Audio Transcript:

Welcome to Missions on Point, the propempo perspective on church and missions. This is Missions on Point episode 138, your Church Missions Handbook. This is number 10 in a series of 12. This topic is Missions Team Decision-making. I want to encourage you, no matter what your role is in the local church, to listen to this entire episode. Don't write it off as being something that you don't need. I will give a little disclaimer at the front end. The things that I'm presenting you are principles that are idealistic and not everyone gets them perfectly all the time, including me and our church, but the things that I'm sharing with you in Missions Team Decision-making today are relevant to any ministry oversight group in the church. First, number one, let's talk a little bit in review of some things we've mentioned collectively through the other episodes for your Church Missions Handbook.

Just meeting together is one of those decisions you have to make, how many people you have on the Missions team, but also how frequently you meet and where you meet. In today's post-Covid world, we can meet by Zoom, which saves everybody at least some travel time and may make the whole meeting more concise, but the preferred way of meeting is always going to be in person. Then we talk about the time and duration of the meeting. If your Missions team is largely staff of the church, of course they're going to want to meet during regular business hours rather than have another meeting on top of it, but in most cases, Missions team members are heavily populated, and rightly so, with other leaders and lay people in the church. They need to meet in the evenings or on weekends. Part of the key leadership dynamic puzzle you have to face here is how often do you meet.

Monthly is normal. Sometimes a monthly one may be postponed or not taken at all because of summer vacations or travel, or you just finished the annual Missions conference and everyone is worn out. The duration of meetings should not be more than two hours. Often, if you have a meal involved, it could stretch a little longer, but if you get right down to business, it could be all done in an hour and a half. Then another key to this review of having the Missions team meeting at all is who builds the agenda and how do you make that? What are key factors that trigger an item to rise to the level of an agenda rather than a report? Some decision that has to be made. Often this goes in at least annual cycles, so you're reviewing budget things and decisions about the budget around the time of the compilation of the budget materials and decision regarding the budget.

Ideally, you want the agenda to be built by the team structure that is the sub-teams or the taskforce groups or ministry area groups that you have within the Missions team. This leads to the second point, and that is you want your Missions team decision-making to be based on the gathering of the whole, at least of the leadership, of all the subgroups to be an executive meeting. What does that mean? That means that you come together for review of specific goals, status, and prospects and decisions. This is not just a, "Throw everything into the hat and take a pick about what you discuss." It's focused on what are the most important things that we can do. In the Missions teams that I have been the leader for and have recommended and consulted with other churches on, prayer is one of those priorities. We make prayer a significant part of the executive meeting of the Missions team.

That means all these sub-team leaders have to have been working on things with their people in that sub-team to bring to the executive team or the executive decision-making of the whole Missions team exactly those issues that they want to recommend for a decision. Keeping it at that level puts a lot of the work done at the grassroots not during the meeting with a committee of 10 or 12 or 20 people all chiming in on every little thing that comes up. It makes your meeting time less and more efficient overall. Number three is decision dynamics, and this is a very important concept for Christian Church leadership groups. The first decision dynamic is to understand the difference between consensus versus unanimity. Most Christians kind of have this assumption that decisions made for Christian ministry ought to be unanimous somehow. They feel that that holds extra special weight and blessing from the Lord, to be unanimous.

They equate unity with unanimity and that is a mistake. Biblically, it's a mistake. In almost every case, in the New Testament in particular, the leaders coming together have differing opinions at the start, but they arrive by consensus to the agreement that best matches the goal and desire of the group rather than whatever other pieces they have in their mind with regard to unity. That doesn't mean that everyone believes 100% that this is the decision that they want to make, but it is in best interest of the group. So consensus means that everyone agrees that, "When we discuss this, we're going to do what's in the best interest of the group, not our personal agenda or relationships or direction. When we leave, having made that decision, everyone supports it 100%." You don't have to come into the decision 100% in agreement, but you leave the decision 100% in agreement.

That's the difference between consensus versus unanimity. The second part, letter B is that every individual has to understand in their own heart, in their spirit inside them the difference between acceptance versus acquiescence. Understanding this difference makes a world of difference down the road from the meeting time and decisions that are made. If an individual acquiesces because of pressure or simply because they don't feel like their opinion is validated by the group and wouldn't be acceptable to the group, so they kind of swallow it or they take it back or they give in to the majority, which is the consensus decision, afterwards, they have regrets or even worse than that, there is active or passive resistance or hostility and it can drive a wedge in that decision and in the unity of the group. If there is simply acquiescence like, "I'm giving in because I see I can't win," that's not the point.

