missions (4)

9570814687?profile=originalOften churches send their people out on mission trips. The purpose is to serve others and reach out with the gospel—to be a light in the world. Yet there’s a secondary purpose we often miss: How can we use mission trips as an opportunity for discipling the people who are going? Ideally, mission trips accomplish both.

Missions is Discipleship

To make disciples doesn’t only mean the people you’re serving: it means those on your team as well. Mission trips can be a critical time of discipleship for them, with rich opportunities for growth and development. Missions is discipleship. It's about making disciples and growing as disciples at the same time. There’s a dual benefit.

We see this reality reflected in Jesus’ earthly ministry as well. He made disciples on the go. As he was working to advance the Kingdom he also used every opportunity to shape his followers along the way. Consider his questions and statements to his disciples in the midst of everyday ministry situations: “Some say this, some say that... who do YOU say that I am?” “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven" (after they had just seen a real life example), and “Let the children come to me.” In fact, many of Jesus’ recorded teachings were underscoring realities the disciples were running up against. 

So your role leading a missions trip is as a discipler… not just as a tour guide who gets people there safely. Your role is not just the logistics and service, but also have a discipleship hat on so people come back as better followers of Jesus than they were before. As a mission leader, you are serving as a discipler for your team members.

Here are a few concrete ways to naturally integrate discipleship into your missions endeavors:

Things happen while you’re on mission

Mission trips put people under stress: everyone is tired and jet lagged, sometimes dealing with culture shock. More conflicts arise as people have fewer filters under stress and the team members are spending a lot of time together, often in close quarters. Team dynamics sometimes results in conflicts that are misinterpreted as spiritual warfare. On the plus side, these conflicts provide an opportunity for character growth if people are guided through dealing with them well. People need to ask forgiveness, deal with unmet expectations, flex with changing plans, learn to trust God in the midst of unexpected difficulties. All of these things are discipleship opportunities for you team. Consider how you will handle these challenges as they arise: difficulties, conflicts, unfairness, relational stress, changing plans.

Take note of in-the-moment teaching opportunities

Use the circumstances you and your team are facing as learning opportunities: "You ran into X today? What do you think is going on there?" Sometimes situations lend themselves to illustrations of spiritual truths or guideposts to what God may be up to. To do this, you'll need to keep your eyes and heart open... listen for the voice of the Holy Spirit and look for what he may be up to.

Be intentional about reflection

Set aside time for people to reflect on their learnings. Do this both individually and as a team, as different people process in different ways. Be sure to schedule reflection time and processing time in advance. The following five questions can start you off in the right direction:

  • What's working?
  • What's not working?
  • What are you learning?
  • What needs to change?
  • What's next?

By taking some time to focus on the discipleship of those on your team, you will not only be on mission serving others and making disciples, but you’ll be serving your team members and helping them develop in their own discipleship journey as well.


Guide for Discipling- Take the next step closer to Jesus and bring others along on the journey. Each section of this discipleship study is packed with scripture and questions designed to inspire thoughtful reflection on your relationship with God and how it spreads into daily life.  Click here for a FREE Overview.

Becoming Barnabas- A Barnabas creates a ripple effect, empowering others and spreading outward into the broader community. Becoming Barnabas focuses on practical – how – questions: How can you serve as a Barnabas – a son or daughter of encouragement? How can you disciple, develop, and support those around you? How can that relational investment lead to a powerful impact on the church and on the surrounding community?

Photo by Randy Fath on Unsplash

*This blog entry was originally posted on loganleadership.com.

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Dr Thom Ranier recently wrote “Five Common Reasons Church Members Burnout”. 

9570806852?profile=original His points in his blog were:

  1. The church does not have clear purposes or vision. Many times the busyness of church life is not the problem; it is the lack of clarity of the vision of the church. Give church members a clear “why” to the ministry they do, and many will never grow weary of the work.

