The Resource Corner is designed to give hints and tips to your church’s Overseas Mission Team. NZBMS has many resources available to churches; contact the office to find out more.
The church I’m a member of is lagging a little when it comes to promoting overseas mission. That’s okay, though, because we’ve decided to do something about it. In talking the matter over with people a number have asked me, “What does an Overseas Mission Team do?”
Some ask because they can’t see what the fuss is about, while to others the task seems so daunting that they just don’t know where to start.
I’ve pinpointed nine areas an Overseas Mission Team needs to consider and maybe even appoint a person to oversee each task. Just remember; there may be aspects to mission that I’ve not thought of, and it may be that your team is small and can’t handle all of these right now.
1. Promote overseas mission
When we think overseas mission we are often side-tracked by the individuals serving in the field. It’s right to support and encourage them, but mission teams should consider how the overall reasons for overseas mission are promoted within their church. Without this, mission will gradually die.
2. Identify new candidates
It’s amazing how many people don’t do something simply because they were never asked. I read that one in ten people in New Zealand would go to church if someone would just ask them. There will also be people in our churches who have a desire for overseas mission quietly bubbling away inside of them but no one has ever encouraged them to give it a go.
3. Create a foundation
There’s no way to avoid it – your church’s mission programme needs a firm foundation based on things like a Missions Policy or Constitution, and vision, goals and strategy to promote mission within your church life. Someone needs to ensure these things are in place.
Now, some of the facets of an overseas mission team are specifically based around supporting people on the field.
Our overseas mission endeavours must have a prayer base. As an organisation, NZBMS realises that without the faithful prayers of our supporters, especially our BMF groups, we would flounder. We need to establish a church-wide prayer base for those from our fellowships who are working in overseas mission.
I know finance should come last; after all, the Lord will supply all needs. That’s true, but only if the church knows about the need! We need to ensure we have a vision and strategy to raise the funds required to enable our overseas workers to survive and minister effectively.
6. Communicate – encouragement
Back home we talk about our overseas workers and remind ourselves that they are an important part of our congregation but, for those serving thousands of kilometres away, it can get lonely. A missions team needs to ensure a constant flow of communication between the church and their workers.
7. Communicate – with the church
Communication flows both ways. When overseas workers send their regular newsletter with news, thanksgiving and prayer needs, make sure everyone hears about it. There are so many benefits; the worker is remembered and prayed for, overseas mission is promoted in your church, others are given a faith boost by the stories they hear, and people are more likely to give when they know what a worker is doing.
8. Liaise with the sending agency
It’s important that mission teams liaise with the sending agency of their overseas mission workers. Meet yearly with the agency’s director or some other relevant person. Talk about the worker’s business affairs. Ask questions like, “Is the agency putting away money for superannuation or a housing allowance for when they return to New Zealand?”
“What support does the worker have in the region where they are serving?”
“What provisions are made for healthcare, should it be required?”
9. Re-entry, temporary and permanent
It is almost certain that, at some point, your church’s overseas workers will return to New Zealand. This could be temporary, for refreshment and a home assignment or furlough, or it could be permanent. Either way, returning home is not easy. Someone needs to coordinate re-entry and at least make sure any practical needs are met.