Interested in Missions?
Jesus commands his church to be engaged in mission work! "Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations... '" (Matthew 28:18-20). God gives the power and strength, through his Spirit, for our mission work. "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8).
This pamphlet is a brief introduction to the "who" and "what" of missions work within the Reformed Churches of New Zealand (RCNZ). Its provides basic information for those contemplating overseas mission work as well as those who simply wish to understand more about missions in the RCNZ.
Developing a Heart for Missions
Since Jesus commands his church to spread the gospel, every church member has a part in this task. It is possible, and it is necessary, for each one of us to be active participants in spreading the gospel overseas, through prayer, giving, and being involved with specific missionaries.
We need to be missions-minded; to be aware of the work God is doing throughout the world. How?
- read mission books
- receive and read mission prayer letters, magazines, etc.
- be involved with specific missionaries
Contemplating Mission Work?
As an individual becomes more missions-minded, he may begin to consider mission work himself. If you have a desire to serve the Lord in the mission field, either short or long term, it is most important to pray to God for guidance and strength in preparing for this. Pray that there will be opportunity to serve him using the skills and talents that he has entrusted to you. Preparation for mission work will involve much time and energy.
It is necessary that this inward call to mission work be confirmed by the church. So first you should talk to an elder or your minister about your desire to serve on the mission field. They will know you well and can best advise you as to which steps to take next. You should be prepared to answer questions about your call to the mission field. This will help clarify the real reasons you have for wanting to go. Questions that need to be considered are:
- Why do you feel you could serve in this mission?
- Would you truly be serving a need by going there?
- Are your skills suitable to this work?
- What preparation or training will be needed?
- Why this particular place?
- Are you adaptable to the culture, climate, etc.?
There will be much planning and preparation involved in going to the mission field. In all of this, it is vitally important to work in closely with the session of your local church. It is the local church that sends the missionaries, and so the church leaders must be involved in the preparation stages. They will give you spiritual guidance as you think through the issues involved, and provide input about training, finances, etc.
Training is a necessary part of overseas mission work. Many countries will not allow missionaries to enter, yet they welcome teachers, doctors, and skilled labourers. Perhaps training in one of these fields will be good preparation for mission work. Theological, cross-cultural, and/or language study may also be necessary. The training will of course differ depending on whether you are going short-term or long-term.
Another topic of great concern to those with a desire for mission work is financial support. Where will it come from? Will I have to support myself? Your best advice will come from the session. They will be able to tell you about your options. For long-term mission work the OMB may fund your work. For short-term work you will probably need to raise your own support. The local church may help, and fundraising with the help of others in the congregation may also be a possibility.
Through everything always remember to be humble. Don't become so fixed on a certain mission that you are blinded to opportunities elsewhere. Listen to the advice of other members of the congregation, especially your elder and the session. Their knowledge, guidance and support is essential to you. Try to be positive about every step, even those that seem to slide you two steps back, while always thanking God for each new step made possible. It may be a short time before you are on the mission field; it may be several years before you can find an opportunity suitable to your abilities and gifts. But take comfort when discouraged in the knowledge that God does not test us beyond our abilities. God uses the circumstances he sends to mould and shape us for his work.
Missions and the Local Church
The local congregation is the starting point for the church's mission work.
First of all, the congregation needs to be missions-minded. The session, as the spiritual leaders of the church, are also the leaders in this area. They actively promote the cause of missions by presenting information to the congregation about mission work and needs on a regular basis, and providing speakers to talk to the congregation about missions. While the session has the oversight of all of this, the tasks may well be delegated to a missions committee or individuals within the congregation.
Secondly, missionaries do not go overseas merely on their own initiative. It is the role of the congregation to call and send the missionary to the mission field. In Romans 10:14,15 we read: "And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?" Again, the session plays a critical role in identifying, sending, and organising support of the missionary. Potential candidates need to be guided into suitable forms of training and preparation. They should be provided with spiritual oversight and encouragement related to their mission work. Financial support needs to be arranged, together with the OMB.
The major work of the congregation will be in supporting the missionaries. This includes:
- Moral support - getting behind the missionary and encouraging him. Those desiring to do mission work, those preparing for mission work, and those who are already on the field all need this support.
- Financial support - The congregation has a responsibility to give as much financial support as they are able.
- Prayer support - One of the main ways in which the whole congregation gets involved in the church's mission work is through prayer. All aspects of the church's mission work, as well as the individual missionaries, need the congregation's earnest prayer.
- Communication support - the worker on the field needs this. The congregation can further support and encourage its overseas missionary by sending letters, tapes, etc.
There are many ways in which the congregation can be involved in supporting mission work. Different members will be able to help in different ways.
The Overseas Missions Board (OMB) of the RCNZ is an agency of Synod that acts on Synod's behalf in supervising and regulating the mission work of the churches. It is a board consisting of six members, together with liaisons from each of the presbyteries.
The OMB organises the sending of long-term missionaries of the denomination. These missionaries are financially supported by the churches through the OMB. The OMB works jointly with other Reformed and non-denominational mission agencies, in supporting the mission works of these agencies or in sending members of our denomination as missionaries with them. The use of the money donated or collected from the churches for mission work is regulated by the OMB.
The OMB also seeks to investigate needs and short and long-term openings on mission fields, and then to promote these openings and needs among the Reformed Churches. The OMB relays news from the mission fields to the churches, via newsletters and Faith in Focus.
Want to Know More?
More detailed information about aspects of mission work in the Reformed Churches of New Zealand can be found in the Missions Handbook.
"When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field." - Matthew 9: 36-38.
For a list of resources relating to missions (books, pamphlets, information on mission organisations, etc) contact the OMB (Overseas Mission Board) at:
Overseas Mission Board
PO Box 2089