A Guide For The Journey

Guide to Pursuing Missions

Our step-by-step process for equipping you & helping you get to your mission field

PHASE 1: IDENTIFY YOUR FIT

UNDERSTAND MISSIONS

Missions is the risky, rewarding work of taking the gospel of Jesus Christ to every people group where it has not yet been heard. It is also the establishing of viable churches in every place to carry on that same work of reaching, teaching, and sending.

Unlike most people in the West who have a Christian friend or neighbor who can share the gospel with them, more than 6,500 people groups throughout the world have little-to-no access to the gospel. That totals about 3 billion people who are searching for hope, but have never heard about Jesus and the salvation he offers.

Is God leading you to go? We urge you to pray and study seriously before you answer. Explore our Guide for the Journey article series or the accompanying PDF booklet A Guide for the Journey.

Recommended Reading

  • Let the Nations Be Glad by John Piper
  • Radical by David Platt
  • Found: God’s Will by John MacArthur
  • Decision Making and the Will of God by Garry Friesen
  • 9 Marks of a Healthy Church by Mark Dever
  • Gaining by Losing by J.D. Greear

GET TO KNOW ABWE

You may have an unwavering passion for missions, or you may just be curious. Either way, we want to walk alongside you throughout your journey. We are passionate about connecting your heart and talents with missions opportunities because we believe God can use your unique skills to share the hope of Jesus Christ with the world.

For nearly 90 years, we have been working to multiply leaders, churches, and missions movements among every people. Our hope is that these global missions movements extend beyond ourselves, where local leaders are trained, mission-minded churches are planted, and believers are compelled to carry the message of Jesus to every nation—and we’d love for you to join us.

Get To Know Us Better


CHOOSE YOUR PATHWAY

You may have already decided that mid-term or long-term missions is right for you. If you’re not sure, review our Pathways.


APPLY

Once you’ve determined that you fit our qualifications, begin filling out our application. This application asks for your basic personal information, personal salvation testimony, sending church information, education information, your ministry interest, and references. Our team will contact you as soon as possible!

PHASE 2: ASSESSING YOUR APPLICATION

PROCESSING YOUR APPLICATION

Once you’re finished our application, our team will assess you in various areas, including…

  • Testimony. You must have a salvation experience and reflect the essential characteristics of a Christian found in Galatians 5:22-23 and Titus 1-2.
  • Citizenship. You must be a citizen of the U.S. or Canada.
  • Doctrine and Core Values. You must be committed to the baptistic distinctives and be in complete agreement with ABWE’s Doctrinal Statement, our Missionary Handbook and Policy Manual.
  • Church Membership. Your church membership is essential because ABWE’s partnership with the local church is essential to sending student interns and missionaries.
  • Education. Educational requirements do exist, but we offer in-depth trainings to help you meet these.

You may be guided for additional follow-up information regarding your background, spiritual gifts, personality, and more.

Once you have completed your initial application questionnaire, our Mobilization team will review your submission and approve you to proceed. Our goal is to establish a partnership between you, your church, and ABWE.


DOCTRINAL INTERVIEW

If together we decide that ABWE is still a good fit for you and your complete application has been approved, we ask you to do a doctrinal interview. The purpose of this interview is to ensure that you can articulate what you believe, support it with Scripture, and make sure that you are in agreement with ABWE’s doctrinal position. The interview is ideally held at your sending church with you, your pastor, church staff, elders, missions committee, and ABWE personnel.

The 1½-2 hour interview reviews the 10 major areas of systematic theology and is moderated by ABWE staff. All persons present are invited to ask questions and applicants may use their Bibles. Married couples are viewed as a team and can work together throughout the interview. A study guide is provided.

Once this step is complete, you’re ready to be officially activated as a missionary with ABWE.

PHASE 3: ACTIVATE WITH ABWE

ATTEND NEW MISSIONARY ORIENTATION

All approved mid-term and long-term applicants attend our week-long New Missionary Orientation (NMO) at the ABWE International Training Center in Harrisburg, Pa., offered each Spring, Summer, and Fall. Summer NMO also coincides with our annual Missionary Enrichment Conference where we celebrate all new missionary appointees from the current class year. Your relatives, friends, and pastors are invited to attend this meaningful service as you officially begin your missionary career!

The purpose of orientation is to instill into our approved applicants a growing understanding of ABWE and our ministry philosophy, to complete the screening of potential missionaries, to discover or confirm God’s direction concerning choice of field, and to equip you for the next step of your journey to the mission field.

By the end of NMO, Lord willing, you are approved to begin raising support for your ministry as an official ABWE missionary.

PHASE 4: DEVELOPMENT AND SUPPORT-RAISING

PREFIELD

On average, new long-term missionaries spend 18-20 months in prefield ministry, developing the prayer and financial partnerships necessary to go to the mission field and completing crucial ministry training and education. This is an important time of personal preparation and investment in those who are sending you—a time to learn to trust God to meet your spiritual, emotional, and material needs as you develop your support base and prepare to relocate.

