A few months before the global pandemic hit, I wrote a post about characteristics of missions-minded churches. One of my points was that their pastor “bleeds” for the nations. The COVID-19 crisis may have shut down most mission trips, but these pastors are still seeking ways to reach the nations. Here are some more-specific characteristics of these pastoral leaders:
- They themselves have wrestled with the possibility of a call to missions. In fact, they usually get to the field as often as possible as long as their health allows. Some, I’m sure, will spend much of their retirement overseas.
- They’ve usually been at their church a number of years. My point is not that they’ve somehow just developed a Great Commission heart over the years; it’s instead that they’ve patiently and persistently led their congregation from an inward focus to an outward one. Their tenure has paid off in a changed missions DNA in the church.
- They’re unafraid to send out their best church members for the sake of the nations. To put it simply, they see the needs of the world as greater than their desire to keep God’s best in their little kingdom. Sending brings them joy.
- They lead their church to prioritize global giving in their budgets. In many cases, they’ve been the primary proponent of giving sacrificially to the nations—though they’ve now raised up enough members with the same heart that maintaining this priority isn’t difficult.
- They know missionaries by name, and they pray for them regularly—in most situations I know, in fact, every day. I’ve been in some pastors’ offices whose walls are covered with names and pictures of missionary families for whom they pray. You can read their heart by the missionary cards on their walls.
- They readily share their pulpit with missionaries to tell their stories. They understand that only a missionary can really tell the story with personal brokenness, sacrifice, and commitment. And, these pastors know the gospel is a Great Commission Bible story—so sacrificing their “sermon” time is not difficult.
- They don’t miss the outwardly-focused heart of God every time it appears in the Bible. They know the message resounds from Genesis to Revelation, and they want their church to recognize its predominance in the Word.
- They willingly encourage their own children and grandchildren to consider a missionary calling. This characteristic might be, in fact, the strongest test of their Great Commission focus. It’s a different matter when your own offspring are called to a dangerous world, but these pastors live what they teach.
What characteristics would you add to this list?