Who Sends?

MissioSERVE Methodology

November 10, 2023 Steve B

In our postmodern day of ambiguity, the popular idea is that everybody is a missionary. Many say that we are all sent to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. A careful look at Acts reveals that those sent are set apart to a particular work by the church and return to the church to report on the work that God has done. The Word shapes our understanding to see that we are all witnesses of the Gospel (Acts 1:8), but we are not all sent by the Lord through the church with a particular global task to complete, with accountability to the church. The pattern of the church providing for and sending the missionary unfolds throughout the New Testament. 

The Holy Spirit announces the responsibility and authority of the local church to set apart and send laborers to the work of the Harvest in Acts 13:1-4, “…the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying, they (the Antioch Church leaders) laid their hands on them and sent them off.” The laborers returned to give an account of God’s work through them in Acts 14:26-27, “… they sailed to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work that they had fulfilled. And when they arrived and gathered the church together, they declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles.” 

We understand the church’s responsibility to adequately provide for and send their missionary workers well from various forms of one Greek word translated into a few similar phrases that develop through the New Testament. The word “propempo” means “to send on before; to accompany or attend out of respect, escort, accompany for a certain distance on setting out on a journey; to furnish with things necessary for a journey” (The New Analytical Greek Lexicon – Perschbacher, 1990 by Hendrickson Pub.). Consider its use in the context of New Testament churches sending missionary workers. In Acts 15:1-3, Paul, Barnabas, and some brethren are appointed and “sent on their way by the church” in Antioch to Jerusalem. Along the way, they proclaim the Gospel details of the conversion of the Gentiles in Phoenicia and Samaria, bringing great joy to all the brothers. The church in Antioch provided for these men in sending them on their way for this Gospel work. In Acts 20:17-38, Luke records the account of Paul calling for the elders of the Ephesian Church to come to him in Miletus, where Paul reviews his ministry to them and tells them of the Spirit leading him to Jerusalem. He charges them with their responsibility for the oversight of the church and warns them to protect the flock. He then knelt and prayed with them for one last time. They would not see his face again. Weeping, they “accompanied him to the ship.” Their love and respect are evident, and their custom and joy provided for him as he departed from them. Paul and Luke, on their way to Jerusalem, spent seven days with the disciples in Tyre. Proceeding from there, all the disciples, “with wives and children, accompanied us until we were outside the city.” Paul knelt and prayed with them and said farewell. Again, the honor of the Church of Tyre was to provide for Paul’s needs as he continues his way to Jerusalem to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

In Romans 15, Paul’s ambition is to preach the Gospel where the name of Christ is not yet named. He is writing to believers in the Church in Rome whom he has never met. He includes plans to come to them on his way to Spain. He asks, “to be helped on my journey there by you once I have enjoyed your company for a while” (v.24). He is writing to ask them for their support of his Gospel ministry in Spain. In 1 Corinthians 16, Paul concludes his letter to the church with his plans to pass through Macedonia and possibly spend the winter with them “so that you may help me on my journey, wherever I go” (vs.5-6). In his second letter to the Corinthian Church, Paul requests that on his way back from Macedonia, “you send me on my way to Judea” (v.16). After requesting help in 1 Corinthians 16, Paul also asks them to receive and honor Timothy, who is doing the work of the Lord, and to “Help him on his way in peace, that he may return to me, for I am expecting him with the brothers” (vs.10-11). The responsibility for respecting and providing is not limited to the Apostle Paul but is also true of other missionary workers of the Gospel. The responsibility of providing for and sending missionary workers strengthens, as Paul writes to the leaders of the churches in Crete. Paul instructs Titus to “Do your best to speed Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way; see that they lack nothing” (Titus 3:13). “See to it that they lack nothing” is evident.

Today, are we concerned for missionary workers sent from our churches or even those who pass through? Some in the church were opposing the authority and responsibility for providing for and sending missionary workers. The Apostle John writes to Gaius that he will correct those who oppose the truth and are removing church members who want to welcome and honor the brothers when he comes. John makes three strong statements to Gaius in 3 John 5-8: “Beloved, it is a faithful thing you do in all your efforts for these brothers, strangers as they are, who testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God. For they have gone out for the sake of the name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. Therefore, we ought to support people like these, that we may be fellow workers for the truth.” 

The local church must be faithful in their efforts to provide for and send missionary workers in a manner worthy of God who do well as fellow workers for the truth! May God be glorified in the advance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the nations through the sending work of your local church. 


Steve B
Steve served as a church planter, pastor, leadership developer, missions trainer, and in missions leadership over the 37 years prior to stepping into the leadership of MɪssɪᴏSERVE Alliance. Steve is married to Terri Jo and they have four adult children and 13 grandchildren.