The Pastor Himself
Andrew Murray, the devotional writer, has described the missionary problem as a personal one. In his Key to the Missionary Problem, Murray speaks to the pastor: “The minister who has solved it for himself will also be able to lead others to find its solution in the constraining power of Christ’s love” (Murray 1979:146).
The pastor who honestly faces God with his own commitment, with a willingness to go anywhere and to serve God in any way, experiences an unusual freedom when he challenges members of his congregation to become involved in global missions. Thus, the pastor himself becomes a key resource for his flock in missions education.
Ten Ideas for the Pastor
These practical suggestions are given to aid the pastor in his desire to build a missions-minded church and to develop his members into Great Commission Christians.
1. Preach Missionary Sermons
As the pastor searches the Bible for messages he feels God is leading him to share with his people, he should be very sensitive to those passages which speak of missions. Members in the pew need to hear that missions comes directly from God’s Word.
2. Invite Missionary Speakers to the Church
Occasionally invite a home or foreign missionary to speak in the church, at worship services, and at other church meetings. Encourage these missionaries to share what they have seen God do in their areas of the world. They can share the progress as well as highlight the needs. If your denomination observes a special emphasis quarterly on foreign, home, or state missions, such seasons provide optimum opportunity for inviting a missionary speaker from that particular phase of mission work.
3. Lead the Church to Pray for Missions and Missionaries
Usually members in the pew attach a greater priority to something which is encouraged by the pastor. Some churches devote a regular part of the Sunday morning worship service to praying by name for a missionary or missionaries. Others designate a special time to pray for missionaries in Wednesday night Bible study and prayer time.
Pastors can help church members learn how to pray for missions and missionaries. An increasing number of books are being written in the area of how to pray for missions.
During a week’s focus on foreign missions, one pastor arranged to have a telephone hookup during the Sunday morning worship service with an overseas missionary couple from the church. Every person in the sanctuary could hear the conversation between the pastor and the missionaries. At the close of the telephone conversation, the pastor asked the missionary couple to join hands and also members of the congregation to join hands. An unusual sense of oneness was experienced as the pastor led congregation and missionaries in prayer.
4. Lead the Church to Give to Missions
The pastor who carries the world in his heart will encourage his congregation to give to missions. Without God’s perspective, congregations can easily spend money on themselves without considering needs of others beyond the walls of the church. A church should have a strong home base, but time and time again the church which intentionally and sacrificially gives to missions is blessed beyond measure in its home base.
The missions commitment of the pastor shared during budget-planning times often can help laymen to develop a global view and deeper concern for lost and needy people of the world. The pastor’s example in personal giving along with that of his family is his best way to teach about giving to missions.
5. Include a Call to Missions in Invitations
From time to time include in the regular invitation a call for missions. Most invitations are given for individuals to make public their decision of salvation or moving church membership. A call for missions commitment need not wait for a special time of missions emphasis in the church.
6. Nurture Individuals When They Respond to Mission Calling
Many people have made decisions for vocational Christian work and never received special encouragement from their pastor or church. These individuals need the opportunity to share what God is calling them to do. If theirs is a missions decision, they need guidance in how to contact the mission boards and also in knowing what they can do now through the local church while fleshing out the call. Nurturing the individual who is called into missions can be a rewarding experience for the pastor, or for someone the pastor designates to fill that role.
7. Take or Delegate a Leadership Role for Missions Education
Church members know when the pastor feels keenly about something. It is imperative, therefore, that the people see their pastor take the initiative in missions education or delegate it to others. Whether he delegates that role to a staff member or to lay leaders, he remains the recognized leader. In addition, he might enlist the help of a retired missionary couple or missionary on furlough to assist him and other missions leaders in processing available resources or help in cross-cultural training of members before they embark on an overseas mission trip.
Of course, the pastor cannot lead every detail, but his influence can be encouraging to those who do. Likewise, he can suggest that members of the budget-planning committee allow funds for printed missions education curriculum and new items being produced so that church members can be up to date on what is offered. He can encourage the nominating committee to seek their most qualified leaders to lead ongoing missions education.
The pastor can further strengthen missions leadership training by seeing that leaders take advantage of every opportunity to train on a local, associational, state, and national level.
8. Plan Vital, Exciting Churchwide Missions Events
These churchwide events could include such activities as mission studies or weeks of prayer. With so many attractive ways of learning available in the secular world, the church cannot afford to lose its opportunity to develop missions events of excellence. One excellent mission activity relates to leading the congregation to start a new church in some area where a church is needed.
The pastor cannot do all this himself, but he can ask God to raise up men and women—perhaps teachers or travelers with a heart for missions—to assist existing mission leaders in planning special missions events.
9. Plan, and Participate, Whenever Possible, in Missions
Include experiences such as mission trips, local missions activities, partnership missions, and missions events on a national and international level. The pastor’s involvement with the members adds impact to the mission experience both for the pastor and the people.
10. Lead Out in Creating Missions
Become personally knowledgeable about missions by reading journals from your mission boards and missions education organizations. Help people in the congregation to make the connection between current events and missions. For example, when a big earthquake shook Kobe, Japan, in 1995, did the average person in the church know how many missionaries were affected or how they responded to this crisis?
These ten suggestions should help church leaders guide the churches to become missions minded and missions active. By providing biblical and contemporary teachings, most Christians will develop some degree of mission minded-ness. In addition, there are other means or ways to heighten mission awareness.
Terry, John Mark, Ebbie C. Smith, and Justice Anderson. Missiology: An Introduction to the Foundations, History, and Strategies of World Missions. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1998.