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When Missionaries Teach and Preach

A Sunday morning at the local church, a conference teaching slot or other substantial speaking opportunity can be a great opportunity for missionary communication. When missionaries teach and preach it can be powerful and few situations allow for connecting to so many people at one time. It can be a moving experience as the attendees of a church or conference gathering hear how God has worked in and through His missionaries to open the door of faith (Acts 14:27).
For all the good a visiting missionary speaking to a church gathering can have, it’s also possible for the missionary to present the work of God in such a way that the message becomes something to endure, or even worse, be avoided. In the worst cases, opportunities for other missionaries to speak may close and churches hear less of what God is doing on a global level.

Here are some points for missionaries to consider when provided with an opportunity to speak. These points apply to Sunday mornings, mid-week Bible study gatherings or any time in front of a gathering.

  • Less is more. You may be serving in a country which has a very different concept of time, and you are naturally excited about the work God has called you to, but you will loose the listener’s focus and further opportunities if you overrun the time. If you are given three minutes before a service, or the whole service, purposely prepare your presentation to be under the allotted time.
  • Preach well. If you’re an on-field missionary and your ministry is not primarily teaching or preaching, ask an experienced co-laborer to help you. It would not be wrong to practice the message with a couple trusted advisors.
  • Know the program. Ask what the order of service is and how you will be introduced.
  • Be sure to understand the expectations. 
    1. Would the church best served with a sermon, a testimony or missions message?
    2. Is it acceptable for you to mention support raising and partnership options?
    3. Will it be appropriate and acceptable to show a short video or photos?
    4. Will the church permit you to have extra newsletters available or provide program inserts?
  • Triple check the tech. If you are bringing a video or other media, get to the church early and bring the tech booth people Starbucks before asking them to test your media. Be clear if the video is part of the introduction, the conclusion, or at some other point.
  • Give quality over quantity. Video and still images connect people to the work, but for a large gathering be sure the production quality is excellent and the total length is under three minutes. Two minutes is better.
  • Have an attitude of gratitude. Be sure to thank the church for their partnership in both financial and prayer support.

All the suggested preparation should lead to a declaration of two key points as modeled by the Apostle Paul.

When he had greeted them, he told in detail those things which God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry.  Acts 21:19

First, Paul declared what God had done among the Gentiles. This can be analogous to a modern missionary being sure to declare the work of God is God’s work and not the work of the missionary. This may seem obvious, but in the excitement it is possible to make the work seem to hinge on the missionary and not God.

Finally, although this may seem contrary to the first point, it’s important to note Paul told the church at Jerusalem about what God had done, “…through his ministry.”  The visiting missionary should magnify God’s wonderful works, and yet make the point that part of God’s work is having the missionary in position for such a time and place as they are in.Shepherd's Staff. Sending Church. Missionaries., Missions Coaching.


Picture of Ed Compean. Shepherd's Staff,About the author: Pastor Ed Compean, along with his family, served as missionaries in Kenya and Mexico for more than 12-years. He is now engaged in church relations and communications at Shepherd’s Staff Mission Facilitators.

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