Missions in the 21st Century
By Tom Telford
When God calls us, he usually calls loud enough that our church and friends who know us can hear it too.
Important principles I have discovered about what is involved in missions recruitment:
1. Recruitment requires mentoring. Jesus spent time investing is life into the disciples lives. Encourage their strengths and challenge them on their weak points. Like Jesus, a mentor also has to be willing to point out your weaknesses. Mentoring is encouraging someone’s strengths and helping that person through his or her weaknesses.
2. Recruitment requires discernment. But loving people is essential for missionaries.
3. Recruitment requires finding the Joeys. People who want to be missionaries more than anything. Churches need to recruit people who want to be involved in missions outreach so badly they can taste it. 4. Recruitment requires having to say no. Sometimes the church will not be on your side when you have to say no to a recruit, and that’s a hard one. It’s never easy to say no, but when you’re spending thousands of dollars of the Lord’s money, it’s an important part of recruiting.
5. Recruitment requires modeling. Good missions books can provide powerful models.
6. Recruitment should start at your own church. I thought to myself, if every evangelical church in America did with the Mormons are doing, we wouldn’t have twi million people going to hell! We need to be looking for and recruiting folks from our churches who want to invest their lives in world evangelization.
7. Recruitment requires prayer. We must be committed to recruiting missionaries through prayer and to supporting them through prayer.
The missions trainer should know his team – who needs a kick in the pants in who needs a pat on the shoulder.
A good missions team will be successful because of the quality of its trainer.
The bottom line in any good missions training program in the church is dependent on who is doing the teaching and training. The training is only as good as the trainer.
Qualities of a good trainer in missions:
1. Coaches model what they want done. They don’t just talk about it; they do it.
2. Coaches know how to handle people (including themselves).
3. Coaches are trainable. Willing to keep on learning. You don’t have to be original, just teachable. A good mission’s trainer needs to be always hungry to learn so he or she can coach the team with as much information and as many new ideas as possible.
Short list of the person who is going to lead and educate church members in the area of missions:
1. Missions trainers must have enthusiasm. You have to be believe 200% in what you’re doing.
2. Missions trainers must have discipline.
3. Missions trainers must have vision.
4. Missions trainers must have wisdom to see God’s heart for the world.
5. Missions trainers must be good decision-makers.
6. Missions trainers must be humble. People who train others will are humble enough to allow people to try.
7. Missions trainers must have a sense of humor.
Do missions training in preschool. Teach the toddlers about great missionary heroes of the faith.
We need to be called to stay as much as called to go. Obedience to the great commission must have top priority for all of us.
To keep improving your missions training game, you have to work hard at the basics, be a good bottle, and hunger to grow and learn yourself. For me, this means, in part, listening to people, picking their brains, learning from them, and passing it on.
It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s whether you have any friends when it’s all over!
If saving the lost world is so important to God, then the missions conference should be a highlight of the church year.
Send pastors on missions trip to open their eyes and raise their enthusiasm. I frequently get pastors books on missions.
Make the conference the absolute highlight of the church year. Even above Christmas or Easter. God is a missionary God. Jesus was his missionary son. The Bible as a missionary book. The Old Testament is packed with God’s heart for the nations. The New Testament mandate for the believer is to go into all the world and make disciples.
Why should Christmas and Easter get all the music? And bowl all the other church ministries. People will come if their children are in a missions play or if there relatives or friends are any missions drama or musical event.
Think of creative new names. So calling it a missions conference, try one of these: WorldFest, world Expo, harvest celebration, global awareness week.
I remember one missions moment during our churches Sunday morning worship. The committee had a little girls get up, say hooray it’s two weeks to the missions conference! Then she proceeded to list off from memory are 33 missionaries in the country they serve them. When she was done, the congregation cheered. Whatever you do, get the best people and do it better than any other program in the church. Make people wish they were on the missions committee because it does things so well.
About 80% of a group of retired missionaries I asked said their interest began when they were under the age of 12. If we leave out our kids, we’re missing the boat in a big way.
Although missionaries have to exercise faith, we at home can usually get by without exercising faith. That’s not fair. Why should we send missionaries out to the middle of nowhere with no visible means of support and expect them to do their job, while we sit at home knowing where every penny is coming from? A fake promise program gives everybody an opportunity to exercise faith.
Encourage people to take a vacation with a purpose – if they are going to travel anyway, why not visit Missionaries and encourage them?
Missions conferences do change lives.
I love missions conferences and I believe they are a must for healthy church. You try it. Make your opening day a winner and you’ll have a great season.
Statistics say that 40% of the missionaries returning home need some kind of counseling.
The church at home can play big role in making their missionaries more effective and able to return to their cross cultural ministries with renewed energy. Take the initiative and taking care of your players and giving them a safe place to call home.
I hope that I upset and bother people, because change is needed if we are to stay effective.
10 mistakes agencies make:
1. Agencies often do not communicate well with the sending churches about personal changes.
2. Agencies are often reluctant to deal with incompetence. Ted Ward and Phil Parshall suggest that 40% of the missionary force is ineffective.
3. The agency’s board of directors may not represent the actual constituency of supporting churches.
4. Agencies often allow no input from supporting churches regarding agency strategies.
5. Agencies do not have a clear vision statement. Every agency needs a short, succinct, understandable mission statement that every Missionary knows. Mission agencies need a clear purpose statement. If they can’t tell it to you in a minute, forget it.
6. Agencies often do not cooperate with one another.
7. Agency home offices are often poorly managed.
8. Agencies encourage missionaries to raise support from individuals outside of their local churches.
9. Agencies are not addressing the growing perception that support figures aren’t justifiably high. We have to go back to the basics and teach people why we do missions. How much time do agency spend helping churches understand why they do missions?
10. Agencies apply too little effort helping churches building missions vision. One pastor said, I’ve been a pastor for over 20 years and I have never once had anyone from emissions agency call and offer me help.
How can agencies get personal and be helpful to every local church? How can they ShareVision and give specific assistance?
1. Agencies can care about the local church. Agencies need to go to churches as helpers and encouragers, not just as recruiters and solicitors.
2. Agencies can become missionaries to the churches in North America.
3. Agencies can help local churches develop their own missions vision and not force them to accept a prepackaged vision of their agency.
4. Agencies can do their best to find positive representatives who understand their culture.
5. Agencies can get back to the basics.
The Bible does not say send money; it says go
Try to read everything and anything you can about missions. The Bible will keep you focused. The Bible is a missionary book all the way through.
Four fundamental truths that keep me motivated:
1. God is a missionary God
2. Jesus is God’s missionary son. We need to give our sons in our daughters the way God the Father gave His.
3. The Bible is a missionary book
4. The church has a missionary mandate.
The biblical truth is that the more we give away, the more we will be blessed. I wish churches could see that truth.
I wonder what it would look like if every new believer understood from day one that missions is not just another program in the life of the church; missions is the church. That’s the fundamental truth.