A potential kingdom worker once asked us, “What ingredients are needed to be a successful, healthy, long-term mission worker?”
This is a great question, one that we think everyone should be asking who is considering getting involved in cross-cultural work. In short we might answer major on the majors and don’t sweat the details; but, that seems a little simplistic and not very helpful so here are some deeper thoughts we have to consider.
Being successful in cross-cultural ministry rests on four basic principles. We will state them here and then flesh them out a little.
- Mission ministry should be done only out of direct obedience to God’s leading to get involved in that kind of kingdom work.
- Mission work should be an extension of who you already are and what you already do.
- Mission work happens best when it is an extension of a church body, both the sending church and the body of Christ in the location of service.
- Mission work is most successful when it comes out of a life of balance and boundaries.
Here is a little more detail on the above.
Obedience should drive everything we do as it relates to the kingdom of God. We love God and we love each other (as Christ has loved us, or just as we love ourselves) because of obedience. We go about our work (as workers who don’t need to be ashamed) because of obedience. We go to every nation and tribe with the gospel out of obedience. It is as sinful TO TRY TO BE a mission worker if God has not directed you as it is TO NOT BE a mission worker if he has.
Most people consider “calling” a special announcement from God in your life to go into the ministry of some kind, and that word could be understood that way. We like to see “calling,” though, as what God has designed, gifted, educated and experienced you to do. WHERE you do that, we would refer to as God’s leading. God’s leading for you changes. His calling on your life rarely does. If everything in you is designed to be a teacher then you should teach. It’s God’s calling on your life. Where you teach would be God’s leading for you at this moment in your life. We use all this semantics talk to reinforce that successful mission workers are ones that apply their calling wherever God is leading!
Jesus established the church to be his body, his physical presence, here on earth. Our assignment while here is to be Jesus to each other and share (give witness about) him with the world around us (Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth). We ARE the church. It isn’t some place we go to. That being so, it makes sense that mission workers should be part of and sent by the body of Christ in their home culture and work to facilitate the work of the body of Christ in their “target” culture. All mission work finds its foundation in the church and should, in some way, move the church forward, in loving God, loving each other and expanding the kingdom of God.
Balance and boundaries are not things that most mission workers have. To be honest, they aren’t things that most of us have in our lives, especially in North America. Many things cause this; including, the vastness of the need, the urgency of the task, the responsibilities of family and friends and even our own pride. Without balance and boundaries, though, things begin to fall apart. Picture one of those plate twirler people. Balance is needed just to get the first plate twirling but also to go from plate to plate to keep them up there. Boundaries limit the number of plates that can be twirled. Go beyond those boundaries and all of the plates can come tumbling down into a porcelain mess. Thriving in a different culture doing kingdom work demands balance and boundaries!
Preparation for cross-cultural work and ministry requires commitment and takes some time. If you feel God is leading you toward this type of commitment, give us a call or shoot us an email.
May God bless you.
Director of Mobilization
US Mobilization Center
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One Challenge is an international mission sending agency empowering local church ministry in more than 100 countries around the world. We seek to empower the whole body of Christ to bring a transforming love and hope to all people. When invited by local leaders, OC facilitates local bodies of believers to identify, train, and send global workers toward realizing a “from everywhere to everywhere” vision. For more information, please email OC Mobilization at email@example.com. Or go to our Mobilization blog at ocimobilization.wordpress.com/blog/.