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TIPS FOR YOUR CHURCH MISSIONS STRATEGY

Have you begun working on your church’s mission strategy? Have you determined how you can become more involved than just giving a monthly percentage of your tithes and offerings? Are unreached people groups in your vision and conversations? Have you prayerfully considered how your church might plant a church? How will you determine your level of involvement in God’s mission strategy? You can pray, prepare, partner, plant, and be a parent. We must continue to be committed to the multiplication of disciples, leaders, and churches!

Missions-minded churches jump from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth. Missional churches focus on Jerusalem, “All” (emphasis added) Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Gary Rohrmayer says, “Church planting is the way a denomination invests in the harvest. The harvest is the future.” How true and never forget that your church was once a church plant. A church’s mission strategy begins by building a sending culture where it becomes natural because that is what churches do! They equip, empower, and then release leaders to live sent.

First, we really are better together!

Philippians 1 gives a great overview of how a local body of believers helped support the ongoing church planting efforts of the apostle Paul. He expresses his gratefulness to them in verse 5, “because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.” Every church must decide whom they will work with in the furtherance of the gospel. That is the purpose of an association of churches so that together they can be a part of fulfilling the Great Commission. With whom will you cooperate for the advancement of the gospel?

When we examine our motives of working with others for the sake of the gospel we must remember that our main impetus is not how many will be saved. Certainly we hope many will find Christ. Our primary motivation must remain that God has commanded us to go and make His name known to every tribe and every nation. That parameter includes all of Judea and all of Samaria. Yet one church-planting leader commented, “The hardest money I have ever raised is for North American church planting.” This will not work without partnerships.

Second, we need to have a system in place that assesses those we support.

In Phil. 1:7 Paul says, “you are all partners with me in grace both in my imprisonment and in the defense and establishment of the gospel.” Are those we are sending and supporting qualified? In Acts 13 the church decided to send Barnabas and Saul. They had proven themselves in their local church. We cannot afford to be sending people out who are not biblically sound in the gospel. Also, have they been faithfully sharing the gospel with others?

It should be apparent that they are able to defend the gospel and that they have also put their knowledge into practice. Have they already used their Great Commission skills in sharing the gospel, discipling converts, and developing leaders locally? There are assessment tools that enable us to better evaluate skill sets but we should always look first to how they are serving, or not serving, in their local church. If they have not been faithful in their local church it is unwise to expect a change of location to correct the problem.

Third, we must be willing to do whatever it takes to advance the gospel.

Paul says this in Phil. 1:12, “Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has actually resulted in the advance of the gospel.” We know that Paul is referring to his imprisonment and the hardships he endured such as beatings, shipwreck, and being stoned. He is saying that it was all worth it and was all in God’s plan. Really, we usually are not sacrificing by what we give but we are being given the privilege and blessing of investing in kingdom work.

Recently, I read of a missionary who was offered a very nice position back here in America. The person who contacted him let him know there were 100 other people ready to take this job but he was holding it for him believing he was the person for the job. While it was meant as a compliment the missionary heard it differently. He did not want to move to a ministry position where there were 100 people ready to do the job when there was no one standing in line for his. We must be willing to accept the positions no one else is lining up for!

Fourth, we must live our lives in a manner worthy of the gospel.

Phil. 1:27 goes on to say, “working side by side for the faith that comes from the gospel.” How do we give credibility to the gospel? We begin by teaching that if someone says they believed, but they have never obeyed, then they probably never really did believe. Biblical belief is repentance in action. If you have truly believed you will obey – but if we don’t obey we really don’t believe. A changed life happens because of a relationship with Jesus Christ and that individual’s life will back up their testimony.

Your church may have to overcome a bad testimony in your community. If you have been known for your disunity then you must confess, repent, and seek to “stand firm in one spirit, with one mind.” How is your church viewed in your community? Are you known for your love and compassion? Do most people believe that the community is better off because of your presence there? Do they see a unified body of believers “working side by side” who love one anther and love them as well? Do they see your church practicing what you preach?

10 LESSONS FROM MISSIONARIES

 

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My wife, Shelby, and I are in Thailand for a mini-conference with several BMAA missionaries in Southeast Asia. We also were blessed to make the trip with our Pastor Todd West, his wife Paige, and their twin daughters, Addison and Riley. This afternoon as the missionaries arrived we enjoyed fellowshipping with them and getting to know them better. We have been listening to their stories as they share challenges and struggles they have been through.

Hearing them laugh together is special as you see a comraderie that sometimes escapes many. Then to hear one share the new beatitude that my good friend, Jerry Kidd, has shared many times put a smile on all of our faces. “Blessed are the flexible for they will not get bent out of shape!” The conference has not even started but already I am so blessed, greaty encouraged, and excited about spending this quality time with them.

Here are a couple of observations from what I have already seen:

  1. Travelling with the West family has been a great joy. They all have great servant hearts and are excited about this privilege to come and hang out with these special servants of God.
  2. Teenagers are great! At least the two 13 year old girls who are with us on this trip. Addison and Riley have made a very long tiring trip with a smile on their faces and great attitudes. I have not heard them gripe or complain one time.
  3. Take the wallet away from your pastor before you leave so he will not lose it. This is the second time a preacher has lost his wallet and money on a trip with me. Sorry, Brandon, I just couldn’t help myself on this one!
  4. Missionaries are great people to be around because their vision and energy is contagious. Hearing how they have already stepped out on faith and how they are about to step out on faith again is so challenging.
  5. Our missions department is an awesome place to work because of the commitment we have to pour into the lives of our missionaries. Our heart is to help equip and empower them as best we can so they can fulfill God’s calling on their lives.
  6. Oasis is a great church that believes in missions having helped to fund trips all over the world and in the United States. They get it!!! By helping the Wests and others go allows them to be a part of the Great Commission. Some go and some send!
  7. Don’t underestimate what you are doing for the Lord. It does make a difference. All of these missionaries have already mentioned someone who had a godly impact on their life. They have mentioned parents, pastors, Sunday School teachers and many others.
  8. Taking a missions trip is important because it gives you a better overall world view. We are not in Kansas anymore, Dorothy!  Mission trips are important for us to see other cultures, learn from them, and to encourage those God has called to serve there.
  9. We have an excellent young group of missionaries who have been assessed, trained, and are now being coached. (My wife brought up that we were the oldest couple in the room!) The Church Planting Movement systems we have been developing are working.
  10. They need our prayers and support in coaching them, mentoring them, and being their friends. Loneliness and isolation are real challenges to missionary families and the wife can struggle because the husband is absorbed in the “work of the ministry.”

I wish all of you could have been in the room with us this evening as they shared their hearts. Their authenticity was refreshing and their transparency was a blessing. They told of challenges but with such resolve and desire to obediently obey God’s calling on their lives. This trip has reminded me once again of how many people Paul thanked and showed his appreciation to for their support.

Thank you churches for striving to raise up godly young men and women to serve the Lord. Thank you churches for supporting and sending missionaries around the world in obedience to the Great Commission. Thank you churches for seeing the wisdom of healthy church palnting systems such as assessment, training, coaching, and partenrships. We really are better when we are working together.

Tonight at the end of our meeting with this special group of people Todd West shared how Onesiphorus brought refreshment to Paul. II Tim 1:16 says, “May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains.”

Who has refreshed you? Who has helped to bring a cool fresh breath to your life? Who has encouraged you to keep moving forward for the Lord when you wanted to quit? Who has been your encourager and cheerleader along the way? One last question: Have you thanked them personally?