Our church really isn’t doing as much for missions as I’d like. What kinds of missions support and missions programs do other churches provide? What do other churches do to reach out to missionaries and their families on a personal level?
Pastor Sam Smucker – Lancaster, PA
When we pioneered our church 34 years ago, we felt The Holy Spirit gave us a mandate to go outside our four walls and reach out to other nations. God began to give us divine connections with individuals that had credible ministries all over the world.
We have tried to remain true to the vision we felt we needed to follow through these years. We started with one missionary in one nation and doors began to open up for us. I have traveled extensively myself along with others in our congregation. Hundreds of people have gone on mission trips which has continually strengthened our commitment to minister to the nations.
I believe a congregation is blessed when they have an outward vision.
1) It needs to be in the heart of the Pastor and the leadership.
2) The Pastor and other leaders need to travel to other nations which helps to have a global vision.
3) Missions is not only to other nations but also reaching out to the community where the church is located.
4) Pray and ask God to show what ministries to help and come alongside.
5) To empower nationals to reach their nation is a powerful way to do missions.
6) Bring missionaries to your church and have them share briefly in your weekend services what they are doing which builds a vision for the nations in the congregation.
7) We encourage our congregation to partner with our missionaries which means to pray for them, support them financially on a monthly basis and regularly communicate with them.
8) Train up people in the congregation to go if they have a call to go to a particular nation.
9) Regularly preach on reaching the world for Jesus Christ.
These are a few things that have helped us build a missions mindset in our congregation. I would be glad to give further input to anyone who is interested.
Pastor Ray Almaguer – Glendora, CA
I like to have missionaries in to speak to our congregation. They help us to remember that our purpose is to win a lost world to Jesus. One of the best things our church has done to reach out (besides monthly financial support) to our missionaries is a Christmas package and video we send during the holidays. We collect items that are difficult or impossible to get in another country. We remember to provide gifts for their children. We record personalized Christmas greetings from church members and include it, too. It’s just a little taste of home for our missionaries and they really appreciate it.
Pastor John White – Decatur, AL
Once I had a large plastic cup that I placed on the top of my dresser. Every night when I unloaded my pockets I would place my change in the cup. I wanted to buy a new golf club and thought that I would use this money when the cup was full to purchase it. Sure enough, when the cup was full, I had enough to purchase the putter I wanted. Through this I had the idea that if we all did this at church we could bless one of our missionaries with something extra and we wouldn’t even miss it. So we started what we call a “Change The World For Jesus” offering. I had that phrase printed on plastic cups and gave one to each person in the church. I instructed them to place their change every night in the cup, not just the pennies, but every denomination of coins in their pocket and when full we would receive the offering to bless, above and beyond, one of our missionaries we support.
I further instruct the church not to subtract this from their tithes and offering but to give it above and beyond their regular giving. Neither are they to sift out the large coins but to give it all. We receive this offering about 3-4 times per year and on every occasion we have received a very large offering to aid one of our missionaries. This offering is above our budgeted mission giving and no one really misses the money. It’s easy, it’s effective, and it’s a blessing to our missionaries.
Pastor Terry Scheel – Fenton, MO
At Summit Church, we make supporting missionaries and the work that they do a very big priority. We seek God as to what missionaries to support and stick with them. There are so many wonderful missionaries that need support, but we have to know we cannot help all of them; we need to help those that God has directed us to help. Those we help benefit most from regular, monthly support that is consistent and on time. God may direct us, at times, to give a special offering to other missionaries.
In addition to regular, monthly support, we make sure we send them and their children cards for their birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays. This is always done early, as it can take 6-8 weeks for a letter to arrive in some countries. The congregation signs these cards so the missionaries can read special notes from the people supporting them. This also helps the congregation stay in touch with the missionaries.
We have Mission Sunday on the first Sunday of every month. We have a Mission display with photos and information on all of our missionaries. We also display their information on the projection screen and highlight them on our bulletin board and in the bulletin. We have a Missions page on our website. We also post newsletters and updates from our missionaries on the Missions News page of our website. Our prayer team prays for our missionaries on a monthly basis. We also try to encourage missionaries by sending them monthly care packets. The care packet has a hand-made greeting card in it, a teaching CD from one of our services and some goodies, like candy, post it notes, Chap Stick, etc. Care has to be put into sending these packets properly due to fees they might incur in their country for receiving it and care to prevent the packets from being broken into.
We also have a special program at our church set up to bless missionary’s wives. We communicate to our congregation how many luxuries women have in the US compared with women on the mission field. It is called the Heart’s Desire Fund. We choose one lady, ask her what her “Heart’s Desire” would be and tell her what price range her gift will be in. Every month, we ask the church congregation to contribute to this special fund. Over the years, we have been able to bless many women with gifts like cameras, furniture, perfume, clothing, plane tickets and jewelry. One woman wrote us saying that she had never been given a gift before. Something as simple as this can give a woman the boost to continue on in her work for the Lord. Many of these women’s lives are in danger daily and we hope to encourage them.