  2. The church has certain activities because “we’ve always done it that way before.” Few things lead to burnout more quickly than asking a member to be a part of something that has ceased to be useful to the church. “I was on a committee that met every month,” one church member told me. “But our committee never accomplished anything. If the committee disappeared tomorrow, very few people would notice.”

  3. Too few members doing most of the ministry. This issue is both a symptom and a cause. In most established churches, about 90 percent of the ministry is done by one-third of the members.

  4. The church does not celebrate enough. Celebrations are great motivators to continue the labor and ministry. They remind us of God’s provisions and His victories working through us.

  5. The church has no clear expectations of membership. In most of our churches, we expect little or nothing of our members, and that is exactly what we get. It is imperative for churches to have a new members’ class or entry point class that provides both information and expectations.


The five reasons listed by Dr. Ranier are a good starting place but the next four reasons will call on your Church to focus on the real purpose of being called a Christian – “Doing Ministry”.  The Great Commission was not given to the church or any one church and it was definitely not given to any one organization…  It was given to the followers of Christ.  Jesus intended his commission to call to his followers and to empower them to go into the world and make a difference and make disciples. 


The Church has actually never made a disciple; instead, it has been the People in the Church.


If we believe, it is people that do ministry and not the Church we need to address members.


Why do members get burned out?


1. Members have either not received a “Call” to a ministry or have not followed through on the call they have received.  If you talk to people who are not serving in any ministry position in your church the common answer for “Why are you not serving?” is “I don’t know what to do,” or “no one has asked me to serve.”  Unfortunately, most Pastors and Ministers do not know what you are called to either.

2. Members burn out because they either do not believe in, or have a passion for, the ministry or task they are performing in your church.  As the Church, the organization, we have a responsibility to lead members into using the passions they have in serving God.  Why did Jesus tell Peter, James and John that he wanted to make them fishers of men?  Because they loved fishing, they were passionate about it.  Notice that Jesus never called any of his disciples to do ministry that they were not passionate about or in which they were not skilled.

3. Give people freedom to minister.  Too often, I find people doing the work the Pastor or Missions committee believes in but the church body does not share the same level of commitment.  Why is that?  Is it lack of leadership or a desire for too much control?  Should we be afraid of letting our members do the ministry to which they have been called?  When Jesus sent the 72 disciples out in Luke 10 he did not limit them in any way.  He taught them and then empowered them to do ministry.  He trusted them to do what the Spirit led them to do.

4. People get burned out and drop out when they are serving in a ministry for which they are poorly prepared.  Have you had the experience of getting people to fill a slot because you have to have so many people on a committee or in a ministry role but knowing they did not have any skills or desire necessary to be successful in that ministry position?  If you have been in ministry long, you must have seen this in your churches.


Dr. Ranier is correct when he points out that some churches need to get rid of outdated programs or ministries that no longer are viable.  With such limited resources, the Church must define itself and pour resources into productive efforts and ministries. 


So how do we find the workers to carry out these ministries?  The answer if not as hard as we try to make it.  Business has known for a long time your best employees are those that believe in the product or service they make or sell and have a passion for what they build, sell or produce.  Employees that are informed of the goals of the company  and the benefit for reaching that goal are also the best producing employees and finally, employees that are trained or have a history in the area of work are also the best employees.


So the question is, why don’t we learn these lessons and apply them to the work of ministry?


Some churches have tried to use Spiritual Gifts Inventories to give members a look into their spiritual makeup and help them as they seek out ministry opportunities.  Many churches find these frustrating because after the assessment there is no means of guiding a person to a ministry that matches their gifts.


Passions inventories are much the same.  Either the passions are too limited and do not truly reflect the person and the life issues about which they are truly passionate. 

Can you name the people in your church that are passionate about Facebook, Twitter or Linked in?  How would you use these passions in performing ministry and missions?  Who is passionate about cooking, writing, singing, sewing or any other activity that are people engage themselves?  Again, the traditional assessments do not measure these passions or assist the Pastor or Church in guiding people to a real ministry opportunity.


New software can now be utilized by the church organization that provides insight and guidance for church ministers to help members find an appropriate area of service. 

