Based on your churches expectations, whether through denominational tradition or independent practice, you may be virtually required to have a cross-section of the church body on your missions team. In other words you might have representatives from the youth group, the women’s ministry, the men’s ministry, the leadership board, etc. each appointed for a particular term of service to the missions team. While representatives seem like a noble democratic ideal, this arrangement is far from functionally effective.
Some churches rely on a volunteer basis. Put up a sign-up list; see who signs up; choose from those. This also is less than ideal.
Most ideal, but rarely attainable, is outlining the skills and expertise needed to operate an effective missions team then go after and recruit those people as members.
It seems that most mission teams are comprised of people who have serious interest in world missions and are also very busy in other aspects of church ministries. People who have a heart level interest in missions are usually also very interested in outreach. Often they come to the table with some pre-established ideas and pre-established relationships; therefore they have a pre-established agenda.
One key to having an effective missions team is to provide enough common orientation and training that everyone is using the same terminology in the same way, understands the framework of the missions team, understands that the missions team serves the church rather than doing missions on behalf of the church, and is willing to lay whatever personal agenda they have aside in order to best fulfill the ministry of the missions team.
A little formula that has been helpful to us in recent years is an extension of that found in a book entitled, The Trellis and The Vine. Obviously willingness and availability are required. Beyond that you’re looking for:
- and chemistry.
Character speaks to exemplary Christian virtues and integrity. Conviction speaks to values based on biblical principles and godly wisdom. Competence speaks to specific skills needed on the team. Chemistry speaks to interpersonal relational skills and capacity for teamwork.
Don’t forget to pray before, during, and after your process. Don’t forget to ask your present team members for their input and consensus regarding new ones coming on. Don’t forget to keep the entry bar high as you give new candidates required reading, orientation, and training in order to bring the men. Many churches have found it useful to have an observation period for new candidates or new team members before they are allowed to vote on issues. One reason for this is that new members may have no history of understanding of particular issues or procedures. A number of churches have found it useful to appoint married couples to the team together. This makes it easier to maintain a sense of continuity, even when one or the other of them can’t make a meeting, because they will keep each other informed about the proceedings and delegated responsibilities.
As your church grows, so may the number of your missions team. Most churches find it most helpful to divide and delegate various areas of missions team responsibility to sub teams comprised of at least one missions team member responsible for that area but mostly non-missions team members who are serving on an ad hoc basis for that area. For example, it takes a lot of people to put on a good annual missions conference. All the people helping with the preparation and logistics of the missions conference don’t have to be on your missions team. In fact if your missions team does it all every year, you’ll probably have to get a new team every year.
Remember that our philosophy of ministry for the missions team is to get the whole congregation involved. So it is of even higher value to recruit the involvement and participation of many people in the congregation in various smaller areas of the missions team responsibility. So, develop “Missions Advocates” in your small groups to promote prayer and care for your supported missionaries. Over time you will find out who are those most eager to help with various aspects of missions team ministry. Those people become prime candidates for future missions team member slots.
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