Friday, July 17, 2009

Send Them Prepared:

Equipping Your Church For Cross-Cultural Ministry

If we had the privilege of viewing a re-run of the life of the Apostle Paul, we would observe Paul's life being directed and shaped by the sovereign hand of God who used all of Paul's previous experiences, knowledge, and even his family heritage to make him a useful cross-cultural servant in His hand. There came a point in time when a church who knew Paul well was called upon to send him out into a lost world to carry the torch of the Gospel to peoples who had never heard. Paul's worthiness for this calling had been proven through the test of time and the church had no reservation when the Holy Spirit prompted them to send him out with blessing and support from their church body.

Paul's process of preparation for this calling was guided and shaped by the hand of God. But God used many mentors and teachers to assist Paul in his readiness to fulfill that calling - parents, Gamaliel, Ananias, the brothers in Damascus, Barnabas, Peter, and Christ himself. The Word reveals that from the time he received his calling to the point of being commissioned by a church to take the gospel to the Gentiles, about 13 years had passed. Preparation takes time. Preparation requires intentionality. Jesus has given the responsibility of shaping and training kingdom citizens to the church.

A few years ago my church began asking the question, What do we need to do to become a responsible sending church? We came to the conclusion that there are multiple answers to that question. However, a huge piece of the sending process is that of missional formation and cross-cultural preparation. Preparation is then married to assessment. It is the church's responsibility to insure that the people they send out are equipped missionally, spiritually, emotionally and financially. With all of the resources availed to churches in this era, it would be negligent for my church to send its own people into the unreached world without utilizing the resources and tools God has offered us to equip them.

Many people ask our network, How do we prepare people for service? ...What are the resources available to us? ...How can we assess people for readiness? GCPN has chosen to assist churches in finding these answers. Here is GCPN's nutshell answer to those questions.

Preparation is a church's lifestyle. From the earliest educational programming in the church, we choose to educate children about God's love for the nations and their role in sharing that love. This is an intentional process that continues through the Bible studies and discipleship ministries of our churches. However, there comes a point in time where a more serious process is implemented. As people feel a draw toward cross-cultural ministries, we recommend that they participate in a course called Perspectives on the World Christian Movement. Perspectives can be taken for credit or by audit. It can be taken on site or on-line. Perspectives is a foundational piece upon which other preparation is erected. After the completion of Perspectives, we recommend that candidates for cross-cultural service enter into a training community established within the context of the local church. In this community they will spend approximately one year focusing on issues of character, community, competency, church, connections and covenant. Our recommended curriculum for this year of preparation is PANORAMA: a Broad View of the World and Your Place in It.

There is more to sending than financial provision and praying through a prayer calendar. As a nurturing family of faith, we hope to take advantage of all the opportunities to love and care for our people in a responsible way. The assessment of our people for cross-cultural readiness is a part of that nurture. We encourage churches to offer medical, dental, psychological and educational assessment to your cross-cultural servants prior to placing them in cultures where even the smallest issues are often magnified. GCPN can assist churches in obtaining these services through our assessment team which is made up of believing professionals who feel called to serve the cross-cultural servant.

It is time for the gospel to be proclaimed in all nations. Let us pray. Let us give. Let us send. Let us go...prepared.

Let us know if GCPN can assist your church in any way along your journey to the nations.

Executive Director, GCPN


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