By Ryan Shaw
Becoming equipped as God’s effective message bearer (alternative term for missionary) among unreached and unengaged people groups requires awareness of how He has created us. It means zeroing in on His vision for our lives.
What spiritual gifts has He given us? What natural abilities do we possess? What acquired skills have we picked up along the way? What seeds of destiny has He put in our history, giving us indication of His purpose for us? How can these be brought together to bring Him glory?
We know intellectually God has a plan for our lives. Most often, however, we do not feel connected to that plan in our day to day lives and don’t feel we are moving towards it.
God wants us confident of His plan unfolding as we serve Him. This requires a growing sense of God’s leading and the making of deliberate choices day by day to walk through life and ministry with focus.
A crucial area of discernment among those moving into the mission movement is what type of message bearer God has created us to be. There are several types of message bearers serving among the unreached. We need to determine, based on how God has wired us, which category we fall into.
This has less to do with specifics of what type of ministry we may do. Instead it focuses on the way God has created us and what He has invested in us (personality, temperament, capacity of critical thinking, how we solve problems, decision making, whether we thrive in a structured environment, how we handle stressful situations, etc) and the spiritual gifts given us to serve His Kingdom.
This is more important than we may realize. Countless message bearers fail to discern which type they are and end up serving God in a capacity for which they are not wired.
They work hard, applying themselves diligently, yet find they are frustrated, burned out and discouraged. Why? Because they are serving in a capacity they are not created or spiritually gifted for.
There are at least three primary types of message bearers. These are not in any order of importance as all three are essential to fulfillment of the Great Commission in this generation.
(1) Those who are wired to serve as front line church planters. These are usually visionaries with a pioneering spirit. They don’t need a lot of structure in place as they create structure on their own.
They are comfortable with ambiguity and a vague role description. They are drawn to places where the true Church of Christ literally does not exist.
They are wired by God for effectiveness in such scenarios and have been uniquely gifted for this, usually with a measure of gifts of evangelism, apostleship, teaching, prophecy and perseverance sprinkled with gifts of faith and miracles. Once indigenous churches are developed, they have been training the new leadership all along the way, and they move on to another completely separate unreached area.
(2) Those called to serve the growing indigenous churches. These come alongside local believers and the new leaders of indigenous churches with training, mentoring, modeling, teaching, etc. These usually thrive in more structured, stable environments where it is clear what is expected.
They are most comfortable coming into a situation that is already in place and which doesn’t need creating. They did not necessarily plant the churches but serve them by developing leaders, imparting principles for effective discipleship and helping instill a vision for proactive outreach.
These usually possess gifts of pastoring, teaching, helps, healings and exhortation to help keep the simple churches moving forward in the high calling of Christ.
(3) Those called to serve the mission movement through support ministries. These include works of administration, accounting, teaching of message bearer children, IT, event planning and a multitude of other helps needed to keep global ministries moving forward.
We most often think of these remaining in a home country in support of mission endeavors. Yet, these types of support ministries are crucial on the field side to work alongside front line church planters and the message bearers’ working with a growing indigenous church.