Audio Transcript:

Welcome to Missions on Point, the Propempo perspective on church and missions. Hello, I'm so glad you've joined us for episode 86 of Missions on Point. This is the third of a four-part series on sending missionaries from your church. This is a very important topic and every church needs to pray and consider it. Church members, church leadership, and certainly those that are interested in missions and potential candidates need to consider the church's role in missions, and that's the kind of thing we're talking about. So I want to review quickly some of the other episodes of Missions on Point that will be helpful to you, and I hope you'll jot it down and go back and listen to them.

The first one is episode five. It's an overview of the local church's role in missions. Then in episode seven, there is one on the local church mission agency partnership. This relationship, which I suggest should be a contractual letter of understanding between the church and the mission agency, is something you need to listen to. Then a series in episodes 26 through 39 talk about keys to effectiveness as a missionary. Now, in this episode, we're going to be talking about direction and guidance of the church and the missionary candidate or appointee. This keys to effectiveness series is important for both sides to know what is our expectation of the missionary and missions and what is the missionary's expectation as he or she goes to the field?

Another important series is episodes 40 through 42, which are three central truths. Very impactful, important, three central truths to understand as you send your missionary out. And then finally, episodes 57 through 60 talk about your church mission's profile. The church mission's profile is a tool that Propempo has developed that has been amazingly effective at helping churches get a vision for how they can do better in missions in a whole range of things, but the ending subjects of that series have to do with missionary training and sending. You can go to the to find other articles related to these things that have downloadable documents often. Your church missions profile is a feature of the website. It is an interactive self-assessment process that gives you actual recommendations for your church.

Now, let's get into today's episode, direction and guidance. When you're sending missionaries from your church, you want to have this understanding of the candidate or the missionary that this is a team effort. This is not a solo thing. The missionary candidate does not get to choose independently or solo all the things having to do with which field to go to, which ministry to go to, which agency to choose. Most often, I'm afraid, missionary candidates come from a school or a camp or a conference experience, and they basically tell the church, "Hey, I'm going to such and such a field to do such and such a ministry with such and such a mission," and they don't even give any option to the church about whether or not that's wise or right or on target at all.

Often, the poor missionary candidate has little or no theological discernment or wisdom of experience to be able to tell the difference between choice A, B, C, D, whatever the choices are. They end up choosing whichever one is appealing or whichever one has appealed to them personally in order to pull them into their organization. So if you've been listening along, I have to assume that you've heard the prior episode that has to do with missionary training and qualification. In that, the leadership together with the missionary candidate sort of agree to a pathway of ministry skill building, character building, and competence in biblical and doctrinal things related to their mission work so that when they're sent out from the church, they have the confidence of the church that they are representing the message and the church well in their ministry overseas. The church is essentially sending an extension staff member to another place and needs to be just as careful with preparing them as they would with the preparation of a staff member coming into their church body.

This direction and guidance thing is no small thing. The missionary also in this stage of development needs to develop special relationships with people in leadership and people who are their advocates or people who will advocate for them to the congregation to represent them and their ministry well. We highly recommend developing a pattern of having some mission advocates specially designated for that missionary to help them, to pray with them, to mentor them, to be on the inside track, to communicate to the congregation through various means, whether it be adult bible fellowships or small groups or Sunday school classes or youth groups or men's groups, women's groups, that the advocates represent the missionary and ask for prayer, give updates of news and events and information that are relevant to the church to know and embrace this missionary that is one of them sent out to the field.

Even in addition to that, the church needs to think about developing what many churches call a prayer and care team that is multiple people who will then help them in every way, both in the preparation side, even to the logistics of kind of wrapping up their household effects and their personal business affairs at home in order to be free then to go to the mission field. Other churches call it a Barnabas team. It is a helper and encouragement team to come alongside, and that team will stay in action when the missionaries are on the field. That team will get special prayer requests of particular needs and maybe more personal issues that the missionary needs prayer and care for while they're on the field. That team is going to take care of a whole range of things.

I will go through that list. Very briefly, there are 10 categories that a Barnabas team or a prayer and care team would be involved with. Moral support of encouragement. Secondly, logistics support and a wide variety of logistics, financial support, even helping them raise support in this period of time in their development, prayer support obviously, communication support which may have implications particularly in relatively closed country kind of situations, reentry support for when they come back home, and then support for children's education, security and contingency, technology, big broad area, and finally, support and recommendations or help with field visits and short-term missions teams or projects.

