28 Jul '08
Best practices that can help you leverage your missions strategy
World missions is often a large part of a local church's budget (as it should be). However, if a congregation is going to leverage that investment for maximum missional return it would do well to consider the following "Best Practices."
Move from missions as a list of missionaries that are supported at modest levels to a small group of missionaries supported at a high level
The traditional long list of supported missionaries at modest levels is just that - a list. Because the congregation does not have a significant amount of support for any one missionary, there is very little personal contact and most people in the congregation have no relationship, stake, or prayer commitment for those on the list. Raise the stake of support and you raise the relational commitment of both the missionary and the church. I am suggesting you go from a list to a group - with relationship.
Adopt a region or several regions of the world where you can connect long term for long term impact
The world is a big place. Missions becomes "real" and "personal" when a congregation determines that it is going to have a personal stake in bringing the gospel to a specific region or regions of the globe and then connects for long term involvement. This allows the church not simply to support missionaries in that region but to actually contribute something significant themselves over time. The deeper the relationship, the deeper the impact.
Make strategic short term missions a key component of your strategy
Many question the investment in short term missions. However, done well, short term mission trips are the single most strategic thing you can do to generate interest and long term missionaries. No one comes into ReachGlobal today who has not been on one or more short term trips. God uses those trips to capture hearts for long term missions. The key is to connect your short term strategy with your long term commitment to a region of the world and to ensure that the team is contributing to what long term missionaries are doing on the ground (if there are long term personnel there).
Take your people through the perspectives course
The Perspectives course, a ministry of the US Center for World Mission has been a phenomenal tool for mobilizing large numbers of local church members for missions - giving, praying, sending and going. The larger the number of people you can put through perspectives the more passion your congregation will have for missions. It changes peoples perspectives on world mission.
De-silo your missions "committee" if it is not a part of the overall leadership led ministry strategy of your church.
No group in many churches is more siloed than missions committees. This means that what is happening in missions is not part of the overall ministry philosophy of the church and often mission dollars (a significant part of the budget) are the least scrutinized of any part of the church budget. I know this is a political issue but it is also a stewardship issue. We need to ensure that our investments are well used.
Send your pastoral staff on regular missions trips.
When pastoral staff are energized with missions, the rest of the church will be energized by them. Ensure that your key staff have regular opportunities to see what God is doing internationally.
The bottom line is that local congregations far underestimate what they can do either by themselves or in partnership with others for the cause of the gospel globally. Any local congregation can be involved in hands on, strategic and significant ministry globally.