Welcome to Missions on Point, the Propempo perspective on church and missions.
Hi, thanks so much for listening in today. We're on the third of four episodes talking about your church missions profile.
One of the key problems that churches face in the area of missions is even knowing how to evaluate their effectiveness in the local church, in missions. Our Propempo Church missions profile is not the only tool out there and it's not totally comprehensive, but it is unique in a couple of ways. It does give a great overview of the span of missions ministries in 12 different categories. It also in the dynamic online personalized self-assessment gives a results report in a PDF that describes not only how you assessed your church missions, but specific recommendations for how to improve your score and get a little bit higher in effectiveness in each of the 12 areas.
I know several mission agency leaders that use this when they go to a church, to help their churches assess how they're doing and give them practical recommendations for improving their missions effectiveness. This week we're in personal involvement section of the church missions profile, and we're going to be talking about prayer, giving, and short-term missions. Each one of these is really large and can be complicated. Hopefully, our addressing these today will simplify it for you and enable you to help your church. You might be thinking, "I'm not the missions leader. I'm not even on the missions committee or team and I'm not the pastor of the church. How can this help?" Well, let me just say you can be of help. If you were to take the church missions profile online, you could get that results PDF report and take it and offer a free lunch or coffee and dessert to whoever is in charge of missions and just walk through it with them. Be a friend for progress and constructive help in helping your church and missions.
The first area that we're covering today has to do with prayer. And as you remember, if you've listened to the previous couple of Missions on Point podcasts on the church missions profile, you know that we rank achievement, if you will, according to benchmarks of the best practices of local churches in six different levels.
The first level is possibility. That is mission's possibility. And in the area of prayer, the possibility of growth and prayer starts with some people in our church pray for missionaries and cross-cultural ministries. Maybe not very, very many, maybe just a couple of people that know or understand or have some experience with missions in the past. Certainly not the congregation at large, knowing, understanding and praying for missions and missionaries.
The next level is missions is a project level. This means there's a little bit of activity there, but maybe not much and maybe not with a standard frequency. In the prayer category, the project level is, "Our church leaders occasionally share missions prayer needs." They may not be some standard vehicle for this, but there is some acknowledgement of prayer from time to time when there's special needs.
The next level is the program level. That is, "We have something hardwired into the church calendar and structure that enables us to think about prayer." And this is the descriptor for that level, "We have a means for keeping missions and missionary prayer needs before the entire congregation." It may be as simple as a missions bulletin board or missions wall where there are requests from missionaries. Usually it involves the church office passing on email newsletters or requests in some form or fashion to the entire congregation. There may be some other mechanisms that you would use to inform specific small groups, or Sunday school classes, or adult Bible studies for specific missionaries that they may adopt or take under their wing to pray for, especially.
The fourth level is priority, and the descriptor for prayer in the priority category is, "Our church provides prayer requests for missions from the pulpit and by other means to our people on a weekly basis." It's normal for a church to include some prayer for special needs and missions or on a rotation of those missions ministries or missionaries that you support from the platform, week by week.
The next level is purpose. This is ratcheting up in intentionality and frequency. And for prayer that level is prayer for missions, specific missionaries and people groups, and world situations is a normal weekly part of the spiritual life of our congregation. It's not unusual. Our congregation is not surprised by someone in leadership, in front of people, whether that is in a class or some group or the whole Sunday morning worship service to pray for specific missionaries or people groups being reached with the Gospel or special situations around the world that require an extra emphasis on prayer. The highest level we call passion level in prayer says this. "Every ministry prays for specific missions efforts and every individual is expected to pray for God's missionary work in the world."
There may be some mechanisms for that. We've seen churches that produce brochures or booklets for all of their missionaries, for families to pray for at home and go through page by page, or section by section and pray for their missionaries. It also may include something like a flip book where they just turn the page, day by day in their family devotions time or their individual devotions and pray for missionaries, missions concerns or needs or specific high level things around the world that open the door for the Gospel of Jesus Christ to enter where it has not been before.
The wonderful thing about prayer is that prayer is doing the work of missions. Prayer is like the targeting for laser guided missiles of spiritual impact coming from heaven by God. God has instituted prayer as a practical means for us to enter into Him, accomplishing His will and work around the world. When we know about prayer and how God uses it, it seems absolutely essential and a perfect match for our church to be engaged in prayer on a regular basis for the missionary workers and the work of missions around the world.
