“My wife and I are going to Southern Sudan for the entire month of June.” I announced with joy to my congregation.
We had sought God’s will as Husband and Wife.
I had prayed with, and sought counsel from my fellow Elders.
Immediately well meaning congregants admonished us for putting ourselves in harm’s way when there was so much work to be done here for the Lord. They reminded us that they’d had many Pastors in the course of the 155 year history of the Church, none of whom had ever felt the need to do anything dangerous or risky.
“Whatever the reason, the question lingered: Why would the Pastor go on a mission trip?”
Perhaps it didn’t help that the “CHURCH AROUND THE WORLD: News Of Significance To Christians” insert in that week’s bulletin had highlighted some of the persecution going on in Southern Sudan. Whatever the reason, the question lingered: Why would the Pastor go on a mission trip? Sure, some reasoned, we support the lifers with finances and the occasional potluck. Sure, we may send the youth group on a tropical vacation mission trip where they regale impoverished children with the power of their ipads and take much needed construction jobs from grown men in desperate need of employment.
But the Pastor? THERE? Why?
If your Church does not already have a vibrant, Christ glorifying heart for global missions then it will be hard to stoke the embers of missionary zeal dying in your people’s hearts if you can not testify to the goodness of the mission first hand. In other words, dear Pastor brother, you will be a far more effective advocate of mission work if you yourself, 1. have gone on a mission trip, and 2. have gone on a mission trip recently.
A.) In my case, I have never been out of the country. This is not due to fear or Jonah syndrome. No, this is due to circumstance and schedules and all the other “things” that prevent us from doing that which we have always purposed in our hearts to do one fine day. After I go to Southern Sudan I will be a much better advocate for others to follow the Apostles examples.
B.) Pastor friend, perhaps you have gone on a mission trip: when you were a wee lad in youth group 25 years ago. This is wonderful. You have walked in obedience, taking the message of salvation in Christ to the ends of earth. However, wouldn’t your zeal and testimony to God’s powerful heart for the nations be all the more potent if you had gone recently?
If we want our people to be supporting mission work with their prayers, wallets and talents, then it is most effective to our cause to lead by example.
“If we want our people to be supporting mission work with their prayers, wallets and talents, then it is most effective to our cause to lead by example.”
2. As Pastors we have a zeal to make His name known to all peoples, in all nations, in all ways.
Psalm 96:3 says with joy: “Declare His Glory among the nations, His marvelous works among all the peoples!” (ESV)
As leaders of a local Assembly we have the honor of telling the lost among the nations about the hope we have in Jesus Christ. As leaders of the American Church we have the honor of fellowshipping with our shepherd brothers around the world and telling them what God is doing among the peoples of our nation. Let us bring Good news in every form.
3. As Shepherds of the Church we are to have working knowledge of all ministries the Church implements.
This does not mean that you are to run every ministry. The Senior Pastor does not have to volunteer every Wed. night at the children’s ministry. You should, however, know what is going on. Pastor, you should show up once and a while and make an appearance. While not every ministry is necessarily your baby: every ministry is still important. If that ministry isn’t important then why is God’s Church’s resources being used on it?
“While not every ministry is necessarily your baby: every ministry is still important.”
If mission work is worthy of support, and it is, then you should have some first hand working knowledge of what it is all about!
Pastor brother, I sincerely hope that you did not become a Pastor rather than a firefighter for the mere reason that you are fearful of fire. I sincerely hope that you did not become a Pastor rather than a Police officer for the mere reason that you are fearful of the bad guys. I sincerely hope that you did not become a Pastor rather than a soldier because you are fearful of blood and risk. I hope with all my being that my brother Pastors are not Pastors because they thought the Pastorate would be safe.
We are not called to safety.
We are called to full service to our King.
“We are not called to safety.“
While I admit that there is a vocal minority that has risen to prominance as of late advocating pastoral machismo, I still nonetheless urge you to remember that we are called to be brave, not because we are tough, but because we have sober mindedly weighted the risk of any and every ministry opportunity compared to the sovereign power of our Lord and have found Christ Jesus to be more than enough.
We know God’s exhortation to Joshua to be courageous. We know Paul’s exhortation to Timothy to be a man of God. We know what the book of Revelation says about the destiny of cowards. We know.
I am happy to say that my wife and I will be going to Southern Sudan for the month of June with Africa Inland Mission. We will be working at Emmanuel Christian Training Center which is a Bible College and k-12 school. I will be teaching Pastors about the qualifications to be a Pastor/Elder that Paul writes about in 1 Timothy 3:1-7. May God do His wonders.
May God stoke the Pastor’s hearts for missions, and may the Pastor’s zeal spread to his congregation.