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Stories & Blog

Sending Disciple-Makers

Sending Disciple-Makers

Read the series: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

This article on the church’s role in discipling the disciple-makers focuses on the sending task of the church. Ellen Livingood of 
Catalyst Services shares the crux of the church’s mission in sending its own cross-culturally.

Sending Disciple-Makers

By Ellen Livingood, President of Catalyst Services

“The church sends the missionary.” We often hear that statement, but what does sending involve? It certainly goes far beyond writing a monthly check and welcoming the missionary for an occasional visit. Consider these sending tasks:

The Responsibility: to send the right peopleAccording to Acts 13:1-3, the Holy Spirit told the leadership team of the Antioch church who should go: “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Church leaders need to seek God’s leading regarding who they should send cross-culturally.

The Role: to partner with them in every possible wayThe apostle John says that those who go out “for the sake of the Name” deserve to be sent “on their way in a manner worthy of God” (3 John 6). So sending involves making sure international workers are well prepared and resourced. This usually means partnering with a mission agency that can help workers to go and the church to send. But as responsible senders, the church should ensure workers are practically resourced throughout their ministry.

The Philippian church: example par excellence of sending partners in the gospelThe Philippians were committed to both Paul’s personal well-being and his ministry (Phil. 1:5, 7). A sending church should be deeply devoted to seeing their workers thrive spiritually, physically, and emotionally. At times, that will involve rolling up sleeves and working alongside them. By actually partnering together, the purpose for which they are sent is better accomplished. We often call this “owning the missionary and the mission.”
PrayerPaul depended on the Philippians’ prayers (1:19). Powerful intercession by a church requires that the congregation embraces the purpose, understands the needs, and senses the urgency of the spiritual battle. People need to be discipled to be world-changing intercessors.
FinancesThe Philippians repeatedly sent Paul funds, apparently giving to him even when they didn’t know how their own needs would be met (4:14-18). Sending churches must give generously. The issue goes deeper than just asking how much money is left in the budget. Moving cross-culturally involves sacrifice; churches sending their own will involve sacrificial giving as well.
Loving care delivered in personThe Philippians sent Epaphroditus as their “messenger and minister to [Paul’s] need” (2:25). They were fervent in completing “what was deficient” in their service to him (2:30). Churches need to constantly encourage their workers; they can creatively serve them over a long distance and in person. A helpful question to ask workers is, “What do you lack right now that we could provide?”
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