In response to Scripture (Matthew 28:19-20, Mark 16:15 and Acts 1:8), churches should be intentionally sending their members. Sending them on mission trips, church planting efforts, ministry projects and disaster relief responses. The church can reach our world with the gospel by putting the focus on how many we send rather than how many attend.
What does it mean to send? Sending isthe act of enlisting, equipping and mobilizing believers to engage the world with the gospel through local community ministry, short-term mission experiences, church planting efforts, disaster relief work, vocational ministry, and long-term missionary service.
A sending church equips its members go, challenges them to live on mission every day, and provides many opportunities for them to demonstrate the gospel using their gifts, talents, and life experiences.
First Baptist Church, Inez, Kentucky is one example of a sending church. FBC Inez has experienced tremendous missions participation growth during the last two years because pastor Casey Carver has made sending a priority.
Pastor Casey preached a month-long series of sermons on the importance of missions, challenging the church to not only pray and give, but to send and go. He used “One Call” to send a missions themed daily devotional by phone to the entire church during that month-long emphasis.
The church had not taken a mission trip in many years, so pastor Casey planned a 3-day mission trip to an eastern Kentucky ministry that was only 3 hours from their church. They sent 25% of the church’s Sunday morning attendance on that initial mission trip.
Pastor Casey also encouraged the church to engage in ministry to the local community and many have done so. Members are doing mission work through local ministries like Appalachian Reach Out, Haven of Rest, Heavenly Treasures Thrift Store, and God’s Food Pantry. Additionally, a group of ladies meets regularly to knit items that are given to residents of the local nursing home.
The church recognized the need of children in the foster care system who arrive at local homes with nothing to call their own. Therefore, the church began a ministry in which they provide host families with backpacks filled with items needed by foster children.
The sending of members on mission continues, as does the vision for how that will happen. Pastor Casey has taken steps toward a new ministry called, God’s Connection, that will serve as a residential drug recovery ministry. That vision includes a coffee shop and thrift store that will provide revenue for the ministry and a place of employment for those in the program. They have received permission to use an old motel for the ministry are seeking donations to help with renovation as plans for God’s Connection and the micro-ministries are developed.
Sending people on mission out from the church won’t happen by accident. There must be intentionality by church leadership, specifically, the pastor. Pastors, will you challenge your members to go? Churches, will you send your members out on mission as commanded by Christ? We serve a sending God who expects nothing less from us, than to go, because we’ve been sent.