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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Neal Pirolo :: Serving as Senders

Neal Pirolo :: Group Leader’s Guide

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Chapter One, The Need for Senders

After prayer, summarize the chapter:

From Beth’s story, what obviously was wrong?

  • Neither she nor her pastor were aware of the critical issue of coming back home.
  • Beth was not given (nor took) any opportunity to “debrief”—to verbalize the depth of her experiences.
  • Beth may have had an overestimation of her role in missions involvement.
  • Her friends didn’t detect the symptoms of the trauma she was experiencing.

Paul was a missionary statesman par excellence. Everything we do today to support our missionaries should find its foundation in Scripture.

From Romans 10:13-15, it is clearly established that those who serve as senders share an equal responsibility and privilege with those who go.

Psalm 139:14 says it succinctly: “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” The integrated yet extremely complex personality of your cross-cultural worker will be stripped of every “comfort zone” he has come to appreciate as he grapples with the various stages of his ministry experience. Because of this, he needs an active, knowledgeable and committed support team working with him while he is preparing to go, while he is on the field and when he returns home.

What this book is encouraging every mission-minded church to do is being modeled by an average-sized church in Sacramento.

Go over the For Your Personal Involvement section:

Help the group see the progression of Paul’s linear logic establishing the senders as foundational to the goal of the salvation of the lost! It is true that the further one is away from the actual “action” of one praying the “sinner’s prayer,” the more difficult it is to feel a part of it. Perhaps a couple’s experience at being far from the front lines could help illustrate:

We served for a time with Wycliffe Bible Translators in the Jungles of Peru. My wife was assigned to keep inventory of the radio parts. For her, a fulltime “people-person,” this took some discipline! By tracing the sequence from radio parts to the actual goal of Wycliffe, we were more able to rejoice in such a task. Somebody had to keep up the inventory of radio parts so the radio men could keep the airplane radios in repair so the pilots could fly the linguists to the villages so the linguists could translate the Bible so the indigenous people could have a culturally relevant presentation of the Gospel of Christ so they could put their trust in Him and be saved!

Make sure the nine stages and the incidents in time that mark the transition from one to another are clearly understood.

Read the six passages of Scripture that parallel the six support responsibilities. Make sure everyone sees the application of the Scripture.

To help crush the pedestals of “cultural Christianity,” share Christ’s teachings on greatness in the Kingdom of God. Study Mark 10:35-45 and Matthew 18:1-4.

Pray for those who have committed themselves to a study of this book. Ask the lord for clear insight to which area of support each should become committed. Or, if specific cross-cultural support is not their function in the Body of Christ, pray that that will be equally clear.

For Further Action

Given the structure of your church, how can you proceed to elevate the vitality of the ministry of serving as senders?

Do the missionaries your fellowship or you personally support know of these six areas of care available to them? You might want to survey your missionaries. Have them place the six support ministries in priority. Further, have them rate on some scale from “excellent” to “poor” how adequate they think their support is in each area. Careful! If they are honest with you, what they say may hurt!

From their report, determine clear, deliberate steps to take to bolster the areas of care they sense are lacking.

Chapter Two, Moral Support

After prayer, summarize the chapter:

From Scott and Jean’s story:

  • God is not the author of confusion, so obviously someone “heard” wrong.
  • Commitment as senders is mandatory.
  • Support from more than one fellowship is vital.

From the biblical accounts:

  • We see how common to man the lack of moral support is.
  • It will take the wisdom of God and conscious effort to reverse the trend.

From the foundation stones:

  • Jesus is our example in Word and deed as the Chief Cornerstone.
  • Do it simply-and simply do it!
  • Moral support is a two-way street.
  • Active listening is vital to moral support.
  • Called, counseled and commissioned are watch-words for strong support.

From building awareness:

  • There are plenty of resources to encourage and challenge toward moral support.

Go over the For Your Personal Involvement section:

Have several share their meditations on various translations of Matthew 12:20.

Have a “teaser-length” (1-2 minute) book review of one or more of the books listed or others that have been read.

Identify the kinds of people who can give solid moral support.

Have several read their rewritten story.

Discuss some of this world’s philosophies-whether by bumper sticker, commercial jingles or other sources of input-that can distract us from giving moral support.

Pray for those who have made the commitment to actively encourage the Body of Christ Pray for those who are still uncertain of their place in ministry.

For Further Action

Contrast Joseph’s initial response in Matthew 1:18-19 with Elizabeth’s first words to Mary on her visit (Luke 1:39-45).

