by Linda Lucas
In attending the seminar: Educating Your Congregation on Missions, by David Mays, at the NMC / ICOM this past November, we learned that in most churches there are two basic elements that we are greatly lacking in; Discipleship and Instruction. How sad, being a member of the Missions Ministry for years this grieves me so very deeply. How can we all be so lacking in these two things that are so essential and foundational? What can we do to remedy this situation in our home churches in tangible practical ways? There are many ideas and thoughts that were shared by David and those who attended this seminar to help us to begin to resolve this problem and I would like to share a few with you.
The first three steps that David shared with us were:
- Get all Church leaders on board
- Give several options
- Include missions in all ministries. – If you integrate missions into every area of ministry you can educate and mobilize your congregation.
Secondly we evaluated three things that we hoped for our congregation when they are educated:
- How do you want them to feel?
- What do you want them to know?
- What do you want them to do?
After focusing our vision and goals we then compiled a list of resources and things that we are doing or should be doing in our own congregations to accomplish these things. Below is a list of some of these things:
- Develop a curriculum for all ages
- Feature a mission every month
- Have those who sponsor a child give testimony
- Short term missions – trips, presentations and testimonies
- Collection drives
- Camps & VBS
- Skype a missionary – into a service or meeting
- Hands on projects
- Missions Fair
- Have the missions that we support on our church website & church directory
- Bulletin board display and posts
- Kairos / Perspectives courses
- World map – locating our supported missions
- Light the Fire – 24/7 prayer vigil
- Unleashed 4 the Unreached
- Joshua Project
- Underground Reality – VOM curriculum
- International Day of Prayer
As you evaluate this list you are most likely already implementing many of them, and that’s great! You may also notice that many of these are intentionally experiential; this is because people gravitate toward that. Let’s stop taking the basics for granted before we completely forget what the basic are.
In light of all of this our congregation has resolved to make some changes in 2012 to bring us back to target. We are going to use every fifth Sunday as a Missions Sunday. We want to invite each of our supported missions and missionaries to come speak on a regular rotating cycle so as to have each one pass through our doors, mingle with our people, present what God is doing where they serve and bring a message to us from the word. We will also host a dinner for them after which the people may have a question / answer time and really start building interest and relationships. We will then end each cycle, of 1-3 years, with a Missions Fair.
We also want to use this fifth Sunday to educate and instruct on missions in our Sunday School time by inviting our guest to speaker to share with our adults and to bring a spouse or coworker to address our children. We will be implementing curriculum on missions into the classroom from our youth up. This can be a little challenging to find quality material for our youth, it is taking some effort and research on our part but it is out there and it is essential. One resource that we are contemplating is to use the VBS programs developed by our missions as classroom material. There is no way we can use all of them for our annual VBS and it is a shame to let it go unused so we are going to use them all one way or another throughout the year.
Nothing will be planned or presented without first seeking God’s guidance, direction and timing. Unless the Lord builds the house our labor is in vain.
In regard to prayer we also are planning to recreate, on a smaller scale, Unleashed for the Unreached’s Wall of the Unreached for our congregation to use. ( Listings found on Joshua Project at: http://www.joshuaproject.net/unreached.php – note this file is extensive, you may experience a delay depending on the speed of your internet). We would like to recreate these walls as posters of some type that we will hang in our worship center, two panels at a time for one month, on a rotating basis so that all will be displayed during a one year period or there about. Then each week during our prayer time in the worship service we will highlight one specific people group from the walls that are featured in that month. We can draw detailed highlights from that people group to share with our congregation and even glean bulletin inserts from the Joshua Project web site. ( http://www.joshuaproject.net/bulletin-inserts.php )
I am so very excited about adding these changes to our plan of action to remedy our need for more intentional instruction and discipleship for our congregation. I can see God’s fingerprints in all these things in answer to prayer that has been lifted by our people and leadership throughout this past year.
God is so very good and so very faithful to fulfill all that He has promised. May we seek Him ceaselessly and may all that we do and say be to the glory of God and our savior Jesus Christ.
Until all have heard or He calls me home.