So, you heard a talk by David Platt about the urgency of missions. Maybe you attended Cross Conference or Passion and were moved by the stories of past and current missionaries. Perhaps you came across a heart-breaking statistic about the number of deaths among an unreached people group. Now you want to go to the ends of the earth for the sake of the gospel. How wonderful!
I know the feeling. The way I often describe my story is that my eyes were opened to lostness in the world. And from that moment, there was nothing more important in my life.
For me, the Lord used two experiences to draw me to the field. First, I was impacted when I considered that millions in the Middle East had never heard the gospel. Second, I was stirred when I heard that Christians were leaving the region to flee difficulties, persecution, stability, and better opportunities in the West. Because so many were leaving, I felt called to go back.
I was ready to drop everything in my life to follow Jesus. I trust you feel similarly. So, what should you do? You could search Google and reach out to one of the hundreds of missions organizations that will help you get to where you want to go. Most offer training, guidance, and a way to raise financial support. Should this be your first step? No.
Don’t side-step your local church. You need them, and they need you. Let’s consider together three reasons you need your church and one way you can bless your church as you seek to serve Christ in a cross-cultural setting.
Invite Your Church to Help You Discern Your Call
I don’t know about you, but when there’s something I want, it’s nearly impossible to get me to change my mind. Now, I’m a Christian, so I’ll certainly bring it to our Lord in prayer. But it’s amazing how clearly and quickly I think I hear “yes” when I pray for something I really want.
But it’s amazing how clearly and quickly I think I hear “yes” when I pray for something I really want.
Our emotions are deceptive, and our hearts alone are not trustworthy. As you consider where to go and when to go, how will you discern this calling apart from your church? On your own, I’m certain you will hear “you can go wherever you want, and you can go now.”
There are needs everywhere. Opportunities can be found all over the world. How will you rightly decide? You need your church to speak into these decisions (Proverbs 1:1–7).
My wife and I were invited to several different countries to consider joining the work there. Each of these places were all exciting and were filled with great needs. I can’t imagine having to process everything we experienced without our pastor who traveled along with us. He shepherded us by considering what we couldn’t have on our own. You need your church to help you discern your destination and your calling.
Invite Your Church to Train You for Overseas Work
The local church is the greatest preparation ground for missions. Yes, concentrated training for evangelism, cultural contextualization, and language learning can be provided through missions agencies; but the foundation of all of this is first found in the church.
The local church is the greatest preparation ground for missions.
It’s through the church that you learn and experience the importance of God’s Word lived out in community. It’s where you are discipled and have opportunities to disciple. It’s in your church that you grow in prayer, Bible reading, and other spiritual disciplines (Ephesians 4:11–16). If you aren’t doing these things at your home church, don’t expect that you’ll begin doing them on the field where it’s harder and you’re not in a familiar place.
Dear brother and sister, you may not be ready for the field. Passion, itself, isn’t sufficient for faithful missions. Your life needs to be observed and poured into, and your local church can best train and assess you.
Invite Your Church to Send You to the Nations
As your church sees your gifting, training, and maturity, they’re the ones who send you. It’s your church that verifies your faith and blesses you for mission. They are accountable over your soul, and when they commission you, they’re not only affirming your call but declaring to the world that you are ready for gospel ministry.
It’s your church that verifies your faith and blesses you for mission.
This is the biblical model for missions. In Luke 10, we see Christ send out the 70. We see it in the early church and in the life of Paul, Timothy, and others (Acts 13). And so it ought to also direct our missions sending.
Strengthening Your Church’s Love for the Nations
As you work through your call in the ways mentioned above, not only are you benefited, you also bless your church by inviting them into the process. Yes, there are some churches that will send hundreds of people out, but most will never send one. Don’t take the opportunity away from your church to participate and grow in its global vision.
Not everyone is called to go, but as you are, you can strengthen your church’s love for the lost across the globe. Through your faithfulness to follow Jesus in this way, they will be stirred up in their own following of Christ.
What an opportunity you can provide for your church to join you in prayer and partnership for the sake of the gospel to the ends of the earth! Don’t side-step your local church as you consider going. And don’t neglect the local church in your new context either.