3 Regular rhythms of an intentional missionary

By Craig Ott and Rick Duncan

It’s been said that every planter’s goal ought to be to go to heaven and take as many people with him as he possibly can.

These three practices help planters do that, and they must become habitual routines in the lives of church planters who want to see God glorified through the salvation of countless girls, boys, men and women in the communities they’ve been called.

Here are the three regular rhythms of an intentional missionary:

1. Pray: As a team, earnestly beg God for the salvation of the lost (on at least a weekly basis).

What might happen if every week you gathered a team of leaders at 6:00 a.m. for fervent prayer for the evangelistic fruitfulness and the missional efforts of your church plant? What if you and your team prayed passionately for your team’s Who’s Your One? friends by name? What if the old saying is still true: “We must talk to the Lord of the work before doing the work of the Lord”?

Here are suggested prayers that might encourage your Missionary Core Team:

  • Lord, remind us that our consistent, focused prayer is a direct contributor to our ability to gain an audience with spiritually disinterested people.
  • Please raise up a team of people who will commit to pray every single day that You will open doors for us to meet and reach lost people.
  • Father, give us unexplainable encounters with random people that will lead to spiritual conversations.
  • God, motivate us to consciously and specifically pray by name for the lost people we know and for opportunities to meet lost people we don’t know yet.
  • Lord, teach us how to walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of our time with them.
  • Let our speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that we may know how we ought to answer each person.
  • Teach us that when we pray, You change circumstances and create receptivity for Your Word so that instead of hitting a brick wall, the Word will find an open door and will become unusually effective.

Focusing on the power of prayer fights against our Western naturalistic worldview. Prayer is the way we engage against the rulers, the powers, the principalities and the spiritual forces of darkness who wage war against the effectiveness of our missional strategy and our evangelistic witness.

2. Witness: Be personally engaged in the harvest (on at least a weekly basis).

Being directly engaged in the community will help you build relationships with people far from God. Engage in the community by:

  • Joining a local civic or service club.
  • Coaching a team.
  • Volunteering in a spiritually neutral, morally positive organization.
  • Joining a hunter’s club.
  • Shopping in stores in the community to build relationships.
  • Becoming a chaplain for the fire department or police department.
  • Working out at a local gym.
  • Studying at the local library or coffee shop.

Do whatever it takes to build relationships. Ask questions. Get to know people. This will help you understand how the non-Christians in your community think — what their aspirations and questions are.

Do you want to care more and more about those who are lost? When Jesus actually engaged people, His already broken heart for them was made evident to all. Direct engagement with lost people will break your heart for the harvest and will make you passionate about being effective in the harvest. Your church will never have a greater passion for reaching people in the harvest than you do.

Do you want to know the evangelistic temperature of a church plant? Stick a thermometer in the mouth of the church planter.

3. Equip: Mobilize your missionary core team to do the work of an evangelist.

The equipping in Ephesians 4 isn’t accomplished merely by preaching good messages on Sundays. We must empower our leaders and mentor them by equipping them with tools that will help them go into the harvest. We have to teach them the importance of connecting in the community where lost people live, work and play. We must teach them how to leverage a prayer, care and share strategy. We must teach them how to engage people who are far from God in a bold, yet humble way — sharing of the gospel without a combative spirit.

As the attractional model loses more and more traction in our culture, a grass roots approach will be more and more necessary.

Church planters ought to keep in mind the “Gideon Principle” — less is more. We really don’t need large numbers of people to plant a church or a campus as much as we need the right kind of people.

Do your Missionary Core Team members have a missional DNA and a passion for the lost? Remember, they will set the DNA of the new plant or campus. The DNA will be hard to change later. If the core team has a “serve me” mindset, then that will set the DNA of the new church.

If you want to start a church focused on evangelism, discipleship and missional living, then you have to have a launch team totally committed to that way of being the church and engaging the community. And you, as the planter, will have to equip them to do the work of an evangelist.

Published October 8, 2020

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Craig Ott and Rick Duncan

Craig Ott is the Professor of Mission and Intercultural Studies at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He has planted churches in Schaumburg, Illinois, and in Munich, Ingolstadt, Neumarkt, and Markt Indersdorf, Germany. For seven years, He served as Central Europe Church Planting Consultant for ReachGlobal.

Rick Duncan currently serves as the Send Network Regional Equipper for the Ohio Valley Region. As an appointed missionary by NAMB in 1986, Rick was Founding Pastor of Cuyahoga Valley Church (CVC) near Cleveland. Before becoming a pastor, Rick served four years on staff of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in Jacksonville, Florida. He graduated from Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary. He loves to leverage voracious learning to equip younger leaders for transformational discipleship and church multiplication. Rick is married to Maryanne they three sons: Alan, Ryan, and Evan. He is the proud father-in-law of Joanna, Alan's bride, and the proud grandfather of Ethan (9) and Caleb (5).