It’s one thing to support missions as a gesture. It’s another to treat missions as a spiritual investment.
When it comes to your financial investments, who would you trust oversee them? Just anybody? Hardly. You want to trust the oversight of your retirement to someone who has a track record of success, knows what they’re talking about, and will show up consistently to do what needs to be done.
The same thing goes for your spiritual investment in missions. You want to send someone who will stay for the long haul to create lasting gospel partnerships, plant a church with a legacy of disciple-making, and train qualified spiritual leaders.
Paul articulates several critical traits of a trustworthy gospel worker:
“And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:1-16)
Let’s unpack what Paul is saying here.
Send someone who displays the power of God.
Don’t send someone who struggles with deep insecurity.
If they are driven by their ego, and are always trying to prove how good they are at all things “ministry,” this is not the person you want to send as an ambassador for Christ to another culture.
Send someone who has enough humility to say: “I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”
Send a strong, convicted person who won’t exchange the gospel for something else.
This may seem to conflict with the previous point. It doesn’t. Along with humility before Christ comes a conviction and strength in the message of Christ.
It’s easy to fold under the pressure of evangelistic conversations to get soft on the gospel. It’s easy to sacrifice truth for the sake of building relationships—even in the name of sharing truth. It’s weird logic, and many missionaries fall prey to it.
But Paul wasn’t a folder: “…I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:1-2).
Paul’s motivation was not the latest Tony Robbins talk, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, or any other self-help fad. His was a deep-rooted conviction concerning the sufficiency and necessity of the message of Christ for salvation. Paul hammered that point over and over, even in the fires of persecution. And that hammering forged the solid foundation that began the church in Corinth.
Send someone who trembles in their search for truth.
Paul boasts in his trembling, not because he wants to seem overly spiritual, but because he wants the Corinthians to know how seriously he takes the truth of the gospel.
Preaching the gospel wasn’t simply one facet of a networking strategy Paul used. The gospel was the beating heart of his life’s work. He wanted all to see: I take this seriously. And I take the mission of getting people to understand it just as seriously.
Here’s the question: does your church have men and women like this? If not, could your church raise up such men and women? And not only this, but—since Paul hoped “to be sent on by” the recipients of his Roman epistle (Romans 15:24)—if your church did see such individuals raised up, would you be willing to send them away to another culture rather than hoarding them and their spiritual fruit on the homefront?
ABWE exists to fulfill the Great Commission by multiplying leaders, churches, and missions movements among every people.