When a church blesses and commissions its missionaries, many different things occur simultaneously:
* A commissioning ceremony gives your church the opportunity to say a resounding "YES" to your commitment to bring the gospel to a lost world.
* It confirms the special bond between the congregation and those they are sending out.
* It gives church members a chance to affirm not only their missionaries’ call, but their commitment as senders to pray for them.
* It provides the opportunity for a period of concentrated prayer on the missionaries’ behalf.
* It cements an accountability relationship between you which culminates in the missionaries’ report back to the church after the project. A commissioning service makes the relationship between goers and senders "official." It brings a sense of wholeness and participation to the relationship. It cements the emotional link which is already there.
Briefly explains the group's project and its hoped-for fruit.
We're gathered here to send you out. For those Christians consumed with Jesus' passion for the lost, a commissioning ceremony is as sacramental as is a wedding ceremony or a baptism.
We see at least four instances of commissioning in the New Testament. In each, we see that a call is given, a role is spelled out, a ministry is defined, and a resource is provided.
The first is Jesus' own commissioning in Luke 4:18-19. Jesus is standing in the Nazareth synagogue reading from Isaiah. He says, "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
Jesus identifies himself as being called, called or anointed to preach the good news. His role is as a preacher, healer, and liberator. His resource is the Spirit of the Lord. His ministry focus is the poor, the prisoners, the blind, and the oppressed.
In the same way, we as a body of believers are gathered today to validate the call which God has given you. We believe that he has called each of you individually and now as a team to be ministers of the gospel. As God called and sent Jesus to a life of ministry, so we are sending you. You are going on this body's behalf.
The second commissioning we see in the scripture is the disciple's commission in Matthew 10:7-8. Jesus has given the twelve disciples authority, and says these words, "As you go, preach this message: The kingdom of heaven is near. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons."
Here we see that a commission not only defines a call, but also a role. Jesus tells the disciples that they are to be preachers and healers, following his own pattern. God has given you a similar role. He has called you to preach the good news, to bring near the kingdom of heaven. He has called you not only to demonstrate his care and power, but to reconcile man to God. As you walk the streets of Havana, you will go in his stead as his ambassadors.
The third commissioning in the new testament is the believer's commission. We know it as the Great Commission. It was given not to missionaries, but to all those who would follow Christ. We see it in Matthew 28:19-20. "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you."
If we saw a call was affirmed in Jesus' commission and a role defined in the disciples' commission, then in commissioning all believers, he outlines our ministry: Go and make disciples of all nations. If the group he is addressing is broad (all believers), then so is the ministry target he gives us (all nations). God's general call He has made particular to you. The harvest fields are ripe; we are witnesses that He has called you to the nations. We endorse the call, the role, and the target ministry that God has for you.
A fourth commissioning is that of an individual man, Paul. In it, we can see that those whom God calls, he equips. He provides the needed resources to fulfill the call. Jesus himself acts as the commissioner in Acts 26:16-18, "I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen of me and what I will show you. I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me."
Jesus promises to be not only the cause for which we fight, but our rescuer when the battle becomes too heated. He is the resource-provider, the one who equips us for battle. The Ephesians 6 armor of truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, the Spirit and prayer is given to all believers. Romans 12 tells about the particular gifts which he deposits in individual believers (these may be read).
Perhaps you've read the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. In it, Aslan, the great lion who represents Jesus gives special gifts to Edmund, Peter, Susan, and Lucy who represent believers before they go into battle. So, we recognize the gifts Jesus, our King has given you.
(In smaller groups which have taken the time to identify the spiritual gifts of members, the commissioner may ask the youth pastor to cite the particular gifts of those being sent out).
I made reference to the battle in which we're engaged. Great nations engaged in war send their best into battle. So it is with the church. We're sending our best. As you bring the message of hope to a dying planet, you fight not only for Jesus, but on behalf of this body which is sending you out. We can't go, but we can send you, so you'll be fighting for us.
We as a body recognize your call, role and place in God's plan. We affirm the special gifts which He has given you. Were we to reconvene this body 25 years from now, my prayer is that you would report many thousands of lives changed and spiritual victories won. To that end, we commission you in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and as a body, join in prayer for you now.
MEMBERS OF CONGREGATION
(At this point, the team may kneel at the front of the church. Leaders of the church, family members, and fellow group members may come to the front to lay on hands and pray for the group.).