Have you ever wondered how to become a missionary? You’re not alone. Each year, thousands of Christians decide to put their faith into action.
Some missionaries travel overseas to faraway lands while others provide missionary outreach to their local community. Service in faith is important no matter where you intend to do it.
If you’re considering becoming a missionary, there are several things you should know including:
- Setting goals
- Finding a mentor
- Joining missionary support/prayer groups
- Studying the Bible
- Accepting more responsibility with Church outreach
Sometimes we have goals but we don’t know where to start. Preparing to be a missionary shouldn’t be complicated. All it takes is planning, preparation, and discovering opportunities (which usually present themselves when we become more involved).
Use this article as a checklist to help prepare you for your noble career as a missionary. The list is not exhaustive and there are plenty more steps you can take to prepare yourself for mission work (also read Best Places To Find Missionary Opportunities).
11 Steps To Become A Missionary
1. Become Active At Church
A desire to become something is never achieved without action. You won’t become a missionary if you’re content to only attend Sunday sermons and go about your life during the week.
Get involved. Offer your skills and abilities to the church so you can grow as a Christian. Few people at churches receive a salary and most churches rely on volunteers to assist with programs.
The more you participate in your church’s activities the more you’ll learn about faith and you will discover opportunities to serve. You may even meet missionaries who visit the church (networking).
2. Study The Bible (Especially Scripture On Outreach)
Missionaries are expected to have a strong grasp of the Bible. They will study, read, and live what they’ve read. Then they will teach what they’ve learned to others.
Reading the Bible isn’t a “one and done” experience (also read Example Prayers For Missionaries).
A missionary will read and re-read the Bible multiple times throughout their life. They may even translate it to a language that has never heard the Word.
If you’re interested in a being a missionary, it’s important to study the Bible as much as possible. You can get involved with Bible study groups too – studying together is a wonderful way to grow.
3. Volunteer In Your Church and with Local Missionaries
When I was young I applied for jobs and seldom heard back. I had a good work ethic and I thought I was a great candidate.
I found that my lack of work experience was a problem for many employers. This left me with one question:
- How can I get work experience if no one will give me a job?
I was in a hurry to work and be paid, but I learned that volunteering could open up doors. As a volunteer I essentially worked for free, however, I developed skills and met new people (here is a good Christian option).
Because I was a hard-working volunteer, I was offered paid positions and educational opportunities that I wouldn’t have been offered otherwise.
If you’re young, don’t overlook a volunteer position. Even if it’s only a weekend position, a volunteer position can help you develop skills and learn something new.
If your community has local missionaries, offer to help them!
4. Focus On Ways To Bridge Church and Community
Missionaries are good at sharing their faith with those who aren’t believers. They are often a bridge between the church and the community.
If you want to be a missionary, ask about church programs in the community and get involved. Practice talking about your faith with others.
There are often youth programs and homeless outreach opportunities.
If your church isn’t active in the community, suggest a new program and offer to lead it. Missionaries are put in new and sometimes uncomfortable situations every day.
There might be language and cultural differences and the living conditions might be uncomfortable. Practice working with your church outside of your comfort zone.
5. Join A Missionary Prayer Group
I grew up in a church with missionaries. Occasionally the missionaries from overseas would visit the church congregation and share with us the good work they were doing in the field.
There were always a group of church members who were in charge of praying for them.
The group would pray, organize activities for them, and help with support (funding and sharing their story).
If your church supports missionaries, ask to participate in the support group. You’ll receive update emails from the missionaries overseas and get a chance to interact with them when they visit the church.
You’ll learn the responsibilities of missionary support groups and you’ll receive first-hand insight from the missionaries themselves!
6. Write Down Your Missionary Goals
This step is essential for anyone who is considering becoming a missionary. It doesn’t matter what field you choose to pursue, writing down your goals will make you think about what you want.
Missionaries decide to serve for many reasons, however they all share one goal: sharing Christ with others.
- Do you envision yourself working domestically or overseas?
- Would you prefer to work with adults or children?
- Will you require a salary to fulfill your goals or will your missionary position be a weekend endeavor?
- What will you expect from yourself? From your family?
- What needs to happened before you become a missionary (financial, education)?
Writing down your thoughts will help make the process of becoming a missionary more clear. It will also illuminate strengths and weaknesses in your plan.
If you’re brave, share your written goals with your pastor or mentor and ask for feedback. There may be things you forgot to consider!
Remember, writing your goals down doesn’t mean they are set in stone – everything happens in God’s perfect timing.
7. Find A Missionary Mentor
An overlooked step to becoming a missionary is to find a mentor. Mentors, no matter the profession, are incredibly helpful.
As people get older, they can usually point to one or two people who influenced and guided them in their life or career. Some mentors are sought out, while others appear naturally.
If you’re considering being a missionary, seek out someone who has experience with missions. The person may be a missionary or have experience working with them. Ask this person questions, hang around them, and watch them.
A good mentor can help build you to be a more effective missionary. If they know your goals, they can help keep you accountable to them as well!
8. Increase Your Responsibilities In Mission Service
An aspiring missionary will work hard towards their goal. To achieve this, a future missionary will take on more responsibility around the church and in volunteer positions.
If you see an opportunity to help others don’t sit back and wait for others to take the initiative. A missionary should be proactive and should be involved!
If you’re already volunteering with missionary outreach, prepare yourself to take the next step. It could be a leadership position where you are in charge of a prayer group!
9. Search For Missionary Opportunities (home and abroad)
As you become more involved and comfortable with missionary work in your local church, you’ll need to expand your search for opportunities.
Missionary opportunities may be available in your local community, however, you can also to overseas opportunities.
Pray about where God is calling you.
- Are you open to serving in remote parts of the world?
- What about low-income areas in your local community?
Searching for missionary communities should expand further than asking people at your church.
Search the internet, sign up for newsletters from missionary associations, and learn which missionary organizations are doing good work in the world.
10. Educate Yourself
Education is gained in various ways. Some of my best education I received came through experience. However, formal education is never something to discourage.
Missionaries will have various backgrounds. Many will have earned college degrees but a degree is not a requirement. A missionary with education in divinity, or someone who has attended seminary, can be a valuable asset (divinity schools).
The call to be a missionary can occur at any time of life.
Some people might have high school degrees while others have graduate degrees. Missionaries might have started at the age of 18 or after a distinguished career in business.
There are so many educational opportunities and many are free. Search the internet for missionary courses. Pursue formal education to develop your skills – your church may even offer a scholarship.
11. Pray For Guidance
Don’t overlook the power of prayer. Missionaries spend a lot of time in prayer, asking God for guidance and praying for others.
If you’re considering becoming a missionary, learn how to pray. Ask for direction and pray with others.
Many missionaries end up in locations they knew little about before they arrived. Pray will help bring clarity to your goals and help make you a stronger Christian (read my article on the ACTS prayer method).
Also, look into classes on prayer. Prayer is a skill that can be developed and as a missionary you’ll want to be good at praying for others as well as yourself.
To be an effective missionary, you should be well-prepared. Good preparation includes studying the Bible, being active in church, taking leadership responsibilities, finding a mentor, and volunteering.
Don’t forget to write down your goals and ask someone to hold you accountable.
Even though many missionaries end up working in their own community, a missionary should be willing to go overseas as well. Are you willing to go where God calls you?
As a missionary, you’ll work with people of faith and with people who aren’t Christians. Put yourself in situations where you can become more comfortable working with people from various backgrounds.
Be the link between those of faith and who haven’t heard God’s Word.