The next major category also has to do with personal involvement and it is giving. Sometimes we shy away from the idea of addressing giving in the local church. And certainly churches approach giving for missions in a variety of ways. Most denominational churches frankly, use a certain part of the budget, a line item or a percentage of the budget, and it goes to the mission agency representing that denomination. They really don't know exactly how it's used or where it's gone. They have no idea what level or percentage is spent on administrative structure and fees.
More independent churches give to what we call faith supported missions and missionaries. That is missionaries raise their support through faith gifts of churches and individuals so that they can go to the field and it passes through their mission agency, again with some administrative levy attached to it. But they raise their own support and the church knows who they support, what their ministry is and has at least some sense of ownership. Certainly if the church is sending someone from your church, you have a high degree of ownership of that missionary person, couple or family and their work on the field, and you want to be involved with them no matter how they get their funding.
Another major way that churches fund missions is through a type called faith-promise giving, and that is not hardwired into the budget. But it is pledges of the congregation to give a certain amount over the course of the year, and the mission's budget is comprised of the total of all of those pledges. They usually have a goal and it increases from year to year, but it is entirely based on the individual family's volunteer commitments to missions giving.
Some churches have a blend of those things, some coming from the budget, some coming from some form of faith-promise giving.
Let's walk through the markers for the levels of effectiveness and participation on the giving category. The first lowest level is possibility. Our church may give occasional one-time gifts to missions.
The next level is the project level. We raise money for specific cross-cultural evangelism and or outreach projects each year.
Now, the third level we call the program level begins to get a little more specific. At least 10% of the church's total giving supports outreach outside of our church. This usually excludes capital projects like a building program.
On the priority level, level number four, we have annual goals for missions giving and give at least 15% of total church income to missions ministries, and then it ratchets up. The higher the level, the higher the amount.
On the purpose level, level number five, our church gives at least 20% of all non-capital projects like building funds.
The final and top level in the giving category is we give 25% of all general income to missions plus more according to special needs. Sometimes churches even add 10% to whatever capital projects they have, to give especially to missions. I should mention, there's one area that's never covered in any of the evaluations of missions giving and that is estate giving. Some churches have benefited hugely by estate giving from their members. When their members pass on to heaven, they leave a percentage or a certain amount of their estate to the church, specifically for missions. One of the huge benefits of this is that if the missions team is able to set aside those funds and build a principle from which the interest can be given to missions, they have increasing capacity year by year to support missionaries from their church and basically move toward the goal of having all the missionaries they support be 100% supported directly from their own church. This is an unusual situation, but not unattainable to any size church if the godly people in the church are aware of this possibility for their legacy giving through their estate.
The third and last category for our episode today is short-term missions. This can get pretty complicated, but we'll try to keep it simple and just the broad overview. At the lowest level, short-term missions may have some interest from some people in the church and not directed by the church at all.
The next level, people from our church occasionally go on missions trips, but usually not organized by our own church, either organized by a mission agency or some other church or association.
The third level is the program level. And on short-term missions, our church does some pre-field training for church sponsored trips each year. This is a very important marker of milestone for achievement in short-term missions when the local church actually does specific training both in culture, language, and servanthood for those going on short-term trips that are primarily sponsored or organized by their own local church.
The fourth level is the priority level. And it says, "Our church missions teams effectively assist field ministries, expose the congregation to missions and disciple the participants." Again, this is one of the missing elements in so many short-term missions trips from churches, is the view that discipleship or the participants is one of the key and most important parts of short-term missions.
The next level is the purpose level. In that level, "Our church is seeing increased missions, prayer, giving and involvement, resulting from our missions trips." It leverages short-term missions for the good of the whole congregation, but also specifically for the missionaries that you support, by sending short-term missions teams to do specific tasks that the field missionaries that you already support are not able to do on their own.
The highest level is the passion level. And in this level, the descriptor says, "Our church is seeing an increased number of mission mobilizers, candidates and missionaries resulting from our missions trips." One of the key end goals, the key result factors that you want to see happen is that people that go on short-term missions trips are warmed in their hearts and motivated by calling to pursue missions as a vocation. They become the missionaries sent from your church.
I want to encourage you to go to propempo.com and look for that big button at the top to start your church missions profile and check it out.
If you have other questions or comments, please send them to us by email, email@example.com. Thank you so much for listening. Share Missions on Point with your friends. 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.
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