Audio Transcript:

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

Praise the Lord for his kindness to us in this podcast.  He has enabled us to produce now 200 episodes of missions content for you.  Be sure to check out the archives on our website at  And our topic for today is one we care much about.  We’re talking about pre-field missionary candidates.  If you are an aspiring missionary, but you are not on the field yet, or if you know someone in that position this is for you.  But even if neither one of those situations applies to you, you will still find the discussion helpful today because everyone in the church needs to care about sending missionaries.  Let’s all be earnestly praying to the Lord of the Harvest to send out more workers into the harvest.  The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.  Will your church know what to do with someone who says they want to be a missionary? 

The advice I’m about to give pre-field missionaries is really advice that everyone needs.  And even if some of the steps might seem a little basic, I want to caution you that these truths can easily be taken for granted and underrated.  If you want to be a missionary, you have to begin with humility.  Don’t assume you know almost as much as there is to know.  A return to the fundamentals is extremely valuable.  So, with that in mind, here are four preparatory steps you or a missionary candidate you know can take.

  1. Learn about missions basics

If you haven’t already, you might want to review the inquirer missions path, especially the topic of what is missions and what does it mean to be a missionary.  In summary, a missionary is one who has been sent out by a church to evangelize, disciple and plant churches in another culture.  This could include training leaders or facilitating getting the gospel into another culture somehow.  The missionaries in the Bible were usually called apostles – with a lowercase A.  There was an office of Apostle, which was limited to those who were authorized by Jesus to write scripture.  But then there were many others, called apostles, who were sent out for missionary work.  The word apostle simply means, “sent one”. 

The basics of missions begins with the Bible.  As a pre-field candidate, do not consider your waiting in vain.  You can always use more time to know your Bible better.  But read your Bible with a view toward missions.  You might be surprised how prevalent missions is in the Bible.  In the Old Testament missions is all about the glory of God to draw all people to himself, launching especially from his call of Abraham, that through him all the families of the earth would be blessed.  God shows his care for the nations through the prophets who call them to repentance.  The New Testament too is full of missions thinking.  Check it out, there might be more than you’d expect. 

As we read scripture, these theological themes begin to develop, the fact that the God of the Bible is a missionary God and that the Church is God's missionary people, that missions is at the center of God's divine purpose for the human race, not just something peripheral or added on.  And furthermore, the church of Jesus Christ is not simply a waiting room for heaven. The church is God's transformative agent in the world, to bring the only gospel that can save to all people on earth.

Furthermore, as you are learning the basics of missions, learn about the basic qualities of a missionary.  Missionaries should exhibit the qualifications of a deacon or elder seen in 1 Timothy 3.  Beyond that, the Bible gives much exhortation for the quality of the missionary.  They should be oriented to grace, able to extend grace widely and freely.   They should be flexible, servants, learners, have a love for people, and persevering in difficulty.  They should serve in the local church first, being submissive and accountable to local church leadership.  They are to be dependent on God and dependable, weak within himselves, resting in God’s sovereignty, strong in grace, constantly going back to Christ in the Scriptures, full of prayer, fellowship, accountability, and even a teacher.  Quality missionaries duplicate themselves.  They are dedicated and willing to suffer.  They should be patient and disciplined, someone who keeps thinking and studying.  And there is much more that we could add to this already long list.  But I hope you are getting the sense here that there is so much for you to grow in, no matter how mature of a Christian you are.  You are not yet fully like Christ, so your time in preparing to go to the field needs to be time well spent in developing your character.  When thinking about the magnitude of the call to be imitators of Christ, we should conclude with the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 2, “Who is sufficient for these things?”  Dear missionary candidate, your sufficiency is not in yourself, but in the God who saves and sanctifies you.  The most important quality that you can develop is a deepening grasp of the gospel of God’s grace.  This is what you need for yourself, but also what you hope to communicate to others.

So, learn about missions basics.

  1. Number two, Learn about the work of missions

The work of missions is the work of the church.  It’s the primary purpose of Christians this side of heaven.  The work of the church then must be prioritized toward this goal.  Every ministry in the church ought to be evaluated with this question, “How will this ministry help our church reach the world for Christ?”

