are four appendices at the end of the book. The first one is Practical Guidelines for Security Concerns. It's something that every missionary should be aware of, even if they're not going to a high security place. Certainly, the church should be aware of it because they need to modify their communication, their vocabulary, their approach to communicating with a missionary in those high security places.

The second appendix is a sample of the Sending Church Mission Agency Partnership Agreement, which I very highly recommend that every church have for every missionary they send out. The church should have a written letter of understanding or partnership agreement with the mission agency that enables and allows the local church to enter into the life of the missionary in a large way, in encouragement, in visiting, and helping them with any major decisions regarding their allocation, their placement, their team, and even down to some methodologies of what's being used on the field and how biblically and doctrinally aligned it is with the church's vision.

The third appendix is something that the church should use early in the missionary candidates process. It's called 21 Questions for Missionary Candidates. It does not include a section on finances, but it does include sections on other major areas of life. It is something that should form sort of a guideline or a framework for personal biblical counseling of the missionary candidate as they prepare to go to the field.

The last appendix is Why Church Planting Is The Priority in Missions. If you've listened to Missions on Point very much, you know that this is something that we beat the drum for quite regularly. Church planting is not just significant, it is the biblical end result of all missions. So no matter what type of missions you do, what type of ministry you have, it should be integrally linked with church planting. This appendix describes that.

I hope that this episode gives you this broad brush general overview of the steps of a missionary candidate, because if you are raising up and training missionaries through your church, your missionary candidate will walk through those same steps.

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, Please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry. Now to God, be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus, forever and ever. Amen.

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