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Four Types of Sending Churches: Shotgun Sending Church

As we have mentioned, the shotgun approach to global missions is not the tier we want churches to stay in. But this tier does, unfortunately, define where most American churches are today. A Shotgun Sending Church likely understands that the Great Commission is meant for all nations, but in their preaching they mainly focus on making disciples and forget to share the object of that sentence, “of all nations.” Global missions, for these churches, is more of a side project than what drives the mission of the church.

David Horner writes, “When missions shapes the mission of the church, the significance of what we are called to do transforms what could be routine and mundane into what should be profound and meaningful. Lighting the fire of missions under a congregation sets them in motion and ignites their passions in a way that is hard to extinguish once it gets started.” (3)

When global missions shapes the mission of the church, the church is radically transformed from thinking inwardly only, to thinking both inwardly and outwardly as a church.

This is unfortunate for the Shotgun Sending Church. Rather than thinking proactively or strategically, they are involved in whatever comes their way and what their budget allows. Often, if this type of church is involved in many places around the world, it’s because they have a hard time saying no more than because of their proactivity. Their strategy in global missions is to keep church members happy and to check a box of global missions.

"Rather than thinking proactively or strategically, the Shotgun Sending Church is involved in whatever comes their way and what their budget allows."

Some of this type of church may have a great heart in wanting to be a blessing to as many as possible, but forget that the Bible rarely talks about fairness when it comes to stewarding resources. These churches may send a short-term trip, but they haven’t thought about whether that short-term trip will help or hurt the field. They may send a missionary, but that’s because that person went to a conference and heard about God’s heart for the world, not because of the church’s intentionality in raising up sent ones. The sent one may or may not be awesome and they may or may not exhibit the foundational qualities of a qualified sent one. The church doesn’t have a vision beyond blindly trusting a missions agency to tell them yes or no so they do not have to make those hard decisions.

The Pitfalls of a Shotgun Sending Church

The Shotgun Sending Church does not excel in being a great sending church. They are missing the opportunity to engage their members in the grand vision of God bringing all nations to know him and using his people as ambassadors to do so. This hard challenge is not simply to make your church feel guilty today, but rather to encourage your church to live into who God created his church to be: the institution by which he would make known his glory amongst the nations.

No matter which of the previously discussed sending churches you are (save the Shotgun Church), live into the capacity and calling that God gave you. It may not be your final destination as a church. Maybe your church will move up the ladder of capacity and one day go from a Missionary Care Church to a Strategic Sending Church or from a Strategic Sending Church to a Team Sending Church. But today, live into who you are as a church for the next season of life. Be who God called you to be for that season and pray that he might give your church the blessing of seeing a greater capacity and impact of sending to the nations. Admit your limitations, but pray for the growth, through the Spirit, to overcome these limitations.


Mike Easton is the International Program Manager for Reliant Mission. Prior to that Mike was the Missions Pastor at Cornerstone Church in Ames, Iowa, for eight years, where he got to experience the ins and outs of being a sending church. He served on staff with Cornerstone 2006 to 2022 in varying roles–from college ministry to pastoral staff to being an overseas missionary sent from Cornerstone for two years. Mike is the Director of Content for the Upstream Collective. Mike, his wife, Emily, and their four kids continue to live in Ames, IA, and serve at Cornerstone.


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