They need to give in and give deference or preference to others so that they accept the answer or decision given in the context of the team and in acceptance. Then they have 100% agreement that, "This is the best. This is what we've worked out. This is what a group of Godly people around the table have agreed is the decision moving forward." So they have to understand that accepting the decision means that they're going to 100% agree with it leaving the meeting and they're not going to undercut it or bad talk it outside of the meeting or spread any kind of things that would erode the effectiveness and general wider acceptance of this decision. It also means that they don't go on a research hunt to try to find evidences that they were right and everybody else ought to change their decision. The third part of this is deference versus personal preference, and what we mean by that is biblically, it's right for us, us to defer to the group's concept and decision rather than force my personal preference on the group. I may have to lay aside my personal preferences.

That's part of the cost of unity, in order to have a unity around a decision based on deference to others. The exception to that is that if there is a strong, clear biblical principle on which you base a particular position on a decision, then you probably need to hold on that and wait and pray over the decision before it's made. If it's not a time-sensitive decision, it's okay to just pray and wait and let it distill in the minds of everyone if there is a biblical principle involved. If there's not a clear biblical principle, then it becomes a matter of personal preference, and in that case, you show deference and allow the decision to move forward that may be different than what you would've chosen yourself. Number four, regarding Missions team decision-making is simply Missions team meeting records, and that is keeping notes.

Somebody needs to be the secretary. Somebody needs to keep notes, and those notes ought to be accessible to all of the Missions team members. Either they are published as an attachment to an email or they go up on a confidential website page or a web file holding place where those people have access and they can see what is in the folder for all the different Missions team minutes. Mission team members ought to have access to all of the Missions team proceedings in the form of minutes or notes for the decisions, and I say even new Missions team members should have access to past records. That leads us to this next issue regarding meeting records, and that is propriety and confidentiality. The way the notes and minutes are taken ought to be done in a way that has proper propriety and confidentiality. So just as a matter of course, you might want all your Missions team members to sign a confidentiality statement that shows that they agree they will not discuss details of Missions team meeting outside or with anybody that is not a Missions team member.

There are all kinds of things that can come up in a Missions team that should be confidential with regard to specific status or struggles or needs or issues with missionaries as well as the propriety of maybe saying things out of place that might endanger the security of ministries on the field or of your long-term ministry in that field. Lastly, number five, let's talk a little bit about reporting your Missions team decision-making. There are a couple of venues for this. One is reporting to the elders. I don't know how your church has committees or ministry groups report to the elders, but certainly there ought to be some regular kind of report of how things are going. One way of doing that is to make sure that you have an elder on the Missions team and then you don't have to worry about it.

That elder is conveying and conducting whatever information is necessary to the elders, at least on certain things. If there are budget issues and approval of the budget, major missionary staffing issues, good or bad, or changes in ministries or ministry staff, that's something that the elders need to know sooner rather than later. And then you need to report to the congregation two major times, I suggest. One is some form of annual report. Whenever your church does some annual review. Often that is connected with the fiscal year or the annual budget process. There is some annual report of all the ministries that go out to the church members and the Missions team ought to have something like that, a synopsis, a summary of all the major highlights and events through the year that the Missions team has dealt with.

But also at the time of your Missions conference, which may be completely different than the budget year or the fiscal year, your congregation should have an annual forward-looking kind of report, an outlook of goals and forecast kind of report. "Here's what we're trying to do in the next year. Here's how you can pray with us or participate with us or be involved with us in missions through things coming up in the next year." I'm praying that these simple principles and concepts will make your Missions team meetings a joy to participate in. If everyone on your mission team understands these dynamics and roles and how the meeting operates and how they function in their particular team membership, they're going to have a more enjoyable relationship and partnership with the Mission team for the long term.

One of the cool things about rotating Missions team membership is that if you've trained them well and worked well with them, they are forever great cheerleaders and helpers for the Missions team, even if they're not on the Missions team. Now that they've seen sort of the inside story and the details, good and bad, of all that the Mission team deals with, they will have a much bigger buy-in to how your church does missions and be very supportive of it and encouraging of other people to be supporting of it. You have won a lifelong fan of missions in your church and of the Missions team. May God give grace for this to be so.

Thanks for joining us today on Missions on Point. We trust that you'll find more help and resources on our websites at and We are so thankful for those who support us, enabling us to produce this podcast. Now to God be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus forever and ever. Amen.

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