In the next phase of the pipeline we are looking to move our members from Globally Aware to Global Christians. Globally Aware members are those who are starting to catch the importance of understanding God’s heart for the nations. Global Christians are those that actually understand that they have to orient their life around God’s mission of bringing the Gospel to those who have not heard it.
Questions to ask when developing programs in this transition phase from Globally Aware to Global Christians are:
What’s the easy on-ramp for people to learn about God’s heart for the world?
How can people pray?
How can people be exposed to the nations?
1. What’s the easy on-ramp for people to learn about God’s heart for the world?
At my church we do a 4-week global class each year that is meant to be an introduction for the average church member to learn about God’s heart for the nations. In our course, which is something you could easily develop on your own, our four sessions include:
Biblical Basis for Missions: We go through the thread of Scripture, highlighting the themes of God’s glory among the nations. We also dive into how this specifically plays out in the book of Acts.
History of World Missions: We recount the modern missions movement and what we should learn from it as we seek to do missions in the 21st century.
Our church’s missions strategy and implementation: We go over our Global Missions vision and dive into the theological foundations for Church Planting, Church Strengthening, and Community Development.
What Does This Mean for You? (Pray, Give, Go, Welcome, and Mobilize): We get really practical with next steps that people can take to be involved in global missions at our church.
There is a lot of great material out there. The 7 week series called Xplore: Discover God’s Word, God’s World, and God’s Work by the Center for Missions Mobilization is a great introduction to global missions. The Kairos Course is a 9-week global missions course. God’s Heart for the Nations by Jeff Lewis is a wonderfully short workbook that gives the biblical basis for missions and could be done in a few short weeks with a small group.
"There is no better work for global missions than to pray."
Often at this point, churches will offer a Perspectives on World Missions course for their people. Keep in mind that Perspectives is not considered an easy class and it is labor intensive to coordinate. So, while it is a valuable resource, it may not be the best answer for an “easy-on ramp” for learning about global missions. You might want to save that one for later, if you choose to explore that option.
2. How can people pray?
There is no better work for global missions than to pray. Hopefully your church has some natural rhythms for prayer. If you do, then inject prayer for global missions regularly in the context where your church prays.
One of the places we have found simple success in praying for the nations is to pray once per month in between our services in an easily accessible location off the church foyer. We gather prayer requests from our sent ones in a region of the world (which is also a great missionary care activity), prayer cards, and simply pray for 45 minutes. Every Monday for 15 minutes, our global staff team prays for all the updates they have received from our missionaries. Our church network prays for God to send laborers into the harvest at 10:02 AM everyday in honor of Luke 10:2.
We also regularly recommend websites like: Joshua Project for daily prayer for an unreached people group or Prayer Cast where you can see well done videos of each nation in the world and prayer requests for that nation. You can check out this blog post for other suggestions.
3. How can people be exposed to the nations?
One of the things we have done as a church is categorize our short-term trips into exposure, evangelistic, shareholder, and care trips. Our exposure trips fit in this phase. These trips tend to be within North America, are shorter, and fairly inexpensive. Trips to Native American Reservations, to refugee areas in America, or impoverished countries in the Caribbean or Central America are great opportunities and are usually accessible for adults and families to gain perspective on the world and learn from one another.
One organization, Upstream International, call their trips “Mutual Exchange” trips. The purpose of this name is to help those who go understand that while they will be a blessing to the people there, the trips are as much if not more for them as the goer to be blessed by the perspective of different cultures, to witness the poverty and yet unexplained joy of believers around the world.
It is important in this transition phase that those going on a short-term mission trip understand that they are not going in order to be a savior, to do something significant, to check the box of missions, or get a cool Facebook photo. Short-term mission trips in this phase are not the hope of the world. But they are a step towards learning and understanding the world so that they may take a deeper step in the future.
The goal of this phase is to help members move from Global Christians, who understand God’s heart for the nations and to see them worship Him, to US Senders or Potential Goers. We’ll talk about that phase 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.