Jesus’ final charge to the church was to be witnesses and make disciples in their cities, regions, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8, Matthew 28:19-20). Missions Ministers have the privilege of leading a congregation in evangelism and disciple-making to those outside of the ordinary reach of a local church.
A study of the gospels reveals that Jesus fed the hungry, healed the sick, shared God’s truths, showed compassion to the broken, and spent a lot of time with people who had little social status. In addition, Jesus traveled to places like Samaria and shared the good news cross-culturally. Much of what Jesus did in the gospels is related to what we would today consider “mission work.” Missions ministers help church members to be the hands and feet of Jesus in their neighborhoods, across town, and around the globe.
Southern Baptists value evangelism and global missions. The Baptist Faith and Message reads…
It is the duty and privilege of every follower of Christ and of every church of the Lord Jesus Christ to endeavor to make disciples of all nations…The Lord Jesus Christ has commanded the preaching of the gospel to all nations. It is the duty of every child of God to seek constantly to win the lost to Christ by verbal witness undergirded by a Christian lifestyle and by other methods in harmony with the gospel of Christ.
Southern Baptist churches support missions financially through the Cooperative Program, including the International Mission Board and the North American Mission Board. However, giving money is only one aspect of being a missional church. The minister of missions works with the senior pastor to develop a vision to see members share the love and message of Jesus with people who have never heard the gospel.
Qualifications for a minister of missions include a personal commitment to Christ paired with a desire to see others saved. Missions ministry not only involves a love for God; success in this position involves an unwavering love for people. Men and women who serve God in missions should lead out of a divine calling, not because of an emotional response to a need. Missions minsters should be able to share the gospel in a clear manner. Developing cultural intelligence is a skill that will help the missions minister share the good news with people from different backgrounds. It is preferred that those who lead a church’s missions ministry have experience in an area related to missions (mission trips, cross-cultural ministry, apartment ministry, college ministry, etc.).
The tasks and scope of s Minster of Missions can vary significantly from church to church. However, most do the following:
- Arrange partnerships between your local church and people/organizations who are doing missional work.
- Plan mission trips and other opportunities for church members to engage in missions.
- Take the lead in missions education and awareness, often in collaboration with other staff (education minister, youth minister, senior pastor, etc.).
- Work with the church leadership (deacons, committees, executive pastor, etc.) to plan and facilitate special mission offerings, fundraisers, collection boxes, etc.
- Create missional ministries within the church (English as a Second Language Classes, Afterschool tutoring for children at an apartment, mentors for at-risk teens, etc.). Recruit and train leaders for these ministries.
- Connect with associational, state, and national leaders in the area of missions.
- Take the lead in cross-cultural ministries within the local church (immigrant ministries, reentry after incarceration, basic needs ministries, etc.).
- Connect the staff and lay leaders to missions resources and opportunities. Assist age-graded ministers and others to make missions a priority in their areas.
ADDITIONAL POSSIBLE AREAS OF LEADERSHIP
In many churches, the Missions Minster leads in areas that are not mentioned above. Below are some roles that a missions minister might fulfill.
Evangelism Ministry – leading the church in personal evangelism training and providing special evangelism events.
Clothes Closet or Food Pantry – leading the church to meet physical needs in the community.
Outreach Ministry – planning events that are targeted at the community.
Publicity – utilizing advertising, media, and marketing methods to keep the message and opportunities of the church visible in the community.
Digital Communications – Utilizing the church website and social media to communicate with unbelievers/unchurched.
Facilitate Church Planting – In order to reach our cities with the gospel, new churches will need to be established. Missions ministers often take the lead in church planting efforts that are sponsored by their local church. This is often a cooperative effort with local and state conventions.
Media Ministries – Providing leadership to TV, Radio, Internet Streaming, and other opportunities to connect the message of the church with the world.
Recreation Ministries – Missional ministries which use recreation as a vehicle to connect with families in the community, may be given oversight by a missions minister
University Ministries – Evangelism and ministry targeted to University students, often in cooperation with a BSM or a parachurch ministry with a certain focus (athletes, international students, etc.).
Missions Organizations – Some churches may have a WMU (Women’s Missionary Union), Disaster Relief Team, or Good News Clubs where the missions minister gives oversight.
Missionary Support – Some churches provide a house for missionaries on furlough to attend. This may be overseen by the missions minister. A Minister of Missions may also communicate prayer requests from the mission field to the church body.
Leading a Missions Committee – Some churches have a committee that makes decisions about missions funding, partnership, etc. The missions minister may lead this team in making decisions that are in alignment with the missions strategy of the church.
Those interested in serving as a Minister of Missions as a vocation should have some experience in cross-cultural ministry, either overseas or in a missional context in the U.S. However, these experiences are not a substitute for academics. A high-school diploma or GED is essential. In addition, a bachelor’s degree is beneficial in providing personal growth and academic skills to effectively lead in this type of ministry. Areas of study that might create a solid base for missions ministry include sociology, anthropology, social work, psychology, and foreign languages.
A master’s degree from a Southern Baptist seminary will be a prerequisite for many churches. This degree will provide the minister with a broad base of Bible knowledge, sound theology, and practical ministry skills. These will help the minister to lead with confidence and excellence.
The Minister of Missions position is one of a servant-leader. However, to be effective, the minister must realize that he/she was not hired to do all of the missional tasks of the church alone. Often, humble Christians who enjoy serving others find that they struggle to recruit and lead teams. Some may even be uncomfortable leading. Therefore, developing leadership skills is essential preparation for this type of ministry.
Many churches realize that younger Christians want more than a Sunday morning Christianity. There is a hunger among many to put their faith into action in tangible ways. Many churches have increased expectations that they become active in meeting needs in the community and overseas. Many senior pastors realize the need for a staff member dedicated to the ministries described above. Ministry positions in the area of missions are open to men and women who are qualified to serve. These may be part-time or full-time positions.
Serving as a Minister of Missions may be a full-time position, part-time position, or may be combined with another position in the church (Minister of Missions and Recreation, Director of Collegiate Ministry and Missions, etc.). It may not even have the word “missions” in the title (Pastor of Externally-Focused Ministries, Director of Global Ministries, etc.)
Southern Baptist Churches select ministers in different ways. Often, the senior pastor will make the decision. Other times, a personnel committee or special “search committee” will do the recruiting and selection. In other churches, the deacon body will be involved with the process. No matter who makes these choices, the best preparation to be hired by a church in the area of missions leadership is to have some type of related experience on your resume. This can be serving as a volunteer in a local church missions program or experience in a paid position with a parachurch ministry or nonprofit agency.
There is an obvious connection between the role of a missions minister and the role of a missionary. Some missions ministers have served on the field as an international or stateside missionary. Likewise, some Ministers of Missions leave their church position to serve in the mission field.
Some parachurch agencies cooperate with a wide variety of churches to share the gospel, meet the needs of the marginalized, or minister to a specific cultural group. Serving in leadership with an evangelical organization is also a related field
Becoming a “church planter” can be a way to serve missionally. This is especially true if the primary focus of the new church is growth through evangelism.
Another related position is the “Director of Missions” for a local Baptist association. This position focuses on equipping churches in the association to be active in local missional work and church planting. There are also needs for quality men and women to serve in missions-related areas as with state conventions and at the national level (SBC, NAMB, IMB).