If the goal is to stimulate and encourage the whole congregation to be involved in missions (and we will advocate that it is), then it is essential that someone or some group within the church be authorized to fulfill that function.
For most churches this means that a Missions Team or Committee or Board be formed. Many churches may already have some group or committee tasked with some function similar to a missions team. It may be a special interest group, a missions affinity group, a women’s missions promotional group, or a men’s group specializing in construction projects. We will address the most effective composition of a missions team or committee later. But, suffice it to say now, the acceptance and effectiveness of this specialized missions body will be greatly enhanced by working within the normal structures and authority of its local church.
The specific structure and authority of a missions team may be significantly different from church to church. Some churches are largely run by staff. Some churches operate within a specific prescribed order or tradition or within certain denominational expectations. Other churches are quite flexible in their structure and designations for specialized ministry groups. The specific name designation for admissions team and organizational structural assignment is not as important as winning the approval, blessing, and authorized scope of authority for their function.
So what should the scope of authority be? In our view, the missions team or committee (or other name designation) should clearly have responsibility and authority, under the designated leadership of the church, to do the following:
- initiate and manage missions education for the church
- initiate and manage two-way communication with missionaries and missions interests
- guide and direct its own proceedings, including selection, training, and ongoing development of its own team or committee members
- provide for and promote a variety of means for its own church members to be involved in, relate to, support, and develop ownership of the missionaries and missions interests with which the local church has relationship and/or commitment
- plan and implement a church-wide missions emphasis event (at least annually)
- recommend and manage the churches missions budget and or financial partnership and support commitments to missionaries and missions interests
- facilitate the training and discipleship of would-be missionary candidates, including short-term missions participants and the logistical, strategic, financial, and service elements of short-term missions opportunities
What happens if the church is not ready to establish a mission team or committee? Is it possible for interested people to function like a mission steamer committee but without having the authorization as a recognized part of the church’s organizational chart? Yes, it is possible though limited. If the church leadership is not willing or prepared to establish a missions team or committee, then your first task is to persuade them to do so. Failing that, or if the timing is just not right, you and others interested in launching a missions team should strive to be respectful, positive, and encouraging toward your church leaders, while steadily praying and seeking to serve and fulfill as much of the above responsibilities as possible. At this point, you are simply church members functioning as an ad hoc affinity group with a special interest in missions. Through your helpful information, winsome approach, and unselfish service, you may went over the leadership.
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