Audio Transcript:

Welcome to Missions on Point, the Propempo perspective on church and missions. This is episode 135 of Missions on Point and it's number seven in a series on your church missions handbook. This particular episode, we're going to focus on missions team structure. In fact, the next few episodes all interrelate together and they're hard to distinguish sometimes. Mission team structure, missions team composition, missions team functions, and missions team decision making, all kind of flow from one to the other. Missions team structure should follow missions team functions, and the composition supports those things, so how you put it all together and architect the structure will depend on what you have chosen to be your functions and then your composition should support that. In this episode, we will deal primarily with structure. Your own church's missions team may vary somewhat from these, but I see eight key roles or functions that have to have structure in order to work properly. The first one is leadership and administration.

This top tier, if you will, can meet outside of the regular meetings of the larger missions team in order to guide or to submit suggestions for agenda items. Whoever or whatever subgroup of the missions team forms the leadership and administration bit, they will manage missions team meetings and agenda. They will be the primary interface between the pastor and elders and the missions team. This is important to limit that interface because if every missions team member feels like they have inside access to pastor and elders, then we're going to get a log jam and overwhelm the pastor and elders. You actually want the pastor and elders to like the missions team, not try to avoid the missions team. The leadership and administration group develops plans and strategies for missions ministry, which can include all the research and development of a strategic focus for the church. The leadership and administration task force or sub-team will recruit, train, and coordinate missions team members in their work. If there is a separate group for specific support, sometimes in other episodes and Propempo literature, we've called this a Barnabas team, other churches call it a prayer and care team.

The leadership and administration people manage that and become the interface for those teams that are specifically helping a particular missionary family or unit. So what we have in terms of structure is a leadership and administration executive team that function that way. In between meetings. The second major area is education, and by that we mean missions education. The education sub-team or task force or ad hoc group collects and makes available resource materials for the church. They disseminate and make available our missions policies to the congregation, the things we've been talking about, the charter, the missions handbook. They develop and assist with special missions training, which may include particularly in children's ministries, developing a curriculum, recruiting staff to teach that curriculum, and have ongoing follow up for sustaining or maintaining that curriculum with children and youth. I know of several churches that have a pretty extensive library, if you will, that they have developed over the years of tools, resources, games, object lessons, videos, books, all of those kinds of things that can be used in missions education.

If your church has a lot of homeschooled families, you ought to have a whole section in your church's library as a lending library for all kinds of missions education media. A third major area is communication, and what we mean by this is how missions is communicated to the whole congregation at large. Also, exactly how and who communicates with our missionaries. At the very least, the communication people create and update the missions bulletin board area or wall or wherever it is that your church displays missions materials available to people coming into the church. The communication sub-team would create and manage missions information on the church's internet web presence, create printed materials and other things to remind people to pray for our missionaries. They may monitor communication that is taking place between missions point of contact or missions advocates and the rest of the church.

So if in your structure there is a person that is designated to be the primary point of contact and communication with the Smiths out on the field, then this communication sub-team make sure that that person is actually doing their job and that there's a free flow of good communication with the Smiths to those in the church that are interested in praying for the Smiths, helping the Smiths, being engaged with the Smiths ministry.

The fourth major area is prayer, so you have a prayer task force or a prayer sub-team. This is so significant because even though we can't actually do personally the work of missions out on the field, we can participate in prayer. This is an amazing thing that we get to participate by calling on God to do things beyond what we can do in specific geographical regions with specific people through prayer. Of course, the prayer team is going to inform the missions team about the latest prayer request, but there may be some vehicle or channel through which the prayer team is informing the whole church about certain kinds of prayer requests for all the missionary ministries and missionaries out on the field that we support. If there is a special component for prayer for missionaries or for unreached people groups or some other aspect of mission's prayer during the annual missions event, the prayer team is the obvious one to take charge of that.

The next area is finance. Obviously you want people who are understanding about financial issues and accounting. Often their range of knowledge is going to be stretched by all the issues of foreign exchange and funding across borders, those kinds of issues. The finance team can help with so many things, including helping file the personal income tax forms required of US citizens on behalf of their missionaries. Of course, whatever way missions is funded in your church, whether through general funds, through projects, through designated funds, or through some form of faith promise, then the finance team keeps record of that and makes a report monthly to the missions team about how we're doing on attaining those goals, how we're doing in our giving and in our expenses. The finance team is the ideal team to communicate directly with our missionaries and find out what their financial needs and projects are.