Roleplay various non-supportive, then supportive responses to the following situations: A person is telling his parents that he thinks God wants him to go on a two-year mission trip.

Roleplay: A person is telling his best friend that his parents are angry that he senses God wants him to go on a two-year mission venture.

Roleplay: An assistant pastor is telling his pastor that a mission agency has invited him to go on a two-year mission venture.

Design your own roleplay!

Chapter Three, Logistics Support

After prayer, summarize the chapter:

From the story you can emphasize that nobody can do everything. But as everybody does something the job can get done!

Both the Bible and growing mission agency practices are placing the responsibility of initiating the missions process on the local church.

  • Identify the cross-cultural parts of your fellowship.
  • Give them opportunity to exercise their gifts by being involved in a missions fellowship, by working with Internationals in your home town and by going on a mini-mission.
  • Check the accountability of the ministry with which they will work.
  • Confirm their spiritual maturity and growth before they go, while they are gone, and when they come home.
  • Establish good business practices governing all aspects of your missionary’s affairs. If your missionary is going through a mission agency, you as his sending church still need to be aware of their pollicies and where you fit in.

There are innumerable details that can be handled by a group of individuals.

  • How should their material goods be handled?
  • Are there family matters to be taken care of?
  • What ministry needs can be met?

The Body of Christ needs to care for its members showing diligence, concern for details, punctuality and sound business practices.

Go over the For Your Personal Involvement section:

Discuss how to overcome the strong individualistic tendencies of our culture. How can we become more involved as the Body of Christ in each others lives?

Compile a master list from all the logistical needs each person wrote. Don’t be overwhelmed! No one person will have all of these needs, but it emphasizes the diversity of needs and the vitality of Logistics Support.

Pray for those who have made a commitment to be a part of the Logistics Support Team for their missionary. Pray for those who have not yet made a commitment to any area of support.

For Further Action

Consider the last missionary your church sent out. Who in the group knows which and to what degree the various logistical needs of that person are being met by your fellowship?

Consider the internationals who live among us. What loss do they sense in not knowing how to establish all the logistics of “setting up” in a new culture. What can you do about it? Order All Nations Dictionaries, which are packed with Gospel messages in various definitions, to distribute as gifts to internationals in your area (see “Resources.”)

Chapter Four, Financial Support

After prayer, summarize the chapter:

From the story you can emphasize God’s faithfulness to supply financial support to ministries He directs. When senders diligently seek God for His direction in helping to financially support missionaries, He is faithful to provide the funds-possibly by very unusual methods!

Typical methods of fund-raising do generate some working capital. But for the “long haul,” more basic issues of financial management must be tapped:

  • Giving. The biblical principle of tithing yields to cheerful giving which grows in obedience so “there be equality.“ Wise giving carefully chooses who and what to support.
  • Lifestyle. Living more with less is an exciting, viable option in comparison to the shallow tenets of the Great American Dream.
  • Managing wealth on the field By more carefully supporting economical, effective missionary strategy, you free up money for other decisive cross-cultural work.
  • Managing wealth back home. This is kinder and gentler to the environment as well as freeing up “mega-bucks” for missions!

Go over the For Your Personal Involvement section:

From Scripture, discuss the philosophy of financial support Paul the Apostle seems to have adopted.

Tithing is one principle of the Kingdom of God. It works!

Encourage discussion surrounding these five questions found in chapter 4. Avoid condemnation either of yourselves or others; however, allow the Holy Spirit His opportunity to convict in the area of our wealth.

Media imput first sells us on our needs, then provides us with the plastic money to mortgage our future. Have someone share a vibrant testimony of victory over credit card buying.

Pray for those who have made a commitment to be a part of a missionarys Financial Support Team and for those who are still uncertain as to their personal involvement in serving as a sender.

For Further Action

Consider sponsoring a Christian financial management seminar.

Do a study on the financial accountability of the organizations with which your missionaries are working. (ACMC has material to help you ask the right questions. See “Resources.”)

Do a study on the financial accountability of your missionaries.

Chapter Five, Prayer Support

After prayer, summarize the chapter:

From Helen Mollenkof’s story, it is clear that commitment to prayer is not to be lightly regarded; rather, it is a discipline of long-term obedience.

Though the efficacy of prayer is a divine mystery, the practice of prayer is as clear as any Bible story.

Prayer is the arena of spiritual warfare. Only the well-advised should enter there.

