The seventh principle for missions at our church is “Support the Missionary”. The next several blogs will be about supporting the missionary.
Perhaps the most important element in supporting a missionary is to make sure the potential candidate for missions is both called by God and equipped to do the work of ministry. Many missionary endeavors fail to produce fruit because the missionary is not properly vetted.
Many times, faithful followers of Christ get inspired at conferences like Urbana or by a speaker who is gifted and has a Spirit-inspired message about missions. Other times, people go on a short-term missionary assignment and get moved by the experience. As a result, a person declares his/her intention of becoming a missionary and everyone sings the Hallelujah chorus.
These are all rich and bond fide experiences, which can, indeed, lead to a call by God into the mission field… or it may not.
One element that is often missing is the affirmation of the church in the process of sending someone into the field. This is different from joining the Hallelujah chorus.
Anyone who becomes a missionary needs to first be tested and proven within the local church. They should have a community of faith who know them and have seen them in action. They should be able to affirm their gifting and effectiveness as well as their character reflecting the Fruit of the Spirit. If the missionary candidate has any areas of shortcoming, the fellowship of believers should point them out so that the aspirant for missions has an opportunity to deal with it before he/she is sent.
Too often missionaries are sent overseas by a parachurch organization and a host of churches without one church being the primary sender and, most importantly, the primary source of vetting and affirmation.
In Acts 13:2-3, the church at Antioch was the primary sender of two missionaries whom they knew well. The Lord speaks to the church and not just the missionaries. The account says, “While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’” Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.
The Lord didn’t just send anyone. He sent two seasoned leaders in the church and used the church to affirm their calling.
If you feel that the Lord is calling you into missions, would you consider the following:
1. Are you active and serving within your local church family?
2. Is there a wide group of people your church family who will attest to your character and effectiveness in ministry?
3. Are you willing to be trained and prepared for the mission field even if it means delaying your departure?
4. Are you willing to submit to your church family even if they counsel you against entering the mission field at this time?
The mission field is hard. Harder than most people imagine or have experienced on a short-term basis.
The best way to enter the mission’s field is to make sure you belong there.
Something to think about…