Audio Transcript:

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

Welcome back.  Thank you for listening.  This is episode 202 of Missions on Point.  We pray that this podcast encourages you and builds up the body of Christ.  Please share it with those you know.  And as it is a benefit to you, we pray it will bless your church through you.  We have been talking about Missions Paths recently, exploring how everyone in your church can play some role in missions.  Today is part 2 of the Field Missionary Path.  If you missed part 1, you might want to go back and start there.  Of course you can also go back to our website and find all of our podcasts with transcripts there, plus tons of other content.  The missions paths are all laid out in a Frequently Asked Questions format.  And there is a handy tool you can use to compile all of the questions you have into one downloadable PDF.  Check it out. 

Part 1 of the Field Missionary Path got us started with 4 steps you can take to start growing in your competency as a missionary.  Even if you are already on the field, it is invaluable to consider these essential elements of being a missionary.  Getting these steps right could save you years of heartache and regret.  But most importantly, we want to please our Savior who has commissioned us to go, and so we work hard to walk in a manner worthy of the calling we have been given. 

Our first four competency steps from last week were these: Aim, Plan, Build, and Evaluate.  It’s important for you to know what you are trying to accomplish and have clear goals and expectations, and not just for your own sake, but so that those who are invested in your ministry might know how to better pray for you and how to keep you accountable to staying on task in your ministry. 

While those four steps were some fundamental competency steps, the three remaining steps we are taking today will have a large, practical impact on you and your team's ministry.  Those three steps are Strategize, Multiply, and Finish.  So continuing from last week, we’ll call these steps 5, 6 and 7, for a total of 7 steps to take in the Field-Missionary Path.  So, here we go.

Step 5: Strategize

There are several factors that affect achievement of our ministry goals.  Are the goals biblical, measurable and achievable, yet faith stretching?  We should make goals that require God to show up for us to be successful, yet we still have to be realistic too.  Your one church won’t reach the entire world.  So, are your goals biblical, and are your methods biblical?  God cares just as much about how the work is done as he cares about the results.  Our doctrine and our biblical values influence both our strategy and our methods. 

A Biblical evaluation begins with the heart.  Our intentions, desires and attitudes should be filled with sincerity and simplicity, full of truth and the fruit of the Spirit.  Our actions must be in accordance with God’s law.  And the results must align with scripture too.  Whatever we do should be done for the glory of God. 

Key to your strategy ought to be a plan for encountering spiritual warfare.  Can everyone on your team recognize and respond to the challenge of spiritual warfare? It is sure to come at some level in the face of any endeavor to bring light to places of darkness.

Here are a few more factors for you to consider when it comes to strategy.

You must consider the alignment of your activities with your goals.  The most effective way of meeting goals and objectives is ensuring that all activity directly align with and benefit the goals and objectives. For example, if your goal is to train nationals to assume leadership roles in the church, you likely won’t take the role of leadership that the national can. Instead of preparing sermons that you deliver at a national church, you ought to spend time mentoring the national to do the teaching.  So, align your activities to your goals. 

Also, consider how culture is going to affect your strategy, methods and expectations.  In the West, we expect our leaders to have a Master of Divinity degree, but what if no seminaries exist in the local culture?  What if the church is multiplying faster than an expensive leadership track can generate leaders?  If you are in a Muslim culture, would Christians take off their shoes, wash their hands and faces before entering worship and pray in Islamic postures?  Are your methods locally acceptable and reproducible in that culture? 

Sometimes there are major external factors which present opportunities or threats to the ministry.   Political events such as changes in the government or culture.  Increased spiritual openness because of a disillusionment with the majority cultural religion.  New technology and media also affect strategy.  Migration because of war is another external factor that might affect your strategy.  Along with that, you should consider if there are any creative alternatives that you haven't previously considered.  We must continual observing the world around us and ask God to give us wisdom in light of a world that is changing quickly.

Finally, for strategy, consider your team.  Do you have the necessary gifted and skilled people in place to achieve your goals?  When you form a team, has everyone involved agreed to your strategy?  That’s not necessarily going to happen.  So, establish the expectations for involvement in your team upfront and have regular ongoing evaluation.  Record those expectations and clearly communicate it to everyone involved.

Important to your team formation is considering how you can incorporate nationals into planning and implementation.  We need to involved nationals in basic ministry as early as possible.  Remember, that this ministry is not about you, but about the church in that culture growing and developing.  They are seeking to reproduce disciples among their own people.  At some point you will even start to incorporate them into the planning process.  Their church will then reflect their own culture.  Missionaries should avoid taking leadership positions, instead establishing qualified national leaders, because the church will remain there long after the missionary has departed. 