Pastor Michael Bivens – Statesville, NC
Our missions outreach is indirect through affiliation and connection with a couple Rhema ministers who are involved with RHEMA Schools overseas.
Pastor Thom Fields – Kennewick, WA
“loaves of bread” rather than “pieces”. With that in mind, it is important that we discipline our efforts and be just as cautious regarding what “don’t participate in” as we are with that which we “do participate in.”
This philosophy of missions has led us to make some choices. One choice we’ve made is to locate unreached people groups and work until we’ve obtained our goal within that group. Unreached people groups are those which have NEVER heard the Gospel. We work to locate a national pastor who has a proven track record and similar goal of bringing the Gospel to those unreached people. We help develop a strategy to both reach the unreached and then train them to take the Gospel back into their own villages. We’ve found this process to be both exciting and rewarding.
We’ve also chosen to connect with Convoy of Hope. Every year we invite our members to join in a missions effort that is called One Day. Everyone brings “one day’s wages” in addition to their normal tithes and offerings. We select a day (normally around Thanksgiving) and prepare the church to participate in our One Day offering. We educate the people through short video clips and pulpit announcements about the power of One Day. “One day of our life can change EVERY DAY of their life!” We show them the pictures of the children that Convoy of Hope is feeding at Christian Schools all over the world. (They’re currently feeding 90,000 kids every day!) We also inform them of the Disaster Response Work that is accomplished through Convoy of Hope. They were in Haiti during the earthquake and on the ground in Joplin within hours of the storms. They bring in water purification systems and food and minister to hurting humanity through local churches all around the world.
I’m very proud of our folks. Their One Day giving allowed us to purchase over one million meals last year, and we’re nowhere near a mega-church. Convoy of Hope has allowed us the opportunity to network with a huge variety of denominational churches and secular corporations in an effort to participate with something so much bigger than we are. I highly recommend Convoy of Hope and suggest visiting www.convoyofhope.org for more information.
We are also sending teams of individuals to join John Smithwick on missionary endeavors around the world. John holds crusades around the world and see’s multiple thousands of lives brought to salvation knowledge and countless healings at every single event. His work is changing entire nations and it’s amazing to be a part of what God is doing through our involvement with JSMI. (You can gain access to the work that John and his teams are accomplishing through visiting www.johnsmithwick.com).
We’re attempting to raise up individuals who possess our ministries DNA and continue to support them financially, relationally, and prayerfully. Our goal is to build a team of in-house believers with a global mindset that will assist us in carrying out the mission of our church. This group is growing and they’ve become the “missionaries” that we support each and every day.
I believe that there are three basic steps that need to be followed in every aspect of ministry, both home and abroad. We use these three factors to guide us.
We believe that we need to discipline ourselves to remain focused on reaching the world. Our decision effects far more people than we realize. We are determined to find people who are far from God and lead them to a place where they are close to Him.
Pastor John Lowe – Warsaw, IN
We do a monthly fund raiser called Missions Sunday. We also host missionaries regularly, and we support a missions conference in conjunction with other churches to raise support for projects we are targeting for the year. This began as independent churches since we did not have a corporate HQ. It allowed us an avenue to do big projects we could not do alone.
We do short-term missions with ministers, members of our churches, and we conduct minister conferences overseas endeavoring to impact the indigenous minister since they are the hope of their nation.
We know all of our overseas contacts, and we visit their homes and ministries regularly. We have also paid to bring them to the mission’s conference we host together so we can all meet and grow together in relational ministry to each other and the world.
We are willing to work with anyone who knows and shares Jesus—locally, nationally and internationally.
Pastor Brad Allen – San Mateo, CA
Pastor Andy White in Chandler, AZ, gave us a great idea that we’ve used successfully to support missions. He’s been supporting crusades in India and calculating the cost of the event divided by the number of souls saved and communicating this to the congregation. The crusades they sponsored resulted in 1 person being saved for every $.50 invested!
This works great on many levels. We’ve used the same approach to support Rev. Cliff Graham’s recent trips to Pakistan and Nepal. The congregation really gets behind it and it’s fun to be able to say that we gave 10-20-50% of the cost of a crusade. And then we show the photos and videos that are sent back! It’s worked very well for us.
On a more personal level, we donated a car to a missionary family this year and last year flew a foreign pastor couple to SF to spend a week of vacation with us.
We need to connect personally with missionaries as friends and partners to pray for them and support them on a personal, as well as, financial level. We can’t finance every missionary, but there are some that God connects us to. And those relationships are very important. They need both our financial support and our personal friendship and prayer support.
Who has God connected you to? Those relationships need to be cultivated and nurtured. It’s not all about the money.
Pastor Mark Garver – Madison, AL
From the very beginning of our church, I decided to set aside 10% of our general income to send to the nations. I started with my very first missionary in Germany and now eighteen years later, we support 14 different ministries in different nations. I believe in the “ands” of Acts 1:8 “…and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” It doesn’t say to just chose one and concentrate there. I heard a minister, I highly respect use this example. If you have an 80-acre farm you would be foolish only to farm the 10 acres closest to the house. We would call that person a bad farmer, letting all the other acreage go to waste. I believe when we don’t support missions, we are not farming all the field. If you are going to support missions you have to have a vision for it. Your people will only have a heart for what is really on your heart. I think every church is different and some have different emphases, but I do believe every church should do something in the area of missions.
How do you do it? You first have to decide if you have a specific type of missionary on your heart. For instance there are missionaries who start churches, some have evangelistic crusades, some minister to children, some are more involved in relief and building, and others have Bible Schools. At our church, I have a very specific leading of who to support. All of our missionaries fall into one of two categories. First, I support those that my wife and I have personally raised up. We are their pastors. So no matter the emphasis of their ministry, we support them monthly from the 10% budget that we set aside and also encourage the church members to partner with them monthly. The other kind of missionary we support are those who do Bible Schools. We are focused on this, because I believe the Lord told us to do so some 18 years ago and He has not changed His mind. It makes it very easy for us. I know there are a lot of good ministers in the nations of the world, and I believe if we all do our part they will be supported financially. Another thing you might want to consider is whether or not there is a country or region of the world to which your heart is drawn. If there is, then you can seek out the ones in those countries to support.
It is important for churches and ministries to support those on foreign fields for various reasons, but one thing I have been told over and over by my friends living on foreign soil is this: churches are their most stable and reliable offerings. How do you give to a missionary? How much do you give? How does it work from year to year? These are all questions I have had to answer and tweak over the years. Most American missionaries have a home church or a stateside office they run their offerings through and most provide you monthly envelopes to help in that regard. What you give is based on what you have budgeted and what you pledge to do. Be careful if you make a pledge to help someone that you follow through. I would love to see a day when missionaries could use their faith on winning the lost, making disciples, and training ministers; not on believing to have a roof over their head and food for themselves and their children. I will give you a suggestion that we implemented a few years back that has alleviated some feelings of discomfort for me as I decide who and who not to support. Every year we send a form out to our missionaries and ask them a few pertinent questions. Such as, what percentage of time do you live overseas (we like to support those who live full-time in the country they are serving. We do make exceptions for minister whose countries are too dangerous for their families to live in on a continual basis). We also ask what percentage of your ministry is for Bible schools because that is who the Lord told us to support, so we want to make sure that is still emphasized in their ministry. After everyone fills this form out, we then decide who we will support for the following year and the amount we will support them. I have found giving them a one year commitment takes the guess work out of it for the missionary and us. They know that every year we will go through the process again. If new missionaries want us to support them we give them the same form and the same opportunity.
We also do things other than just send them money. I have found that missionaries who live in different countries need a partner in the ministry. So we have assigned a prayer group in our church to pray weekly for all those we support. We encourage our missionaries to send in prayer requests so we can help them. It is good for them to know that your church is with them by hooking up with them in the Spirit. The other thing we do is help them in various times of their life. We have sent a baby shower in a box. We have sent Christmas for their children. You could also do a birthday party in a box. Sending them first class, brand new (never throw away stuff) from their home country is always appreciated. Sometimes we will find out food items they can’t get and find a way to get it to them. We also from time to time will have them in to minister to the congregation. In our case, with 14 to 16 missionaries it is impossible to get them all in every year, but we try to have one or two in every year.
Is there anything I should require of them? The first thing we get from every missionary is a current 8×10 picture and a flag from their nation so we can hang it up in our sanctuary. We keep it in front of the people of the church. You can do this in various ways, this is our way. We like it front and center. We like for the missionaries to keep us up-to-date. I can’t make them, but I like it when we get a monthly newsletter either by snail mail or our preference—through e-mail. We like to see what our investment is doing! We post their newsletter on a bulletin board and sometimes highlight their ministry during our video announcements.
I would also recommend you have a policy in mind for if a missionary comes off the field during your commitment of support. This is how I do it. If they come home, we help them during their transition for 3 months. Then I reallocate their support to someone else. I have at times extended this time based on the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Let me finish by saying, I believe that one reason that our church is so blessed financially is that we have a heart for the nations and our finances have followed our heart. It has not hurt, but enhanced what we have done in our area. I personally think every church should be an “and” church.
Pastor Phil Edwards – Ennice, NC
The thing that moved me most was a leading to a specific part of the world. That comes with prayer. We should encourage churches to be prayerful about the 10/40 parallel area of the world.