The prayers of the Bible can serve as models for our prayers. These prayers provide for us the language and nature of petitions in line with the heart of God.

Prayer with fasting is a powerful weapon in the spiritual warfare we are facing with our cross-cultural worker.

“In-the-gap” praying is a level of intercession that demands a depth of commitment beyond the novice.

“The harvest is plentiful; the laborers are few” is as true today as when Jesus spoke it. Therefore, “pray to the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers” (Matthew 9:37-38).

Pray that the Gospel, in a culturally-relevant context, will be presented to all peoples.

Pray that the “strong man” will be bound.

Pray for the coming of His Kingdom to the hearts of all people.

Go over the For Your Personal Involvement section:

Discuss the types of prayers the group has been used to praying.

Discuss several model prayers of Jesus and other Bible characters that have been studied, and what differences the group anticipates in their praying now.

Have someone who has prepared ahead of time give a book review of God’s Chosen Fast (see “Resources.”)

Have available the mailing addresses of your church’s missionaries for those who are ready to make a commitment to their prayer support.

Pray for those who have made a commitment to be a part of a cross-cultural worker’s Prayer Support Team. Pray for those who have yet to make a commitment to any area of support.

For Further Action

Begin a mission prayer group, or increase awareness of the existing one(s).

Give a more prominent visual place to the prayer requests of your missionaries by

  • Posting letters on church bulletin board with prayer requests highlighted.
  • Putting excerpts of those requests in the church bulletin each week or month.
  • Requesting regular public congregational prayer for specific needs of your missionaries.

Expand the vision of your church’s outreach by using a world prayer guide such as the Global Prayer Digest, Passport booklets, “Unreached People Profiles” and Operation World (see “Resources.”)

Prayer support is the most vital of the six areas.

  • History tells of many who forged their way to God’s chosen fields of the world without Moral Support. But they got there.
  • Having one or more friends back home handling all of the Logistics Support eases the mind of the cross-cultural worker. But they have survived without it.
  • Financial Support does provide nicely for the worker’s needs. But the belt can be tightened.

(And the two yet to be considered.)

  • News from a far country provides great Communication Support. But loneliness can be handled.
  • Re-entry Support certainly shores up the unstable as they come back home. But life goes on.

These five areas of support relate to the physical, emotional and psychological realms. Though the adjustments for lack of support in these areas are difficult, they can be made.

However, Prayer Support moves into the realm of the spiritual where there is no adjustment for lack of support! Therefore, make this issue the highest priority.

Chapter Six, Communication Support

After prayer, summarize the chapter:

From the Paris missionary’s story:

  • God is merciful, but there is a better part of wisdom that says missionaries should get some good, practical training.
  • Working with nationals enabled her to stay in the country.
  • It was fortunate for her to see a positive example.

From Mary’s story:

  • Even returning missionaries face difficulties that are helped by communication support.
  • The encouragement of communication support doesn’t always take away the difficulty, but it sure helps your missionary through it.

From the biblical writers:

  • Make the communication real.
  • Be personal.
  • Even short letters should be written and sent.
  • Communication support is for their benefit.
  • Don’t feel you have to say everything you know.
  • Reminders are good.
  • Sometimes your communication might be a God-inspired exhortation.

Get everyone involved in letter writing.

Be sure the content is worth reading.

Use other methods of communication:

  • Telephone, fax, telex, ham radio, photos, video, audiotapes, care packages, visits.

Go over the For Your Personal Involvement section:

Have several share their highlighted letter of Paul. What was mundane in the letter-yet important enough to be included in Scripture? What did some of the other writers talk about?

Make a list as the group relates the many different types of communication support missionaries have received.

What have other churches found to be practical ways toward communication support?

Compile a list of the resources within your group for communication support.

Pray for those who have made the commitment to be a part of a missionary’s Communication Support Team. Pray for those who have not yet made a decision regarding any area of support.

For Further Action

Right now, let each one present have a half sheet of paper to write a personal note to your missionary. Gather them into one envelope and mail it-tonight!

Prepare a chart to show what time it is where your missionary is living and the best times to reach him by telephone.

Talk with the children’s minister or Sunday school superintendent. Develop a plan for the children to write to missionary children in other countries.

Chapter Seven, Re-entry Support

After prayer, summarize the chapter:

From the seminary director’s story:

  • The devastation of this missionary’s “crash” ripples out far beyond the circle of his immediate family.
  • No doubt many factors beyond re-entry stress contributed to his “spiritual suicide.” But if he had had a good Re-entry Support Team to unload on, what grief might have been averted!

