by Tim Steele
ROSEVILLE, MI – Has your pastor ever gone to Israel? Unfortunately, since only 7% of Evangelical Christians have been to Israel, most pastors haven’t. Some have called the Holy Land the fifth Gospel because you can understand so much more about the stories of the Bible when you visit the places where they occurred.
When pastors speak about Jerusalem, Capernaum, or the Sea of Galilee, they share what they have learned from the pages of the Bible, atlases, and commentaries. It wasn’t until I traveled to Israel did I realize how much more I could understand by visiting the Holy Land and seeing the places where Jesus walked and taught. I knew about the Holy Land from a shallow, superficial perspective.
When I went to Israel, the experience transformed me. My faith was made more tangible by walking the same steps Jesus walked on and standing in the places where the Bible and history occurred. I now see the Holy Land with a much deeper and extensive view. When I read and reflect on Scripture and think about the places I visited in the Holy Land, my mind generates vivid details of the smells, sounds, and geography. Now I can attach actual places, scenery, and archaeological discoveries to passages to make the scriptures easier to remember.
Here are three reasons to send your pastor to the Holy Land:
1. Your pastor’s Israel trip will teach him what his biblical seminary didn’t.
Eighty-four percent agree with the statement: “If I bought fifty books on Bible lands, they couldn’t contribute what my trip to Israel has given me.”
Seventy-five percent agree: “Geography has increased my ability to remember biblical events and the life lessons they teach.”
2. It will make him a better preacher.
Eighty-six percent agree: “When I include Bible lands in my communication of the Bible, my listeners tell me they understand much better what I am teaching.”
Ninety-three percent of Bible teachers who have journeyed to Israel say they now use biblical geography to help illustrate their teaching.
3. Your pastor’s Israel’s trip will deepen in his walk with God as a spiritual leader.
Ninety-nine percent agree: “Experiencing the land of the Bible firsthand has strengthened my spiritual life.”
In short, pastors who travel to Israel enjoy:
A better memory of biblical events
A more precise understanding of the text
A more accurate direction to its application
A more effective level of communication
How you can send your pastor to Israel?
A trip to Israel will enhance your pastor’s ministry, and you have the privilege of making it happen. How?
1. Approach your church leadership.
Tell your church leaders that you would like to lead a movement to raise your pastor’s Israel trip funds. Explain how you would like to raise the money, either a fundraiser or a love offering. If necessary, perhaps the church budget can make up the difference.
2. Invite the congregation to participate (but keep it a secret).
Send a letter or an email to the church, and invite them to participate in your pastor’s trip of a lifetime.
Explain that they have the chance to show appreciation to your pastor and help enhance his ministry.
Describe how you’d like to collect contributions. For example, you could note that only 74 adults can cover the cost of sending your pastor and his wife to Israel if each member gives $100.
Remind everyone: “It’s a surprise!” and tell them to mark the surprise presentation date on their calendars.
3. Present your pastor’s Israel trip as a gift one Sunday morning.
Plan to announce the surprise as a gift for “Pastor Appreciation Sunday” or another occasion. Discover a reason to celebrate your pastor and his wife! This gesture will draw you closer to your shepherd. He will be as thankful for this act of kindness as the pilgrimage itself.
And here is another idea; if you can afford it, why don’t you go with your pastor. Nothing your pastor would enjoy more than going to Israel and sharing this wonderful experience with a church member.
Is it safe to go to Israel?
Yes. Tourism is a big deal in Israel, and the country goes to great lengths to make tourists safe. As a result, we feel safer in Israel than any other country we’ve visited.
And no. International travel is never perfectly safe.
The State Department has travel restrictions on the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights, and the West Bank. The Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights are easy to avoid, but you need to go into the West Bank to see Bethlehem. However, when you go to the Church of the Nativity, you will be going with hundreds of other visitors that day.
Exercise the same safety precautions we use in the U.S.A. And, of course, ask God for a safe trip.
To hear more about this opportunity, listen to the most recent episode of “Punching Holes in the Darkness” where Tim Patterson and Tim Steele unpack the many advantages of sending your pastor on this once in a lifetime trip.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tim is the founding and Discipleship Pastor of Cross Waves Church. Tim received a BA in Biblical Studies from Welch College. He has also received a Masters of Theology and a Masters of Divinity from Liberty University. He and his wife Terri have two adult children and one granddaughter.