Imagine that you arrive at your church on Sunday morning. There is your pastor, greeting you at the door. You and the other church members and visitors go and find seats in the sanctuary, and in a little while, it’s time for the service to begin. But where is your pastor? Oh, there he is at the back, closing the sanctuary doors and running up to the pulpit. He welcomes you all to the church, prays, and then heads over to the piano. If he’s really talented, he might also grab a guitar as he sits down to begin the first worship song.
Pastor plays the instruments (we’ll leave it to you to figure out how he’s playing both at once) while everyone sings. When the song ends, it’s time for the offering. Once again, pastor hops to his feet, grabs the offering plates, and begins the amazing feat of athleticism, both passing the offering plate to each row, and then running to the other end of the pew to pick up the plate and pass it on to the next row. While he does this, he holds a flute to his lips as he plays a beautiful rendition of “How Great Thou Art”, occasionally pausing when a hand is required to pass the plate.
The offering is finished, and pastor sprints back to the piano for the next worship song. Service continues in this manner until it’s time for the sermon to begin. Pastor opens his Bible and gives a wonderful sermon on Romans chapter 16. Concluding his sermon, pastor again seats himself at the piano and leads the congregation in a hymn. By this time, he has regained his strength and is ready to run the gauntlet of pews again, this time to pass the communion plates. By the time pastor has said the closing prayer, he’s mopping sweat from his brow, but he isn’t through yet. Now, he opens the sanctuary doors and dashes to the front doors, ready to bid the congregation farewell for another week.
If we stop by church during the week, we find pastor cleaning the church from steeple to basement, repainting woodwork, fixing broken pews, and cutting the church lawn. When he’s not performing these tasks, he’s planning next week’s sermon and worship songs, visiting sick church members, balancing the church budget, taking phone calls, scheduling meetings, and ensuring the church’s bills are paid.
Imagine if your pastor really had to do all this, and more, by himself. Whether your church is large or small, your pastor probably has a team of supporters behind him so that every task doesn’t fall on his shoulders alone. When discussing our work with New Tribes, some people are surprised when they learn that we’re going to Papua New Guinea to be support workers. “What do the missionaries need an IT guy for?” they ask.
But just as your pastor isn’t solely responsible for every part of Sunday service, and just as he isn’t responsible for every task of church maintenance, missionaries who go to the far ends of the earth to spread the gospel aren’t left alone to face every job. Yes, they do wear many, many hats. But they also have a team of support missionaries behind them, helping to fix their computers when they break, bringing them the supplies that they need to survive in the mountains or jungles, and offering medical care when they are sick, so that they have more time to work on teaching God’s word to those who have never heard.
Even support workers have support workers behind us, to assist with the difficulties of moving our family to a different country, knowing what paperwork we need, and having a place to live when we arrive. And then there are the many, many people on our personal support team praying and giving financially so that we can serve as missionaries.
So when you talk to a support missionary, think of the team you have in your daily life at work or at the grocery store, mechanics, doctors’ office, and more, and remember that missionaries need support in their daily lives too.
And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.