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How to Have a Missions-Minded Church: The Pastor

In the Nick of Time

Jeff Straub

Seminary professors who come to the classroom with missionary and pastoral experience can offer immense practical value to men preparing for ministry. I recently observed my fortieth anniversary of preaching the gospel. I began vocational ministry a few years later, in the fall of 1980, and spent a total of nineteen years in ministry in Canada: eleven as a supported missionary in Manitoba and then another eight years as a missionary-supporting pastor in southern Ontario. When I began to teach missions courses eight years ago, I determined to teach the classes so that both prospective missionaries and prospective pastors could benefit. I think that both the missionary and the supporting church need to think about the task of world evangelism deliberately and philosophically. Missionaries have only a few years to serve the Lord and churches have limited resources to devote to missions. Shouldn’t we use our time and money carefully to maximize our efforts?

Many pastors want to increase their church’s commitment to missions. My second ministry, a church plant, provided me the opportunity to begin a missions program from scratch. In my next ministry, I pastored a church that had never had a regular missions program. They gave funds occasionally to missionaries as they came through town, but the church had no monthly, systematic plan for the promotion and support of missions. It was a blessing to institute such a program. I was able to lead these churches to embrace a plan for supporting missions based on my experience as a missionary and my sensibilities as a pastor. I have since offered these ideas to our seminary students.

A missions-minded pastor is foundational for developing a missions-minded church. Pastors cannot lead their people to places they are not willing to go themselves. If a pastor wants his church to be committed to the Great Commission, he must be dedicated to it himself. But where to begin? How does a pastor become missions-minded?

First, pastors need to cultivate the discipline of knowing missionaries—friends from seminary, missionaries that the church supports, and other missionaries with whom they become acquainted. Pastors should read their letters, answer their emails and talk to them on the phone, ask them questions, and otherwise enter into their lives. Supporting churches are an essential part of the modern missionary movement, so the pastor must take an active role in knowing the church’s missionaries. If the pastor cannot name the missionary families of the church, how can the congregation be expected to remember them?

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Can I insert an admonition? Ask any experienced missionary and he will tell you that pastors are notorious for poor communication. They often don’t answer email in a timely fashion and they don’t return phone calls from a missionary. Some pastors may argue that they don’t have time to answer every request from a prospective missionary. To be honest, I am a little befuddled by this attitude. Pastors do not have time to send a thoughtful response or speak briefly with a missionary seeking to raise support? Ask your missionaries how discouraging this is to them. All missionaries know that not every church they contact can support them. But surely there is a courteous way to say no, personally and directly.  I had occasion to call a church one time on other business and the secretary grilled me to make sure I wasn’t a missionary. “The pastor doesn’t take calls from missionaries,” I was informed. This is appalling. We ask men and women to follow Christ but we do not have time to hear their burden or consider their need? We cannot pray “Lord, send laborers!” and then say “Missionary, I am too busy to answer you!” A church led in this way will hardly become missions-minded.

Second, having gotten to know missionaries, the pastor should cultivate the habit of praying for them. Pray for their marriages and children, their health and safety, their language skills and cultural adjustment, their financial needs, and their homesickness. Pray for the flourishing of their ministries and the success of the gospel. They need it and the pastor will benefit from the discipline of prayer. Pray for them publicly and privately, in your home and from your pulpit. Let the people of the church hear you bring the names of the church’s missionaries before the throne of grace. I was recently at a service in which my son presented his ministry. At the end of the service the pastor led the congregation in a very thoughtful prayer for my son and his family as they returned to the mission field. He prayed both for their lives and for their ministries. It was a thoughtful prayer that went on for more than five minutes. It was powerful listening to this brother pray for my kids and their ministry before the Lord. This is a missions-minded pastor—it is no coincidence that he leads a missions-minded church!

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Third, a pastor cultivates missions-mindedness by communicating with missionaries. Call them on the phone, or use one of the myriad video-conferencing tools available today. Communicate with them if you want them to communicate with you. A church’s missionaries should rightly be viewed as an extension of the church’s ministry. As a pastor would talk to the pastoral staff, to his secretary, or to the youth workers, he should see it as a basic responsibility to talk regularly with the church’s missionaries. Call one or two each month. It doesn’t require a 45-minute commitment. Take five minutes to reach out and say hello. “We are praying for you!” “Thank you for your service!” “What more can we do to help?” Listen to them, ask questions, and tell them about the home front. Remember Proverbs 25:25: “Good news from a far country is like a drink of cold water to a thirsty soul!” A small investment of time can pay huge dividends in world evangelism. Your call may be just the thing the Lord uses to encourage the missionary to stay in the battle.

