In the next phase of the pipeline we are looking to move our members from Global Christians to US Senders or Potential Goers. Global Christians are those that understand that they have to orient their life around God’s mission of bringing the Gospel to those who have not heard it.
US Senders are a great end in and of themselves. These are people who are reaching out to internationals, mobilizing others to the nations, on boards with missions organizations, etc. They are fulfilling the Great Commission without moving cross-culturally. This is a real destination for people in your church.
Potential Goers are those that would like to be assessed to see whether they should go overseas.
Here are some questions to ask as you develop programs in this transition phase from Global Christians to US Senders or Potential Goers:
What opportunities do you provide for your members to have further learning in missions?
In what ways can members of your church make disciples of all nations in an ongoing way stateside?
How are you observing & identifying potential sent ones as they make disciples of all nations while still stateside?
1. What opportunities do you provide for your members for further learning in missions?
This is a great phase for a class like Perspectives, or a seminary-like class on Missiology. Some churches do a regular class on global missions. One of the things we have considered doing at our church is quarterly gatherings for missionaries-in-waiting. The purpose of these gatherings is to simply keep the fire going in people who are interested in being sent out of our church but are waiting because of various circumstances.
2. In what ways can members of your church make disciples of all nations in an ongoing way stateside?
Following a short-term trip, it is critical that those who go on these trips have at least one re-entry meeting. I often recommend doing two. The first meeting’s goal should be shepherding them through any culture shock they experienced, any relational brokenness, and any personal things they learned from the trip.
I have also found it to be helpful, when possible, to have a separate re-entry time to talk more with short-term trip participants about next steps for their life as a missional Christian where we dive into how their experiences should affect their everyday lives. Short-term mission trips should lead people to: pray for the world, give towards global missions, love internationals or refugees in their city, return to that location to perform a more specialized service for the organization or missionary, and be challenged to consider long-term global missions.
Doing a short-term trip without re-entry is like shooting a rocket without the proper amount of fuel. It’s costly, time consuming, and ultimately useless. Short-term missions is not primarily about what is accomplished on the field. If it is trying to be that, the money should simply be given to the missionaries or organizations. But with great re-entry questions and challenges, the short-term trip experience is given direction and purpose and those who participate have a vision for what’s next.
3. How are you observing & identifying potential sent ones as they make disciples of all nations while still stateside?
In Acts 13, we see that the church in Antioch was proactive in identifying Paul and Barnabas to be sent out. How did they observe that Paul and Barnabas were the ones to send? How do we observe this in our people? This is where the church’s general pipeline specifically intersects the global pipeline.
Everyone who is trying to make an impact on the nations should be vitally flowing through the church’s leadership pipeline. Imagine that the church’s leadership pipeline is the main three foot waterline and the global missions pipeline is the little one inch pipes that inject their water into the greater leadership pipeline of the church. By watching how people lead in small groups, serve in the church, teach classes, and (hopefully for potential missionaries) serve those of a different culture in your city, you are able to observe whether or not that person is a good fit on a global missions team.
Another avenue for people at this point is to join what is often called an “Advocate Team” or what we call at our church a “Shareholder Team.” These people are invested in one of our strategic partnerships in various ways. For example, all “Shareholders” for a strategic location gather quarterly to talk about issues related to that location including: what improvements we should suggest to the on-field partners, how we can involve members of our church in this partnership, when to plan the next short-term trip, and determining how we can communicate and advocate for on behalf of the partnership to our church leadership.
Imagine at this point in the pipeline, church members are moving from Global Christian to Potential Goer. The ideas and programs mentioned above may be leading people to a place of arrival on the global missions pipeline, to prepare to be sent overseas.
Or, for some who are bound to the US due to family circumstances, age, job, and/or gifting, these ideas may lead them to be a part of a advocate team, do international ministry in their neighborhood or city, or go on regular care trips for missionaries. This is a point of “arrival” in the pipeline that should also be celebrated and affirmed. Not everyone on the global missions pipeline should be a sent one. Many should do these stateside programs for the rest of their lives and make a real global impact on the world.
For those who have moved to the point of being Potential Goers, the next step is to move them to Committed Goers. We’ll talk more about that in the next article.
Mike Ironside is Missions Pastor at Cornerstone Church in Ames, Iowa. He has served on staff with Cornerstone since 2006 in varying roles from college ministry to pastoral staff to being an overseas missionary sent from Cornerstone for 2 years. Mike is the Director of Cohorts for the Upstream Collective. He also serves as chairman of the board for Campus to Campus, a missions organization dedicated to getting US college students connected to church planting movements amongst college students worldwide.