Missions-minded church’s tips to engage members
NEOSHO—With about 300 active members, Calvary Baptist Church in Neosho, will help missionaries in the International Mission Board’s West Africa region reach the Mandyak people of Senegal, Gambia and Guinea-Bissau.
Calvary has become a strategy-coordinator or “engaging” church to partner with the West Africa region’s engagement team – a team assigned to discover the area’s unreached people groups. Calvary’s pastor, Rick Hedger, and minister of missions, Sam Upton, noted tips for helping members become more missions minded:
• Know your church. “You have to know the DNA of your church,” Hedger said. Know how God has gifted it collectively and members individually.
• Love the members. “Be tender and sensitive and love your people,” Upton said. “Often the greatest vision comes from the people in the pew.”
• Lead the church to become burdened for missions instead of imposing your vision on members. “Pastors need to go and take someone with them,” Hedger said. “Unless it becomes the church’s burden, pastors are not going to be able to get it done.”
• Be the point person. Although members also must grasp the vision for missions, the pastor still must lead. “The pastor has to be the advocate,” Upton explained. “The minister of missions can be the champion.”
The missions minister must take responsibility for the details as part of his or her role. “But if the pastor is not encouraging missions, it isn’t going to happen,” he said.
• Lead in God’s timing. Members at a church where Hedger previously served had money for mission endeavors, he said. They were willing to send him on mission trips, but they would not go. “They didn’t have the heart at that time,” he said. But Calvary’s members, he said, “seem to be saying, ‘Here we are, Lord, send us.’”
• Rely on laypeople. Church members often respond to outside influences toward missions. Pastors should be open to those possibilities. One of Hedger’s pastor friends approached him in tears. His church had voted against supporting a mission project the pastor had proposed. Hedger and his friend began to meet and pray.
Calvary Baptist had a mission trip scheduled and invited anyone from the other church to join them. One couple took advantage of the opportunity and then shared the experience with other members when they returned. The next time the pastor proposed a mission project, the church wholeheartedly embraced it.
• Pray, pray and pray. Both men agreed that every step – from creating a vision, to seeking God’s place for service, to filling the team slots, to raising money – must be covered with prayer. Praying for your congregation to be missions minded is the first step to open the door toward leading members in a missions lifestyle.