By Chuck Lawless
Let me get to the bottom line: I believe every church ought to send their pastor on at least one international mission trip, including paying his way (and his spouse’s way). Here’s why:
- The Great Commission (Matt 28:18-20) is for all churches, and pastors most influence the direction of the church. I have never found a strong Great Commission, missions-minded church without a pastor who sets that agenda. Send your pastor overseas on a short-term trip, and your church will likely turn its heart toward the world.
- The church is responsible for calling out and sending out missionaries. Churches who take this responsibility seriously are led by pastors who take it seriously. They’re willing to send their church’s best to the nations.
- Many pastors will struggle to go unless the church helps cover the costs. Sure, they can raise funds on their own, but the wise congregation will be willing to make this investment in their pastor. The dollars spent will be few compared to the benefits gained.
- Pastors will experience the heart of God on the mission field. That’s not to say they can’t do that in North America, of course. Something often happens, though, when pastors see nations and people groups with the eyes of God. Seldom do pastors return the same.
- The nations need the training that pastors offer. All around the world are believers and church leaders who are longing for biblical and practical training. Your pastor can help provide that training.
- Pastors model faith and courage by taking a trip. We will not win the world to Jesus with only pastors doing the work; we must have laypersons ready and willing to go both short-term and long-term. Pastors set the example for their congregation when they go.
- They will have a greater global perspective. The world is much, much bigger than North America – and leaders who exposit, illustrate, and apply God’s Word every Sunday need a global vision.
- They will likely be more cross-culturally evangelistic when they return. The nations of the world now live among us. Send your pastor on an international trip, and he will be more aware of internationals living in your community.
- The church will pray more for missionaries. That’s what happens when church leaders spend time with Christian workers on the front lines.
- The Lord calls pastors to become full-time missionaries. I don’t know many congregations who hope their pastor is called to missions, but the strongest Great Commission churches are open to this possibility. Often, the pastor’s calling begins with a short-term trip – and the church later rejoices at God’s calling.
Pastors, what else would you add?
Posted on January 29, 2020
Dr. Chuck Lawless is a leading expert in spiritual consultation, discipleship and mentoring. As a former pastor, he understands the challenges ministry presents and works with Church Answers to provide advice and counsel for church leaders.
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Is even legal for a church to send a pastor and his wife on a missions trip and pay all the expenses? I would think the pastor would have to claim it as income.
I think anyone going on a mission trip should be sure he/she is doing missions at home.
I have known people who would go to the other side of the world for a “mission trip” who would not walk across the street to witness to someone. I have seen others who did not even attend all the church services but are “excited about missions.”
I wonder how many pastors would work 40+ hours a week and attend all the church services, go on visitation, sing in the choir, teach small groups. . . if they weren’t being paid to be there.
I like the idea that a pastor should pay for his own mission trips. Lay people in the church would likely have to do that if they were going.
I have seen people have gone on trips who basically use it as a “paid vacation” to get away from responsibilities at home. I asked one pastor who had gone on a number of “mission” trips, who also bragged about how many exotic animals he had killed in foreign countries. how many of his mission trips were also hunting safaris. He became very angry at that question, which suggested to me there might have been some truth to it.
I am for missions. The churches I have served have all been good mission supporters.
But, the great commission starts at home. Those who want to go should first be involved in evangelism and soul winning at home. Many I have seen aren’t.
I also think it is an insult to assume the pastor does not have a maximum heart for souls just because he has not been on an extended mission trip. Every day a pastor spends on his church field is a mission trip.
Each has his own individual calling. If a pastor does not feel called to do mission trips, why should he?
When all the “time off” is calculated for a pastor, district superintendent, or association missionary, (3-4 weeks for vacation; 2 weeks for conferences, 2 weeks for revivals, and the Lord knows what else, then mission trips), how can that equate what working people in the church are experiencing who are paying for those trips?
Many lay people would probably love to do that, but they may only get two weeks vacation per year and need to spend that doing thing with their families, doing home repairs. . .
Add that to the fact that pastors expect people in the church to work 40 plus hours per week on a job and then support all the church meetings, while the pastor may drag in at 9 or 10 a.m. on Monday “because he was working last night” and probably other days as well, it does not set well with people in the congregation who have harder lives than that to send the pastor on a mission-vacation.
More pastors need to be bi-vocational. It gives pastors a new perspective of what people in the church go through every day. That might cause some pastors to be evangelists at home.