At ABWE, we use the term “prefield ministry” to refer to what other organizations sometimes call “deputation” because we truly believe that it is a ministry. Prefield provides unique opportunities to minister to hundreds of churches and individuals. It is also an opportunity for you to challenge churches with God’s heart for the nations.

As you share your vision, you are able to evangelize, inspire, and challenge people to partner with you in the Great Commission—whether that is through financial support, prayer support, or joining you on the mission field.

Your prefield journey depends on your background and field of service. Frequently, new missionaries have a heart for missions but lack the biblical knowledge or ministry experience that is essential. That's where we come in.

1. Reading

Once you’ve become a long-term missionary, your training and partnership development processes will run simultaneously. All ABWE missionaries complete several reading assignments in addition to required continuing education and training. Mid-term and short-term missionaries also complete some reading assignments.

2. Education

To provide you with a solid foundation for missionary service, ABWE requires long-term missionaries to have at least 12 college or graduate credit hours in Bible and theology. For those who do not have these credits, we offer the following courses onsite at our headquarters in Harrisburg, Pa. and/or online for academic credit:

Methods of Bible Study

This eight-day course is designed to give you the confidence and skills you need to understand and apply any genre of Scripture.

Old Testament Story or The Roots of Faith — Old Testament

These courses take you through the Old Testament in a chronological narrative-focused style and provide a solid Biblical foundation for chronological Bible teaching as part of evangelism and discipleship.

New Testament Story or The Roots of Faith — New Testament

These courses take you through the major redemptive events that occurred throughout New Testament period and provide the Biblical foundation you will need to chronologically share this part of the redemptive story.

Basic Missional Theology

This is a two-part Bible course designed to provide you with an understanding of the doctrinal truths of the Word of God. Drawing on examples from a variety of cultures, the course illustrates the ways worldview, culture, and human problems influence the development of theology around the world.

If you’ve already taken similar courses elsewhere, our training team is able to count those credit hours in place of ABWE’s courses. If you’re short- or mid-term, you aren’t under the same requirements, but it’s a good idea to think ahead if you’re sensing God leading you into career missions. These courses are available also to members of churches that send and support ABWE missionaries, national partners working with ABWE missionaries, missionaries from other organizations, and anyone else seeking basic Bible training. Online courses may also be finished while on the field.

3. Ministry Experience

ABWE requires missionaries to have some ministry experience.

If your ministry experience is limited, we can with you to develop customized prefield ministry internships and mentoring opportunities as needed. We aim to include your sending church in overseeing these growth experiences.

4. Linguistic Preparation

Because of the difficulty of learning a new language, we will evaluate your need for language preparation and will provide basic training to help you start this part of your journey to the field. If more extensive training is needed, we will recommend a language acquisition program, typically completed overseas after deployment.

5. Cultural Preparation

Previously acquired cross-cultural preparation is highly recommended for any field, and we’ll help assess your current cross-cultural proficiencies and experience. Every prefield missionary conducts an online research study on the country they plan to serve. Completing this assignment is a prerequisite for Essential Mission Components.

6. Family Life

Our interviews with missionary candidates sometimes reveal a need for counseling. Marriage issues, financial concerns, and parenting struggles don’t have to keep you from the field. Our Member Care exists to help you understand and overcome any issues that could derail your ministry and missionary life, and our prefield director supervises the completion of any recommended counseling.

7. Online Support

To track your prefield progress, our online portal, ABWE Central, allows you to report your assignments and provides up-to-date information on your current status. Central also tracks your personal support and financial information.

Additionally, our training leaders, prefield team and global leaders provide valuable accountability by monitoring your assignments and helping you complete your tasks.

8. Survey Trip

We strongly recommend that all missionary candidates take a survey trip to their intended mission field before they depart for missionary service. A survey trip gives you a special opportunity to experience the culture you’ll be serving in and get to know the team you’ll be serving alongside.

While a survey trip can happen at any point in your prefield journey, we recommend taking a survey trip early on. This will give you the ability to meet real people from your mission field, hear their needs, and share their stories with potential partners as you begin fundraising during prefield ministry.

TRAINING COMPONENTS

​In addition to the ongoing development process, we also take missionaries through the following trainings on prefield or during their first term:

This training is a highly interactive, week-long course held at the ABWE International Headquarters. Taught by a team of experienced ABWE missionaries who represent all major areas of the ABWE world, most of the training is done in small group, simulation-based settings designed to equip you for cross-cultural church planting that leads to national, regional, or even international church-planting and missions movements.

Long-Term Field Preparation Seminars (FPS) is held twice a year at the ABWE International Headquarters and focuses on equipping you to make the transition to the mission field, adjust to living in another culture, and adapting to the existing ABWE field team.

Your training will be individualized based upon your previous experience, anticipated ministry and field of service.

PHASE 5: DEPLOY TO THE FIELD

After your development process is complete, you’re cleared to leave for the field. For short-termers, interns, and others serving on a temporary basis, we’ll debrief you afterwards and provide critical care as you seek God’s long-term will. For others staying on the field indefinitely, we’ll continue to develop you, orient you, and guide you throughout the duration of your ministry.

Ready, Set, Go.