So how does the work of the church in doing missions affect the pre-field missionary candidate?  Well, first and most significantly, it affects how the missionary understands his call to missions.  The missionary does not lay hands on himself.  The missionary call is not some mystical experience a person has with God.  Although, they may very well have a meaningful experience in their relationship with God, this is not what constitutes the call.  Obedience to God in his word is enough of a basis for a call to missions, nothing more is needed.  Yet scripture is clear that the church confirms the call.  The church’s role in missions goes even far beyond this, but for now the church’s role in identifying the missionary call is essential for the pre-field missionary to recognize. 

As a pre-field missionary, I would encourage you to study missions history along with church history.  This allows us to put into context the work that the church has always done in the cross-cultural work of proclaiming to others the “faith once for all delivered to the saints.”  Learn about mistakes and especially how the church confronts heresy. 

Furthermore, begin to study missiology, which is the intersection of the study of theology, culture and the church.  Learn about other cultures, their worldviews, beliefs, values, and behaviors, and how the gospel penetrates them all. 

You can begin to learn a language too.  Even if you don’t end up in a place using that language, you can develop language learning skills.  Your goal is to be as flexible and accommodating to others as much as possible, to do as the Apostle Paul did and “become all things to all men, in order that I may save some."

And keep your sights set on the ultimate goal of planting churches and seeing indigenous leaders raised up to lead that church.  So, participate in those activities at your home church to learn as much as you can before going. 

  1. The third step you can take as a pre-field missionary is to begin to raise support.

An important consideration in this process is what missions agency you will go with.  Unless you come from a church that is well equipped with handling the logistics of missions, you will most likely be using a missions agency.  It’s important to choose one that you agree with doctrinally and one you share a common vision for ministry.  I, of course, would recommend you consider MissioSERVE alliance.  But, we’re not the only one, and we’d be happy to help you find the best fit for you.  You’ll want an agency that is church-centered.  And be sure to sign a church partnership agreement before joining up with them. 

Raising support is not simply a necessary means to an end, it is actually beneficial for those who support you.  They become partners in your ministry, because they value the work that you would do that they cannot.  Most importantly, the people you are seeking to serve do not want your ministry yet.  Gospel advance must go out without any hindrance on those receiving the gospel, and we must avoid all appearances that they are purchasing it.  Entrust this process to the Lord, pray, and solicit others to pray with you.  Communicate frequently of your needs, and seek your church’s assistance in gathering the needed support. 

And as people support you, begin to establish good communication with them.  They are blessed by the blessings of your ministry and deserve to be well informed.  Be thankful and humble in your interactions with them.  They carry you and you cannot do your ministry without them.

  1. Fourth, Learn how to navigate difficulties

Challenges are inevitable, and the kinds of challenges you may face are as numerous as the various fields you may go to.  Cross-cultural challenges, loneliness, political upheaval, and relational conflict are just a few.  Are you prepared for the spiritual warfare you will face?  How will you respond to people who reject the gospel?  Are you prepared to care for children as they become third-culture kids? 

There are many steps you can take before you go to mitigate the severity of experiencing these challenges.  As much as possible you want to have realistic expectations about your potential ministry field.  Talk to missionaries and learn from their wisdom.  Interact with people from that culture.  And read up as much as you can. 

Unfortunately, the most common problem you will face is conflict with other missionaries.  Prepare ahead of time with your close relationships how those will get resolved.  Commit to following the steps of Matthew 18.  And involve leadership and your church as appropriate. 

Next, prepare for culture shock and for security concerns too.

Finally, continue to develop the skills of flexibility, people skills, evangelism, long-suffering, right motives, and a healthy ongoing discipleship relationship with your church.  Your best resources are the people who are sending you to the field.   

Please take advantage of the resources we have at Propempo and MissioSERVE.  We’ve mentioned them before, and I’ll briefly mention them again.  All of these missions paths that we have been talking about are detailed with frequently asked questions.  You can print them off in a custom PDF compiler.  Of course, nothing is better than personal interaction.  So, don’t hesitate to reach out to us, you do not have to walk down these paths alone. 

Above all, we want to point you to the sufficiency of God’s grace and the power of his Holy Spirit in our lives.  The spiritual resources available to you are infinite.  We want to pray for you specifically, and see if there is any way we can help you, so please get in touch with us.  We pray that God will thoroughly equip you for the ministry that he has in store for you, and that he will use your church to do that.  Your faithful pre-field preparation has great potential to glorify God and for being an encouragement to your church and all those who are supporting you to get to the field. 

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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