A growing groundswell of Christians is leaving home and moving elsewhere to accept a job, launch a business, or study abroad. For many of these believers, their primary motive is to have an impact for Christ in their new context. Churches too are awakening to the strategic opportunity to proactively send their people as powerful witnesses in the global workforce.
These workers are given various names—tentmakers (reflecting Paul’s means of supporting himself listed in Acts 18:3), businesspeople using BAM (business as mission) or B4T (business for transformation), marketplace influencers, Kingdom professionals, etc. We will use the last of these titles in this article, but recognize that each term has limitations and carries a slightly different meaning depending on the speaker and context. We will include in this category not only those working in the marketplace but also retirees and others who go self-supported and students who choose to study abroad.
Who Needs to Be Sent?
Historically the missionary-sending process has often centered on finances. Therefore, if little or no financial support is needed, Kingdom professionals may not see any reason to involve their church in their relocation decisions. In fact, they may see the church as merely creating speed bumps at a time when they are eager to move ahead quickly with their relocation. Churches, too, may fail to recognize the importance of their sending role if finances are largely removed from the equation.[blockquote quotes=”true” align=”center”]…seeking advice from their church… never enters the mind of many Kingdom professionals.[/blockquote]
In reality, financial support is only a small part of a local church’s sending responsibility. Sending also involves (1) determining who God has called and gifted to go crossculturally, (2) assisting with spiritual/professional development and other equipping, (3) offering ongoing encouragement and support to those who have been sent, and (4) providing an appropriate level of accountability. Churches are growing in their ability to provide these for their missionaries, but Kingdom professionals need them as much or more than missionaries do!
“Going” vs. “Being Sent”
The possibility of seeking advice from their church before accepting an overseas assignment never enters the mind of many Kingdom professionals. They “just go”! Church leaders often aren’t aware that someone is even contemplating a relocation until shortly before they leave.
“Being sent” with adequate preparation and support can make it so much easier for the worker and their family to successfully integrate into another culture and minister with effectiveness. Too many who “just go,” fail to build influential relationships, accomplish little of eternal significance, and often return home prematurely. Those who go on their own and do become effective Kingdom professionals have often had to learn through trial and error what they could have been equipped with before they went. And sometimes families pay a high price if, for instance, children are not prepared for crossing cultures or the lack of language leaves spouses painfully isolated.
The process needs to begin with local church leaders intentionally educating their people about the crucial role that Kingdom professionals are playing around the world today. Stories of powerful witness by workplace believers can waken the congregation to the fact that they could use their professional skills abroad. Seeing how they could have a global impact for the gospel can challenge everyone from college students to retirees!
Church leaders also need to communicate that they want to walk alongside any member of the congregation heading into a cross-cultural situation for the purpose of missional impact. As church members get involved in helping to send Kingdom professionals, the model will become normative.
The Scope of This Article
There are many aspects to consider in effectively sending this new type of global influencer. We will focus here on some of the readiness and preparation factors for the senders as well as the sent ones.
Using These Tools
When someone expresses interest in taking their career skills into a cross-cultural setting, church missions leaders need to evaluate three aspects: (1) the opportunity, (2) the
individual, and (3) the church’s sending ability. The sets of questions on the following pages are designed to help you to determine readiness and match.
Click here for the rest of the issue including assessment tools you can use.
Here are a few other organizations and articles to help churches and Kingdom professionals to build ministry readiness and sending skills.
Global Opportunities / Their intensive, one-week training builds Kingdom professionals’ ministry skills; resources on their website
Third Path / Mentoring prepares young business entrepreneurs for Kingdom impact
NexusB4T / Internships equip those with a vision to launch businesses for impacting the unreached
Second-Career Workers / Many Kingdom professionals are second-career workers; this Postings article addresses the special challenges in sending them
Engage the Professionals in Your Church / A Postings focused on creatively engaging Kingdom professionals
Business as Missions / A Postings on how churches and agencies can work together in the sending process
Guest Post from Postings by Catalyst Services, November 2014 / Vol. 9, Issue 11 used with permission. Follow the link for the rest of the issue including assessment tools you can use.
See also Postings “Engage the Professionals in Your Church,” June 2014/ Vol. 9 Issue 6