Audio Transcript:

Welcome to Missions on Point, the Propempo perspective on church and missions.

Thank you for joining us today for episode 201 of Missions on Point.  This podcast exists to explore the all-important intersection of ecclesiology and missiology.  We talk about the church as much as we talk about missions.  The two go hand in hand, and you can’t really have the one without the other. 

We are currently traveling down various missions paths, exploring how anyone in the body of Christ can take their next step in obedience to the Great Commission, fulfilling their role in supporting the church to accomplish its mission.  Not everyone is a missionary, but everyone plays a role in supporting missions. 

But today we are talking about missionaries.  This path is for those who have already explored with their church whether or not they should be a missionary, and their church has laid hands on them commissioning them to become a missionary.  You may already be on the field, or you may still be preparing to go, but either way, this missions path lays out 7 steps that you should take to be effective.  Since there is so much content with this missions path, we are going to break it up into 2 episodes.  We’ll do 4 today and pick up the remaining 3 next week.  Today we will consider 4 steps to take to build your competency as a missionary.  Those four steps are: Aim, Plan, Build, and Evaluate.  These are all competency tools for your backpack.

Step number 1: Aim

Someone once said, "If you aim at nothing, you're sure to hit it!" When talking about your aim as a missionary, we want you to ask yourself, “What is my vision and personal goal on the field?”  Take time to pray and lay out intentional objectives that make your progress on the field more tangible.  You need to get a lot more specific than simply evangelize and disciple.  You are there on the field to make a unique contribution to your team.  Together with your team, you all work toward making disciples and planting a church, but everyone’s individual role will look different even though they share the same broad end goal. 

As an example of how individuals play unique roles on the field, imagine a team operating in rural southern Morocco among Berbers. The team gains entry into the country by operating a medical non-governmental organization (NGO). The team may include a doctor, a nurse or midwife, a physical therapist, an accountant who keeps the books, a pharmacist, and a teacher who homeschools the children of team members. The physical therapist is an outgoing person who is able to begin relationships with people who come into contact with the team. The nurse has a background in discipling women. The pharmacist is a gifted coach who will develop the church’s Moroccan leaders. The teacher will enable the team to stay on the field where no schools are available. The doctor exceptionally understands Islam and will advise the team as it makes ministry decisions. While each plays a different role, all are critical to helping the whole team make disciples and plant churches.

But, I want to warn you here.  Whatever ministry you are involved in must be seen as a means to an end and not the end itself.  Your goal is to plant churches, and your individual ministry needs to support that end.  You cannot just do good things. 

When you find yourself among a team, and I certainly hope you do, your doctrinal convictions and ministry values must align as narrowly as you would imagine a church’s doctrine and ministry values to align.  Simply put, what kind of church is your team planting? 

As you consider your aim, consider what obstacles might be a challenge to accomplishing that goal.  Those obstacles could include spiritual warfare, prayerlessness, team conflict, lack of preparation and even the ever-creeping threat of pragmatism.

And lastly, you must aim together with your team.  Disharmony on the mission field is the number one cause of missionary attrition.  It might be helpful to have a team covenant to clarify expectations.  Proactively avoiding confusion and conflict is worth the work.  Step number 1: Aim

Step number 2: Plan

Missions work needs a strategic plan.  Research and preparation are essential before heading into your field.  What are the people there like, what are their needs?  How receptive are they to the gospel?  What are your key threats?  What is your platform for entry?  What personnel are needed?  What strategies will be employed for planting a church?  What do you envision the future to look like?

We plan because God is orderly and wisdom requires it, yet we always submit to God’s plans and hold our own loosely.  We can see many examples of plans in scripture.  We should make plans that aspire to what God has promised will happen.  We need common sense and realism, yet faith that rests in God’s sovereignty and his power to accomplish so much more than we could imagine.  God-sized visions will require more resources than we currently have, and they will drive us to partner with other believers to accomplish those goals.  But as we dream big, be wise about the necessity for practical tools to accomplish your goals.  Typically, God will use ordinary means to accomplish extraordinary results. 

There is one warning that comes with planning too.  The amount of time you spend planning versus the amount of time you spend enacting that plan really depends on where you are in your preparations.  You cannot plan forever, and so at some point you need to start working.  Planning is good, but it isn’t everything.  Sometimes you just have to get working and be okay with something that’s good, even if it’s not the best.  So, that’s step number 2: Plan.

