The great preacher Charles Spurgeon once said, “Every Christian is either a missionary or an impostor.” Missions is the essence of the Christian faith. Missions is also the essence of the golden rule of loving for your neighbor as yourself. You cannot love your neighbor and not tell him of the forgiveness and eternal salvation that is in Jesus Christ. Before His ascension to heaven, the Savior gave the disciples the following commandment:
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
At the International Missions School – Precept Ministries Eurasia, which takes place each summer in the Republic of Moldova, one of the practical assignments each student has to undertake is to participate in a three-day missionary trip to one of our country’s villages. They must travel to a village where there is no evangelical church. There are about 1000 communities in our country with no evangelical church. The Lord Jesus Christ gave a similar assignment to His disciples, and we read about it in chapter 10 of the Gospel according to Matthew. Vitalie Marian, the coordinator of the School of Journalism Faculty, suggested that I write this article to offer some advice and instructions to all pastors and youth leaders who would like to organize such missionary journeys with the members of their churches. So, here is how to organize a local, three-day mission trip.
1. Evaluate the missional needs for a particular area
It is very important for every church in the country to continuously research the religious context in the area where they are located in order to discover what the missional needs are. Just like we research the religious situation and discover the missional context of the local churches in our areas, we also need to know the religious situation of the areas where there is no evangelical church in order to have some knowledge of the possibilities of taking the Gospel to these areas. If you do not have this information, do some research and make a list of the nearby areas, maybe the county where you live and see what the most urgent needs are. This could be the basis for a church plant. A short-term missionary trip will give you opportunities to get to know the spiritual situation of the people in these localities better and you will discover the best way to take the Gospel message to them.
2. Make a specific missional plan
It is important for the church pastor to hold a meeting with all the elders, preachers, and teachers in the church, and to make a concrete plan that will give specific answers to the following questions:
- Where will the mission be held?
- How long will it last?
- Who will go on the trip?
- What will be done on the mission trip?
- What Bible study material will be used and given to the people?
- What results may be expected during and after the trip?
- How will this trip motivate people to more missions?
- What needs to be done in the church to organize this trip?
3. Motivate the church to specific missional actions
Pastors and preachers in the church must continually motivate people to Christian missions. They must not limit their motivation to general exhortations, but instead, they need to provide church members with a plan, a strategy, and an example of personal involvement in missions. Once you have assessed the spiritual situation in the region or area, you must discover the greatest need, as well as be aware of the areas openness to Christian missions. Once this is determined, the leader must present this plan to the whole church, and it will best be done within the context of a worship service, a service where the theme is Christian missions.
4. Form a mission team
While at the International Missions School – Precept Ministries Eurasia, either during the first or the second week of their studies, all of the students are divided up into groups of 5 team members and they must choose a leader from among themselves. After doing this assignment, they are informed of the mission trip on which they are about to embark. Each team of 5 has to travel to a remote village, visit evangelical churches and then hold a day camp in that area. Using this model, the pastor can form teams from within the church and send members out on a short, local mission trip. In the church which I pastor, Good News Church, in Chisinau, Moldova, we have organized many short term, local mission trips. First, we meet up with the leadership of the church and plan out the major components of the teams, based on the missional needs of the area. Then we prayerfully seek the Lord’s guidance in the exact areas that we should visist on our short-term, local mission trips. After that, we shared this information with all the members of the church, formed the teams, and then went out and shared the Gospel of Christ with an entire county in our country. Every aspect of the team needs to be considered. You need to think about such things as the number of men and women on the team, if there are children going, the distance to the area and what kind of area it is. Also, the team members need to be modest in their behavior and even in their dress. We go to win souls for Christ, not create barriers to the Gospel.
5. Give clear instructions to the team members
Jesus Christ was very specific in His instructions to His disciples before sending them out to preach the Gospel in the surrounding villages. The details of these instructions are found in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 10. This is the same thing that we do with our students who attend the missions school. After doing a Bible study with all of the students, each one is given a list of questions that need to be answered in order to be prepared for the mission trip. Each team has 30 minutes to go over the prepared questions. Then, we all come together and discuss the questions one more time. Make sure that every team members understands the detailed instructions and knows his or her role and what is expected of him or her.
6. The team is to head out without money or food
This is the instruction that Jesus gave to His disciples before sending them out to the surrounding villages and this instruction had a purpose. This is exactly how the students of the International Missions School – Precept Ministries Eurasia are sent out. This year, we invited the youth of the local churches to join the teams, with the same instruction of not taking extra food or money with them. After returning from the endeavour, the students all shared testimonies and reports, with great joy and enthusiasm, about how the Lord provided in miraculous ways for them on their trip. The citizens of the villages opened up their homes to the students, offering food and shelter for the duration of the trip.
7. Prepare the necessary evangelism material
It is very important for each team member to have sufficient evangelism material to distribute to the people whom they will meet on their journey during the trip. It is important to have enough Bibles, or New Testaments to give to the people to read as you speak with them. There will also be a need for Bible study manuals to distribute in order to do Bible study with people during the duration of the trip. The students of the International Missions School – Precept Ministries Eurasia all take copies of the Christian magazine, “Christian Family” with them as well as copies of the Christian newspaper, “Christian Moldova”. They also take invitations to different Christian events that will be organized throughout the year. Be sure to have material in the languages of the people. For example, you may encounter Spanish speakers along the way. It’s better to be prepared than to get there and encounter a situation where the language barrier keeps ministry from happening. Encourage people to get a subscription to the magazines and newspapers that will be distributed. That will assure the possibility of receiving continued Biblical teaching even after the team is no longer there. Also, be prepared to share your church website or Facebook page where Christian articles are written and videos are posted. Invite the people to follow you on Facebook so that you can maintain a relationship with them and continue to share the Good News of the Gospel with them on a daily basis, no matter the distance.
8. Make sure that the work begun continues
It is not enough to go and share one time. This is just the beginning of a larger project. The purpose of the initial visit is to share the Gospel with people and form relationships with them. The next step is to have systematical Bible studies on site with the purpose of church planting because you have already established the fact that there is no Evangelical church in that area. Now that you have established contact, it will be easier to organize day camps, Bible study seminars, and small group Bible studies in the area. Pray and ask the Lord to open up doors for church planting in that area. See what you can do to make sure that the ministry begun there continues and develops into a church plant.
According to the latest census, the number of Evangelical Christians in Moldova is about 1.5% of the population. According to the Union of Evangelical Baptist Churches, in Moldova during the year 2016, 2,420 youth and 1,502 adolescents were counted among the Baptist churches. If we were to unite our efforts for one day, or over a three-day period, we could send out 4-5 people to all of those 1,000 communities in Moldova that do not have an Evangelical presence. Just imagine the impact of all of those Evangelical Christians sharing the Gospel simultaneously in all of those areas where there is not Evangelical Church. It would offer the possibility for thousands of people to hear about being born again. The new birth, according to Jesus, is the only way that people can enter the kingdom of heaven. What would be even better would be if we could organize a mass movement like this each year and just watch how the Lord would change the spiritual landscape of our country. These short-term mission trips will motivate each church member to be missionary minded on a daily basis, in their homes, neighbourhoods, work places, schools etc. May the Lord help us accomplish this dream for our own good and for His glory.