Finally, there are few things that increase the pastor’s burden for missions like visiting missionaries on the field. This is particularly important if you are a sending church pastor. Have you actually seen the work the church supports? Have you spent time on the field with your missionaries? Some might ask, “How can the church afford to do this?” This is entirely backwards: if they are your missionaries, shouldn’t you see their field, their work, their homes, and their lives for yourself? This will help you lead the church to better minister to them. You have seen with your own eyes and experienced the sights and smells, the poverty and the beauty, the challenges and the blessings of their ministry. If a church cannot afford to do this, can it really act as a sending church?

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Becoming a missions-minded pastor takes work, but it pays big rewards for ministry. It is the practical foundation for establishing a missions-minded church.

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This essay is by Jeff Straub, Professor of Historical and Systematic Theology at Central Baptist Theological Seminary. Not every one of the professors, students, or alumni of Central Seminary necessarily agrees with every opinion that it expresses.

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Creator Spirit, By Whose Aid
Translated from Latin to English by John Dryden (1631–1700)

Creator Spirit, by whose aid
The world’s foundations first were laid,
Come, visit every pious mind;
Come, pour Thy joys on human kind;
From sin, and sorrow set us free;
And make Thy temples worthy Thee.

O Source of uncreated Light,
The Father’s promised Paraclete!
Thrice holy fount, thrice holy fire,
Our hearts with heav’nly love inspire;
Come, and Thy sacred unction bring
To sanctify us, while we sing!

Plenteous of grace, descend from high,
Thou strength of His almighty hand,
Whose power does Heav’n and earth command:
Proceeding Spirit, our defense,
Who dost the gift of tongues dispense,
And crown Thy gift with eloquence!

Refine and purge our earthly parts;
But, oh, inflame and fire our hearts!
Our frailties help, our vice control;
Submit the senses to the soul;
And when rebellious they are grown,
Then, lay Thy hand, and hold them down.

Create all new; our wills control,
Subdue the rebel in our soul;
Make us eternal truths receive,
And practice all that we believe;
Give us Thyself, that we may see
The Father and the Son by Thee.

Immortal honor, endless fame,
Attend th’almighty Father’s name:
The Savior Son be glorified,
Who for lost man’s redemption died:
And equal adoration be,
Eternal Paraclete, to Thee.

About Guest Author

This guest article has been published because an editor has determined its contents to be supportive of the values of Religious Affections Ministries. Its publication does not imply full agreement between its author and RAM on other matters.

One Response to How to Have a Missions-Minded Church: The Pastor

  1. Greetings in the Powerful name of Jesus Christ ,

    It is my hope your well and you continue better with God’s work.
    Also we are together spiritually and freshly. We continue better with God’s
    work.

    I ‘m pastor Daudi Thomas Msimbe and my wife Georgina we are
    Founders & Directors of a church of Great Vision Pentecostal and
    Ministry of People Shipping Centre (by leadership of the holly
    spirit) since 2003 we started this work of God and now we have
    Twelve years in the ministry , but now is already registered by
    country laws.
    Our registration number is so. 14120. Also we have no permanent place
    for worshiping God. We have some place we pay for every month.

    The purpose of this letter to you servant of God is to need
    friendship (please read the book of Malachi 2:7) So that to be
    have benefit together in the body of Christ and God’s work continue
    forward means all we are unity in body of Christ(1 Corinthians
    12:7,12-27) I and My church and I we need Contacts So that we need
    saving God with you together. Thank you for your cooperation between
    you and our ministry.

    We expect you to give us your program and ways how to to do the
    work of God, And if possible to send kinds of spiritually books and
    tracts for evangelism.So that the work of God can continue well and
    growth because I know our country is peacefully.

    Greet all believers in the name of the Lord (1 Thess 5:26)

    first of all we need your prayers.

    You are most welcome to Arusha Tanzania in East Africa

    Have a blessed day

    Senior Pastor Daudi Thomas Msimbe

    Founder & Director

    GVPC & MPSC

    P.O Box 13437

    Arusha-Tanzania
    East Africa

    Tel:+255 754 22 84 77
    +255 755 56 54 73
    +255 787 14 78 33

    Attached herewith please find the following;

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