Step number 3: Build

When we are talking about building here we are talking about faithful ministry service over a long period of time.  You want to see God work in your field ministry, achieving your focused plans over the long haul.  So, the essence of your work is in building.  You have goals, but how are you going to accomplish those goals?  How do you implement your plans?  And what guides your day-to-day activities, when no one is looking?

For example, if your goal is to plant reproducing churches among a particular people group in a closed country, that is too big of a goal all by itself.  You have to break it down into smaller steps.  How will you live there?  How will you learn the language?  How will you establish a business or a legitimate venue for life there?  Who do you need on your team?  How will you begin to study the Bible with someone and how will you have church services? 

Even with these questions, you will still have a number of steps to take.  So, take it to the next layer of specificity.  If you’re going to start a business, you’ll need to do research about the market and need.  You’ll have to contact consultants and expats in the area.  Research the steps for starting a business in that country.  Develop a business plan.  Secure investors.  File paperwork.  And research an office space.  You can see the planning is starting to take shape and the time for accomplishing these tasks starts to get clarified. 

Now you’ll need to figure out what your day-to-day activities look like.  Your team’s strategic plan and your specific role on that team will guide your daily activities.  Talk to those you are accountable to, including your field leader and your sending church pastors, and establish with them what those expectations would be. 

Critical to your building of a field ministry is an assessment of your resources in money and team member skills.  Identify your strengths and weaknesses and the biggest challenges you will face in management.  Second to that will be how you will enlist nationals into your plan.  If a church already exists in your target culture, you must work in conjunction with them.  Be careful though, because your perspective ought not to be how you can get nationals to be involved in your plans, but how you can empower nationals to play as great a role as possible, even driving and taking over the ministry so that you can step away. 

Along the way, you are going to be surprised.  New developments will bring a twist to your plans, possibly sending your team in a new direction.  But, keep prayerful discernment at the forefront of every step.  Evaluate new opportunities in light of your overall strategy and constantly seek counsel from leaders and overseeing church elders.  Keep your team close and constantly going back to making sure that everyone is headed in the same direction.  And be on guard, because there will be plenty of good things that you will have to say no to in order to say yes to the best things. 

That’s step three: build.

Step number 4: Evaluate

How will you know when the goal is fulfilled? And what can you do to measure effectiveness or achievement? How will others evaluate you and your work? How should I establish regular check points?  And what are the biblical standards for evaluation?  These are all important questions for evaluation. 

Goals that are clear must also express measurements by which we know when they are accomplished.  Your goals can’t be so large that they are only achievable in the far distant future.  You’ll need to break them down into several smaller mile markers.  What are you trying to accomplish in 1 year, 2 years, 5 years and 10 years?  For example, what are your language proficiency mile markers?  What should your discipleship relationships look like at those markers?  How about measuring your consistency in prayer or the sowing of gospel seeds?  Do you see national leaders emerging?  And so forth. 

In order to evaluate your ministry, you need to establish expectations with a variety of sources who will evaluate you. Those you should be checking in regularly with include your sending church and its elders, your missions agency team leadership and your supporters too.  You can establish regular check-ins with each of these parties.  And be clear in your communication with them about events, dates and desired outcomes of ministry.  Specifics give your people something to pray for, and something to praise God for when it comes about, and something to evaluate your ministry by. 

Finally, make sure your standards are the Bible’s standards.  Are we gauging our ministry according to what the Bible would describe as effective ministry?  A long-term ministry of God-honoring discipleship producing healthy churches, done in the Spirit of unity.  Our standards need to be God’s standards. 

As we conclude, I want to remind you that transcripts for our podcasts are available, and you can find all of these missions paths that we have been talking about on our website at  Missions paths answer some of the most frequently asked questions about your role in missions.  Find more help there and even compile the questions you are most interested in into a custom PDF. 

We are here to help you and are eager to talk to you and pray with you about your missionary path.  Praise the Lord that we do not go out on our own.  God’s resources are infinite in supply, and he promises to give us all that we need to accomplish the task that he has given to us.  So, continue to trust in him above all.  Christ, your shepherd, will lead you and equip you and strengthen you for the task at hand. 

Thanks for joining us today on Missions on Point. We trust that you'll find more help and resources on our websites at and 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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