AIM can identify a person’s Passions from a list of 202 unique activities http://aiministry.com/passions


                Spiritual Gifts Inventories based on 7, 9, 16, 20 or 23 gifts (your choice) http://aiministry.com/spiritual-gifts-definitions


                156 Skills in 9 categories clearly identify what your church member know and how they work in your organization.   http://aiministry.com/skills-definitions


                291 Vocations and job history complete the assessments.   http://aiministry.com/vocation


The most exciting feature of this software is the ability to generate a Ministry Profile that actually searched a database of 275 ministry opportunities and determines the best matches for an individual.


Now, does this mean you have to have all these ministries?  NO!   But, you now have a tool that gives you tremendous insight into your members and what they are Equipped for, Skilled in, Passionate about and Gifted.  This has never been available before but churches that can define their mission and equip their opportunities with members that are Skilled, Passionate, Gifted and prepared through past vocations, will see volunteers that will have fewer people dropping out due to burn out.


For more information visit http://aiministry.com or email dale@aiministry.com

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What Kind of Missionary Are YOU?!

All of us who profess to be followers of Christ are missionaries, whether we realize it or not. We may be good missionaries or bad ones, but the Lord has left each of us on this earth as part of His mission to spread the gospel and fill the whole world with His glory (Habakkuk 2:14).

In the mid-1970s I was just completing law school, and was given my first client in the school’s legal clinic program. It was a traffic violation, and my client, Geneva Clark, had been charged with rear-ending another vehicle. Not only that, but her driver’s license had been suspended and was invalid at the time of the accident. And, to make matters worse, Geneva was drunk at the time of the accident.

When the police officers arrived at the accident scene, they reported that Geneva was “strutting boisterously and unclad” in the center of Broad Street, one of the main roads in town. When they charged her with disorderly conduct, she resisted arrest—so they charged her with that too.

Here I was, an intern with the legal clinic, wanting to do well in my first case. Approaching Geneva before we went before the judge, I told her my pessimistic assessment of her case. “Well, Mrs. Clark, I have reviewed your file, and as far as I can see, you have no defense at all.”

Geneva listened politely, and then with a twinkle in her eye started rummaging around in her oversized purse. “Don’t worry, young man,” she assured me calmly. “I have something to show the judge that will help.” She finally found what she was looking for, a rather crumpled-looking card of some kind.

“What’s that?” I asked.

“Oh, this is my missionary card,” she replied seriously. “We’ll show this to the judge and he will understand that I’m a missionary...doing God’s work!”

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. There may be some areas of the world where a missionary can be effective by “strutting boisterously and unclad,” but Broad Street in Columbus, Ohio, was definitely not such a place. All I could reply to Geneva was, “Somehow I don’t think that will help your case.”

This admittedly is a rather extreme example, but it shows how the world often looks at those who name the name of Christ. Instead of allowing Him to transform our character and manifest His sweet aroma, we end up living like the devil and then trying to use the name of Jesus to cover up for ourselves.

There will never be an impactful revival of Biblical outreach unless it is accompanied by a revival of Biblical character. Before Isaiah was ready to say, “Here am I! Send me,” his sins were purged by burning coals from the altar of God (see Isaiah 6:1-8). Before we can spread the holy fire, it first must be allowed to do its work in our own lives.

So, what kind of missionary are you? When people look at your life, do they truly see Jesus or just a repulsive religious caricature?

In order to influence people for Christ, they must want what we have. I pray you are living that kind of life today, full of the Holy Spirit and radiating His fruit in every situation (Galatians 5:22-23).

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Many are talking about "making disciples" these day. But what exactly is disciple-making, really?

What disciple making, or discipleship, has become in most American churches is a program for becoming the best ‘Christian’ an individual can be, whatever that may look like.

Certainly we are called to pursue personal holiness (Ephesians 1:4, Hebrews 12:14, James 1:27) and to grow in the knowledge of the Lord (Colossians 1:10). That’s great...unless it is the only result of our discipleship. (continuing reading). 

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