“How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent?” (Romans 10:14–15a)
Christians use this passage to bring awareness to the lack of gospel access. People do not call on Christ because they have not heard the gospel. They have not heard because no one has preached it to them. No one has preached it to them because no one has been sent.
Similarly, many people have not responded to the call of missions because no one has asked them.
God can use the personal ask to raise the next wave of missionaries, pastors, and Great Commission Christians. But how will they know if we don’t ask?
Jesus utilized a personal strategy when he called his first disciples. Andrew. Peter. James. John. Matthew. The Gospels present accounts of Jesus coming up to them and saying, "Follow me." Did he make a general call at times? Yes.
Yet, the Gospels intentionally presented these instances of Jesus making a personal ask.
I am the product of a personal ask. In the spring of 2019, I spoke with my father about going on a summer mission trip. Our church was sending out its first young adult team to an island in the Philippines we had adopted. I felt the weightiness of helping this frontier team be effective. I was sensing the Holy Spirit’s guidance to join this team. Fifteen minutes after I spoke with my dad, my missions pastor texted me. He told me I was on a list of people he wanted to reach out to about leading and joining this team. This personal ask solidified my decision. I signed up for the trip and spent two months in the Philippines. This trip is where the Lord confirmed my call to ministry. It is why I am serving as a Director of Missions at my church today. It all began with an ask.
We must personalize our awareness strategies to reach the next generation. We must disciple others to help them become missionaries, pastors, and World Christians.
How can you best personalize your awareness strategies?
Separate Your Church into Segments
Separate your church into segments. Missionaries use this strategy in their cities. List out the different segments within your church. Most churches have different ministries for kids, students, young adults, families, men, women, and retirees. Each segment will need a different strategy for awareness. Retirees will not respond to social media in the same way as students and young adults. You must know your people before you implement your strategies.
You will not be as effective if you rely on your relationships alone. If you depend on others, you can do so much more.
Tap into the Leadership of Others
You will need to tap into the leadership of others. Begin with other staff members or lay leaders. You will not have a close relationship with every member of your congregation, so it is important to tap into the influence of leaders. Find out who the difference-makers are in each segment. Collaborate with them to find out who God could prepare so you can call out the called. You will not be as effective if you rely on your relationships alone. If you depend on others, you can do so much more.
Mobilize Your Team to Help
You may not be the one to make the personal ask, and that is okay. If a leader has a closer relationship with your target person, mobilize them to recruit for you. This is not deceptive; this is using the relationships within the church. God gives different people to influence particular people. Use them. God made us the body of Christ to depend on others.
Your other leaders may find people who are absent from your radar. Recently, as we sent out more people, my leadership pool began to decrease. I prayed for more women to step up for missions leadership. The next day, I met with our Next-Generation Pastor. He told me of a young woman who said she wanted to help strengthen the students in their missiology. We both sat in wonder of God. He is raising up the next generation of leaders. He only asks for us to act.
God is raising up the next generation of leaders. He only asks for us to act.
Make the Ask
Once you know the person or group you are targeting, do not be half-hearted when it is time to ask. Do not go in with a light ask. Make it. If you want someone to attend a short-term mission trip, ask. Ask if you want a young adult to consider attending a gap-year program. Ask if a family or single person is a prime candidate for cross-cultural missions. Ask. Asking them could be an affirmation of God's call. It may help them begin to contemplate if this is God's leading.
If you make the ask, and they do not give an immediate answer, make sure you follow up with them. Help them understand why you are asking. Do not lose the fish on the hook.
Jesus made the personal ask of his disciples when he said, "Follow me." These men helped spearhead the spread of the gospel. As missions leaders, we need to make the personal ask of our people. God can use the personal ask to raise the next wave of missionaries, pastors, and Great Commission Christians. But how will they know if we don’t ask?
Christian Townson lives in Lebanon, Tennessee, with his wife, Danyel. He serves as the Director of Missions and Mobilization at The Journey Church. He is also pursing a Master of Divinity from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.