Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Part II: Mission Team Education

The old adage, “A stream will only rise as high as its source,” is appropriate at this juncture of our discussion.   As a missions team you are charged with guiding the congregation toward an effective global outreach.  A congregation will only rise in its understanding of missions as to those who guide them.  Therefore, it’s imperative that the missions team of the local church be knowledgeable of the issues of global outreach.  As stated before, ad nauseam, determining the support or need of a missionary or project, should not be an emotional exercise.  The team should go back to their purpose statement, its focus of missions and then equip themselves with solid information to shepherd the congregation.

As with any education program, being astute in missions takes a conscious effort.  Here are some tips on how the missions team of the church can upgrade their knowledge of missions.

Perspectives on the World Christian Movement is a sixteen week course that is offered throughout the country.  These classes usually are two to three hours long and meet just one day a week.  In these classes the students learn the history of missions, the theology of missions, cultural aspects of missions and the types of missions that is done throughout the world.  Churches or colleges host these classes and there is a different speaker for every session.  Those who do the lectures are missionaries, missiologist and other well-informed people in the mission community.  I cannot think of a better introduction to missions for the team than committing to attending these Perspective classes.  In fact, I would even suggest that it be a mandatory requirement for anyone wanting to be a part of the local mission team.

Operation World is a handbook of every country in the world, who are the reached and unreached peoples in those countries and the mission organizations that are presently serving in those fields.   This resource is especially helpful in guiding potential missionaries looking for support. The local church might guide interested people for missions to the agencies and countries that fit their, and your, goals in missions.  Of course another task of the missions team is learning about the missions agencies.  After all, you wouldn’t want to recommend people join something that you have not first investigated.

On my blog site there is a daily-unreached group profile.  The Joshua Project provides these profile updates.  This helpful website provides detailed information about people and their need in hearing the Gospel.

Another avenue for education is reading.  William Carey Library is dedicated to producing books helping missionaries and mission-minded people understand the issues facing today’s global outreach.  Perhaps a monthly assigned reading for each member of the missions team would be beneficial. 

Too many churches in the U.S. depend on their denomination for their world outreach program.  Though the denominational mission department has validity, I don’t see anywhere in the Scripture where the role of the Great Commission is in the hands of anyone except the local body of believers.  That would be true with mission organizations in which the local church may partner with.  The local church and missions team should take ownership of what type of people they will send and what people group they are being sent to.  The education process is vital.  Yes, it will take effort and time, but I believe the missions team and the local church be energized for the Great Commission through mission awareness.