God gives us all a part

Missions Teams / Glad Bands / Barnabas Teams

The effective missionary endeavor is more often a team effort than an individual one — both in Scripture and history.
When Jesus said, “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” The future apostles “left their nets” — they didn’t drop their fishing poles — “and followed him.”

(Matthew 4:19-20)

Effective fishers of men are more likely to be a team casting a net than individuals throwing out lines.


  • This endeavor involves team members who travel with the team
    • physically and spiritually
    • spiritually only — are located elsewhere physically
  • The team
    • involves the whole Church
    • specifically engages particular sets of individuals within the church.
The whole Church is involved, everyone has a place.
“After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some … women were helping to support them out of their own means.”

(Luke 8:1-3)

Jesus didn’t need the presence or support of those He took with Him. He was certainly more than capable of doing it all on His own. But He wanted them to have the joy of participating with Him in fulfilling His purposes.

When a nation is at war a purpose of every part of the nation is to win that war. Some parts are explicitly directed to that task — every part is implicitly. And every part is constantly and acutely aware of the war and the importance of doing their part to win.

Of those parts of a nation that are explicitly directed to waging war only a small fraction are actually “on the ground.”

A Tale of Two Armies A skit to illustrate the points made here. more…

Someone has said that it took 24 people in uniform to put one in combat during the Vietnam War. Whatever the exact number, the principle is clear. The contributions of many are essential, not just those that carry the rifles.

And in missionary endeavor the contributions of many are essential, not just those that carry the Word.

Just as waging a war is not the primary purpose of a nation, missions is not the primary purpose of the Church. Worship is. John Piper has said “Missions exists because worship doesn’t.” (Let the Nations Be Glad!: The Supremacy of God in Missions)

A nation’s war effort exists so that it can get on with its real purposes as a nation. But the nation will never be able to get on with those real purposes unless the whole nation gives itself to winning the war.

And we will never have the complete worship that God desires until some from every tribe, nation, language, people are there to worship Him (Revelation 5:6-14, Revelation 7:9-10).

The participation of the entire Church is critical to the completion of Jesus’ campaign to bring some from every tribe, language, people, and nation to worship at His throne.

Many more than just one discipline is essential to bringing the Good News to every people:

“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!'” (Romans 10:14-15)

The feet are those parts of the body that propel the body. This and the fact that the Scriptures place “how beautiful are the feet” immediately after “unless they are sent” indicate that those who send (propel) those who preach are beautiful.

Beautiful Feet Clearly it is not the feet, but the mouth, which preaches. But the Holy Spirit sings that the feet are beautiful. more…

It is the whole body that is necessary for the message to be heard — feet as well as mouth. For the nations to hear the Gospel there must be senders and sent ones. And they are both part of the same body that takes the Good News to those who have never heard.The giftings of this body of goers and senders are multi-faceted:

“We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.” (Romans 12:6-8)

Each gifting is needed. All giftings work in concert to bring some from every tribe, language, people, and nation to worship at His throne.

There are many possible ways to refer to this team endeavor – Missions Teams, Glad Bands, Barnabas Teams… More important is that it is understood that such teams are essential – and that they exist and function. The team members/functions may, for example, be:

  • Team Leader (“advocate”)
  • “Apostle(s)” (missionary/missionary family, “in-country” team member(s))
    The “Apostles” are an integral part of the team, not an isolated entity off in some foreign spot doing missionary work.
  • “Messenger(s)” (short-term missionary(ies))
  • Encourager (moral support)
  • Administrator (logistics, physical well-being)
  • Finance mobilizer
  • Prayer mobilizer
  • Communications coordinator
  • Re-entry coordinator

Some example team activities could be:

  • Email interaction on a frequent basis
  • Send worship and teaching tapes
  • Christmas and birthday packages
  • In-church presentation/awareness activities: status reports — verbal and written
  • Intercession on a routine basis — prayer chain for special issues
  • Organize and encourage short-term trips
  • Organize, encourage, and train new staff for in-country team
  • Needs awareness campaigns

A reference: Serving as Senders – Today, Neal Pirolo

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