This is a common question for pastors whose church is active in missions. Our evangelical culture is so dominated by the larger denominations that people coming to our church with a mainline denominational background have no clue how wonderful and extensive doing missions in a good church can be.
One of the first things on new folks’ minds is: how do we fund missions? They might even ask the challenging question: why do we fund missions? if in their background, missions funding just happened in the background as a percentage of church giving (sent to some functionary of the denomination, association, or fellowship), they might be surprised that your church does missions funding differently. Some new folks may have never heard of missions funding apart from the annual end-of-year push. Including the church’s relationship to missions ministries and missionaries and the practical ways in which the church supports mission, including the funding vehicle/s, should be a standard part of new-member orientation classes. Have your Missions Team develop a brochure or handout that explains how you do it at your church. Make sure that at least once each year there is some explanation from the platform about how you fund missions at your church and the importance of 100% participation.
Having special missions-related features is a good way to present missions and your missions philosophy to new people. Every time there is a major catastrophe in the world, the way in which you present prayer requests, the ministry opportunities arising from it, and the channels through which your church might respond with assistance all speak volumes to newcomers about the significance and priority of missions.
Does your church personalize missions through the way you support and develop ownership among your congregation. Connections through each Sunday School class or small group “adopting” a missionary are a good start. Encouraging personal relationship and communication with missionaries is helpful.
Having good communication pieces on different levels can make a big difference for newcomers’ understanding. Including a missions section or column in your regular church newsletter. Make sure that there is some visual display of missions interest that the church supports. Try to have individual “prayer cards” or bookmark reminders or refrigerator cards that they can use.
It’s useful for new people to see and hear from other besides the usual leaders talking about missions. Testimonies of folks from short-term missions trips, missions announcement or corporate prayer led by someone other than paid staff, etc., can be a strong assurance that missions is for the whole congregation.
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