I learned a lesson in Cleveland this summer. We are planting a church there, and I had to step in at the last minute and lead a mission trip. Here’s what I learned: Taking your people on a mission trip is better than sending them! I honestly think that I benefited from the trip more than anyone else.
Here are five good reasons pastors should lead their people on a mission trip.
1. You get to see God work in a different place. On this particular Sunday morning, I watched as Tony and Rosa gave their testimony of how they came to faith in Christ. Then I had the joy of watching our church planter baptize them in a trough on a school stage. I saw two good examples of what God is doing in Cleveland. I would have missed that had I been sitting in my church that morning.
2. You need a break. Sunday comes around every week! I thoroughly enjoyed listening to someone else preach that day. It was good to just relax and worship. Pastors have the same routine and responsibilities every week. It’s healthy to take a break on occasion and do something different.
3. You need to step off the stage and into the audience. Prior to the service, I made my way to the stage to see if I could help out. I stayed up there until the service was about to start. When I came down, a church member smiled and asked, “Was it hard for you to come off the stage?” I hesitated, then answered with an embarrassed “Yes, it was.” I’m always on the stage. I’m comfortable there. I was reminded that day that it’s a good idea to sit among my people from time to time. When I’m on stage, they are an audience. When I sit with them, they are my friends.
4. You can pray on-site with insight. As I stood in that school auditorium waiting for the service to start, I found myself praying over the empty seats, asking God to fill them in the years to come. I prayed for a man I talked to prior to the service who needs to be baptized. I also had a better idea of how to pray for our church planter. Certainly, I can pray for these things back at my church, but my prayers seemed a little more meaningful when I prayed while looking at the need.
5. You have a deeper appreciation for your people. As you watch your people step out of their comfort zones and serve others, it does something for your heart. I saw another side of some folks whom I have known for years. I was amazed at what they did and how well they did it. And I loved them even more for it.
Pastors, let God expand your vision of what He is doing in the world. Take your people on a mission trip, and you will likely be the one who is blessed the most!
On Nov. 7, you will have the opportunity to do just that. During our annual meeting, we are going out into the city of Columbia to serve others. It’s called One Day, and we are asking you to bring a large group from your church to participate. You can find more information and sign up at www.scbaptist.org. Let’s find out what God can do in just One Day!
— Keith Shorter is pastor of Mt. Airy Baptist Church in Easley and president of the South Carolina Baptist Convention.