Think Like a Missionary

I have the distinct privilege of teaching the Church Planting & Revitalization course for Harvest Workers, our
online ministry training program. Recently, my first two students successfully completed the course. It was an
absolute joy to teach them, mostly because I had a front row seat to watch them grow!
Every Harvest Workers course has a list of expected demonstrated competencies that we hope to observe in
all students by the end of each class. For my class, there are several specific areas that I have listed. As I
supported these first students through the course, I discovered that there is a single, over-arching hope that
summarizes all that I desire for my students: that each begins to think like a missionary.
Missionaries the world over strive to bring the life-giving Gospel of Jesus Christ to people who have no idea
that it is at all necessary or relevant for their lives. Some may have never heard of Jesus before while others
may be familiar but have either rejected the faith or have yet to respond. Either way, missionaries need to
figure out how they can meaningfully connect and communicate with those outside of faith in Jesus Christ.

They begin asking new questions: How can I position myself to develop authentic relationships with those who
need Jesus? How can I learn the language and the culture to be able to understand others and communicate
more effectively? How can I be a genuine friend to someone without he or she feeling like an evangelistic
target? What would it look like to be a part of God’s activity to build his kingdom here in this community as it is
in heaven? How can I ensure that my words or actions are not hindering the Gospel message?
As these missionary thoughts begin to take root in one’s heart and mind, it is only natural to begin thinking
missionally about the church. Concerns about satisfying the desires and preferences of church members fade
into the background as the mission to reach lost people takes precedence. Missionaries begin to ask
challenging questions that compel the church to examine their worship, programming, and activities.
Imagine what might happen if all churches started to think missionally and began asking these questions: How
are we leveraging our day-to-day ministries to build authentic relationships with those who need Jesus? How
can we learn the language and the culture of others to better understand and communicate with them? How
can our church join Jesus in his kingdom building activity here in our community? How can we eliminate any
hurdles and barriers to hearing the Gospel? Remember that Jesus came to seek and to save the lost.
“I tell you, in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents…” – Luke 15:7