Fear is a tremendous barrier for many things, even for believers considering mission service. It is described as an anxious and insecure emotional response. Fear is born out of past experiences, imagined future consequences, lack of information, and more. But fear itself is not a bad thing. Fear tells us where we feel the most vulnerable and can guide an opportunity to place our trust in God.


Whatever the cause, our Mission Gap research identified three categories of fear which believers expressed as issues holding them back from mission service. Every location had a different mix of fears. Identifying the common fears for people in a specific culture or location is the first step to designing tools which can help disciple Jesus followers to step out in faith.


Types of Fear

Every category of fear listed below is an opportunity for discipleship. Some fears point to a need to shrug off false idols like money and possessions, some point to genuine obstacles which can be overcome with additional training or information.

Fear of Safety
This category involves the anxiety of physical danger to yourself or someone you care for. Examples of this include not wanting to participate in overseas missions in countries that seem to be at war or in countries stricken with extreme poverty where food may be scarce.

Fear of Failure
This category identifies the distress caused by the anticipation of failing in a role or task such as an individual thinking their God-given gifts have no use in global missions anywhere. An example is the common fear of “lack of fruit” from missionary efforts.

Fear of Sacrifice
This category associates with insecurities arising from giving something up such as time, money, possessions or comfort. This is not only about what the worker might give up, but what his or her family might be giving up as well.

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

1 John 4:18 (NIV)

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