Audio Transcript:

Welcome to Missions on Point, the Propempo perspective on church and missions. Thanks for finding Missions on Point, today. We're in episode 118 in a short series on special church missions issues. Today's episode is something that I've never heard anyone talk about before, and I'm calling it Missions Junkies. Episode 118 is Special church missions issues about missions junkies.

So what do I mean by missions junkies? I mean people who are hooked on missions. There may be people in your church that every time anything missions comes up, especially if it's a short-term trip somewhere remote, they want to be involved. They volunteer. They're one of the first on the list. They're excited about it. They love it. They want to put another notch on their belt of having taken another missions trip. You may know of people that are not even connected with a local church that just kind of bang around from one source to another, from one place of opportunity to another to go on missions trips overseas, whether it be for a week or a month or a year.

What is great about missions junkies? What is not great about missions junkies, and how do you handle them? How do you guide them, coach them, help them to be the most effective for your church missions ministries, and not just accumulating a huge backlog of pictures and notches on their belt? Here's a real quick definition. A missions junkie is a person who "feels called" to be involved in personal participation in missions, but not necessarily long-term involvement, or giving of personal resources for others to do missions. This is a generalization. I'm sure there may be exceptions.

What is a profile of a missions junkie? Obviously, this has to be stereotypical, and again, there may be exceptions, but typically, a missions junkie starts when they're young. They're not in a career track. That is they don't have a demanding work schedule, 9:00 to 5:00 kind of job that depends on them to be there a lot, and they are able to pick up, and move, and do things, sort of on whatever opportunity shows up. They're enthusiastic, they're broadly friendly and a good communicator, knowing that being friendly and a good communicator has a larger social acceptance, and that's necessary to raise funds for their missions involvement. Obviously, motives that are not self-disclosed are impossible to really plumb the depths of, however, these missions junkie people need to have their motives and direction guided and shaped to real missions goals and real church missions goals.

There are some great things about missions junkies, if you have one or more in your church. First off is they are very enthusiastic about missions. Secondly, generally they understand the biblical priority of missions and its necessity in our world in order to reach people for Christ. Thirdly, they actually do have skills and personality bent toward being involved in missions, and can be a great asset in the field ministry work, however, short or long a term it may be. They might have language and cross-cultural skills. They might bring other skills and even tools to the table to help with whatever project or cross-cultural mission trip, short-term or long-term you may have through your church. They may have freedom and ability to travel more easily than most other people in the congregation.Because of their generally gregarious nature, they tend to be good leaders of teams.

One of the greatest assets of a short-term missions project or team is that people who want to be a part of that group will do almost anything, and study, and be willing to go through a rigorous training program in order to qualify to be a part of that specific team. Hopefully, your mission's junkie friend is willing to do that so that if they go on multiple trips over a period of time, they're getting better and better trained for longer term commitment to missions. In fact, as we recommend in Propempo training, this is one of the tools that you use to train long-term missionaries is greater and greater exposure to targeted missions involvement.

Missions junkies can be a great asset in your overall church missions program because they may be able to be shaped and guided in such a way to continue to give value add to everyone in the congregation through their influence and involvement. Even though that may mean that they don't get to go on as many trips as they want to, they can be involved in the mobilization and training aspect to good effect.

The mission's junkie, if they are responding well to authority and a good team player, might make a good missions team member. Their experience and passion for missions might make them a good point person for a care group for a specific missionary that your church is supporting. I guess the point I'm making is that if the church recognizes a person who might be a missions junkie, you can guide them to have a very positive impact on the overall missions ministry of your church, rather than simply cave into feeding their passion for their personal involvement, which might even exclude others because others are not joining the trip. The trip is already full, and it's got a couple of missions junkies that go on every trip who signed up first.

