Audio Transcript:

Welcome to Missions On Point, the Propempo Perspective on Church and Missions. Hello and welcome to episode 119 of Missions on Point. We're in a series on special church missions issues. This one deals with the best practices for communicating missions in your church. This is not just for church leaders or missions leaders. It's for everyone to participate and understand the best ways to communicate missions in your circle within your local church. I do want to take a moment and encourage you to subscribe or follow the Missions on Point podcast and recommend it to other friends through any means possible.

We are especially thankful for those who pray for and financially support the work of Missions on Point. Thank you. One of the reasons I'm particularly excited about this series is I'm trying to deal with issues that nobody else talks about. I get email and phone calls from churches or individuals quite regularly asking about these kinds of issues, how do we deal with this gnarly little problem or this particular issue, or how do we address this as we look forward strategically in growing and developing missions in our church? So please listen in and let others know about it.

Now to our topic, best practices for communicating missions in your church. There are a number of different major areas I want to talk about. First is from the platform or pulpit or podium in your church. The second one is media, and that's a significant one. And then the third one is special events. So first, from the platform, pulpit or podium, we're thinking about preaching and teaching in every context, whether it is from the main auditorium, the worship center, the classroom, the gymnasium, wherever there is a lead speaker and a lot of people are listening.

This is teaching missions from the word. So your pastor and teachers need to know that missions is infused throughout the whole Bible from Genesis to Revelation. And if they don't know that, maybe you can help them see that. And some previous episodes of missions on point actually deal with that missions throughout the Bible. Secondly, teaching missions from historical biographies of missionaries and historical missions in general. The advance of the gospel from the land of Palestine on around the Mediterranean and then out to the whole world is a fascinating story.

There are a lot of really interesting people connected with that and famous classic kinds of missionaries that our people in our church ought to know about, our children ought to know about. They are our heroes and many of them actually martyrs or suffered a lot to take the gospel to those unreached places. That's a great way to communicate missions in your congregation. Thirdly, from the preaching and teaching platform, there's teaching missions from the life and ministry of current missionaries you probably know of or could find out by asking from the missionaries that you support, what are their stories?

What are some of the really cool stories that show how God worked, God opened hearts, how God penetrated some place with the gospel or some family or some village? And they'll be able to tell you great stories from the field that would arrest people's attention and help them to understand missions a little bit better. The second area is just presentations from the front in general. And what I'm talking about here is not within the teaching and preaching aspect, but maybe a special missions minute or missions moment or missions report.

A lot of churches use this where someone from the missions team or perhaps a pastor or one of the visiting missionaries gives a very short succinct report. And what I mean is it must be kept short because there are a lot of other things happening on a Sunday morning, for instance, and you can't use too much time or they won't let you keep on doing it. But if you do it regularly, keep it succinct and punchy, people will listen and look forward to that moment in the regular service as a presentation from the front. It's also good to use video or a personal presentation from a visiting missionary.

Visual stuff bring significant impact and recall to your congregation. So keep it short, keep the audience wanting more, but provide with the presentation a longer version, say, online on your website or with a link or somehow let them know that they can learn more or hear it again or pass it on to other people somehow through the internet. Just make sure that you have appropriate security guidelines for each mission situation. In other words, don't identify individuals or locations publicly for those working in strictly Muslim or strong Hindu, Buddhist or dominant atheistic kind of contexts.

The third area I put in this general category of from the platform or pulpit or podium is small group secrets, I'll call it. Small groups always have a wonderful opportunity to own a missionary in a particular way. So you need to supply them with prayer information about the missionary that they're praying for, things like the missionary's life and family, their ministry, challenges on the field, health, language, visa problems or requirements, the team they're working on and so forth. So if you keep them fresh and up to date, which means there has to be some communication going on through the pipeline from the missionary to the small groups.

And what kind of small groups are we're talking about? We're talking about groups of every size that are underneath the general ministries of the church. I'll flesh that out in just a moment. I encourage churches to actually identify a missions advocate in each group. That is an individual that is at least a lightning rod or someone responsible for getting the missionary information through the pipeline and then communicating that in an appropriate way in each meeting of the group.

So they're responsible every time the group meets, whether it's weekly or monthly, to actually have a moment where they say, hey, and let's pray for the missionaries that we pray for all the time and here's the things to pray for. So you can have missions advocates in Sunday School classes, in small community groups or Bible study groups, in almost every affinity group of the church, kids, youth, young marrieds, seniors, et cetera. But just try to make it possible for every small group to own responsibility for a particular missionary.

That's what is important. Once they know them personally, they know the family, the husband, wife, the kids, they know their situation, they're gonna have a much better feeling for relationship and ownership of that ministry as they pray for them. Now the second major area is media. Media covers a wide swath of ground here. But first I say some of the best practices of churches have to do with at least giving monthly missions prayer notes. That can be distributed by email. They can be printed in the church and available near, say, the map of missions on your wall or from the office or on literature rack at the visitors center, the welcome center.

Monthly missions prayer notes are very significant. It does mean that someone in the church administration has to handle collecting information from the missionaries, keeping them fresh, and then printing them out in a maybe one page, two-sided folded kind of brochure so that everybody can read them and access them easily and maybe slip them in the cover of their Bible. Another one is a significant website presence through your church's website, including appropriately secure reference to missionaries and their ministries, or at least regions of the world and types of ministries.

