So what do we do with a missionary?
By Phillip Lee Kesler
Walking into the average church – most people are happy to greet a missionary. Some want to ask questions; others want to share where they went on a mission trip; on occasion, a missionary may be asked to come up front and give a testimony. Rarely a missionary will be called to preach.
That’s about where it stops.
If you asked most people what a missionary does, you would get a whole variety of responses. Some would say “preach the gospel to the lost”; some would say “plant churches”; others would say “organize mission trips for volunteers” – and that would be the extent of the knowledge of most members.
If they only knew.
If they only understood how much a missionary could help them!
- Missionaries do preach the gospel and help plant churches. But they also train and equip local pastors and missionaries to continue the work in an effective manner — which is vital to mission continuation and multiplication!
- Missionaries can teach how to effectively employ social work / compassionate ministry along with the Gospel message in order to multiply church planting efforts and not create dependency among the host people.
- Missionaries train, equip, and mentor future leaders – looking to empower the next generation of pastors, missionaries, and seminary professors. Some missionaries have helped start whole new conventions and mission agencies from scratch!
- Missionaries often interview, coach, encourage, teach, and prepare sports professionals, businessmen/women, educators, health care workers, and other technical /professional people to work overseas among unreached peoples – how to appropriately share their faith and plant simple churches among new disciples in countries where access is a challenge.
- Missionaries can help churches and church staff teams how to prepare their volunteers to go overseas and work in a responsible manner that leaves a lasting impact for the Kingdom; but all too often, what churches actually do is tantamount to “voluntourism”—an overseas experience that really doesn’t accomplish much, but uses an inordinate amount of time, resources, creates dependency, etc. — but the sending church feels good that they “did missions” and will probably do the same exact thing year after year, if not coached appropriately.
- Missionaries are connected to each other and know where the greatest needs are, for those serious about working overseas professionally in restricted areas (among Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Communists, etc).
- Missionaries know how to train people how to share their faith and make disciples among hard to reach peoples and to do so naturally in conversation. Ask them.
- Many missionaries can lead mission mobilization events, missionary training events, and pastor’s conferences – inspiring messages and dynamic teaching. They can teach potential mission candidates about basic anthropology, language classes, etc.
- Many missionaries can teach simple church planting strategies (i.e. cell groups) for expanding ministries into communities where most local churches have little or no influence – among Diaspora peoples (immigrants, refugees, etc).
So…..the next time a missionary enters your church…… what will you ask of them NOW?