Missions Mobilization Strategies Introduction – part 1

This series will discuss ways that you can begin to mobilize for the Great Commission. To learn more about what the Great Commission is visit Christian Mission Basics. In this series, we will talk about what you need to mobilize the village where you live, the local congregation or youth group you work with, or your country’s missionary movement.

If you don’t take away anything more from this article, we need to focus on mobilizing the people who are going to go. Most mission mobilization activities are focused on us mobilizers or leaders who are never going to go to totally unreached people groups.

What is Christian Missions Mobilization?

We have made mobilization almost as complicated as sending missionaries or Bible translation. Basically, missionary mobilization is the mobilization of missionaries. What does mobilizing missionaries mean? It means missionaries go after our efforts. If, at the end of all our activity around mobilization, missionaries don’t go and stay on their mission field, our effort was in vain. It does not have lasting fruit.

We have to see clearly that all mobilization is to get a missionary from point a (from where they are) to point b (to a group of people where the Gospel cannot flow in order to make disciples among them).

Four basic elements of mobilization:

  1. missionary recruitment (identifying candidates for discipleship)
  2. missionary training (discipleship)
  3. mission field analysis (finding out where the Gospel has not been preached)
  4. going,, (eventually someone – the candidate – has to go)

All mobilizers are Christians, all Christians must make disciples. If we do not make disciples then we are not fruitful Christians. If we “mobilizers do not make missionaries” then what are we doing? One reason that mobilizers do not make missionary disciples is that they have never been missionaries themselves. They like the idea of telling other people to go do what they have never done because missionary work is exciting and dangerous in their minds. They have flown in airplanes around the world to go to many mobilization meetings and learn or talk about missions, but they have never been missionaries. Anyone can get on the Internet and get statistics and photos and make a PowerPoint presentation and talk about something. This is not what Jesus commanded us to do. He told us to make disciples, teaching them to obey all he taught us. This means preaching the Gospel and making disciples. You cannot make a disciple if you have never led anyone to Christ. Lead them to Christ and then make a disciple of them. It is the same in mobilization, we are not mobilizing anyone because we ourselves have never done missions.

Mobilization is a military term that basically means getting ready for war. It includes recruitment, training, analysis of the enemy’s territories, and finally, moving the troops into that part of the world and waging war. I do not like to use terms of the world’s war methods in our circle, however, we borrowed the military term “Mobilization” so I will have to go with it.

Let’s talk about recruitment. Most mission mobilizers focus on this one area and go no further. They will go into a local congregation or a youth meeting and talk about the needs on the mission field and show some data, videos, or images of the needs in the field. A few candidates will raise their hands and sometimes the mobilizer will talk to them after the meeting, and it all ends there. The candidate is directed to an agency, organization, or training center and they take over the training.

The problem with this recruitment model is that thousands of candidates are not ending up on the mission field. The mission agencies and training centers are not doing a very good job of following up (discipleship) of the candidates who raised their hands. Many times the candidates are not at the age, are ready, or have the money to get into missionary training. That window of time (when the missionary candidate is between their interest in missions and getting to formal training) is where we have lost thousands.

Mobilizers could be making disciples

If you are a mobilizer and you are in contact with candidates they can and should now become your disciples. Jesus told us to make disciples. Even though we consider ourselves just mobilizers we should be involved in doing what Jesus told us to do. We should be making disciples. You went to the local congregation, or to the mission conference, or you went to the youth meeting. Those people who responded to your message raised their hands and so what now? Hope that the missionary training entities do their job? Who will take care of these newborn missionary candidates?

They are now your disciples and it’s your responsibility to make sure they get to the mission field. We have allowed the large organizations and training centers to take these candidates under their wings and they will tell you, the candidates are coming to them raw, green, and immature. They needed personal discipleship before they go on. This is your job. The local congregation is usually not equipped to disciple future field missionaries. Future field missionaries need solid discipleship in the Word of God for at least two years before entering into formal training, if they need it by then.

Training of missionary candidates includes personal discipleship and short-term trips into darkness

Before your candidates can go on to formal training, if they choose to go to other more specific training, they need to be discipled. My wife and I have a training center. We can attest that the missionary candidates come to us undiscipled. Meaning, basically they have pulpit Christianity. They have never spent large quantities of time and quality time in the Bible with a mature Christian there at their side spoon-feeding them. The disciples of Jesus basically got this spoon-fed discipleship and two of them worked very hard to get the Gospels to us. The Gospels were expressly written to disciple new believers (potential missionary candidates) etc.