And that information is fueled from the actual missionaries, even though they may not be specifically identified because of security issues. It can include articles written by someone in the church or copied and adopted from other sources that you trust. It can have links to videos of all kinds of missions, teaching and compelling mobilizing statistics, verifiable things that are in line with your church stories from the field. There are actually quite a few videos online at propempo.com and also on vimeo.com/propempo. Also included in the media area are banners signs inside and outside the church.

Maybe in every room, some kind of a map or a banner or a sign that directs people's attention to missions. And then there is the ever-present missions bulletin board, we'll call it. Somehow it is a wall space that demonstrates missions in some way. One of the most appealing versions I saw was actually a world map that was created by stained pieces of two by four that were lined up in such a way as to show an entire map of the world. It was pretty cool. But there are also lots of things available online that would have appealing maps of the world or wooden cutout maps of the globe that draw the viewer's eyes to see what's there and the information that's there.

So anytime you have something that has rotating sort of content to it, you need to keep it fresh and visually compelling. Include current features and themes, include missionary newsletters available by print or by links if possible. Another area of media is simply email. The church through the missions leader or missions office should have some kind of monthly email reminder about current things of interest or upcoming events. For instance, say the missionary family, the Smiths, are visiting from Asia. The church ought to know about that and know how to welcome them and serve them when they're there.

The annual missions event is coming. Tell about the theme and the content and the exciting things you're planning for that. Pray for crisis among churches caring for some world issue like presently, it happens to be the war in Ukraine and a lot of Ukrainian refugees being served by churches all around Eastern Europe. Pray for someone who is from your church visiting the Joneses in South America, for instance, and send your greeting card with them. So let them know through email of all these opportunities to participate and be involved in missions.

The third major section of best practices for communicating missions in your congregation is special events. There is always an annual missions event. If your church has anything to do with missions, you ought to have some annual celebration or educational or ministry functional event for missions where there's education and opportunities to learn more about the nuts and bolts of doing missions, hopefully including people that are actually doing it. There may be other special events, special opportunities to get involved that you create, such as a training event for small group leaders relating to missions, how they can incorporate missions in their small group or a missions advocate.

If you have identified missions advocates for small groups, then you probably ought to have some kind of annual training or orientation or refresh time with them to encourage them of best ideas for doing that particular responsibility within their group. And also you have potential missions team members. You need to have an orientation time with them, a training time, a get-together where you're talking about the work of the missions team, the scope of responsibility of the missions team and how they are to do their job.

And yes, we have a series of Missions on Point episodes dealing with that. Other special events that a lot of churches use is something like Christmas in October. That is they want to give special Christmas gifts to their missionaries. They find creative ways to either provide them or send them or pay for something that they can do or get on the field that is a Christmas gift from the church to their missionaries, and it has to be done in October-ish time so that there's plenty of time for processing whatever the flow of cash or goods or mailing stuff has to happen.

When we were on the field, it took two full weeks for a first class letter to get from The States to us on the field, and likewise from us on the field back home. If it was a package, you could almost count on it being two months. I do remember getting a Christmas package that arrived in February, so we had a special little Christmas celebration in February. Obviously, the people didn't originate it at a Christmas in October event. The last area of special events is what I call a commissioning service. This is a special sendoff moment or maybe a whole service committed to commissioning those that are going out in missions.

So obviously, if you have a missionary leaving your church to go to the field, the church will want to have a special commissioning service for that missionary. Most churches do this in a Sunday evening service, if you have Sunday evening services. Some do it as the primary feature of a Sunday morning service. And there are things on propempo.com that explain all the things connected with a commissioning service and what that looks like. It's also in the book that we've published called Here to There: How to Get to Your Mission Field. You can get the PDF version of here to there from the propempo.com website.

But also don't forget a short-term missions team going out from your church probably should have a special commissioning moment in a service of the church so that everyone is reminded to pray for them as they go and during their whole trip. I have seen churches that used a whole day for commissioning day for missionary being sent out from their church. And I've seen churches do a very structured kind of question and answer from the platform for commissioning a short-term missions trip or multiple trips all at one time, say, for the summer.

So that they are committing themselves to represent Christ, the Gospel in the church properly, as well as the church being asked and responding to the question to support and encourage and pray for those going on the trip. If your church is not doing all those things, it's okay. Just take a little bit at a time and grow in the areas that make the most sense for you. And if you're not a church leader and you just are hearing this podcast and wondering how you can be involved, it would be such a huge blessing to your missions leadership if you just stepped up and said, hey, I would like to do this idea.

I would like to take responsibility for this thing. And they would be so pleased that you're getting involved as a church member to help the whole church be mobilized for missions in this special way. And even if you're not one of those cases, you probably have family at home and you can implement some of these ideas at home to fuel your interest and involvement in missions as a family. Thanks for joining us today on Missions on Point, the Propempo Perspective on Church and Missions. I trust that you'll find more help and resources on the website, propempo.com.

Please preferably consider supporting this ministry. Now to God be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus forever and ever. Amen.

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