Keeping mission vision alive and growing A quarterly publication of Mission Data International

Where did all the missionaries go?

By M-DAT Executive Director

Have you ever stopped to wonder where all the missionaries went?

I’ve notice a declining presence of missionaries in churches. Growing up as a missionary kid I traveled around the country with my parents whenever we were on furlough and sat through countless field reports, presentations, and sermons. I also went out to meals with friends and supporters from the churches we were visiting. Oddly, with each successive furlough, the length of time my parents received from churches to share decreased—dropping from an evening sermon or presentation to three to five minute “mission moments” in Sunday morning services. The number of people we saw after the service for meals also declined.

Three of the biggest reasons for these declines are: the move many churches made to “seeker friendly” Sunday morning services; the cancellation of Sunday and Wednesday evening services; and cultural shifts in terms of busyness and hospitality.

The consequences of these shifts are becoming increasingly apparent to those of us who work in missions mobilization (indeed they are what have fueled an increase in the number of mission mobilization organizations). We find that people simply don’t know what it means, what it takes, or what its like to be a missionary because they have never had a meaningful interaction with one.

Interacting with a living, breathing missionary makes missions come alive and makes it more personal. It helps people see that missionaries are ordinary people (warts and all) and helps grow vision for missions. In addition, it provides people with starting points for when God prompts them to consider full-time missions service.

Here at M-DAT we are mindful of all of these benefits of interacting with real life missionaries as we work on a new web service focused on helping believers who are considering becoming missionaries. Our hope is to reproduce, as best as possible, the mentoring and encouragement that occurs in a face to face interaction with a missionary. Stay tuned for more about this exciting new service in the next issue of Propel. Until then, the next time a missionary sets foot in your church, seize the opportunity. You may not see one again!

Four Practical Ways to Get More Face Time with Missionaries

  • Take a moment to introduce yourself and thank a visiting missionary for serving.
  • Sit down with them at the church potluck or ask them to a meal that day or later in the week.
  • Plug them into your Sunday School class or small group and give them the whole time to share.
  • Invite them to take part in an activity you have planned in the coming week with your family or friends (fishing, going to the fair, boating, going to the park, scrap booking, etc.).
  • M-DAT helps people make it to the mission field. Explore our websites:

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