RICHMOND, Va. (BP) — Church size, budget limitations and fear should not prevent local congregations from engaging in global missions, said panelists at a Facebook Live event today (April 25) hosted by the International Mission Board.
Pastors “are not just called to tend sheep,” said Cliff Jordan, pastor of Movement Church in Richmond, Va. “We’re called to send them” to the nations. “It’s just part of the job.”
The event featured IMB President David Platt interviewing Richmond-area pastors from churches of various sizes about “major barriers to engaging a church in missions.”
Jordan said a top barrier to missions involvement for some churches is relegating “missions to activity only” and not regarding it first as part of every Christian’s identity. “Our mission identity has to be the core,” he said. Missions activity should “flow out of that.”
Movement, which averages about 240 people in worship, recently sent multiple couples to serve as missionaries in Central Asia through IMB, Platt said.
Derek Futrell, pastor of Parkway Baptist Church in Moseley, Va., cited as another top barrier to missions “prayerlessness and a lack of awareness” about lostness in the world.
Parkway “didn’t really see God begin to do work in us until we began to pray specifically and intentionally: ‘God, You use us in the part of the world You want us,'” Futrell said. “Through that prayer, God began to bring us significant partnerships — not just with missionaries, but with peoples and having a heart for specific people groups.”
Parkway, with an average worship attendance of about 500, has done mission work in the Philippines, Peru, South Asia and Romania.
Pete Hypes, pastor of Mission Community Church in Chester, Va., said the congregation’s modest worship attendance of 50-60 “could have held me back” from missions involvement. However, the church serves regularly among a people group in South Africa.
“I don’t think about the size of our church,” Hypes said. “I think about God, and I think about what God is able to do with us.”
Platt echoed the encouragement for small churches to play an active role in international missions.
“May you not underestimate what God will do in and through your church,” Platt said, noting Hypes not only leads members of Mission Community to do overseas evangelism but also mobilizes other churches in Virginia for missions.
Fear is another barrier to missions, panelists said. Pastors may fear the congregation won’t follow their lead if they jump into world evangelization. Some people may fear for their safety on mission trips, and others may fear people of different cultural and ethnic groups.
“Shepherding people on missions,” Platt said, “just uncovers all kinds of discipleship issues in the heart that wouldn’t be uncovered if we weren’t shepherding people on global mission.”
Taking a step of faith and going on a mission trip, Futrell said, can help believers overcome their fears.
Platt said “barriers in pastors’ own hearts to leading on missions” are “oftentimes overcome by being overseas. If you’re not overseas, if you’re not in some of these contexts among unreached people or amidst massive, urgent physical and spiritual need in the world, it’s going to show in your preaching and pastoral ministry.”
When a church’s budget seems to leave little room for missions, Futrell said, the members should prioritize their spending, pray and increase missions expenditures gradually.
Hypes said “the costs are so minimal” compared to “the blessing” that results from reaching unreached men and women globally.
Meanwhile, Platt hosted a “Secret Church” gathering in Hendersonville, Tenn., April 20. Secret Church is an annual event put on by Platt’s personal ministry, Radical. The event mimics the format in which persecuted believers in other parts of the world gather to pray and receive Bible teaching.
This year’s event ran from 5:30 p.m. to midnight and focused on “cults and counterfeit gospels,” according to Radical’s website. Some 1,800 attended the live event at Long Hollow Baptist Church, Radical told Baptist Press, with more than 53,000 others joining via simulcast.