Partnership with the Local Church
When Your Sending Church Can No Longer Send
In this article, part of a series discussing barriers to serving in mission, a former field missionary explores a crucial requirement for serving overseas: a sending church.
Everything was falling into place, or so I thought. I had followed God’s call to serve overseas and begun raising support to join a team working with the unreached. Throughout this process, my home church had been my source of encouragement and support. They prayed for me when I was appointed to an organization, supported me with prayers and finances during my survey trip and were excited about the direction God was leading.
Not long after beginning the support raising process, though, it became apparent that my church would be dissolving and its members would disperse. “God, how can this be happening?” I wondered. I had spent years building community with these people. Starting over seemed impossible. Would a church send someone overseas whom they only met a year or two ago? I felt ill-equipped for this next part of the journey, but knew moving forward, prayerfully, was my only option.
I had spent years building community with these people. Starting over seemed impossible. Would a church send someone overseas whom they only met a year or two ago?
Unexpectedly, the next step took me to a small church that had never sent anyone overseas. After attending and making connections with people for a couple of months, I took another step: I met with the pastor. Then, over a two-year period, I met several times with the church leadership. The more I talked to them about serving overseas, the clearer my focus and intention became.
God used the time I spent engaging my new community about overseas work to confirm and cement the initial call He had placed on my heart. He also used this time to prepare my new church family to send me out. At times the process seemed painfully slow, but God was always at work. Two years and many steps later, I boarded a plane, grateful for the community of this small church now sending me out as their first overseas worker.
Find yourself in a similar situation, for whatever reason? Keep these tips in mind:
1. Stay in touch.
Continue to keep individuals from your previous church involved in your process. Even if you are not attending the same church, they may still be interested in being a part of your journey.
2. Nurture new relationships.
Help your new fellowship connect with the vision God has given you. Build a small group of people in your new fellowship who can track with you in the process and can be your connection to the rest of the community once you are overseas. Ask them to pray and participate in the steps you take towards the field.
3. Serve in the church.
Be willing to get involved in ministries and events in your new church for a season while you are raising support. This will help create more connection between you and the people God has called to join your journey.
4. Make introductions.
Connect your new church leadership with your sending organization, especially if they have a church partnership team or church liaison.
Starting over with a new church can be difficult. You may find it difficult to slow down and take the time to build a sending foundation when you’re itching to get overseas. But it can also be a great opportunity for God to build a strong sending community around you. Trust your long-term goals to God and be faithful with the next ones He is asking you to take.
- The article Five Practical Ways to Be a Great Sending Church.
- Books like Steve Beirn’s Well Sent: Reimagining the Church’s Missionary-Sending Process.
- Resources for churches from Catalyst Services, including their Sending New Missionaries packages.
We have a dedicated team of mission mentors whose heart is to listen to your story, help you discern where God is leading you and pray with you in your next steps.
Megan is a First Term Consultant on Pioneers-USA’s member development team. She served in South Asia for two years.
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