I love missions and missionaries—and I’m deeply grateful for churches that take the Great Commission seriously. Here are some of the characteristics I’ve seen in these churches:
- They genuinely believe that all people must hear the gospel to become Christian. They know the Bible’s teaching about lostness and salvation, and that truth motivates them to take the good news to the corners of the globe. Any weakened commitment to the gospel doesn’t lead to a long-term Great Commission passion.
- Their pastor “bleeds” for the nations. I know that’s a dramatic statement, but it accurately expresses what I’ve seen. Strong missions-minded churches are led by pastors who usually wonder why God hasn’t yet freed them to go to the nations.
- They’ve adopted an unreached people group to pray for—and they make sure they pray for them in worship services and small groups. They usually find their group through missionaries they know or through organizations like the International Mission Board (SBC) or Joshua Project. Typically, a staff member or layperson keeps this burden in front of the church.
- They measure their growth not only by the numbers they bring in and disciple, but also by the number of members they send out on short-term or long-term missions commitments. In fact, reaching only their local community without affecting the nations would be unacceptable to them.
- The pastor and staff “call out the called” to go throughout North America and the world. That is, they don’t wait until a church member comes to them with an expressed call; rather, they assume that God’s working among their members—and they challenge believers to go.
- Regular mission trips—often including a trip that families might take together—are part of the church’s DNA. Both the church’s calendar and its budget show this priority, and the leaders intentionally prioritize promoting these trips. A guest isn’t at the church very long before hearing this passion.
- They give sacrificially toward missions. Some churches budget to support individual missionaries, and some take special offerings for missions—but the level of their giving is often surprising, regardless of the church’s size. Sacrifice marks the congregation.
- They know that doing missions means not only going overseas, but also going across the street. Strong missions-minded churches understand that the Great Commission includes reaching their Jerusalem and the ends of the earth (Matt 28:18-20, Acts 1:8).
- They take good care of missionaries they send around the world. Commissioning them and sending them out are only early steps in their care of cross-cultural workers. They pray for them, provide care packages for them, regularly send short-term teams to support them, and keep the church informed about them (often, through meeting with them via electronic means).
- They provide—and typically require—training for anyone participating in a short-term trip. They know how easy it is to make cultural blunders, to fail to present the gospel clearly, or to create unnecessary hindrances for missionaries on the ground. Thus, they do what they can to help limit these issues.
How does your church compare to this list? What would you add?