How Can We Change the Missions Culture?

How can opportunities, culture and environment shape the perception of missions in the global church today?

Recently, we read a news article about the entrance exams taken by 25,000 students in the West African country of Liberia. The headline said this, “Not a single new student will be admitted into the University of Liberia this year after nearly 25,000 candidates failed the school’s admission exam.” Not a single one in 25,000 passed! Why? For starters, years of war, corruption and low standards in education have laid a culture of underachievement and made it virtually impossible for youth in Liberia to have a chance at higher knowledge. These results in Liberia are simply a result of environment, culture and opportunity.

So, with that in mind, think about your opportunities, culture and environment for a moment. What are you surrounded by? If you are surrounded by a culture of negativity, you will most likely adopt a negative attitude and have a discouraging outlook on life. And vise versa, if you are surrounded by a positive culture. But what about your church environment? Does it promote missions? If not, why? The lack of missions emphasis by churches today is the biggest failure of the modern day church. Sadly, it is common place among church leaders and influencers to instill a culture and environment of missions phobia. Many times, there is “religious language”from leadership about missions, but not supportive action or a culture of encouragement for missionary activity. For example, prospective missionaries are often times told by leadership and peers to, “Wait on the Lord.” When they are thinking about going into missions, or even taking a short-term missions trip. This sounds good and wise, but many times, it is simply code for: you better be careful and think about your decision. This instills fear, inaction and reinforces the missions phobia. This culture is tragic and not based in faith.

Now, think about the Liberian education story we mentioned earlier. The common reaction to reading a headline of 25,000 students failing the entrance exam is one of shock. But there could also be a similar hypothetical headline from many churches today about missionaries being sent out that reads: “Not one new missionary will be sent out from our church this year, due to no one being supported or wanting to go.”

To create culture, environment and opportunities for missions, church leadership must encourage and train, not discourage and ignore. Congregations, today, are incredibly willing to serve and only need the culture and opportunity to do so. This is why, for 15-years at Travel the Road, we have focused our efforts on creating a positive culture for missions. Through the Travel the Road television series, that is viewed by millions of people around the world, we are able to promote and encourage missions as a lifestyle. We constantly receive testimonies of people sharing how the Travel the Road series has made an impact in their life and how it has encouraged them to become involved in missions. People are praying for missionaries, supporting missionaries, and becoming missionaries as a result of these efforts through the Travel the Road series. Praise God!

Here are just a few testimonies we have received:

Just wanted to let you know how encouraging the Travel the Road series on Netflix was to me. This past June I was getting ready for a 6-week trip to learn about tribal church planting in Papua New Guinea, and it being the biggest thing God has ever called me to do….I got a little freaked out/scared/nervous about it the few weeks before I left. Completely not normal for me, especially since I’ve known God wanted me to go to Papua New Guinea and have greatly looked forward to it since he spoke to me highschool about it (2009); but definitely got spiritually hit right before I left and was not dealing well. Then my mom found the series on Netflix, we’d already been following on Facebook, and it just encouraged me so much. God used it to renew my spirit and restore that vigor for world missions he has given me. I went to Papua New Guinea, and I learned so much and grew with God tremendously. He’s called me back to the States for now to be a ‘messenger’ with everything He has shown me, but I just wanted to say Thank you for turning your ministry all around the world into a TV series that has become a ministry all in its own. You have greatly encouraged me and I hope this encourages you. God bless! — Rachel
We are starting a home ministry very soon and are looking forward to showing the episodes. We are learning and in-training to spread the Gospel in positive and more effective ways. Your ministry is very encouraging to us. Thank you for continuing to educate and spread the Word of God so effectively. I know you do it all for the glory of our Lord, Jesus Christ. It’s amazing to see the obedience of your hearts. I pray that we will continue to always be a part of your ministry. My husband and I have agreed “Travel the Road” is such an important ministry. My two 6-year olds have started watching the episodes we have recorded from Daystar. They love it. It shows them what is truly out there. Even my kids have started to minister to kids in the playground and to my parents who are not believers. It’s a history lesson when we all gather around the TV to watch. Truly awesome! God is amazing! Blessings Always, -Rene, Lisa, Hannah, Joshua & Keegan
I am at San Francisco airport waiting to fly to Ethiopia. I already have all of TTR videos and have watched them many times. I just watched the Season 3 Trailer online about AFRICA so I have to send an email because the trailer inspires me. This is my 5th mission trip to Ethiopia. This time I will be there 5 months, other times I was there 8 months at a time. Your DVDs keep inspiring me to go back. May God continue to bless you two guys. — Missionary Mark.
Wanted to share with you that we use your episodes on Daystar for weekly Homeschool lessons in Spiritual Studies Class. We watch them as a family, and our fourteen year old son has been very inspired by you two. The episodes have sparked many good and deep discussions. He shares your stories with friends, and has also suggested his Dad order your DVD’s and share them with the youth group. Thank you for sharing the message of Christ but also for encouraging us to do the same! — Becky