CHURCH MISSIONS PROGRAM
 

GENERAL PROGRAM

The top priority is that the pastor be missions minded. If he is not then you will have stone wall after stone wall to surmount. I would say for the missions committee to just get what they can done and plan like mad in the policy, future program, etc. to bring the church around to a missions emphasis as they can. All of this will be in place then when a new pastor is called. At that time the missions minded people must become very active to help in finding a man that has a real burden for missions.

1. Missions map in a very prominent area. Many types may work well. Some use plywood cut in shape of the continents with map glued on. Others use a large map and place pictures out to the side with yarn to the country where those missionaries serve. Some have lights placed on the map where the people serve and a switch under their picture. Press the button and the light comes on.

A church in Pennsylvania had a large map on the back wall of the entry area as you went into the sanctuary. Inside the sanctuary on both sides they had large 8 1/2 X 11 portraits of each of their missionaries framed and mounted on the walls. The missionaries of that church are on the minds of the people every time they come and go from the church.

2. Having missionaries in on a regular basis and using them as much as possible while they are there.

A once a month program seems to work well if you can bring it to pass with the pastor. (This will be the obstacle of all time in most churches!)

Invite a missionary to come once per month. If a missionary can't be found settle for a mission film or maybe a report from the field and a prayer meeting. (That would really rattle some cages - A PRAYER TIME ON SUNDAY EVENING and "I got caught!")

Ask the missionary to preach from the Word at least one of the services so that the people will be able to gauge his proficiency in the Word. Have them take one service for the presentation of their ministry. Allow all the time they can use and include a Q/A time if at all possible.

Keep them well informed in writing, of all you want them to do. Include early in your correspondence a map to the church, some information as to the size and make up of the congregation, anything that would help him to minister more effectively, and an invitation for his family to come and a sure offer of a place to stay.

Under the offer to stay if you have room you might offer more than just the times that you are scheduling. At times a place for weekdays between meetings is a hard one to work out. If you have someone that could put him or her up between your meetings and his next one it would possibly be a big help for them.

3. Some projects that will keep interest are needed.

Writing letters to the missionaries. Have them addressed and ready for people to take home. Have them write of the church news etc. and possibly in the thought of trying to get to know the missionary.

Don't overlook the possibility of electronic letters. You could use audiotapes, VCR's (if the missionary has equipment available - don't push it as they might feel a need to get some) & computers.

COMMUNICATE IS THE IDEA!

Sending boxes of useful items to the field. Check with the workers however on what and how to ship. Some countries charge tariffs that make the items cost more than if they had purchased them on the field.

Include prayer letters in bulletins as soon as they come in so that the news is not stale.

4. Missionary conferences.

The once a day for a week system. A full Sunday of missions on both ends of a week where there is a meeting every evening. These are good but exhausting. (Don't let exhausting determine your use of this type for the benefits are worth it.)

You will need two or three missionaries at least and possibly use an area pastor on Sundays for a good Bible message.

You can intermix some home meetings with the missionaries so that the people can get to know them.

Be sure that your scheduling of slides is so that the entire congregation gets to see them. Some conferences break it up and some workers only get to share their ministry with one Sunday school class.

A round robin conference would fit in well with this type conference. This will make maximum use of the missionaries. The Round Robin conference is when two to four churches get together and bring in missionaries and run them around to the different churches so that all workers and all churches are getting the same information. The churches need to be in fairly close area or the driving will do the workers in.

All month conference. This is a conference where you just turn your normal services over to missions for the month and keep missions before the people. This can be done with whatever missionaries that can come in with the pastor delivering missions messages.

Other types would be quite workable as well with a little planning. A Sunday through Wed. might work or Wed. through Sunday.

A banquet at the end would be good with a testimony time and possibly a forum or Q/A sessions. This can be done by potluck so the expense is very low.

5. Do not dismiss the idea of going to the field with some of the church folks. You do not have to go to the foreign field for we have missions here at home. Ghetto, Indian, Oriental, etc. Something could be worked out to do it over a weekend so that the cost would be low - no lost work etc.

6. Bulletin boards are a lot of work but can be used as a very pointed instrument without anyone being hurt. It is an inanimate object that is giving a very pointed challenge to everyone's heart and life! USE THEM!

7. How about making your men's breakfast into a missions prayer meeting now and then? Even once a month would be great. If your breakfast is on Saturday ask your monthly speaker to come in Friday eve. and speak on Sat. morn. Many, many ideas would work if only someone would try them.

8. A missionary closet. An area where people can bring items to be given to missionaries. Quilts from the ladies etc. would be great, Canned foods, sealed snack foods for the trip home, stationery, pens, current religious books etc.

ADULT

1. When a missionary is scheduled have him give a time in Sunday school class or maybe have him teach the class. It might even be good to ask him to speak on a specific topic.

2. Use your adults for housing of the missionaries. Try to encourage them to be sensitive to the missionaries' needs. They have physical, mental and spiritual problems also. Maybe just taking him somewhere special will help or possibly recommend someplace he might enjoy if you are unable to take him personally.