From the Situation of Re-entry:

  • Re-entry shock is the initial response and deals more with environmental changes your worker must face.
  • Re-entry stress deals more with the deeper struggles of attitude and spiritual motivation that run contrary in the two cultures.

From the Challenge of Re-entry:

  • Become very familiar with these eight areas. It is in one or more of these areas that you will sense some struggle in your returning cross-cultural worker.
  • Know your worker well. Think beyond the examples given to specific issues that might frustrate him upon re-entry.

From the Re-entry Behavior Patterns:

  • Alienation, condemnation and reversion sometimes provide the degenerative spiral down to the fourth, the ultimate escape. Be aware of these and if you notice the signs, try to divert the returned missionary from this destruction.
  • The focus of your re-entry program should be on the fifth pattern: Integration!
  • Integration is on two levels: The immediate needs of living and long-range interaction.
  • The most vital, immediate issue on either level is the need for active listening.
  • The Re-entry Support Team must provide opportunities for debriefing. This is as much for your worker’s benefit as it is for the edification of the group listening.
  • In time, slowly help your worker become involved in some meaningful level of ministry.
  • Consider the specific needs of the various family members or single adult.

Go over the For Your Personal Involvement section.

Review any articles on the subject of re-entry.

Hear the real stones of re-entry given by returned missionaries.

Develop a plan for educating the Body on this area of support.

Pray for those who have made the commitment to be a part of their missionary’s Re-entry Support Team. Pray for those who have not yet made a decision regarding any area of support.

For Further Action

Obtain information that various international corporations use to bring their employees home. Incorporate transferable material to your program of re-entry.

In the opening chapter of this book, we related Beth’s story in which she was so distraught by her lack of re-entry support that she chose to take her own life. By God’s mercy, that plan was thwarted. Unfortunately, there are other less final but equally serious forms of suicide that may require professional help. If it appears that a returning missionary is not responding to the care you are able to provide, there are groups equipped to help.

One highly recommended organization in the US is Link Care Center. Contact Link Care Center, 1734 West Shaw Avenue. Fresno CA 93711, phone (209) 439-5920 or

There may be members of your fellowship who would like to participate in a broader hospitality ministry to missionaries. Makahiki Ministries is dedicated to providing short-term hospitality housing around the world for missionaries. To find out how you can help missionaries find a respite from their hectic pace, contact Makahild Ministries, P.O. Box 575, Kailua HI 96734 USA.

Also, most mission agencies are looking for senders willing to open their homes in hospitality to returning missionaries. One such agency is Wycliffe Bible Translators, P.O. Box 2727, Huntington Beach CA 92647 USA or

Chapter Eight, Your Part in the Big Picture

After prayer, summarize the chapter:

Leaders in the global Christian community are taking bold, aggressive steps to mobilize and deploy thousands of new missionaries to reach the unreached.

God is doing a mighty work among the nations. Yet about half of the earth’s population lives beyond a simple, culturally relevant presentation of the Gospel.

Most of the world’s 12,000 unreached people groups-in 3000 clusters-live in a geographic region called the 10/40 Window.

Until recently, very little has been done to target these people. In fact, today only about 8% of the world’s missionary force is working among unreached peoples.

They can be reached by a two-pronged attack:

1) Send thousands of “Timothys” to teach Third World nationals the Word in such a way that they will teach others. God is sovereignly raising up thousands of new Third World nationals to go as missionaries to the unreached.

2) Identify, mobilize, train and deploy thousands of “Pauline-bold” teams to penetrate these final fron-tiers of unreached peoples.

The Christian community has the resources to see this mission accomplished by the year 2000.

As part of this worldwide move, we can actively serve as senders in the six areas of support as they relate to reaching the unreached.

Go over the For Your Personal Involvement section:

Focus on that most critical question Mordecai gave to Esther: “Who knows but that for an hour such as this, you have been called to the kingdom?” Relate and discuss other Scriptures that lay a responsibility for action on us to participate in God’s Great Commission (Genesis 12:1-3; Isaiah 6:8; John 20:21; Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15; James 1:22).

Pray as various ones share global breakthroughs on what God is doing to reach every people.

For Further Action

Contact the Adopt-A-People Clearinghouse (1605 Elizabeth St., Pasadena CA 91104 USA or on how you can take responsibility before God for an unreached people group.

Resources Next Section →

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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