Everyone who is considering the call to foreign missions should take the time to consider these posts and to evaluate theirself. As you read this and see that there are areas that you are not prepared do not get discouraged. Simply decide to work on those areas. Get prepared. Be sure that you will be ready to do the work that God has called you to do.
There is no intention in the writing of these posts to discourage you. They are simply written to help you see if you are ready for the work that lies before you. In most professions there are required classes, state wide testing, certifications, etc that must be had. In mission work, especially faith based ministries, those requirements are often lax or do not exist. Actually this doesn’t help but really hurts the cause of Christ, the individual and the work. So what if you could take the time to really review your own life and ministry and make sure that you are ready, prepared for the mission field.
This is a continuation of the thoughts expressed in Prepared 1, Prepared 2, and Prepared 3. Please carefully read each one. You may not agree with all of my opinions and conclusions but at least, maybe, it will help you think through what you are doing. If you are a pastor maybe it will help you help your missionary member as he prepares for the field. I hope you will be a friend, mentor, and real help to him or her. The last thing that they need is for you to simply rubber stamp their call to the minstry.
1.Name 3 specific goals that you have for your ministry in the next year, and then in the next five years.
Do you know what you should be trying to accomplish when you get to the field? Do you know what to aim for? If you have no idea what the finished product is supposed to look like then obviously this will hinder the work. A carpenter knows what he is building. You know what your abilities are and what you are to do.
It is hard to lie down at night if you have not finished your job. Do you know what your job is? It will be hard to come back on furlough and report to churches about what you did if you just let “the chips fall where they may!” You must know what you are to get done to know if you got it done!
So what should you accomplish in the very near future? What are the first steps? What can you check off your to do list as done? Can you know if you did what you were supposed to do? No, it is not as cut and dried as this may sound but there is still great truth here. You must have a goal. You must know what you are working towards. If you do not know then you will feel like a failure. If you do not know what to shoot for then you may wander aimlessly in the wilderness. That will get old and monotonous.
After the first year and your work is well under way what should you expect to accomplish in the next five years. What should you plan on in your first term? What would be the minimum to accomplish? What steps do you need to take to accomplish these goals?
It is not my plan here to tell you all of this. If it were as simple as a one page paper then I would just lay it out for you and you would be there. I would like to suggest some books that you need to read. These books will at least get you started studying and learning what your goals are.
2.What ministry experience do you have?
It is good that you have thought through what you are supposed to accomplish in the first year and then in the first five years. There are many books that I suggest you read. There are classes you can and should take. But the real question is, just how much experience do you have doing any of what you are supposed to do when you get there?
-How many times have you preached?
-How many Sunday School lessons have you taught?
-How many people have you led to Christ?
-How many people have you discipled that are still faithful to Christ?
-How many times have you been responsible to plan what you will be doing?
-How many times have you been the one that planned what an entire group of people would be doing?
-How many times have you lead an entire service?
-How many times have you baptized?
-How many times have you trusted God to meet your needs?
-How many times have you seen God answer your prayers?
-How many times have you had to deal with loneliness and frustration and God has given you the victory with no outside help?
No matter how much you read, how well you remember what you read, etc it is still just theory if you have never done any of it.
Getting on an airplane does not make you a missionary. Crossing the ocean will not do anything magical to you. It is time to practice now.
It is my strong suggestion that you get with your pastor right now. Take the above list and tell him you want training and experience in everyone of these areas. Do the ministry now. Prove your weapons so when you are finally on the battle field, alone, you will know how to use your weapons.
This is why God put us all in a local church. It is our training ground. It is where God puts us in contact with people to learn what to do. The church is like your family. They are to raise you up to be full grown, mature Christians and workers. Doing the work of God is not about some miracle happening to you and getting you through everything. It is about you learning, being taught how to do the work. So get to work. Start practicing your work. See God do something now.
I must add a paragraph here for someone on the field that is reading this. You are now thinking that you were not ready when you got to the field. You want to use this article as an excuse to quit. This is being written for the guy or gal that is preparing. It is not written to discourage you or cause you to quit.
You can make changes now, where you are. You can get a mentor. You can get with others that can help you where you are. There is hope. You should not quit.
3.Do you have a minimum of two years of faithful service in the ministry of your local church? This would include your wife and children and their faithfulness to be involved in the church and its ministries.
We go to the field to do church work. We will win people to Christ, baptize them, form churches, and then lead churches to do the work of God. If you are not a church person then how can you go do such a work.
There are some ministries that would be outside the church and maybe not find the church to be important but I would have no respect for that attitude. The only way to carry out the Great Commission is to start and leave indigenous churches. How else do we “teach them observe all things whatsoever He has commanded us?”
You need the church. The church needs you. If you do not know how to work in and through a church then how will you teach people on the mission field to do that.
I recently had the opportunity to talk to an 89 year old missionary. He had served in Peru way back in the 1960s. He had started his ministry in evangelism. They moved from town and village to town and village. One day he realized that there was no follow up. The people made professoins of faith but had no church. They werent getting baptized. They werent getting together to learn how to live out their faith.
He left that ministry to become a church planter. He started a church. Help them get a building. He left the church running its own minisry, with a building, and over 250 in attendance. That church has since started 8 or 9 other churches that are continuing on faitfhul to the Lord Jesus. That is your goal.
So the question that might seem simple and out of place is right on target. Are you a faithful, serving member of a local church? Do you attend? Do you serve?
-Do you give and support the ministry?
-Do you help and respect the pastor?
-Do you dream about helping your church accomplish God’s plan for them?
You might ask why I mentioned two years. I just picked a minimum number to use, actually. I hate to see people that do whatever it takes to get accepted as a missionary but it is not their heart. It is not in them. So the church ends up being a means to an end. I will go to church if that is what you require but I do not see the importance they seem to say.
I hate that. The church is a tool that Christ gave us. It is for the end of glorifying Jesus. But remember that in the Bible, Jesus is the head of the church. The church is the body of Christ. How can I have a flippant attitude about the church of Jesus Christ. You may say that is talking about the “universal church!” I would say to you that the Bible uses the church mostly to discuss the local church. Letters were written to specific churches dealing with specific issues.
Quit dodging the importance of the local church. Get in the church, the local one, with real people that have real needs. The local church that really cares about people, that really does the work of God.
The church is the way God works in our time. Get in the church and do the work. Love the church so much that you will want to build something like that for the people God has sent you to minister to.
As you have been reading here I hope you beginning to work on what you need to do to get ready for the mission field. Your churhc is the place to do just that. Learn to work with real people in real life! Don’t just read about it and learn theory.
I welcome your comments and your questions. I would love to discuss this with you. Feel free to leave your comments below. I will answer.
Check out these books. I know that I have mentioned them before but you need them.