When a church sets up a missions programme or revamps an existing one, an often asked question is, “Where do we begin?” First, your congregation needs to develop a desire to do mission. There are three keys to encouraging this:
- Centrality. Missions needs to become a vital part of the purpose and ministry of the church. Too often missions is seen merely as another church department – one of many things we do.
- Motivation. Once the missions vision is seen as central, someone, ideally the pastor, needs to take on the role of motivating the leadership and congregation.
- Involvement. All people need opportunities to be involved. Often missions is seen as the domain of a select few rather than the responsibility of all believers.
Once the decision to be involved in missions has been made, take some practical steps:
- Evaluate the current situation. Identify key people within your church who are interested in mission.
- Set up a team of committed people and start praying together about involvement in world mission.
- Begin to draw up a strategy outlining where you want to go. This should include:
Priorities for the missions team (in what areas will the church seek to be involved – unreached, education, social needs, local, foreign, etc.?)
How will this be funded (giving, budgeted, faith promise?)
What missionaries will be supported (only church members, only denominational missionaries, or anyone?)
How will levels of support be determined?
How will the missions team motivate the congregation?
- Include missions in the church teaching programme.
- Choose one or two suitable missionaries and introduce them to the congregation. Start by regularly praying for them and keep in regular contact. Promote them regularly and in creative ways – not all missionaries are good preachers.
- To get some immediate momentum, look for one or two projects your church can undertake.
- Launch your missions programme in a focused way. The Prayer and Self Denial material from NZBMS is perfect for this.
- Encourage members of your congregation to be involved in some form of short-term missions.
- Identify potential missionaries from your own congregation. Begin discipling them and providing opportunities for training and ministry.
- Continue to communicate the mission vision with your congregation, and encourage them to be involved.
Whatever you do, don’t lose sight of the simple fact that mission was God’s idea. Jesus challenged us to take the gospel to all corners of our world. Good stewardship demands that we are organised to do it.