Keeping mission vision alive and growing A quarterly publication of Mission Data International

Begin motivating your church to missions in 2011

by David Armstrong

How can small churches motivate their people to missions?

As a leader of a small church, let me first recognize the very limited time a pastor or leader of a small church has to focus on any one thing. Pastors and leaders in small churches do everything from sweeping the floor to teaching the Word to settling petty arguments. And those things happen when they happen, not when you want them to happen.

So how in that busy, unpredictable setting does one motivate people to missions? My best response is — intentionally. It won’t happen by chance. Everything else will work to keep it at the bottom of the pile of good things to do.

As you start 2011, start by defining what two things you would like to see happen in your church in terms of mission emphasis. Make one of those goals educational in nature. Help them to better understand what God is doing around the world today. Help them understand what missions really is. Help them understand more clearly God’s heart of compassion. Help them visualize how they could be Jesus’ hands and feet in our really messed up world.

There are resources available to help you in this endeavor. You don’t have to be the expert, but not just anyone will do. Hand pick a missionary who has helped you better understand what God is doing around the world and have him speak. They need to be able to relate to your people and communicate in ways your people find interesting.

For a regular dose of ideas, subscribe to Missions Catalyst a free, weekly digest of world missions news, ideas and resources.

Or find a video clip that inspires you and share it with your congregation. Pat Noble, Missions Catalyst News Brief Editor suggests using video clips from YouTube for a Missions Moment on Sunday mornings. They are just the right length. A search for “Christian Missions” yields over 5,000 videos.

Or pray for the world — To view information about Operation world’s country of the day, go to OperationWorld.org .

But where do you weave it into the already limited and full schedule of your church family? Even a five minute rabbit trail or aside during a sermon can work. If you do this a couple times during the year when something has excited or motivated you, your people will understand and flex with it.

Make the second goal motivational in nature. I have found that motivation best occurs in the act of doing. Involve them in doing outreach and service. When we talk about motivation, we are talking about challenging people to do something they aren’t currently doing, something probably outside their comfort zone.

Short-term mission trips can be great for this — if used intentionally. Mission trips aren’t just a summer camp experience to send a person on. It must be a part of your working with that person to see them prepare for increased involvement in ministry. Find an opportunity overseas or in the U.S. that fits their interests and skills, and then walk with them through the experience. The interaction and discussion afterwards about what happened and what it all means are as critical as the experience. People grow through evaluated experience, not just through experience.

If you define two things you would like to accomplish, you will be ready when a natural opportunity arises, or you will be ready to launch the opportunity at an appropriate time. It may not seem like much, but it will be more than occurs by chance. And by adding a piece each year, over time you will smile at the progress your church has made.

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