We do not do personal intensive one-on-one discipleship in a local congregational setting and this is why the world is lost and full of totally unreached people groups. It is also why most Christians have never one anyone else to Christ.

Candidates come to our training center immature and we have to take time to give them personal spoon-fed discipleship. We do what mobilizers could have done for a few years saving the candidate, the missionary trainers, and the people group that time. We spend two hours a day making sure they are in the Bible reading it for what it was designed to do; train them to go into total darkness. We are there with them in this process along with some other basic discipleship aspects.

We read the Gospels with them (highlighting the verses on missiology and leadership) one hour per day. Then they read another hour that day alone. Below is an example of the Bible reading part of discipleship we use in our missionary candidate (discipleship) training. After all, we are training them to make disciples and translate the teaching of Christ into another language and in another culture.

Read your Gospels two hours per day and highlight these verses in red [Missiology of Christ]: (Matthew: 3:19 y 22; 8:19-22; 9:35-38; : 10:1; 10:7-9; 10:12-16; 10:21-23; 10:34-39; 11:4-6; 12:47-48; 19:21; 19:27-30; 24:14; 26:34-35; 28:19-20 Mark 1:15-20; 1:38; 3:14-15; 3:31-35; 6:6-13; 8:34-35; 10:20-21; 10:28-31; 13:10; 13:12-13; 16:15-18 Luke 5:10-11; 5:27-28; 8:19-21; 9:1-6; 9:23-24; 9:57-62; 10:1-4; 10:5-8; 10:9-11; 10:19; 12:32-33; 12:49-53; 14:25-27; 14:33; 18:21-22; 18:28-30; 21:16-17; 22:35-37; 24:45-49 John 12:23-26; 15:18-27; 16:1-4; 16:8-11; 17:10-26; Acts 1:6-8) where Jesus is speaking.

To understand the leadership model of Christ [Christian Leadership for Missions], highlight these verses in blue: (Matthew 10:24-25; 18:1-4; 19:13-14; 19:27-28; 20:20-28; 23:5-12; 28:18 Mark 1:7; 3:20-22; 6:1-6; 8:31-33; 9:33-37; 10:13-16; 10:35-45; 12:38 Luke 1:32-33; 3:16; 4:24; 6:40; 7:28; 9:46-48; 10:21-22; 11:43; 12:1; 14:7-11; 17:7-10; 18:9-14; 18:15-19; 20:21; 20:45-47; 22:24-34; 22:61-62 John the entire chapter 13).

When you, the mobilizer, find a missionary candidate, spend an hour a day with them in the Gospels for two years. Make sure they are also reading alone with no distractions. Walk with them through all their process. This is the only way they will survive the warfare and finish the job on the field. I have a feeling that the reason most people return from the mission field is that they did not spend this time getting to know Jesus in the Gospels. If you are going to mobilize don’t just talk the talk, get busy making disciples who know Jesus.

Candidates can also get involved in going into the areas of your country where you think that the Gospel has not gotten to if you have them. Candidates can get involved in ground research of unreached people groups. That is a fancy term meaning someone walked into an unevangelized area and looked for open doors and for signs of Christianity. This is also part of the mobilizers job not the missionary training centers job. These short-term trips have value in recruiting more candidates. The candidates that have been reading their Gospels got out and did something for the Lord and are now feeling alive in Christ. They will pass that on to others. They are also doing an essential part of mobilization, mission field analysis. A fancy term for finding out what the Body of Christ needs to do. These candidates are not mature missionaries yet, but they have now been into the areas they need to go to and know that God will provide and protect them. These are the two most basic lessons every missionary needs to learn, not from books, but by doing it. Read the Gospels closely, this is what Jesus did.

Going into unreached villages to open the way and see the need is work young people can do. It is work that needs to be done. It is part of mobilization. Go with them a few times then let them do it. We are analyzing the enemy’s territory to know exactly where the future missionaries need to go. This job is necessary and does not require much training or money. Young people travel with very little and are learning to adjust to the circumstances. We just need to give them a push and let them do this work.

Remember that this blog is about reaching totally unreached remote people groups

Most mobilization is focused on mobilizers, those who are already convinced about the need to send missionaries. We are constantly swimming in the same circles with one another and most do not even know a missionary candidate or a missionary in a totally unreached remote people group, let alone have disciples and trained one.

