Ways your church could multiply its global impact
9 Nov 2015
God invites and commands every local church to join him in extending the ministry of the gospel in every nation, tribe and tongue, but what does that look like? In this follow-up post to last week’s piece, here are five practical suggestions for how your church might multiply its impact globally.
There is no better way for us to ‘join in the struggle’ of mission than to pray (Rom 15:30). But too often we give little thought and planning to our prayers and they become superficial. Prayer must come from a good understanding of the things we want to pray for.
Get detailed updates from the missionaries you support. Learn about the people groups they work amongst. Stay informed of what is happening in their context more widely. Build bridges between the congregation and the missionaries so they feel some ownership. And don’t segregate ‘missionary prayer’ to a special location or time, rather let it permeate the whole life of your church.
Mission must be seen as an equal partnership between those go and those that send them. A church cannot just ‘pay, pray, and get out of the way’. But partnership means commitment from both sides. The church needs to put effort into understanding the situation and learning how they can best encourage, support and facilitate the ministry of the missionary. Similarly the missionary needs to maintain good communication that fosters the relationship and helps the church to support them well.
Money is an inevitable part of missionary support but there needs to be direct connection between the people giving the funds and the ministry they support. The congregation needs to know how much is going and what it is being used for. A faith promise system or designated giving helps those that give feel ownership of the ministry. This will motivate them to generosity and celebration as they see God use their giving.
The pastor sets the ceiling for a local church’s mission enthusiasm. It cannot be outsourced or delegated to the missions enthusiasts if it is believed to be a core part of church life. The pastor doesn’t need to do it all but they need to show that it is valuable and important and that they are committed to it. Being personally involved with mission trips and any specific mission events is essential.
If missionaries aren’t developed in local churches then where will they come from? Pray that God will raise up future missionaries from among your congregation and keep your eyes open for who that might be. Train people in evangelism and cross-cultural engagement and see who flourishes. Short-term mission trips to visit your missionaries can also be a great way to identify people who have the passion and skills to serve cross-culturally. Then think about who could mentor them towards missionary service, perhaps a returned missionary in your congregation.
The local church is God’s tool for mission but it requires intentional planning to be effective.
Tim is part of the faculty at the SMBC School of Cross-cultural Mission, and Director of their gap year program, The Bridge. In 2012 Tim and his family spent four months in India.