Let's go back to direction and guidance. Direction and guidance in what ways? Well, we have to make some assumptions about being guided already in ministry training and qualification. That's very significant, important. It was covered somewhat at least as the overview in the previous episode. In this episode, I want to talk about the three primary commitments or decisions that have to be made that need direction and guidance. The first is focus of ministry. All of these are using F. Focus of ministry. And in the focus of ministry, I think of it as three axes along which the missionary candidate in the church determine how close they are to being right on the bullseye of the target of where you want them to be. The first part of it is simple; relationship to the church. If they're being sent from your church, then obviously there's a close relationship with the church, but are they being sent from your church as someone who just started visiting six months ago, or they're someone that grew up in the church and they've been there for 20 years? That makes a difference in how they relate to the church family. relationship to the church is very important, but it's pretty easy to determine exactly where they are on that scale or spectrum.

The second axis is priority of ministry, and when I say that, I mean the church needs to figure out what's really most important to them. Is it community development? Probably not. In ministry terms and in biblical terms, it needs to be gospel oriented and related in some way, and the top priorities have to do with evangelism, discipleship, church, planting, and development of local, that is national or indigenous leaders, church leaders. Whatever other means is used is a strategy toward the end goal of accomplishing those things which are core to the spiritual ministry of the church. You determine where you are on that axis and actually lay it out and figure out how you can guide them to be toward the higher end of those kinds of spiritual results.

The third axis has to do with access to the gospel. That is, how accessible is the gospel to the place where they're going or the people they're going? Obviously people who are unreached people groups or what we call unengaged, unreached people groups; that is, people who have no one resident that can share the gospel with them and work on developing an indigenous church at all within their language group, that's an unengaged, unreached people group. The closer you are to the most needy access to the gospel, the closer you are to the bullseye. So focus of ministry is something that takes a lot of study and discussion, conversation, prayer so that the church leaders and the church candidate are on the same page on those things and heading in the same direction. It is okay for the church to get the missionary candidate or appointee to head in a different direction than they originally were thinking in order to be more on target because they are an emissary of the church in doing this thing and it is going to be, Lord willing, a long-term commitment.

The second F of decision points is field of ministry. We talked about focus. It has to do with the type of ministry or the aim of the ministry. Now, the field of ministry is something else. It may be a specific people group within a country. It may be a specific country in a more generic way. It may be the majority population and not the minority people groups of that nation. You have to determine where do we have relationships? Where do we have bridges already within the congregation that would serve to help in that relationship? Maybe we already know missionaries in a particular field and would love to see our candidate go there. That's fantastic. It may be that you need to look at logistics and figure out if we are on the east coast of the US, it's easier to go to Africa and Europe and Eastern Europe than it is to go to East Asia. If you're on the West Coast, it may be easier and more sustainable supportable to go to Asia and the South Pacific and perhaps Central Asia, than it would be elsewhere. If you're going to the Middle East or Central Asia, it may be equal distance both ways. It's not just a logistical distance thing. It's supportability and your local population and ease of transportation and support from wherever you are in order to have a closer connection with that ministry missionary that you're going to support.

The third F in the key areas of direction and guidance are the facilitator of ministry, and by that I mean the mission agency. So what agency are they going to go with? There's thousands of agencies out there and it can be very confusing. Often, the one that appeals to you at whatever level from whatever angle is the one that gets your attention first, but it takes some study by the church mission leaders and the missionary candidate or appointee to figure out which agency best fits us, which is most like us in doctrine, and which will actually agree to facilitate our people in a way that is in harmony with the way that we would do it if we were there ourselves? It's not that we're reproducing an exact cookie cutter of our church here, but we want the methods and the doctrine to reflect the methods and the doctrine that we see biblically and not redefining terms or doing something absolutely wild and crazy that doesn't match up at all.

We would love someday to visit a local church planted by our missionary or in conjunction with our missionary's team that reflects the same kind of biblical values and doctrine and practice that we have in our home country because we believe it's true. That's what we value and prioritize. Focus of ministry, field of ministry and facilitator of ministry all should be topics that are entered into and agreed to together by the church and the missionary candidate before they sign on the dotted line, before they get too close to being sent out. The church is at the helm of guiding that ship so that it's going in the right direction. And when everybody's on the same page and going in the right direction, everybody's happy and it makes for a much easier and better relationship of the missionary that you're sending on the field in future years. Please contact us, email us at,, and thanks so much for listening. 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 preferably consider supporting this ministry. Now, to God be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus, forever and ever, amen.

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