From the Nations to the Nations (with Ian Ashby)

Ian Ashby leads New Frontiers church in New Hampshire and is part of the team that leads New Frontiers USA. In this hangout, Ian talks to us about how we can send people out from our church plants to the nations, and support them well when they go.


Note - This hangout follows on from Andy Martin's hangout on 'Building a Global Focus in Your Church Plant'

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Reaching People Locally and Globally

  • Some people see a tension between reaching people locally and reaching people globally, but it needs to be both/and.
  • We are called to reach Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth.
  • We reach people locally in order to catch them up in God's big global vision.
  • It is particularly important that we help young people to see this.
  • In Acts 13, it wasn't Paul and Barnabas reaching a decision and telling the church that they were called overseas. It was something that the whole church shared in.
  • This should be in the vision of every church and in the DNA of every church plant.
  • It is too small a thing just to focus on our own tribe. We are called to the nations.
  • If your vision doesn't include the nations, it is too small. If your prayers don't include the nations, they are too small. If your budget doesn't include the nations, it is too small.

Supporting Overseas Missionaries Financially

  • The church should be the primary vehicle of financial support.
  • The old model is that people joined missions agencies and were responsible for raising their own support.
  • This means that the family needed to be concerned about maintaining their support - writing letters, sharing success stories and when they come back for a break touring round all the churches.
  • This also makes it harder to talk to people about the difficulties being experienced, and it can put a strain on the marriage and the family.
  • If the home church takes responsibility for the finances, this can remove the burden for the missionaries and allow them to rest when they come home.
  • This doesn't mean that everyone who is sent needs to be funded. 
  • Sometimes people can be funded by a community that has gathered around them over time.
  • Often to be truly accepted, you need to be living and working among the people rather than supported from your home country.
  • Having a job is also consistent with the Biblical model of not being a burden to the people you are serving.
  • Teaching English as a Foreign Language can be a useful skill.
  • A danger of getting a job straight away is that it can take up all of your time and make it more difficult to learn a language and lead church meetings.
  • A good way of doing it is to fund people for two years to facilitate them learning the language, and then transition to them getting a job.
  • This is a challenge for smaller churches to do - but special gift days and asking people to pledge money beyond their tithe can make it happen.
  • You could also work with other churches in a sphere to fund them.
  • Make a point of meeting with the people being sent and helping them with their own finances. Are they debt-free? Help them save money if possible. Help them to create a budget and keep reviewing this and the financial needs with them. Help them to come up with a plan for their income after the two funded years.

Supporting Overseas Missionaries Pastorally

  • Prepare people to go by training them. If you don't have the resources to do this in-house, then partner with other organisations.
  • Carefully plan your communication with them. This can be a lifeline to the people that you have sent out.
  • Often, after people have been sent out, they get forgotten about.
  • Consider appointing someone who can specific take responsibility for this. 
  • Also plan strategic visits.
  • It isn't helpful to have too much communication. This is partly about security, but also if people are constantly looking back home they can become unsettled.
  • Have a particular group of people who are committed to praying for them, but also encourage the whole church to pray for them.
  • Some Sundays, consider having a two-way video link with them into your meetings.

Apostolic Oversight

  • Local church leaders play an important role in pastoral oversight, but we need apostles and prophets to bring revelation and strategic oversight.
  • There can be multiple churches bringing pastoral support, but only one apostolic team.
  • It is important to be clear where the authority to make decisions lies. It is in the relationships between the people on the ground, the sending churches and apostolic oversight.

Q&A

1. How do you talk about world mission when there are just a few of you in the church plant?
  • It comes down to the vision of your church plant.
  • Pray for God to bring people of different nations in.
  • Consider 'sponsoring' a different nation that you could pray for regularly.
  • Get people to preach who have worked in different nations.
2. How do you personally get a heart for the nations if you are not someone who travels a lot?
  • Listen to Andy Martin's hangout!
  • Be Biblically convinced that God's heart is for reaching the nations.
  • Once you have got the heart for it, pray about how it can be worked out in your setting.
3. How many people were in Ian Ashby's church when they first sent someone to the nations?
  • About 80-100 (4 years ago).
  • They did the best they could to support him, but he was also receiving some support from other churches.
  • Fully supporting the first two years has been a more recent development.
4. Because they fund missionaries, does Ian Ashby have a lot of people coming to his church wanting to be sent?
  • He wishes!
  • Some people do ask to be funded, but Ian Ashby approaches it strategically.
  • They only commit to funding people who they are apostolically involved in sending.
  • You could at times bless others who go, or take an offering for them, but this is a lower priority.
5. What strategy do you have for guiding a young person from an initial call to the time they actually go?
6. How is the New York church plant going?
  • It is scheduled for Spring 2015.

Note - You can find out more about the New York church plant here.

7. Where do you start when you are sharing a vision for the nations?
  • It comes through in your preaching.
  • It comes through when you gather as a church to pray.
  • To put legs on it, start with people in your own city who are from other nations.
  • Share some particular bits of world news or global church issues, and get people praying about those things.
8. When you plant locally, do those churches have the same heart for the nations as you do?
  • Yes, it will be in the DNA.
  • Initially it will get behind the same international things that the sending church is doing.
  • In time, they will develop their own international links.

Recommended Resources

In this hangout, Ian recommended the following resource: