How do I develop an engaging missions program at the church?
Many people who come into their new role as a lead pastor are hesitant to change too much about the way the church does missions right away, and rightfully so. It’s never good to accidentally cut the board member’s nephew from the missions budget in your first year.
At the same time, a church can’t thrive without a strong missions program. And if the lead pastor doesn’t take the initiative to create this program—no one else will.
So without scrapping everything and starting from scratch, here are some ways to build a strong missions strategy:
It is crazy how a lead pastor will measure and evaluate everything in the church—they’ll know who is doing their job well and who needs more support. They’ll know where there are budgetary problems and funding problems and when giving is falling short. But when it comes to the missions budget, so many pastors choose to stay in the dark.
Don’t allow yourself to fall into this trap. Ignorance might seem like bliss, but it won’t be blissful later when you are confronted with the reality that you weren’t stewarding the resources you have to help the most people.
Put a team or committee together to look at each missionary supported by your church and give you a report on the following questions:
- How did they originally become a part of the missions program at our church?
- Was the money committed to a specific outcome?
- Has that outcome been accomplished?
- Are they giving regular communication of what is being accomplished?
I highly recommend Will Mancini’s book, Church Unique, for this. Why is this so important? Because the church mission should directly align with the church missions. The closer your missions strategy resembles the mission strategy, the greater impact you will actually have on the world.
It can be hard for your congregation to connect with numbers or statistics, so give them a chance to connect with stories instead.
Use the technology available to you—videos, photos, etc—to allow those who are giving faithfully to see how their resources are being put to work, as well as to give newcomers opportunities to pitch in and give.
Stay connected to the stores of the people you’re supporting and use your creative teams to communicat
e those clearly to your congregation. You’ll be much more effective at generating and keeping funds if you can help your members connect with stories, rather than statistics.
If you, as the lead pastor, feel overwhelmed by the scope of missions at your church, imagine how the average churchgoer feels. Chances are, they have no idea how to jump in and help—and you can’t do this alone.
Work with a team of people at your church to brainstorm creative ways you can engage your congregation, besides just having them write checks.
- Can they go on a trip?
- How can they be praying?
- Could they meet non-financial needs by donating their time or something from their home?
The more tangible opportunities you give people to help, the more likely your congregation is going to feel ownership over what you’re doing.
Having a list like this will help you not be overly influenced by emotion when meeting with the various ministries/missionaries who are looking for support. This doesn’t mean you should never respond in emotion to the missionaries, but it will give you guidance when those decisions come.
Here are some examples of what you might include on that list:
- Key countries that have a special place in the history of your church
- Longevity on the field (you may want either new or seasoned missionaries)
- Passions of the church locally being expressed globally (
e.g. your church is known for the food bank it runs so you are supporting a similar ministry oversees).
Creating a strategy for missions will be one of the most difficult things you do as a lead pastor, but it will also be one of the most important. Don’t let this task fall through the cracks and don’t push it aside to avoid stepping on toes.
As you lead your community to engage in the Great Commission, they will follow.
You should also read:
- Missions audit: 5 steps to evaluate the strength of your strategic vision
- 7 missions trends you need to know about RIGHT NOW!
- 3 keys to answering God’s call