We are consistently asked about keys to pastoral leadership of missions in the church. Here are ten easy concepts to help you.
Walk the talk.
It’s not enough to say that missions is an important priority for the church. The Pastor is a role model for all aspects of spiritual life and ministry. Therefore, the Pastor must model the priority of missions in his personal and family life. Do things to enhance your relationships with specific missionaries and field ministries with the intent that Unreached People Groups would get the Gospel and have healthy, biblical churches planted among them.
Learn the lingo.
World missions ministry has its own sphere of culture, vocabulary, training, and special issues. The best way for a Pastor to stay on top of it is to either keep current yourself with the mass of information out there, or better (!), entrust a wise, discerning, informed missions-lover person to hand-feed you only the best and most important things. Either way, make a plan to stay ahead of the curve for the sake of your leadership of your congregation in the area of missions. P.S. – don’t mistake “missional” language related to growing your church as equivalent to world missions concerns.
Pray like you mean it.
How fervently would you like your people to pray for you, your life, and your ministry? That’s exactly the informed, passionate fervency the Pastor should develop for your church’s world missions workers and ministry goals. We are actually dependent upon God for progress in the Great Commission; He has given us prayer as an instrumental means of accomplishing His purposes on earth. Take it seriously; believe it; do it.
Become a stake-holder.
Give to world missions: This means your personal time, treasure, and talent. If you want your people to “own” a love and concern for missionaries and reaching the world for Christ, you must become a stake-holder yourself. “If there’s fire in the pulpit, there will be fire in the pews,” applies to these very practical roles, as well. Figure out how to be personally involved financially and in stewardship to time and talent.
Hold values over sentiment.
Too often church missions commitments are founded on a sentimental relationship to the Pastor (or another key influencer). Later, it’s discovered that the ministry or missionary in question has little to no alignment with the church’s doctrine, intentions, or strategic focus. It’s much harder to undo those mistakes than it is to be thoughtful, intentional, and principled in choosing who and what the church will support from the beginning. Talk to others, even get outside help; but, do what you can to identify and codify key values for missions for your unique church prior to making corporate commitments. Learn how to say, “No,” to sentimental appeals and tangential connections. You and your church will be thankful over the long haul.
See-teach-preach missions in the Word.
There is no lack of resources to help in this area. The testimony of the entire span of Scripture is clear: God desires to bring glory to Himself in all nations. Genesis 12:1-3 unfolds all the way through to Revelation. From Jerusalem to “end of the earth” in Acts 1:8 is not sequential; it is simultaneous. Open your eyes and heart to see it. Then, faithfully teach, preach, and apply it to your congregation. Then, an interesting dynamic occurs. Not only are people more motivated to be interested and involved in world missions (and internationals around them) but there is a magnetic appeal for people to join with a leader and ministry that is not consumed with themselves.
It’s not a competition.
A common fear among pastors is that an emphasis on missions will have a negative impact on resources for local needs and local outreach. However, ministry resource winning is not a competition. It is not a zero-sum game. It is not a limited “who gets how big a slice of the pie” argument. Biblically, missions is core to what God wants. Missions is at the heart of every ministry of the church. Resourcing from the Lord is more like dipping water from a flowing river. The experience of most churches is that God meets all the needs when the church unselfishly and sacrificially supports missions.
Engage the whole church.
Part of our charge is to equip the saints for the work of ministry. In terms of missions, the paradigm changes from “leaders or committees or teams doing missions on behalf of the church” to “mobilizing the entire congregation to ownership of and personal involvement in missions.” It is our desire to see every church member, every growing Christian, become a “World Christian.” Comprise your church’s missions structure with people who think like that.
Delegation: trust but verify.
The Pastor does not have to provide all missions leadership, opportunity, and administration himself. However, delegation does not also mean just walking away from it. The Pastor does have a responsibility to see that this essential ministry is being done well. This implies that there must be a sound relationship with key players, good communication, and clear vision or goals to which the Pastor and missions leadership agree. The Pastor must unashamedly ask questions, applaud progress, encourage implementation, etc.
Go, touch, see, feel, taste, smell it for yourself.
As adults, experience is often the best teacher. “Better caught than taught,” applies. Plan to visit your church’s supported missionaries on their field of service. Resist the temptation to be trotted about in the limelight, with you at the center of attention. Go to shadow, learn, listen, ask questions, experience it. Feel the stress; taste the culture; see the opportunities; smell the commitment for yourself; touch the lives of your overseas workers. Wonderfully, these heart images will appear in your sermons back home. You will bond with these servants who are an extension of your own church and ministry. You will be better equipped to lead in this key area of your church.
Propempo International is experienced in providing counsel and resources to personally guide you and your church with tools and resources that enable you to be more biblical, effective, and strategic in your own missions story for the glory of God.
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