10 Steps to Becoming a Missionary: Preliminary Planning

Ideas die in our heads but when written down on paper, they’re given life.

Silk Road Mission exists to recruit, train, send, and support missionaries to the peoples, nations, and communities along the Silk Road. It’s my ambition to see a new generation of missionaries raised up to take the name of Jesus Christ to places He has not been named. His name will one day be praised by every tribe and tongue. I want to be a part of what the Lord is doing and I hope you do too.

This post is the third of ten that will lay out the life cycle of missionary service. Whether you are simply exploring the idea or have already chosen an agency, these posts are meant to encourage and inform you. Let me know below if they helped in anyway!

Once you have prayed about becoming a missionary and done some research about your target people group, it will be time to get a plan written down. This post explores a basic preliminary plan you can put together for the conversations that are sure to follow.

First, why should we write a plan down at all? Maybe you think that putting a plan on paper will quench the Spirit or be incredibly dull. Maybe you think the plan presented here isn’t thorough enough. Regardless of whether planning comes naturally to you or is your natural enemy, it’s good to be organized not only as a missionary but also as a professional. I tell my students the following all the time: “Ideas die in our heads but when written down on paper, they’re given life.” Meaning, it’s not real until you get a plan together!

Second, it’s important to state that this plan isn’t concrete or need to be extremely detailed. It just needs to show that you have thought things through. Coming up are some tough conversations and having this plan will show that you have considered the repercussions of mission life and are not making this decision lightly.

Now, below are seven questions you should write down and answer on a piece of paper to show loved ones, pastors, and possible donors.

1. Where will you go?

Sum up the research you have done so far. People need to know where you are going and why. Not everyone is called to support missionaries to every country. Just as you will have a people and place that the Lord has placed on your heart, so too will the people sending you. Nailing down where you will go helps them know if they are willing to support you or another missionary. This also helps you prepare medically, financially, linguistically, emotionally, and spiritually.

2. What will you do there?

This is simple. What kind of ministry are you hoping to pursue on the ground? Not every ministry model works in all countries. The kind of “English cafe” operated in Japan might not work so well in India and likewise the type of medical missions done in rural Kazakhstan won’t fit into a modern nation like Austria. A point of clarification: Knowing what ministry you will perform is important but not required. There are some instances where knowing this in advance just isn’t possible. That’s okay. Just be ready to express this unknown to your supporters.

3. How will you survive financially?

Whether we like it or not, the world runs on money. Living just about anywhere is expensive. You will need some way to stay in the black. There two avenues that missionaries of recent history have taken: The first being that of a traditional missionary and raising support from donations and churches. This takes time and patience to raise enough awareness and support. The second is Tent-making or being a bi-vocational missionary. I have followed this route as I am a teacher as well as a missionary. A post later in this series will examine the pros and cons of both methods as well as present a third.

4. Are you going alone?

If any of your friends and family love you, then this question will be asked at least 10 times. They want to make sure that their loved one is going to be safe. You need to know the answer to this one. For the record, “Of course not! The Lord is with me!” is a technically true answer but your family and friends want a more practical answer. If you are going independent, then are you joining a team? If joining an agency, which one and how are the teams organized? Let your supporters know this so they can have some peace of mind.

5. Are you joining a program of some kind?

There are countless programs, internships, externships, training curriculums, and more that cater to workers abroad. Even mission agencies will often have multiple ways to get you overseas soon with their recruitment tracks. These tracks often have trainings and will place you on a team of other mission newbies with an experienced missionary as the lead. If this is the route you choose, gather all the information about the program before bringing it to your supporters. The last thing you want is to appear uninformed.

6. What will you call yourself? Missionary+???

No, I’m not asking you to change your name. Many missionaries around the world must be missionaries+something else in order to get into their host countries. Missionaries+doctors, missionaries+pilots, and missionaries+teachers are all common and much needed. However the possibilities of your “something else” are rapidly expanding. Now we have missionaries+photographers, missionaries+programmers, missionaries+bloggers, and missionaries+entrepreneurs. The door is wide open for those creative and hard working enough to do something unique and great.

7. Why do you want to be a missionary at all?

The biggest of these seven questions. Why go at all? You will need to have a clear and articulate answer for this one or you won’t step foot outside your home country. Everyone from family to friends to random people you meet at networking events will ask this. So be ready! I remember quoting Romans 10:14-15 quite often in those early conversations and still do when talking about SRM. Back up what you’re saying with Scripture and be humble as you may discover that your reasoning to being a missionary may not be exactly Scriptural. Take this in stride and reexamine your desire to go. Be willing to wait until proper reasoning comes forward. I had to wait until my reasons to go aligned with Scripture and not my personal desires. You may have to as well.

Wow, this was a long one! I hope you found it helpful. If you did, let me know below. If not, tell me what you would change or refute from the above list. I’m always willing to learn more about missions!

Until next time, may the Lord bless you and keep you and give you peace.

-Ken See
SRM Founder