Our church wanted to inspire and educate our congregation about global missions, but we didn’t have a lot of experience in this area. We needed to put some strategies in place to focus on global missions in our church body.
I am excited to say that our small church grew our global missions budget from 9% to 45% of our total budget and sent out several families who volunteered to become missionaries from our congregation within six years. The glory for this growth belongs solely to the Lord of the Harvest (Matthew 9:38).
Using a few focused strategies, our goal was for the church to see the Great Commission as the mission of our church and not merely one ministry among others.
Here are five strategies we employed and believed that God graciously blessed in helping us to send missionaries and support missionary work:
1) We emphasized missions “from the pulpit” every Sunday morning.
This intentional weekly focus is a reminder to the entire congregation that each of us is responsible to participate in the Great Commission. We emphasized missions from the leadership in the following three ways:
- One or more of the application points in every sermon related to missions. Whether the theme of the sermon is about marriage, idolatry, joy, etc., there is always a legitimate path to connect it to sharing the gospel and to missions work.
- We featured a missions prayer time in our order of worship. At times, we would pray for one of our visiting missionaries or pray over a recently received prayer letter. Other times, we used Prayercast videos, or information and resources from Operation World, Joshua Project, or Open Doors. Missions organizations like SIM USA also have videos and prayer requests that can be very helpful (see, for example, SIM’s Pray With Us and Stories pages, www.pioneers.org, www.team.org, or www.wycliffe.org).
- We included songs or hymns which explicitly referenced missions. Another option is to occasionally sing multilingual songs. During our chapel at SIM USA, we regularly sing this one from www.proskuneo.org (translations, videos, and pronunciations are provided): Multilingual Grace.
2) Steps to deepen involvement in missions for every church member.
- Sponsor cross-cultural work and missions organizations
We wanted everyone to be able to participate and grow in their commitment to the Great Commission. Periodically, we would encourage people to sign up to sponsor children through AMG International and Compassion. We printed pictures of the children and had sign-up tables available immediately after the service. On a regular basis, we took groups from the church on one-day trips to a refugee resettlement area in Clarkston, GA – “the most diverse square mile in America” (see Global Frontier Missions). Clarkston is two hours away from our church, but a similar option likely exists in or near your community.
- Short-term mission trips
We organized short-term trips to the same town in Guatemala each year. We chose Central America because the minimal cost and travel enabled more people to go each year. We partnered with a local church there and sponsored children in a school in the same community. Many child sponsors from our congregation took the trip so that they could visit their child and family. By visiting the same town each year, we developed familiarity and a relationship with the church and the community. We made friends there, kept in touch, and looked forward to seeing them each year. Each of these steps provided an increasing level of commitment and relationship-building – from sponsoring a child to visiting a refugee area two hours away or taking a three-hour flight to another country for a week, each step deepened a person’s commitment and understanding of global missions work.
3) A missions focus was baked into every program, class, and group in our church.
We didn’t have just one missions class for those who were interested; we promoted missions in every class, age group, etc., from nursery to seniors. Our small groups “adopted” missionaries, contacted them regularly, prayed for them, and socialized the information with the rest of the congregation.
4) Forming a missions council.
The role of the missions council was not to do the work of supporting and caring for missionaries; it was to create opportunities for every member to be involved in sending missionaries. The missions council was responsible for creating opportunities to discuss and explore missions and missionary work. For example, the council presented rotating slides of missionary prayer requests on a TV in our foyer. They hung a map with pictures of each family and pins with their locations. Clocks were mounted above the map, one for each time zone represented.
5) Sending and supporting missionary families from our congregation.
Instead of financially supporting several outside missionaries with a small amount, we began deeply supporting families that went out from our church. It took a while for the first family to go, but then more families followed. We wept and rejoiced each time another family left to serve long-term overseas. After eight years of pastoring the church, our family was sent out to serve in the Amazon in Bolivia. Over time, this process of grieving the goodbyes of our friends, yet supporting and encouraging their missionary work, changed the heart of our church. We were a small church, but the Lord blessed and enabled us to send several families in a relatively short amount of time. If your church doesn’t have sufficient resources now, maybe you can join with other local churches as a consortium to support missionaries together.
We’d love to hear from you about your missions strategy!
Do you have a proven strategy to promote missions and missionary work in your church? We would love to learn about your experience and share it with other churches. Email: email@example.com
One of SIM’s core values is that we are church-centered. Even though we’re often called a sending organization, part of our mission statement is, “we recruit, prepare and journey with Christians sent by churches.” We believe that churches send missionaries, and we are here to help. We would love to talk with you about opportunities for your church to be encouraged and informed about God’s mission work locally and abroad.
SME: Chris P.
SIM Position Title: Lead Trainer
Very Short bio: Chris served as a senior pastor in North Georgia for eight years. He then moved with his family to Bolivia as missionaries to Amazonian least-reached people groups. After returning from the field, he has served in various positions at the home office in Charlotte, including director of personnel, chief recruitment officer, and, most recently as lead trainer. He is deeply passionate about helping the church to send and prepare global workers.