How to Build a World Missions Church
Our church started with 5 people in 1991. We started planting churches in 1992. Initially we planted within Asia and Oceania. From 1998 onwards we started planting in all continents of the world. We started as a local church, then we became a regional church and now we are becoming a global church.
Before we go into how to build a world missions church, allow me to debunk common misconceptions about world missions.
First, it is simply not true that some churches have a call for missions but others don’t. God calls all of us to make disciples of all nations. When you read the Bible, you get a clear sense that God loves the whole world. That He thinks globally and He redeems globally. Jesus was and is pre-occupied with the world.
There is only one instance in the Bible the church is told not to do missions. It was in Acts 1:8, where Christ told the disciples not to go out into the world until they had received the fullness of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus told all of us to “go”. Some churches miss the word “go”. Jesus told us to start at Jerusalem then go to Judea, Samaria and outer parts of the world. Some churches get stuck in Jerusalem.
Some Christians resist missions actively ("I'm already meeting many needs here") or passively (applauding church planting enthusiastically with minimal personal response). What is the risk of being inward looking? When a river has no outlet, it becomes a dead sea. It is important to personalise Jesus’ heart for the nations.
Second, it is not true that only larger churches can plant churches. Every 100-person group in our church targets to plant a church in an overseas city every 3 years. A small church can partner with another small or medium church to plant churches.
Third, it is said that “we can’t possibly go to all the 238 countries and territories”. No one said to go to the whole world at once. I will answer this in the next section.
Now allow me to share some key elements to build a world missions church.
A world missions church has missions-hearted leadership. The top leadership has got to be convinced we have a responsibility beyond our home shores. Our leadership, teaching and modeling is what makes this work. That’s why it is said “as the leader does, so goes the church”.
“There is only one among the twelve apostles who did not become a missionary. He became a traitor” Adam Brown.
Here are four practical tips. Plan the annual church calendar around missions. Missions work is far away and easily falls to the bottom of the agenda. Always set missions goals first since local issues will always get prioritised. Ensure every local ministry and church department has a global vision so every one becomes a global outfit. Start every management and leadership meeting with a global missions review. Ensure there is a constant stream of missions news in your website and church bulletin and missions testimonies in your worship services.
A world missions church has a world missions strategy. Most churches just do Short Term Missions (STM). People come back excited. The question is always ‘so what next’? How do we move them to the next level? Here are three pointers. Prayerfully adopt a city for church planting. Make a commitment that we are going to do whatever it takes to see this people coming to Christ, and being discipled and churches planted that will lead to other churches being planted. Develop strategy with your Regional Missions Coordinator. Form a team.
A world missions church is sacrificially funding missions. We thought we were doing quite well in world missions. Then we realised that another local church in Singapore spends 50% of its annual budget every year on world missions. That blew my mind. Here is the lesson - Don’t use God’s blessings for ourselves. Give your best leaders for missions. If you take care of the world, God will take care of your church.
A world missions church cares holistically for church planters and churches. Be willing to take the responsibility of mothering. Giving birth is hard but mothering is harder. It is also for life.
A world missions church is thoroughly preparing church planters. Offer introductory missions courses in Word for Life, special seminars and specialised training for language acquisition.
A world missions church grows global Christians. Challenge members to give more of their lives to world missions every year. Ask members to stop and think about how their purpose in life fits into God’s purpose of making Him known, praised and enjoyed among all people of the earth.
The current global era now upon us is a new kairos. In the final analysis, what brings radical change and transformation in a city is two feet walking into a city.
“What are churches for but to make missionaries” Augustus Strong.
First published in the August 2007 issue of the H.I.M. Advance newsletter.