That’s the fifth step for the Field Missionary: Strategize.

The Sixth Step is multiply.

By multiplying ministry we mean that you work yourself out of a job by equipping and empowering other people to replace you.  And of course, multiplication gives the impression that there will now be many more workers in your place once you are gone.  The sad reality though of many in ministry is that they work independently of others and the ministry is dependent on them.  And when they are gone, the ministry collapses.  This is nearsighted at best, but likely selfish. 

There are two major junctures where you can multiply your efforts.  The first is prior to the launch of your field ministry.  As you cast a vision for the ministry, explain why many human and financial resources will be needed to complete the ministry.  The second critical place for multiplying your efforts is in the early stages of ministry.  How you spend your time early on is critical for establishing long-term effectiveness.  You can’t wait until the end of your ministry to start thinking about this, because then the work has already been established, and the DNA of the ministry is much harder to change at that point.  So, when you get to the field, be thinking about this question.  Don’t just ask, “what can I do?”  Ask, “how do the things I am doing help to multiply and replace myself?”  How am I equipping others to do the ministry rather than just doing it myself?  As a church is planted, what is then the plan for planting again? 

Our vision for what could happen on the field needs to be so large that it cannot happen by ourselves.  We must seek others to join in our work.  Think about specific people who love and support your ministry.  Think about tangible ways that they can get involved.  There needs to be a variety of opportunities both at home and on the field for others to participate with you in ministry.

Partnerships in ministry are a biblical paradigm, just consider the book of Philippians.  In your partnerships, build a network of co-laborers, missionaries and mission agencies.  Connect with your supporting churches too.  They bring resources to the table that will enhance and expand the ministry.  If you share a common vision, then work in such a way that you are not reinventing the wheel and needlessly spending time doing the same ministry tasks.  When we work together for the sake of efficiency, we are able then to spend more time devoted to more meaningful tasks. 

As we’ve said before, we also must consider how nationals can be involved in the ministry.  Perhaps they can do something better than you?  But, using nationals is not a silver bullet in ministry.  They are prone to make many of the same missionary mistakes that western missionaries make.  And there may be further challenges that they bring which we need to be aware of.  While we want to leverage their strengths, we should not presume that they have nothing to learn in order to be effective. 

Here I have one major caution at this point to give you.  Multiplication movements have become very popular in most missiology talk.  But the vast majority of these movements have an undefined and unclear vision of the goal of planting healthy national churches.  It seems even that multiplication for multiplication’s sake is the only real goal.  So, be very wary of talk about being rapid.  The ever-present threat is that we would compromise the health, depth and soundness of doctrine for the goal of multiplication.  Thus, our foundational biblical goals must be established first and then multiplication grows out of those goals and ought to never threaten them. 

At the end of the day, multiplication is about humility and selflessness.  You work yourself out of a job because the work is bigger than you and ought not to be dependent on you.  If you develop a ministry that is dependent on you, then the church that forms will start to imitate that model.  Instead, we want the entire church reproducing their own community of faith. 

That’s step six, multiply.

Step Seven: Finish

Z to A thinking requires us to ask the question, “What do I want to accomplish in the end and then what are the steps that take us from here to there?”  The final step of field missionary life is to focus on finishing well.  Your ministry is not endless and you should have a clear vision of its completion.  And you ought to have that vision even since the beginning of the ministry. 

Whether you are reaching a major ministry goal or at the end of a lifetime of service, it is time to reflect and to celebrate.  You may be finished when the task is completed.  You may be finished when your role on the field is finished, even if the larger goal has not been achieved yet.  You may be finished when your calling shifts or evolves.  You may need to leave the field because you can no longer utilize that method of access to the closed country.  For many missionaries, they need to come home because their family circumstances require a change, or it is simply time to retire.   The Apostle Paul is a fine example of knowing when his goals in a particular location were finished. 

Of course we want to avoid anything that might be a preventable reason for returning, like conflict with teammates.  But we also want to avoid never returning because you simply lack a clear vision of what finishing looks like. 

Most importantly, the task is always bigger than you, and you must trust the Holy Spirit to be at work in those who come after you. 

As you return home, it’s appropriate to celebrate God’s work with a worship service that features gratefulness to God for what he accomplished. 

You can now have a different ministry of support, prayer, mobilization and missions education.  Your experience in missions is invaluable, so don’t waste it.  And use your retirement from missions to the glory of God. 

We pray that you can echo the words of the Apostle Paul who said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Tim. 4:7)

As you walk your field missionary path, take these seven steps:  Aim, Plan, Build, Evaluate, Strategize, Multiply and Finish.

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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