Note: This is first in a series on missionary support raising and communications.
Paul knew exactly what each season of his ministry was about. Consider his purpose and proposition statement to the leaders of the Ephesian church,
“But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”
Testifying to the gospel of grace was not only what Paul did, it is who he was and why he was a missionary. The Scriptures are full of his activities and writings, but I suggest at a moments notice Paul could clearly, concisely and with certainty share his purpose and proposition for ministry. He simply said, “I testify to the gospel of grace of Jesus Christ.” I will also suggest modern missionaries can gain by being able to clearly, concisely and with certainty explain their purpose for being on the field in their written and verbal communication.
A missionary purpose and proposition statement is a vision communication which guides, provides and defines a God inspired future allowing for review and evaluation over time. The statement will clearly state the purpose, for Paul it was, “to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” Because it is part of missionary communication, the statement is also propositional, meaning it suggests and invites engagement.
When the missionary is able to communicate the purpose and proposition of the mission in a single statement sentence, the missionary provides assurance in at least four areas;
• Provides a clear course of direction for future decisions and to avoid distractions.
• Provides a well crafted statement to explain the work and invite further discussion.
• Provides a clear explanation of how the gospel is going forward in the work.
• Provides a clear definition of success and when the mission is completed.
It may seem difficult to craft a missionary purpose and proposition statement before actually leaving for the field and engaging in the work, but it is probably among the most important practical steps a sending church can help their missionaries take. Since all missionary communication will hinge on the statement, and people will ask for clarity of what the missionary will be doing, missionaries will be grateful to be able to provide a clear, concise and certain response that has been refined with others.
Similarly, a well crafted purpose and proposition statement helps the sending church in clearly defining what their missionaries are doing and building an initial step of accountability and evaluation.
When asking missionaries about the work they are called to I’ve heard varying drawn out responses which I can not clearly discern what the call is or what the main focus of ministry will be. Ultimately, I can not discern what the purpose and proposition of their going to the field is. They likely have a clear and important calling, they likely have a passion for God to be proclaimed among the nations, but unless a missionary call can be clearly, concisely and with certainty communicated, it gets lost.
Consider the response of a medical missionary serving pastoralist community in North Africa saying, “Reaching unreached pastoralist communities with the love of Christ through midwifery in North Africa.” Of course that is just the essence of what the calling is, but that phrase makes the hearer want to know more. It brings curiosity about the community the midwife will serve, compassion for the women and their children, and desire for engagement with how birthing babies will lead to the gospel of Jesus Christ.