Most mobilizers are just public speakers or they have titles or roles in large organizations or networks and they are hoping that all their ideas will trickle down into the ranks of the Christians out there and something will happen. WE MOBILIZERS NEED TO DISCIPLE THE NEW CANDIDATES. Jesus told us to make disciples, this includes those of us who have big titles, roles, or are heads of networks or UPG movements. We all need to be looking for and identifying candidates (this includes considering our own children).

Most mobilization is also focused on giving lectures to groups such as agencies, training centers, seminaries, or groups of pastors or leaders. It is not usually focused on identifying the person that will eventually have to go into the field and do the mission work; the missionary candidate. The candidate is usually the last and most insignificant part of our mobilization.

However, once you have identified a candidate, even if that person lives a thousand meters from your house or in your village, or he goes to where your local congregation meets, or if they are in a youth meeting or conference, you have work now. You can begin discipleship. Read the Bible more than you talk, let the Holy Spirit teach the candidate by reading the Gospels. Don’t read other Christian books or Paul yet. Once you begin the discipleship process you will be helping them mature to the next level.

Looking for missionary candidates is work

When you start to intentionally look for missionary candidates (disciples) who will take the Gospel of Christ where it had never been taken before, God will bring them to you if you are committed to the effort you will have to give. It requires time, and work and it is not easy. Discipleship is hard work. You have to take your baby and spoon-feed him the Gospels, clean him, keep him away from the watered-down church teaching, hold him by the hand, and start walking into the areas of your region or country where there are no Christians or workers.

Mobilizers now have the long hard job of making disciples. It requires spending time with them in the Bible. It would be better for you to go to where they live and not have them come to you. Where they live probably does not have the spiritual warfare broken. Your house does. You need to help them learn how to feed themselves in their room so that when you are gone, they will move the spoon to their mouth on their own. This takes a year or more. New Christians, especially missionary candidates have the hardest time getting Bible reading into their lifestyle because it is spiritual warfare. They are babies and need to be fed by us. We as mobilizers and disciplers need to help them.

I have a good friend who works in missionary mobilization in Latin America. He’s in charge of research for the missionary movement at the continental level. He has done three levels of research on missionary sending for the past 20 years. He found that the missionary training centers are lacking personal discipleship. Missionary organizations and training centers are simply not making disciples just like mobilization is not making disciples, just like the local congregations are not making disciples. This is something that we all can change as missionary mobilizers. Once we mobilizers realize that we are in the act of disciplining new missionary candidates, everything changes.

Recruitment and training go hand-in-hand. But in the end, we are all just making disciples. These disciples are the ones who have to go where the Gospel has not been preached before and actually do the mission work.

Mission field analysis – “field research” using secular terminology

Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.”

Mark 1:38

Once we have recruited a missionary candidate and the discipleship process has begun, you and your disciple can be involved in the analysis of the mission field (pre-evangelism or whatever you want to call it). This is basically just getting out of your local area and going into the areas where the Gospel has not been preached before with your disciple.

Over the years we have complicated this process and we’ve added much of our own missiology. The simple fact is we are in the 21st century and the great commission has not been accomplished yet. So we need to get back to the basics. We need to read our new Testaments as though they are the missiology of Christ and we need to make disciples. These disciples need to be shown that they are the ones who go where the Gospel has not been preached before. Go with them and show them.

We can make this process very complicated. Mobilization can become a very complicated process if we allow it to be. But in the end, we’re just making disciples and all Christians need to be involved in the great commission and get out there shining light into darkness.

Do you have unreached people groups in your country? Who’s going to do the work to find out if they still need workers. Someone has to do this work. So, missionary field analysis is just finding out where the Gospel hasn’t been taken before. It can be done with a handful of 3 x 5 cards. You can put the names of the people groups on the cards and start to go finding out whether they need workers, or not. Take your disciples along with you, continue reading your Gospels with them, and continue discipleship.

When you come back to your local congregations with this information, it’s not just information. These people have no access to the Gospel and you have just been there. You will carry new vision and new purpose into your local congregations or discipleship groups. More disciples will become excited that they have been involved in the work of God and you will have a lot of new work to do yourself discipling all the new candidates wanting to join in!

