• Mike Ironside

Identifying Sent Ones: Sending Church Element 7

A sending church identifies sent ones by deliberately calling members to take the next step of obedience in God’s mission. Instead of waiting for volunteers, church leaders mobilize the congregation by affirming and challenging those with the potential to be sent cross-culturally. Candidates are thus called to intentionally enter the next phase of the sending pipeline.

- Upstream Collective Sending Church Element #7


Most missionaries in the world were not sent by their church. They may have asked the church for money, they may have been commissioned by their church, but they weren’t really sent by their church. They weren’t inspired, assessed, or developed by the church towards global missions. They instead likely went to a conference, or read something online that got them excited about global missions. The church, in this instance, is a funding source, not a sender.


In Acts 13:1-3, the church at Antioch gives us the model for proactive—not reactive—sending. This church sent out two of their five best leaders in Paul and Barnabas for the work of spreading the Gospel to the ends of the earth. They did this through investment in the lives of Paul and Barnabas, through prayer and fasting, and by proactively seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

"Your church can become the type of church that actively identifies Sent-Ones. Churches that do this are not simply caring for the day-to-day needs of their member’s spiritual lives, they are actively developing the leadership potential of their members."

Your church can become the type of church that actively identifies Sent-Ones. Churches that do this are not simply caring for the day-to-day needs of their member’s spiritual lives, they are actively developing the leadership potential of their members. In this active development members are given opportunities to lead in small groups, in service in the community, in the Sunday-morning gatherings, in decision-making teams, in short-term trips, reaching internationals in their community, and much more.


Through this leadership development and through leadership opportunities the leaders and elders of the church are proactively praying, seeking, and identifying potential Sent-Ones. These Sent-Ones, as a part of a church that Cultivates Missions Awareness, are already being challenged to find ways to give their lives for the sake of the nations. When they demonstrate this to leadership in their church, that can affirm and strengthen the inner calling they sense.


What a beautiful picture, right? How often does this happen in our churches? If we’re honest, probably very little. Upstream is here to help you Identify Sent-Ones. Here are a few ways:

  • A subscription to the resources on our website gives you access to practical ideas for Identifying Sent-Ones for global missions.

“How to Proactively Identify Sent-Ones”


“Character Qualities of Sent-Ones”


“Initial Missions Questionnaire”

  • Our book, Sending Church Applied (Fall 2021), will take a deeper dive into how to Identify Sent-Ones with your missions team and church leadership.

  • The Advanced Cohort will give extensive training and personalized coaching to help you Identify Sent-Ones in ways that are unique to your context.

©2020 by The Upstream Collective.