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Questions about Global Missions?

How can I identify a potential missionary candidate from my congregation?

By Joshua M.  ·  5 minute read
Learning Center  »  How can I identify a potential missionary candidate from my congregation?

There are several areas to consider when exploring the possibility of identifying a missionary candidate from your congregation. One of the joys of a Biblical calling is that it is communal. Whenever SIM USA is having an initial conversation with someone interested in cross-cultural ministry, one important question is:

“Have you talked with your church?”

A person involved in ministry at your church, local evangelism, relational ministry, or cross-cultural ministry in your community are good places to start. We believe it is important for people to be plugged into ministry at their church and their community.
For a church, it is vital to look at a few areas as you answer the question, “How can I identify a potential missionary candidate from my congregation?”

Areas of consideration include:

  • Discerning the Calling
  • Current Service
  • Motivations
  • Spiritual maturity
  • Prayerful consideration

Identifying Potential Missionaries - discerning the calling.

  1. Has this person or family been talking to others about missions and missionary work?
  2. Have you joined them in prayer about this decision?
  3. Who is or has already been involved with cross-cultural ministry?

Identifying Potential Missionaries – current service.

    1. Are there people within the congregation who have already been on a short-term mission trip or served long-term as a missionary?
      Who is already involved with refugees or has several friendships with people from other countries?
    2. Who is already involved in local evangelism and missions work?

Finding out who in your congregation fits the mold of those who have the heart to serve cross-culturally is an easy place to start. If you don’t already have a missions program, consider establishing one. In the meantime, consider other ways to find those who have already served in cross-cultural ministry.

Identifying Potential Missionaries – motivations.

Identifying potential missionary candidates is about discerning the people whose love for Jesus is evident and not focused on their accomplishments or accolades. These types of people clearly desire to serve Jesus but don’t focus their attention on money or reputation. Their focus is building God’s kingdom and not their own. The believers closest to them would clearly see that. They are involved in relational ministry and are ever-seeking to deepen their walk with Christ and the sanctification that comes from the Holy Spirit. People like this will more easily resonate with the call to make disciples and be a witness around the world.

Identifying Potential Missionaries – spiritual maturity.

Is cross-cultural ministry a natural steppingstone or the next step in a person’s journey? Moving into cross-cultural ministry, especially in certain ministry settings or locations, is not an early step in a believer’s maturity. Suppose someone from your congregation recently decided to follow Jesus (Hallelujah!). In that case, they may think they want to serve cross-culturally as a missionary immediately because some Christians do that. Most likely, you would want to suggest a period of growth.

New believer’s next steps.

  • Growth in their Biblical understanding
  • Develop relational ministry skills
  • Engage in local evangelism
  • Research global missions work
  • Show perseverance
  • Explore and exercise their spiritual gifts

Do you know someone in your congregation already mature in their faith and Biblical understanding? Have they already shown the skills you would want in a cross-cultural worker? For those people, serving in cross-cultural missionary work may be a natural steppingstone and not a “leap.”

Identifying Potential Missionaries - prayer.

  1. The whole church prays:
    • A call from the pulpit that, as a church, you will pray to quicken the hearts of those who may be called to serve in cross-cultural missionary work. Asking the congregation to pray about who might go would be a Biblical way to include the whole church in the sending process.
  2. Benefits of a church praying for potential missionaries:
    • Bringing people together in the church for the process of sending missionaries will help identify potential missionary candidates and increase the chance of sending well. After someone is sent from the congregation, an added benefit is the momentum and excitement within the congregation to pray and work to send more workers! It can also create:
      • Increased buy-in from the congregation for sending more missionaries.
      • Desire for accountability and caring for missionaries.
      • Excitement to send more missionaries.
      • Excitement and interest in short-term team trips.
      • Excitement for local evangelism.
      • Others seeing someone, just like them, serving in cross-cultural ministry.

As you engage the congregation, you will soon find that identifying potential missionary candidates will be something everyone is doing and not left up to a select few.

This process is not quick or easy, but still worth all the effort. Here are a few quick ideas to help engage your church:

Lastly, consider building a relationship with a missions-sending agency. There are plenty of solid missions sending agencies that have their particular focus. We are thankful for the Lord’s provision of so many agencies seeking to make Him known through their area of expertise. Knowing some of these agencies is a crucial step in sending potential missionaries. You will want to know and trust an agency before sending a potential missionary candidate to them. Ask how to get connected and know more about their processes. Spend time on their website.

Sending Potential Missionaries - questions to ask a mission-sending agency.

  • Hard questions about when a sending didn’t go well.
  • Can you visit their campus/staff?
  • Ask mission agency staff to visit your church and speak.
  • What is a good partnership between a church and a missions-sending agency?

Repeat this process with a few agencies. It might take some time, but the questions answered, and the relationships built, will be well worth it.

Biblical calling relates to the Body of Christ seeing and being a part of the call rather than just the one person seeing the call. As part of the discernment process in identifying potential missionary candidates, ask a variety of people in your church about who fits some of the areas above. Ask people one-on-one, ask from the pulpit, ask in small groups, etc. Keep missions and missionary work a focus in your church. As you do, it will become easier and easier to identify potential missionary candidates.

Joshua M.
Director of Recruitment Engagement

I have served with SIM USA Recruitment since 2018. I spent the first three years having initial conversations with people. It has been a joy to be a part of the process to help those interested in cross-cultural ministry understand more of the process from the church side, sending agency side and even from a Biblical perspective. My wife and I led several short-term teams before COVID.

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