Called to Missions: What’s Next
Missions is God’s plan to reach the world with the gospel. Therefore, we must have an orderly plan of action in place to fulfill God’s call to the work of missions. Have you been called to missions? What is the next step in carrying out this call on your life? As you prepare to embark on this great endeavor, may the following assist you to get where you need to be.
- Counsel with your pastor
Missions begins with the local church. The church is tasked with preparing, equipping, providing for and sending the missionary to the mission field. The first thing to do before setting out on the journey of missions is to spend time counseling with your pastor. He knows you, your family, your needs and your limitations, and he will be of great help as you prepare to follow the Lord’s leading in your life.
- Attend a local-church Bible college
When Jesus called His disciples to leave their nets and become fishers of men, He spent over three years preparing them to be sent out. Bible college will prepare you and equip you to become the missionary God wants you to be. A local-church Bible college will give you not only sound doctrine but also practical training necessary for future ministry. Bible college helps your home church fulfill the God-given responsibility of preparing and equipping you for missions. Therefore, you should choose a Bible college with the counsel and approval of your pastor.
- Missions Trip
It is my recommendation that every Christian take a missions trip at some point in their life. As a future missionary, a missions trip can be an invaluable asset to you as it will give you a greater burden and vision for the work the Lord would have you to do. Even if you do not yet know the field to which you are called, the Lord will use a trip to the mission field to better prepare you for the people to whom He will eventually lead you.
If you are married and it is possible, it is wise to go together as a couple so that the Lord can work in both of your hearts. It is important for the wife to see where she will be living and for what conditions she will need to prepare. She will see things that the husband will not be aware of, and the fact that she is able to experience the field of her future service will help avoid many frustrations and hardships.
- Ordination / Internship
Depending on your particular circumstances such as marital status, age, ministry experience, and background, your pastor may recommend that you serve as an intern in a church or ministry before leaving for the mission field. Your pastor may then recommend to the church that you be ordained for the ministry of the Word. There may be a few different points of view concerning this matter, and your pastor may require that you finish deputation and be completely ready to leave for your field before being ordained. Regardless of the exact timing your pastor chooses, ordination is an important step in your being sent out to the mission field.
- Missions Board
Most churches are unable to care for all the logistical needs the missionary will have while on a foreign field. You must understand that biblically, your pastor and your home church are tasked with the responsibility of providing for these needs. The church can employ the assistance of a missions board to meet your needs such as banking, insurance, and mailing your prayer letters; thus, equipping you for successful service and legal representation Stateside. However, do not lose sight of the fact that your pastor, not any other organization, is your ultimate authority. It was for this reason that these boards were established—to help the local church meet her missionaries’ needs. One of the most important decisions you will make is the choice of your missions board. Therefore, this step should be made only after much prayer and counsel with your pastor.
Having fulfilled the previous prerequisites, you are now ready to begin deputation. Once you have chosen a missions board and have been approved to serve with them, you should diligently work at raising the financial support needed for your ministry. Deputation should not be looked at as a multi-year continuation of your preparation for the mission field. While the Lord will use circumstances along the deputation trail to prepare you for the mission field, that is not the goal of deputation. You should have already received the necessary preparation in Bible college, during your internship, and any previous ministry service. Your church has approved you, ordained you, and sent you out. You’re ready to go! The goal of deputation is to secure the financial and prayer support from churches and get to the field. Do not make the mistake of casually approaching the great challenge of raising that support. If you believe that the Lord has called you and that the need for you to arrive on the mission field is great, then you should work, work, work to get to the mission field as soon as possible.
I fear that many are dying without ever having heard the gospel because of our lack of diligence in getting to the field in God’s timing. May the Lord help you as you follow His path to the field to which He has called you.
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David Sloan serves as pastor of the Spanish Department of North Valley Baptist Church. He and his family were missionaries in the Former Soviet Union and the Middle East, where he served as United States representative to the Christian Caucus in the Israeli parliament, the Knesset. He and his wife Jolene have five children. Bro. Sloan is part of a missionary heritage of fourteen families who serve on the mission field, spanning seven countries and four continents. He is also the Missions Director at Golden State Baptist College.