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Getting Blessed Before Blasting Off

How to Talk to Your Pastor Before You Go

By Chris Stanton

Many people leave for short-term missions in an under-blessed state. They may have good motives for going, decent preparation, enough cash, and fine spiritual maturity with all the right gifts. But often their venture comes off a little flat because they weren’t blessed enough.

By getting blessed, I don’t mean getting a warm, spiritual glowing feeling. The kind of blessing short-terms need is the spiritual backing of their church leaders. Too often pastors are approached for financial support a few days before departure, without even knowing where the short-termer is going, who they are going with, what they are going to do, or why. Sometimes the pastor is hit up for finances without even knowing who’s asking.

You need the blessing of your pastor and other spiritual leaders before you go, because you need the spiritual power boost that comes with the total backing of your fellowship leaders. No matter how simple the short term looks to you, you can’t do it alone. You can actually tap into the spiritual energy of your entire church by getting the blessing of your pastor.

Getting blessed is more than getting financial backing. It means that the pastor and the church are identifying themselves with you. That’s why some church leaders place their hands on and pray for missionaries as they send them out. That’s just one style of expressing the reality of blessing. The important thing is to get significant spiritual support, regardless of how it’s expressed. Don’t think of the blessing as some super-spiritual magic event. It just means that your pastors and other leaders are wholeheartedly behind you.

The following isn’t going to sound like good advice at first: Don’t tell your pastor that you’re going on a short-term mission. That’s right, don’t tell him. Instead, ask him. Ask your pastor about your short-term ideas. Your pastor should hear of the possibility of your going before he hears of the fact that you are going. He should be involved in praying, thinking, planning through, and even “supporting through” your decision.

It’s up to you to begin. Don’t want for your pastor to grab you in the pew and say, “Isn’t it time you went to Nigeria?” You have to share your dreams with your pastor. Make an appointment to visit with him, and be ready to communicate as many details as you know about the expedition. Go to him and ask for his prayers and spiritual support. Listen to his questions, concerns, and fears about your mission adventure.

Here’s you’ll encounter a paradox: you have to be as clear as you can about your short-term aspirations and plans, but at the same time, you need to stay flexible to postpone or change your plans.

Your pastor can’t bless an endeavor he doesn’t know about or fully understand. Give him plenty of time (days or weeks). Your pastor can be a wealth of understanding, wisdom, and knowledge. Listen to his counsel, think through his questions carefully, and follow through on any suggestions he might have. Be prepared to make a clear presentation of how you’re expecting your trip to be financed. This will give your pastor the opportunity to make suggestions as to whether or not the church would be in a position to help you. Don’t be afraid of asking the pastor to give support, as long as you leave him the freedom to respond. Respect his grasp of the big financial picture of the church.

Go, and go with the blessing. Pray for it. Ask for it. Even if the church can’t help you financially, it’s important that you ask your pastor for whatever blessing he can give. It will add to your mission and to your personal and spiritual life. Be grateful for it, and return the blessing to those who have blessed you. Return with a good report of the extension of the kingdom of God.

Reprinted with permission from Stepping Out: A Guide to Short-Term Missions. Copyright 1992, 2010 by Short-Term Missions Advocates, Inc. Updated and Expanded edition 2010. Published by YWAM Publishing.

Chris Stanton is the author of The Mission Bridge Manual, a how-to book on establishing a training school for missions in the local church, and served with Youth with a Mission in Los Angeles.