The sixth category is missions advocates. This is a special term and I really believe in missions advocates. Missions advocates are individuals who have been selected or volunteered or appointed in each of the small group ministries of the church to advocate for a particular ministry, a particular missionary. So whether it be for Sunday school classes or small group bible studies or community groups or discipleship groups or segments of youth groups or different ministries, like music ministry, worship leading, the audiovisual team. However you slice and dice it, find out how you can get people within subgroups of the church to actually adopt a missionary to pray for, especially as part of their meetings, so they may have special communication with that missionary.

Depending on how many missionaries you have, I recommend fewer rather than too many, a particular missionary family may have several small groups praying for them, and a mission advocate is needed just to coordinate all that communication so that these groups are praying for one particular missionary through the course of a year. And that missionary may change in the next year, and they may have a different missionary advocate to advocate for prayer and concern and needs of that missionary for that small group.

It also means that they're coordinating things like care for that missionary when that missionary visits the church. Obviously, if that missionary is originally a member of your church, then there's going to be broad knowledge about them and acceptance and love and everyone's going to want to help them. But the mission advocate makes sure that every missionary that you regularly support that comes to the church has transportation, housing, food, even phone, internet, medical advice, whatever they need when they come so that they're cared for really well when they visit your church.

Area number seven is very important, it's on personnel. And a lot of people think that they want to be on the personnel committee until they actually get on one and they realize how much work it is and how careful they have to be about what they know about individuals and how they care for them and shepherd them. So as a sidebar, I'd say it's a legitimate thing for everybody on the missions team to sign a very simple confidentiality agreement, meaning the things that they know about finances, for instance, about special prayer needs for missionaries that are a little bit more intimate or deep, that they have a sense of confidentiality. They don't share that with anyone, not even their spouse, outside of the missions team context. There may be some other agreement, at least a verbal agreement or a reminder, that everyone on the missions team needs to be as objective as possible with regard to their own pet concerns and relationships.

It's not fair to anyone for someone on the missions team to be so deeply committed and involved with a particular ministry or missionary that they're always pushing that one all the time and not trying to serve the greater needs of the church and be a little bit more objective about how that all blends in with the whole picture that the missions team and that the church is pursuing. If any one group is susceptible to that kind of mindset, it is the personnel committee, because this is the sub-team or the task force that, on the missions team, has a first look at missionaries applying for support. There should be an application process. It should be in writing. It should be as objective as possible, and the personnel sub-team evaluates those to see if they make it to the next level for a broader discussion or a recommendation from the missions team for specific kinds of support.

The personnel sub-team is also ready to ensure that all the missionaries are receiving adequate pastoral care. Sometimes that means counsel. It may mean a field visit. The personnel committee is the one who has their finger on the pulse of how that missionary's doing and what kind of needs they might have. They also want to evaluate our missionary's status and faithfulness in ministry, and that means this sub-team, the personnel sub-team may have a look at the annual evaluation that most mission agencies do of their missionaries out on the field. And of course, the personnel committee is the first one to screen requests for funding in any form or fashion.

The last one on my list is the events sub-team or task force. They deal with special events through the year. It may be a special event just for a missionary to visit for a special weekend and have several things on the calendar scattered through that long weekend to engage them and put them in front of different constituencies in the church. Usually at least there's an annual celebration of some kind, even if it's just a long weekend or if it's a series of weekends, once every quarter, say, in the church life that there are special events for missions. It's the events team that prepares a planning calendar and events schedule for the missionary team as a whole and for the leadership and all those involved with calendaring for the church family life.

The events team is going to produce printed materials and implement promotion for these events. They're going to lead and serve and recruit other people for the needs of the events that are coming around in the calendar. The events team could easily interface with the prayer team for special events, with the education team for special events, with mission advocates team, with any training that takes place for short term missions, or for training and orientation of new mission team members. The events team can assist with those things.

You may want to add one more to the list of sub-teams or task force, and that is short-term missions. Short-term missions can be very intensive in regards to timing and logistics and coordination. The short-term missions team is going to coordinate things like having an application process and a grid for approval of those who get to go on the team and those who don't. What kind of training is required for this particular kind of team, it may be different for another type of team. Recruiting and training short-term missions project or team leaders is a part of the short-term missions sub-team role. There you have it. It's a blitz through missions team structure. It involves having a really solid leadership and administration or executive committee team, and then all these others under it. We'll talk more about the composition of the missions team and how it functions in the next couple of episodes, so stay tuned.

Thanks for joining us today on Missions On Point. We trust that you'll find more help and resources on our website 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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