A few weeks ago I preached a sermon with this title here are some of the “sermon crumbs”… There is probably no aspect of missionary service more troubling than the Missionary call. There is plenty of evidence in the Bible that God calls people into full-time Christian service (1Tim. 1:12; Rom. 1:1; 1Cor.1:1) but there is no really defined way how God calls a person today. When Jesus was physically present on the earth he called people into service with him simply by asking them to follow (Mt. 4:18-22). It would be a lot easier if we could just get a phone call from God and have him ask us to be a missionary.
Today there are two extreme views of a missionary call. The first view sees the call as a mystical process by which God speaks directly to us through a dream or vision or other supernatural means. While I don’t deny that God has in the past used this method and he is certainly capable of using it today, I likewise feel that this is not the only or primary way he communicates his will to us. If you are sitting around waiting for a mystical experience to help you decide God’s will and his call you may be waiting a long time and end up missing out on being a missionary. The second extreme view says that there is no call to missionary service because God has already made it clear that all Christians are to be involved in making disciples. Well, of course this is true. We are all called in that sense to be witnesses for Christ. However, if you take that to mean you should catch the next airplane to South Africa without any training, preparation or confirmation from the church you might be presuming more than you should.
I think that these extreme views need to be merged together. In other words, there is an aspect of God’s call which is universal for all Christians and everyone has a role to play in world evangelization but some Christians have a more focused sense of what that role should be. The focusing is a somewhat undefined and mystical process.
Are you feeling a sense that God is focusing your attention on some particular aspect of his plan for reaching the nations. If so here are some steps you can take to help you know for sure if you have the Missionary Call (adapted from AA Missionary Call@ www.snu.org)
1. Read everything you can about missions and missionaries. You can start with some of these:
The Missionary Call, M. David Sills
What in the World is God Doing, C. Gordon Olson
Let the Nations be Glad, John Piper
In the Name of Jesus, Henri J.M. Nouwen
Operation World, Patrick Johnstone
2. Get involved now. There are ways right now for you to play an active role in missions at home from regularly praying for and financially supporting missionaries to adopting a missionary family or candidate.
3. Go hear every missionary speaker that you can. God can sometimes use the experiences of others to help solidify your own call. After you have heard the missionary tell his or her story, why not invite them to dinner or for coffee so you can continue pick their brain about missions.
4. Talk to your pastor. Verbalizing your thinking and enlisting the prayer support of key leaders in the church may help you sort through various issues related to missions and your sense of calling.
5. Throw yourself into active ministry. Learning to minister effectively in your own culture is an important prerequisite for ministering cross-culturally. Get all the experience you can now.
6. Go on a short term mission trip. There are several trips planned by CCC, ZEMA and other mission agencies. If you’re really serious about full-time mission work then a good place to start is a short-term experience. Even if you can’t fit into a CCC or ZEMA sponsored trip there are a number of good short-term trips planned by other mission agencies which you could join.
7. Attend a workshop or take a class about missions. There are several to choose from. One of the most popular is a course called Perspectives on the World Christian Movement offered by the U.S. Center for World Missions. www.perspectives.org
8. Contact a missionary sending agency. Find out how mission agencies operate. Ask for some of their promotional material. Ask to receive their newsletters or other publications.
9. Consider giving a year of your time to missionary service. There are plenty of opportunities for you to serve up to a year on the mission field doing everything from plumbing to preaching. If you’re interested I’ll put you in touch with the right program for you.
10. Persevere. God is not in a hurry so you shouldn’t consider delays or possible roadblocks as an indication that God has not called you. It takes time for God to prepare you for ministry. It took five years after we were accepted by a mission agency for my wife and I to get to the place where we felt God had called us to minister.
Pastor Mike McDowell, Pastor of Missions
Please send questions or comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org.