I know of great examples of really good missions junkies who have made a fantastic contribution to their church by regularly giving of their time, their tools, their finances to lead trips for specific purpose, multiple times over the course of years, and have been a tremendous help and encouragement to people on those teams because they're others centered in the impact of what they're doing, not just the actual project on the field, but the impact on the team of giving people a heart for missions, and training them to understand the complexities and challenges facing missionaries. Even then, it's probably a good thing to give the missions junkie a break every few years or so to just kind of recalibrate and help shape their vision for what they're doing and how they influence people, both the target population on the field, the missionary host of a short-term trip, and the church people themselves. Get them deeper into missions training and reading so that they have a better and stronger qualification to teach and lead missions within the church.

Hey, encourage them to listen to Missions on Point. Unfortunately, there are bad examples of missions junkies as well. I know of several missions junkies, over the years, who have been very proud and braggy about the number of missions trips they've been on, the different experiences they've had, both good and bad. The biggest critique I have of those situations is that they don't really have long-term results on the field. It's all about their own experience and the joy of participating personally in missions, and not necessarily anything that was accomplished that is lasting on the field, in terms of actual spiritual results. I get a bad taste when I hear from those missions junkies raising funds again for some other missions trip, whether or not it's sponsored by the church, or it was their own idea, or they're going out under some third party parachurch missions organization, or they're doing some other training in some other continent.

Then you may have the rare case of a couple of missions junkies being attracted to each other in getting married, and then the result is exponential, in terms of the funds that they expect and the personalized demands that their friends support them in these things because they "feel called." That's why in the initial definition, I said it's a person who feels called to be involved in personal participation and missions. That in itself is not a qualification. A person's calling, and credentials, and fittedness, for actual missions work is determined by the local church who really owns the Great Commission. If they're not tested in long-term ministry and relationships within the local church, they shouldn't be given the bonus of taking trips at everyone else's expense.

Another problem with the bad examples is that they're on a track that leads to nowhere. We want to see missions calling developed and verified over time so that the person is actually going long-term to stay resident in a place, to reach people that are otherwise unreached, and to have goals for seeing whatever ministry they're involved in, actually building indigenous local churches and increasing the capacity for local church planting within the people group or the area that they're going to. If the experience and exposure of multiple short, medium, or long-term kind of ministries is not building toward that, then it needs to be turned back into supporting, edifying, and helping the local church, and helping others get that vision so that God would raise up missionaries from the local church to be sent out to those long-term capacity ministries.

What is the solution for the mission's junkie? Use them for the Lord in the local church. Have a conversation with them to help them identify the track they're on and where that's leading. Get them outside of themselves to have a perspective of the potential impact they can have for missions ministry that's not focused on them and their own experiences. Encourage them and get them to see a balance of involvement so that it is not centered on themselves. Help them to understand that they're subjective feeling of being called is not a call to multiple short-term experiences on short-term missions trips unless they have a specific leadership role in helping others to have a vision for missions and being effective at a particular thing being accomplished on the mission field.

Pray with them and give them other opportunities within the local church and within the realm of missions, education, mobilization, and missionary care and shepherding so that they have a longer term role that's not centered on them going to the next country, just to get another stamp in their passport. What about people that do short-term missions as their vocational ministry? I say the litmus test is their involvement with the local church themselves, personally. If they're not seriously committed to deep involvement in a solid biblical local church themselves, then they're not really qualified to then also leverage their vocational ministry to help the short term missions people they're involved with and that they're training and sending out into teams and supervising, are also involved in the local church and see the importance of being local church centered in their spiritual ministry life and philosophy of missions.

You have to ask those people, are they deeply involved in a local church themselves, and secondly, are they teaching all the people in the short-term missions organization they work with, and all the people coming through for short-term missions training and experiences, are they teaching them to be focused on their local church and have a long-term goal of being developed as career missionaries to reach unreached people groups to plant godly biblical churches there? It's definitely worth a conversation with a missions junkie or a potential missions junkie to turn their focus away from themselves and their great experience going on trips to a higher goal of experience of being used by God to mobilize career missionaries, maybe themselves, for the field.

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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