YOUNG ADULTS

1. Something special for young adults and singles might be good. Possibly a retreat for missions. A time of personal challenge to the field for them. Most young couples have never been challenged in this area of life. They need to be!

YOUTH

Possibly schedule a time with the youth prior to or following the evening service. Q/A times or devotional times - whatever might be of interest to the young people. You might even involve them in the planning. THEY MIGHT EVEN HAVE SOME GOOD IDEAS!

CHILDREN

Starting your program here will supply you with a missions minded congregation in 10-15 years! This is the most important of the areas to concentrate in. If you get this area right then in a few years they will straighten out any problems left over.

Have the missionaries scheduled spend some time in the classrooms with the kids. Possibly in opening exercises but in the class might well be good. It cuts the missionary/student ratio down and this might be good for the kids.

SENIOR CITIZENS

1. Ask them what they would like in the way of a part in the program. I suspect they might have some ideas about what they want. Possibly teaching in their class or sharing testimony etc. A potluck breakfast before Sunday school or dinner after church.

2. Don't leave this group out when it comes to service in missions. There are a lot of fill-in jobs that they would enjoy if they wanted to move to a new place and donate some of their time. Most are in retirement and have time to spend. HELP THEM DO IT FOR THE LORD!

3. These are the real prayer warriors if they have matured, as they ought. Use them in this area! Have the church sponsor a meal a month for them when they can get together to fellowship and pray for missions. Use a missionary retiree if you can find one or just a missionary.

MISSIONS COMMITTEE

1. MAKE UP.

a. People that are missions minded and committed to seeing that the church will one-day be the same.

b. The pastor should be a part of this committee but not the chairman. His responsibilities should be clearly up to his voluntary offers. This will not burden his time unless he really wants to.

2. PURPOSE

a. To set, institute and administer a mission policy for the church.

b. To promote missions within the church's overall program.

Pot lucks, fund raisers (within the confines of the congregation and it's philosophy.) and any other activity that will promote missions.

c. To evaluate and invite missionaries to minister within the church program.

d. To find ways of encouraging and of challenging the congregation in the area of personal service on the foreign field.

e. To provide housing and meals for missionaries. To help be observant of any needs that they might have that might be met by the congregation. (A Bible held together with masking tape might indicate the need of a new one. I was in a church in Denver when the missionary came in. His Bible cover was more masking tape than cover. I could not believe that someone hadn't given him one of the dozens usually lying around the average Christian home! Yes, I gave him one! Possibly the need of a new tire or shoes or whatever.)

A fund might be set up for this purpose or you might open it up to the congregation that there is a need in case anyone could help out.

3. They should move to make it a part of the selection of church staff that they are burdened for missions and that they agree with and would support the missions policy of the church. This would eliminate the chance of loosing ground already won by bringing in a non-missions minded pastor or staff worker.

MISSIONS POLICY

1. It should include a definition of missions for all in the church to know and understand.

2. It should set criteria, which must be met before a person can be supported, by the church.

a. The type of board that they are with.

b. The type of ministry that is involved.

c. The geographic location involved if the church is going to concentrate on one part of the world with their outreach.

3. Definitions should be set for "home missions" and "foreign missions". Each should have criteria set for just what is involved in each. (For example, will colleges and seminaries be considered home missions or will those donations come from other funds.)

4. Percentages of funds going to foreign and home missions should be set so that the guidelines may be met.

5. Once the missions policy is set it should be presented to the congregation not for their changes but for their approval and then they should be asked to commit themselves to it.

It should be explained in detail so that they know exactly what it is and the purpose of it.

Suggestions should be sought from the congregation before the policy is set so that they have had a hand in setting "their" policy!

6. A fund should be set up for the committee to operate from. This should be for things that come up as the missionaries come through. Tires, Bibles, suits etc. - any way you can help them.

CONCLUSIONS

1. Use any thing that you can that will bring forth interest in missions. It will not hurt the church nor will it subtract from the general financial standing of the church!

2. If you have missionaries in, be sure to forewarn them that support is not under consideration but that you want to use them as you can to stir interest in your church missions program. This will not be a problem to most missionaries. (Indeed I suspect if this is a problem to a person - you wouldn't want them in your church anyway.)

A love offering should be taken at the end of the missionaries' time with you to help with expenses. A minimum amount to be given might be nice if the congregation isn't too missions minded as yet.

This does not eliminate the Holy Spirit speaking to individuals or even visitors from other churches. Who knows - the church might just take him on anyway. This has happened!

3. It may be hard to set down rules and policies yet it will save you grief in the future! Planning now will make for a smooth flowing missions program in your church.

4. Probably the most important step is the step between the time when your church has a missions program and when your church is a missions program! THINK ON THAT FOR AWHILE AND DON'T EVER FORGET IT!

A CHURCH SHOULD NEVER HAVE A MISSIONS PROGRAM UNLESS IT IS LESS THAN MISSIONS MINDED.

A CHURCH THAT IS IN PROPER PERSPECTIVE IS AUTOMATICALLY A MISSIONS MINDED CHURCH AND BY NATURE WILL BE DOING MOST OF WHAT WE HAVE TALKED ABOUT!