VM Series: Discerning A Local Church’s Work In Global Missions (May 2019)

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The Scope of Opportunities in Global Missional Work

This blog piece is part of an ongoing, monthly series, as we journey with Red Bluff Vineyard in their process of discerning the specifics of their global missions engagement. Click here to start back at Part 1 from October 2018.

As I’ve been having conversations with people about some opportunities our church has in relation to global mission trips, I’m often asked what specifically we would be doing. While everyone who has been on a mission trip knows that the most important beatitude for missionaries is “Blessed are the flexible,” that doesn’t help ease the anxiety of potential participants!

I’ve noticed that the common assumption about missionary work is either (1) standing on street corners with a bullhorn preaching the gospel or (2) building things. Almost everyone I talk to seems to assume that they need to either be comfortable with public speaking or know how to build things. Is this true? Must a person know how to preach or do construction in order to go on a short-term (or long-term) mission trip

As I’ve noted previously, I’ve had opportunities to participate in international missionary work in Nepal, Kenya, Tanzania, Hong Kong, Canada, and Mexico. Here’s what I’ve either done or our teams have done:

  • Spent time encouraging orphanage workers.

  • Put on a Vacation Bible School at orphanages.

  • Taught marriage classes.

  • Taught Bible classes.

  • Build a greenhouse.

  • Trained people on how to garden and grow fruit and veggies.

  • Shared our testimony and faith with people in restaurants.

  • Performed music and dramas for people.

  • Encouraged and trained pastors.

  • Helped coach kids playing certain sports (basketball, soccer, etc.).

  • Played games with kids.

  • Dug ditches.

  • Provide medical care.

  • Visited families and built relationships.

  • Taught people how to use the Internet.

  • Took photos and videos to be shared amongst the ministry.

  • And much more!

This list is the first things that come to mind. I’m sure I could come up with dozens of other things people have done on these trips. In fact, on one trip in particular trip, we had a person come just to drive the van for the week!

In the same way that local churches/ministries have many needs, mission trips often provide many opportunities for people to serve!

In fact, this plays into our strategy as a local church. While I have some potential opportunities that would allow me and other trained leaders to be able to provide leadership training for pastors, I also want to ensure that we will have opportunities, while being flexible and adaptive, to use the giftings, skills, abilities, and passions God has given us. I want the guy in my church who can’t train pastors but loves to build things to know that he has something to contribute. And I want the lady in my church who is a professional photographer to know that were she to go to a country and take lots of really great photos and videos, their ministry could use them on their website and in other areas.

I recently saw a very powerful video I share with you that illustrates this very concept: [Right Now Media original production called The Florist. © 2014 ]

 
 

All in all, mission trips can be places where lots of needs can be met!

In the back of my mind, as I’m exploring different options, I’m constantly asking myself and the Lord whether or not that mission opportunity will have opportunities for our uniquely gifted people to serve! Not everyone can do everything, right? So, what can we bring to the table to help God’s mission? How can we partner with the Holy Spirit to serve the needs of that specific ministry?

These are some of the questions we continue to ask...

 
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Luke Geraty is a pastor-theologian living in Northern California, and he and his wife, Dawn, lead the Red Bluff Vineyard. Father of five amazing children, when Luke isn’t hanging with his family or doing church stuff, he enjoys reading and writing theology, fly fishing, and listening to underground hip hop. He blogs at SpiritChurchMission.com and can be followed on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.