The best training in the world comes from the New Testament, especially the Gospels, where Jesus Christ is teaching us how to do the great commission. We don’t need to go much further outside of the Gospels to understand how Jesus wants us to continue his work in this world. Jesus’s missiology is perfect. We can trust that he knows what he’s talking about. Most people who do not read carefully their New Testament think Paul invented the missionary methods. Jesus is the author, not Paul.

When you start to walk into unreached villages, God opens the doors for future workers to come in. You come into contact with the men of peace, the ones that will be the future believers. Sometimes these doors will open for your disciples. Sometimes the doors are being open for future workers to come in. This model will work in any part of the world because it’s the model Jesus established 2000+ years ago.

Most mission mobilizers focus on recruitment with no follow-up. Or they are the high thinkers. I don’t see this role in the New Testament. All the disciples made disciples. They go to meetings with PowerPoint presentations and speak to people with the microphone in their hand. This is only the first step in the long process of getting new believers discipled and trained to go to the nations. We meet in high think tanks and think our nicely formatted documents will get disciples made. Write the papers if you are asked to, then go find a disciple. You might have to knock on a hundred doors, depending on how over-saturated your region is with the Gospel. But if you commit to making a disciple God will eventually lead you to them.

Begin to see mobilization from a holistic approach

So the next time you are in the position to look for new missionary candidates take the initiative and get their names and their personal information so that you can come back to them and start a discipleship process.

I once was at a mission conference in Chile. I was being hosted by a woman who had a home a few blocks away from the local congregation. She had a meeting in her home every week where young people gathered at her kitchen table and talked about missions. She was an elderly lady and obviously could not go to the mission field herself. This is where the revelation came to me that she could be doing discipleship helping these young missionary candidates understand the great commission.

I’ve worked in mobilization for many years and a common thing that I see is that mobilizers are usually depressed and discouraged. I think one of the reasons for this is that they’ve never seen real fruit from their mobilization. They can kind of point their finger at a few that they might have been somewhat involved in mobilizing to the field. But it’s not like they were involved in raising the baby. They’ve done a lot of typical mobilizing in local congregations and mission conferences. They taught many courses on missions and gave many PowerPoint presentations from the pulpit with a microphone in their hand. I am not saying this sarcastically. I have done all of these things myself and am here to tell you, it is only the beginning. It is the very minimum. Think tanks and networks are also the very minimum.

These mobilizers are very passionate about this but they usually seem to be depressed and discouraged and full of self-doubt. The apostle John tells us that we need to bear fruit. We need to see fruit in order to know that we are really part of the kingdom of God in fulfilling the great commission. So the best way to have fruit is to start making disciples. You already know all you need to know about missions, go teach someone else,, while reading a ton of the Bible with them and going out into the darkness with them.

The Internet is opened up many new opportunities for us to do some discipleship through online meetings. So, if you work in your youth group or from your kitchen table, or through online meetings, start making disciples. Work with young people. Get them online if you have to. Gather them around your kitchen table if you have to. Get into the Gospels and read the Gospels with them to make sure that they are understanding the purposes of God for this world.

If we mobilizers all start to get involved in the personal discipleship of young people spending hours in the Word of God, we will find that they will need less formal missionary training and formal education because they really know who Jesus is. Instead of taking their missionary education or the name of their seminary or the branch of their theology or theologian to the totally unreached people, they will be taking Jesus Christ. The unreached peoples don’t need you, they need Jesus. Disciple Jesus into your disciples by reading the Word of God with them. Don’t disciple yourself into them.

Going into totally unreached people groups

I understand that many parts of the world are dangerous and that there are many bad things happening in the unreached areas of the world. Jesus tells us he’s going to be with us, we can trust that he will protect us as we take the Gospel. This will not be easy but it is work that just needs to be done by someone.

Reading the New Testament Gospels is the best missionary training that anyone can get. Then if the missionary candidates do have to go to some kind of other training they will already have that foundation that they need. They will not be so easily contaminated by modern missiology because they have Jesus’s teachings as a foundation.

Modern missiology will always look at the amount of missionary candidates and the amount of money that they have in their hands — trying to fit those things into the needs of the mission fields. This has not worked well. This is one reason why thousands of unreached people groups still exist. We need to begin to look at the fields in faith and simply go.

Start today to look for new disciples getting into the word of God with them and then getting out into the villages that do not have Christians and workers among them. You will soon find that your disciples (Christ’s disciples) are being released to fulfill the great commission.