The Pastor’s Role in Short – Term Missions

The Pastor’s Role in Short-Term Missions
By Daniel Henderson

A pastor explains how the most visible church leader can promote short-term missions.

1 Thessalonians 3:6-10

When I served on the board of a denominational mission agency, I noticed that every career missionary we approved became interested in missions through short-term trips.

That fact convinced me that the people in my church also need to lift up their eyes from the busyness of domestic life in order to see and experience the needs and opportunities elsewhere. Here are the five ways I show people these other opportunities:

1. Explore Personally

Missions easily can be reduced to a vague collection of maps and statistics. The only way to lead missions with passion is to experience the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and emotions of the countries we’re trying to reach. For me, this looks like: Visiting field missionaries every 12-18 months to maintain my missions vision; Encouraging missionaries through these trips by showing interest in their work.

2. Invite Others Along

The best way to ignite missions in a congregation is by involving people. Pastors have a unique influence, and by inviting others to journey with them, they can change lives.

I always take others with me on overseas trips, providing opportunities for them to serve. One year, I took our college pastor to Indonesia. The next summer he returned with 10 collegians. Another year, I took 20 church members to India. Now, one is on the board of an India-based missions agency. All are giving more generously to missions.

3. Host Your International Staff

I am a strong believer in inviting missionaries to spend quality time at the church for exposure and interaction. Three reasons for this come to mind.

Personal enrichment. Missionaries are modern-day heroes of the faith. By sharing their experiences, they set a challenging and motivating example of commitment.

Mutual encouragement. Missionaries easily can feel isolated and forgotten. Their visits provide a spiritual and emotional boost for the missionary and the church.

Strategic exposure. When missionaries speak, young and old alike are challenged to care deeply, pray passionately, and plug in strategically to missions.

4. Communicate the Excitement

Pastors always should be looking for speakers who can challenge people with the global task. Senior pastors have the greatest potential because they know the flock.

5. Launch Here and There

To make a difference in this world people need to step outside their comfort zones. They must live by faith and gladly sacrifice for the needs of others. The net effect of pastoral leadership in missions will be short-term and full-time workers launched into this task.


Describe a time when a pastor’s involvement encouraged you to serve.

Who are some leaders other than the pastor who can lead missions in our church?

Is our pastor too busy to be involved in missions? How can we help in this area?

This article “Pastors Roll In Short Team Missions” by Daniel Henderson is excerpted from Christianity Today International, 2003.