Monday, December 16, 2013

Global Missions in the Local Church

Missions For The Local Church: Introduction

Recently I visited one of our supporting churches.  It’s a well-established and growing congregation.  The pastor asked me a question that is not uncommon, in fact, almost everywhere I go in the U.S. I am asked the same question – “How can we make our congregation more mission minded?” 

The majority of North American evangelical churches do missions.  By that I mean they have a missions program, like they would have a program for youth, children or seniors.  Missions is important in the sense that they believe it is a part of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20).  Many churches would never think about abolishing their mission program but, unlike youth, children or seniors ministry, missions does not support the “bottom line,” i.e., church attendance or budget.  In fact, missions and missionaries are usually seen as a liability to the growth of the church.  Missions is not a program that will help pave the parking lot or renovate the nursery.  Missionaries neither tithe nor teach a class.  For the skeptic, missions is a drain on resources.  This is never said overtly, but is manifested in benign neglect. 

However, because missions truly is important, pastors desire to go beyond just doing missions and instead want to do missions right.  It is because of this felt need I write this series on creating an effective global missions program for your local church.

At the outset let me state clearly that in creating a good missions program for your congregation is a process.  Like every program of the church, developing a missions program requires one major thing…a commitment to its development.  As you will see in this series, there are no five easy steps or one model to hold up as the example for all to emulate.  As with many things in life, doing things well takes time and effort.  If a pastor or church leader is not committed to the process then the chances are that two years from now your global outreach will be as dull as it is today, the result being a uninspired congregation for God’s heart, taking the Good News of Christ and His salvation to the ends of the earth.

So what is the process for creating a good missions program for your local church?  Here is the outline for upcoming posts.

1.     Create a missions team.  Who are they, why they exist, what is their job?

2.     Define your purpose.  How does your church and missions team define what is missions; church planting, social work, short-term, harvest versus seeding sowing ministries?

3.     Mission awareness.  How can your team and congregation become savvy in understanding missions today?  Where are the resources to help you become an educated body of world Christians?

4.     Evaluation.  After you complete steps one to three, its time to create a guiding missions document or policy.  Analyze your present global outreach and work toward the goal of becoming a Great Commission church.

You will notice that this outline does not discuss finances, and for a very good reason.  If missions is done well and has a designed purpose the funding of mission projects will take place.  I will make the case later that churches that do missions well seldom suffer financial hardship for their local ministries.

As we go through this series, please send your comments and questions along the way.