By Bob and Dian Harner, Directors of Missions Mobilization
Sometimes blessings require us to make changes to the way we usually do things. A pastor at a church that has historically been very strong in missions recognized this and shared his story with us not long ago. Here’s what he shared:
“Two years ago, at our Missions Conference, I noticed a sharp decline in attendance. It dawned on me that we have a lot of new people attending our church who don't have the Missions DNA that long time members of our church and the Alliance have.
We decided then to have a purposeful, systematic, regular focus on missions every month to start instilling that DNA in our people. We instituted these five main objectives:
1) We built on our Missions Sunday. We always had a Missions Sunday on the last Sunday of each month, where we would show a missions video during the offertory time. We kept that but expanded it to include an International Worker highlight.
We look at what is happening in the field and choose some of the most compelling and interesting things that God is doing. We share information and profile the IW, whom God is using to do the work. We feel that getting to know the IWs is a great way to connect our people to what is happening on the mission field and to support the IW. Statistically, this is also a better way of connecting the IW with our millennials and younger families.
Brandon and Stephanie are a great example of this statistic. We highlighted their need for a truck and showed pictures of their family on their moped. Our Mission Prayer Group (about half a dozen faithful senior saints who meet every Wednesday to pray for all our missionaries) committed to giving them $400, which was a real stretch for this group of ladies who have limited incomes. This example prompted our church to give close to $4000 to them.
As part of the missions highlight, I explain how the Great Commission Fund works and the importance of supporting it. Connecting the GCF to the face of a family helps to make the Great Commission giving more meaningful.
Immediately after the missions highlight, I pray and make the missions highlight and any other missions needs around the world the prayer focus. All other needs are saved for other Sundays.
2) We put out a weekly newsletter to our church. We include Dr. Stumbo's Video Blogs. They are a great source of information for our congregation to see what is happening around the world and to give a broader perspective of missions and the CMA.
3) We seek out and invite guest speakers who are involved with missions work locally and abroad, such as those who work with refugees in Cleveland, Envision, CAMA Services, and others. This gives our people a broader view of their world and where God is working. Of course, with our connections with various missionaries, we invite guest speakers anytime we can get them, even if they are not part of the GCF or the Alliance.
4) We promote Mission Conference as the premier event of our church...not just another event in a string of many. When people come to hear the speaker, their hearts are moved and they become more aware and engaged than ever before. People who attend our missions events love them... not because the events themselves are fantastic, but because our IWs do such a wonderful job of sharing.
5) Every week we put in a standalone insert with a bulletin, listing prayer needs for our IWs. We update it weekly and if we miss a Sunday we hear about it.
I was looking at the numbers for last year, and may I humbly bring glory to God by saying that He worked in the heart of our church to give close to 30% of our income to missions.
The blessing of families who were new to the Alliance and to missions required this pastor to rethink the way missions was promoted in the church, which in turn brought about the blessing of increased giving to missions. Does your church need to look at new ways of doing things that take your blessings into account?