Recently I traveled to Cordoba, Argentina with a ministry called Reaching and Teaching. Our focus was training local pastors who have limited access to theological training. The trip was my first to Argentina and my first with Reaching and Teaching. It was a phenomenal week of ministry.
During the trip I was reminded of several benefits of a pastor regularly going on short term international mission trips. Yes, these trips are expensive. Yes, these trips take the pastor away from his church and his family. Yes, these trips have limited impact because of their brevity. But here’s a few reasons why these trips are important:
- Mission trips remind a pastor that he is part of something big … really big. I think we all have a tendency to allow life to shrink down to the size of our own life. We all have a tendency to forget how big the world really is, and we focus exclusively on our small existence. On an international mission trip you are reminded that the world is truly a big place. You are also reminded that as a minister of the gospel you are part of a global mission with many people working for the same cause. Before last week I did no know the churches and pastors laboring to reach Cordoba with the gospel. But now I know them. I know their faces. I know their names. And I know the work in Argentina continues even when I’ve returned home.
- Mission trips help a pastor focus on the most important things … evangelism and discipleship. Church life in the United States is often busy. I’d suggest it’s often too busy. When you only have a week or two you are forced to focus on the most urgent, important tasks. Our week in Argentina was spent equipping pastors to carry on the work after we returned home. Some of the other pastors of my church went to Kenya this summer. Their week in Africa was spent sharing the gospel, building homes for the homeless, and encouraging the local pastors. My point is simple. Sometimes in the busyness of American church life, pastors loose focus on what it most important. Short term international mission trips can help guys like me refocus my priorities in ministry … evangelism and discipleship.
- Mission trips help a pastor lead his congregation to be passionate about missions. I think most pastors would love for their churches to be serious about praying for missions, giving to missions, and going on mission. However, unless the pastor leads by example, this kind of missions focus will never be reality. Yes, pastors must talk about the importance of missions, but they must also set an example that can be followed. My church is blessed with leaders who are passionate about missions, and that passion has spread to our congregation. Pastors, you must lead with word and deed when it comes to missions.
Originally published August 24, 2015 on landoncoleman.com.