Once your distractions are identified and a commitment to high -mpact priorities has been made, what are some next steps?
Lead your team to expand their vision, define a strategy, and adopt specific and faith-stretching goals. Involve your pastor and key leaders in the process so that their vision is engaged and they share ownership of the results. Begin by reading a challenging book together or make a field trip to a church that has recently gone through a vision- and strategy-defining process, then write out God-sized goals for the coming year. Here is a list of past Postings that can help you consider these issues. You may want to employ an outside coach to help you with this process.
Creatively present your vision to your congregation. Seek to engage as many people as possible. If people are infected with the passion, they will be moved to pray, give, encourage others, develop global relationships, volunteer a talent, etc. Ask your pastor to introduce your vision in a series of messages and/or feature it in sermons throughout the year. At least annually offer a highly interactive Sunday school series or small group study on the biblical basis of missions. Good options: God’s Heart for the Nations/Lewis or Missions—God’s Heart for the World/Borthwick. Offer a teen and children’s component as well.
Communicate monthly with your senior pastor and elders. Send a short email sharing one goal you are working hard to reach. Include one paragraph describing an exciting/challenging experience of one of your missionaries or something transformational that God is doing around the globe. Ask how you can work together to expand the mission momentum. Make sure your communication is a two-way street, being humble and open to questions/concerns from your leadership.
4. Short-term teams
Limit short-term teams to places where you have a long-term commitment to the bigger picture of what God is doing there. Make sure each trip has a clear purpose and that each person accepted for the team has been carefully screened and prepared. Afterward, debrief with every participant. Discuss with them what God taught them, how they saw God use them, and what they think His next step for their global or local engagement might be. Make time to also debrief each trip with the on-field leaders to learn how you can improve and make future trips as effective as possible. See if the trip identified other ways for your congregation to be involved and praying.
One important way to expand your congregation’s intercession is by modeling it. Provide a short, written, specific missions request for use in the pastoral prayer in each weekly worship service. Announce answers to previous prayers. Encourage each member to become an intercessor for one missionary, then use email or social media to keep them updated on requests for that worker.
Create clear steps toward longer-term cross-cultural service. Direct to appropriate agencies/resources and make available necessary assessments, trainings etc. Have individual conversations with people you believe God might be tapping for missions. Talk about newer ways to go such as influencers or Kingdom professionals. Encourage people to always see themselves as go-ers, starting with opportunities to cross cultures with the gospel right in their own context.
7. Missionary care
Set up a schedule so that someone from your church has a monthly Skype or Zoom call with each missionary your church has sent out, and at least annually or semi-annually talk to each supported worker. Focus on ways to encourage your partners and maintain quality, two-way communication. Ask about both ministry and personal/family concerns. Pray together online or over the phone. When needs are revealed, meet them as fully as you can.
Developing spiritual and missional maturity is a lifetime process for every believer. One fruitful way to stimulate growth is by creating summer internship opportunities for college students. Consider developing a paid summer internship that has a local/global component. Also offer to mentor students who have an interest in considering future cross-cultural ministry; you can work together to identify their God given gifts and calling. Perhaps there is a missionary or retired missionary who would be an effective mentor.
Every leader is responsible to prayerfully identify not just what is “good” to do but what is God’s “best,” the most important opportunities He wants them to pursue in their current context. Don’t let distractions detour you from pursuing God’s strategic global role for your church right now.
This post written by Ellen Livingood and originally posted at https://catalystservices.org/missions-distractions/, and used by permission of Catalyst Services. Image by FotoRieth from Pixabay.