Awhile ago I posted a blog entitled “If I was just hired to be a missions director at a church”. It was pretty heavy on the resources, but it really didn’t give much info on specific next steps. I recently received a call from someone who used to be involved at my local church but has moved to a new church plant and has been tasked with heading their missions efforts. She was excited about the opportunity but really didn’t know where to start. Below are some ideas I sent her that just might be helpful to others as well. I edited it so it would apply to a broader audience.
“Delighted to hear about your role and what is happening at your church. I wrote a blog awhile ago that you might find helpful. It is fairly generic but will at least give you some resources to think about. http://www.unmissions.net/2012/10/08/if-i-was-just-hired-to-be-a-missions-director-at-a-church/
The beautiful thing about where you guys are right now is that you are at the beginning, so you can start to form your missions outreach from the ground up. As you know I am a big fan of focus and having a church do a few things well rather than doing many things. What sometimes happens is that missions programs evolve at a church… a niece of an elder is going as a missionary to Buenos Aires, so the church supports her. Never mind the fact that the church really doesn’t have much of a relationship with her or the fact that Buenos Aires, Argentina has, per capita, more followers of Christ than we do here. So, you want to move slowly and prayerfully with things like that.
On the other hand, you don’t want to be so afraid of being scattered that you don’t do anything. You want to be able to experiment and put your toes in the water.
So I asked myself, what I would do if I were in your shoes right now?
Some of this is so painfully obvious that I hesitate to mention it, but I will anyway.
1. Pray that God would give you a team. Be praying about who you should be approaching. Of course, folks with missions background and interest are a good place to start thinking but you need to be careful. Sometimes those who have been involved in missions for awhile have some biases and pet ministries they are very committed to and, when they serve in missions leadership, they will over-advocate for their particular areas of interest.
2. I know that you are a fan of Perspectives. (as am I) Some churches actually require those who serve in missions leadership to have taken the class prior to joining the team. There is a class that will be starting locally this January, so its not too early to be talking to folks about this. If you are able to recruit a team now that can take the class together, that would be an amazing start. One of the big benefits of this is giving the group a common vocabulary as well as helping them to be a bit more informed as to areas of priority. For many, “missions” is defined as doing something good somewhere else than where you are right now. If that is the primary criteria for what qualifies as missions, you’ll have as many opinions as to direction as to people on the team.
3. Be thinking in terms of focus and help your team to be thinking in terms of focus as well.
4. Be a student of the culture of your church. I love that Kwast (from Perspectives) model of analyzing culture where the most outer concentric circle is “behavior” going inward to “values” to “beliefs” to “worldview”. So, by analyzing the behaviors of your church, you will be able to discern the actual worldview of the church. This understanding of your church’s DNA will help you as you decide where to focus as well as how to communicate missions to them. Though I don’t share this with everyone, I encourage Perspectives students, as they try to bring this back to their church, to think of their church as an unreached people group. As a cross-cultural worker needs to know the culture of the people they are sharing with, so a missions mobilizer needs to know the culture of the people at their church. Both are trying to change a way of thinking.
5. Look for that local / global connection. I worked with a church once that was considering adopting a particular unreached people group in Nepal. One of the missions team members happened upon a Nepali store in the area. We later found out that, at the time, the city where this church was located was the second most popular immigration destination of Nepalis after New York City. So, there were lots of opportunity for local ministry that had a global connection. There may be some group in the region with opportunity to minister that might lead to overseas opportunities later. I have seen more than one of these divinely inspired connections being made between church and unreached group.
6. Find out what others are doing. I find my best ideas I have managed to steal from someone at least in part. There are lots of churches doing lots of things… all of them different. My guess is what you guys end up doing will look a lot different than what gfc is doing and perhaps different than what you are envisioning right now. I can give you some different folks to talk to whenever you would like and will even do the introductions if that would be helpful.
7. Take time to celebrate. We are terrible at celebrating victories in the church. So make sure you mark the milestones.
This can be an exciting process but can also be discouraging, particularly when you don’t feel that things are moving. Please, let’s talk regularly. I think some exciting things are coming!!!”