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?