Whenever I speak in churches, I have a favourite question I like to ask early in my presentation.
First, I briefly provide clarity on two key words. By “Goers” we mean missionaries – those who will “lay down their lives” in a home context to take them up again to be salt and light, often in a cross-cultural context. The “Senders”, on the other hand, are those who usually stay home, and help prepare, support, encourage Goers as they serve.
Most congregations are nodding with understanding by this point, so I can ask my question:
“In God’s plan for global missions, which is more important: the Goers or the Senders?”
Often there is a quiet pause. Then, someone courageous (often a child! 😊) pipes up with the correct answer: “They are BOTH important.”
Now there is more nodding of heads – it makes sense that someone must go, but someone must help send! This opens the door to explore the idea that there is a role for each and every Christ-follower to share in God’s global mission – either as a Goer, or as a Sender.
Not only logical, but biblical
And not only does this make sense, it is absolutely biblical. In chapter 10 of his letter to the Romans, Paul writes,
13 For “Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.”
14 But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?
15 And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent?
Paul understood that the global mission was not entrusted to just a few who would be the Goers, but the entire Body of Christ.
SO much more than (only) prayer and donations!
Very importantly, we acknowledge that two major roles for Senders is to pray for missionaries, and to give toward missionaries. Both these practices are essential, and clearly instructed in God’s Word. (We will write plenty more about these ideas in other posts!)
There is, however, MUCH more to consider when we talk about the importance of Senders.
Senders help mentor essential life skills
Some of the beautiful blessings of the Body of Christ are of cross-generational relationships. Sisters and brothers who are “further along the journey” can help provide support and loving insight to the growth of emerging and veteran missionaries. This contribution is needed before, during, and after missionary service.
For example, Senders might help model and encourage:
- a faithful walk with God (habits of holiness) that are being formed in missionaries,
- faithful “adulting”, including faithful singlehood, healthy marriages and parenting,
- time management, financial budgeting, and generous stewardship
- healthy conflict resolution,
- facing life’s crises with grace and mercy…
… and the list goes on!
How helpful the Body of Christ – most of whom are Senders – might be in preparing the hearts and minds of emerging missionaries!
Practice and development of relevant skills for ministry
I clearly remember visiting with a businessman in Canada, asking if he would consider taking a missionary onto the staff of his company for a year. The goal was to help this missionary “learn the ropes” of running a business prior to trying to do it on the mission field. I clearly remember the businessman’s reaction:
“As a Christian business person, I’ve had many missionaries sit in my office to ask for a donation.
“This is the first time I’ve been asked to share from my experience and learning, in order that they might better serve.
“Sign me up…”
In our sending churches there are so many people with rich experience that could benefit emerging missionaries! And not just business people! We also have teachers, doctors, nurses, tradespeople. We have people in retail, management and online media and marketing. We have firemen and athletes and lawyers and… the list goes on…
With intentionality and creativity it will be possible to unlock some of the vast riches of life experience and talent to better prepare and support missionaries.
Support and care for families of missionaries
Of course many Sending churches seek to be supportive of the missionaries and MKs (missionary kids) who will move “overseas” to serve. Excellence in Missionary Care is a priority of every excellent Sending church.
Often times, however, cross-cultural service also means that the missionary’s extended family (grandparents, parents, siblings, or children) are required to release their loved ones for service. This comes with a high personal price, even for those who are supportive of God’s global mission.
There are many ways that Senders are able to come alongside and help carry these challenge. Again, just a few ideas:
- Can we help pack, carry heavy bags, and then stand (in the background, please!) at the airport during painful farewells?
- Can we help stock a panty, or vacuum out a used minivan for a family soon arriving from a mission field for furlough?
- How can we sit over a cup of tea with a sister or brother whose children/grandchildren have obeyed God’s call to go to the “ends of the earth”?
And this list goes on as well…
Being a Sender is a high calling
It’s true that Goers have a calling. But Senders are also a critical component in God’s plan to reach the nations. Through praying, giving financially, and through loving support of mission workers and their loved ones we clearly see the importance of Senders.
Our team at the Global Missions Toolbox believes that both Goers AND Senders are essential participants in God’s global work. We’re striving to provide encouragement, ideas, and resources to those who are supporting missions from “home”. Sign up for access to this growing collection of resources here!
Rob, also known to his friends as “Mags”, was raised near Edmonton, AB. He met Kathleen Hayes during his studies at Briercrest Bible College, and they were married in 1992. God has blessed the Magwoods with three fantastic kids. Mags and Kathleen first served together on a short-term mission team to the Philippines. In 1996 they moved to Ukraine and Russia to participate in church planting, theological education, and agency administration. Mags has served as Canadian Director of SEND International since 2004.