Not every church has the ability to have a dedicated Missions Pastor/Missions Director. Very likely in the majority of situations, the Senior Pastor handles the missions program of the church along with all of his other responsibilities. If you are a Missions Pastor/Missions Director or the only Pastor on staff at your church, let me share what I feel are three major areas of responsibility for a Missions Pastor.
First, if your church has the ability to have a dedicated Missions Pastor, one of the most important jobs that you have is to alleviate as much pressure from the Senior Pastor as possible. I’m on staff at a church where the Senior Pastor is very missions minded and wants to be involved with our missions program. However, because of the nature of his job, he can’t do everything.
We support over 150 missionaries and projects, have 14 families out of our church on the field, and have a mission agency just for missionaries out of our church. So our pastor can’t be as involved in our mission program as he would like to be and still be as effective as he needs to be in preaching, teaching and ministering to those in our church.
Some of the things I do to make sure he feels confident that our program is what it should be: handle all calls/emails from missionaries wanting to come to the church, meet with our missions committee every month, set up missions trips, stay in contact with our missionaries, plan our missions conference and Global Impact weekend, and anything else that helps maintain a well-rounded missions program.
Second, develop new missionaries. More missionaries are retiring or coming off the field than those who are going. Push missions in your children’s programs; encourage teens, young adults, and young families to go on missions trips. Encourage those who show an interest in missions by taking them out to eat with you and a missionary that may be visiting, or find a myriad of other ways to encourage and develop a person who shows a desire to full-time service.
Third, and very important, is missionary care. In years past when a missionary went to the field, it was usually for life. Today, close to 50% of all missionaries don’t make it to a second term and more than that don’t make it past a third. I don’t have time now to list all of the reasons why, but suffice it to say we need to do all that we can to help our missionaries stay on the field. You can’t help everyone, but you definitely can help the ones out of your church. Stay in touch with them by phone or video. Go visit them on the field. Don’t be afraid to have hard personal conversations with them. Help meet their financial, emotional and spiritual needs. If you are not involved in their lives and ministry, you won’t know when a potential problem arises.