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Building the Foundation for Healthy Sending

We love the view from the top floor.

We love the finished product.

But the truth is that there is a lot of work to be completed before one can enjoy the view. Most of the work is done at the foundation level. Skyscrapers often take two or three years to just to complete the second floor. But once a foundation has been set the rest of the building goes along at a faster rate of speed.

The same can be said of Sending Churches. We hear a lot about churches who are sending out seemingly multitudes of people to their city, nation, and around the world. The truth is that these churches have put in countless hours of prayer, preparation, and establishing processes that are effective and efficient.

A few years ago The Upstream Collective identified seventeen important elements for Sending Churches. While it can be said there are no perfect Sending Churches, we do see some common practices of these churches that put them into a different level of sending than most.

The place to look is at what we call the Establishing Elements. These are crucial. These first elements are the foundation for your church and sending. Get these right and you are in position to see missions become part of the identity of your church and not just a program that competes with other programs.

What do healthy Sending Churches have in common?

They have a strong sense of mission awareness that permeates throughout the church. This can be witnessed in the Sunday gatherings through teaching, music, liturgies. It is present in the DNA of their small groups. You often see church buildings with dedicated space for mission activity and visibility.

They have solid mission convictions. They have done the hard work of writing these out and communicating them to the key influencers in the church. They know what they believe in when it comes to missions. They know what is important to them and this sets the stage for them to have clarity on their vision and strategy and budgeting.

They have a vision of what God is calling them to do as a church and are moving towards it with an effective sending strategy. They know their congregation and how God has uniquely shaped them with men and women utilizing their talents and skills to be on mission.

They have developed strategic partnerships in their city. They connect around the country for church planting opportunities. They seek out ways to engage internationals who live in their city. They have a few focused global partnerships. They have been able to create or identify mobilization pools within the church to help them mobilize their members to be on mission. This gives them direction in their mobilization and ways every member of their church can be involved on some level.

They have created a sending pipeline where they have a process for someone who has become mission activated and helps them move to serving locally or globally.

It is never too late to start. You may have some good mission activity going in your church but you need to work on these establishing elements, which give your church a mission identity that leads to sending healthy short-term teams and mid/long-term workers through a variety of sending pathways.

Next Steps

Want to learn more about our Sending Church Elements and Sending Pipeline?

Join Larry McCrary has he leads a 1.5 hour training on Creating a Sending Pipeline that will help you engage people in your city, country and around the world.


Larry is the co-founder and Executive Director of The Upstream Collective. He and his family have lived in Europe for nearly 20 years, where he has served in a variety of strategy and leadership roles. Prior to moving to Europe he was a church planter and pastor in the US. He is a co-author of Tradecraft: For the Church on Mission, The First 30 Daze: Practical Encouragement for Living Abroad Intentionally, and The MarketSpace: Essential Relationships Between the Sending Church, Marketplace Worker, and Missionary Team.

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