Planning for a Successful Mission Team

_BCL0368Several leaders have asked me for tips in planning a successful international mission team. 

Here are critical steps that can assist you in having an effective missionary journey:

  • Advanced preparation of six months to a year is vital in helping to alleviate anxiety, unify the team, increase effectiveness, eliminate potential issues or problems, and strengthen your relationship with those that you will be serving beside.
  • Determine the project opportunity and make contact to lay plans with the field partner.
  • Flexibility is a must.
  • Openness to new experiences will make you a stronger team member.  The food, lodging, and culture will be different from home and may stretch your comfort zone.
  • It is crucial to have the ability to adapt to new cultures, experiences, and changes that God may have in store.
  • Need to have a willingness to leave your culture at home.  You are a guest in their land and you will be more effective if you do not come with a “our way is the only or best way” mindset.
  • Be informed.  Learn as much as you can about the place where you will serve and the ministry tasks that you have been asked to perform.
  • Know the code of conduct and dress for your place of service.  Some acceptable practices in our culture are frowned upon in other cultures.  A good rule of thumb is “when in doubt, it is best to dress conservatively.”
  • Be aware of any security issues and always remember that you are your best security guard.
  • International mission projects require all volunteers to conduct a background check on all team members and to conduct a 30 minute training on child protection using the “Child protection” video that has been prepared by the International Mission Board.
  • Determine the cost – airfare, transportation, food, water, housing, translators, immunizations, visa, recreational activities, and any other needs shared by your field representative.
  • You need a current passport and many countries require a visa for entry.  Passport expiration should be at least 6 months beyond date of trip.
  • Determine if there are any immunization requirements or recommendations for your point of travel. You can find recommended immunizations at
  • Purchase international travel insurance through Gallagher Charitable Insurance.
  • Take all that is needed for your trip, but try to pack lightly as possible.
  • Be aware of baggage allowances.
  • Do not seek to bend the rules.
  • Follow the lead of the missionaries or nationals that you are working with.
  • Prepare spiritually.  It is important to be in prayer, in the Word, and in a good spiritual mindset, before you leave for the field.
  • Go with a servant spirit and remember that you represent Christ in all you do.
  • The primary reason for going should be to answer God’s calling and to bring honor and glory to our Lord.  Always remember, it is not about me.

Crossroads Baptist Church – Helechawa, KY

Just off the Mountain Parkway, on the Wolfe-Morgan County line, sits Crossroads Baptist Church, a little white church in the quaint little community of Helechawa. The building once housed the community school but has now been given to the church as a place for worship. In 2007 Crossroads was started as a mission of Faith Baptist Church Cannel City with 6 members and soon grew to 17 or 18 members.

In a phone conversation with Betty McGuffey recently she could not stop talking about all the things going on at their church and the mission teams that have partnered with them. She was so excited that I just had to make a trip to visit with her and see for myself the work that had been done.

Mission teams from Pellville Baptist Church in Hawesville, White Hall Baptist Church in Richmond, Mt. Washington Baptist Church, Little Flock Baptist Church in Shepherdsville, and Shively Baptist Church in Louisville have all come alongside this little church to fix up the building and to help with outreach. These teams have dry walled the sanctuary, painted, added bathrooms with showers, installed a baptistery, redone the outside of the building, added siding, underpinning, put on a new roof, and landscaped the front. For the past 6 years Shively Baptist has also come to lead Vacation Bible School.

Since January 2013, seventeen people have been baptized into the fellowship of the church. Four of those baptized were under the age of 18, nine were between ages 19 and 50, and four were over 50. The oldest of those baptized were an 82 year old man and his wife, only a year or so younger. The church now averages 36 each Sunday and Betty shared about how they were giving to missions through their local Baptist association, the Cooperative Program, Eliza Broadus, Annie Armstrong, and Lottie Moon offerings. There is definitely a spirit of revival in this little church.

In November 2012 Crossroads voted to move from “mission” to “church” status. Red River Baptist Association Director of Missions George Drake shared that this is scheduled to happen during the November 2013 Kentucky Baptist Convention annual meeting. He also shared that West Liberty Baptist Church had been the mother church of Faith Baptist Church in the early 1980s, Faith Baptist Church was the mother church of Grace Baptist Church in the mid-1990s and Crossroads Baptist Church in 2007, and Grace Baptist Church was the mother church of Wrigley Baptist in 2005. Perhaps sometime in the future we will hear that Crossroads has also birthed a church.

Churches helping churches, churches planting churches, this is the cooperative Southern Baptist way.

Shepherd God’s Flock

sheep-nz1As a young pastor, I wanted to change the world, change the church, and change people’s lives.  I am now late in my ministry, and have come to realize that I cannot change the world, the church, or people.  God is the only one who can change and transform all things.  As shepherds of the flock, our calling is not to change the world, but to lead the flock.  Thus, how are we called to lead?

God has called us to become leaders worth following, as we continue to be transformed by the power of His Holy Spirit.  Great leaders are remembered more for who they are, than for the tasks that they accomplished.  This does not mean that we should not work hard, seek to be effective, or plan successful strategies.  We should seek to honor our Lord in all that we do.  But, within our ministry, who we are will last much longer than what we do.

In ministry, leadership is crucial.  Great vision and plans serve little purpose, if no one follows us on the journey.  General William Tecumseh Sherman once said,  “There is a soul to an army as well as to the individual man, and no general can accomplish the full work of an army unless he commands the soul of his men, as well as their bodies and legs.”  General Sherman realized that a great leader inspires others to give their lives with passionate service to a cause greater than themselves.

Here is what I have learned in my years of seeking to be a leader for God:

  1. Effective leaders must possess inward integrity and character.
  2. Effective leaders recognize their authority is God-given and it should not be arrogantly abused.
  3. Effective leaders need honest self-awareness.
  4. Effective leaders need to be able to motivate and ignite passion in others.
  5. Effective leaders need to be people of focused vision.
  6. Effective leaders need to be able to make right decisions at the right time.
  7. Effective leaders demonstrate the courage to act.
  8. Effective leaders develop strong teams and share leadership with others.
  9. Effective leaders communicate the mission.
  10. Effective leaders lead by Christ-centered example.
  11. Effective leaders enable others to serve effectively.
  12. Effective leaders teach that learning and competence matter.
  13. Effective leaders respect and recognize the value of others.
  14. Effective leaders learn from past mistakes and make adjustments as needed.
  15. Effective leaders develop skills to work with those who are difficult.
  16. Effective leaders inspire community and move others to be in one accord.
  17. Effective leaders lead with grace.
  18. Effective leaders reflect a humility of spirit.
  19. Effective leaders continue to grow in wisdom and understanding.
  20. Effective leaders seek to be a positive witness for Christ in all that they do.

“Shepherd God’s flock among you, not overseeing out of compulsion but freely, according to God’s will: not for money but eagerly: not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.”  (1 Peter 5:2-3)

I Haven’t Eaten Anything Since Lunch

Donate the DifferenceComing home late one evening from work, I said to my family, “I haven’t eaten anything since lunch and I’m starving”.   After they laughed at me for such a silly comment, the truth set in.  I may have been hungry, but I wasn’t starving.  To be quite honest, I have never experienced real hunger.  But for many in our world, food insecurity and even starvation is a daily reality.

  • Every day, almost 16,000 children die from hunger-related causes – that’s one child every 5 seconds.
  • An estimated 35% of poor families in the U.S. are forced to choose between buying food and paying their rent or mortgage.
  • The poverty rate among children is on the rise. Thirteen million children (approximately 16.8 percent) in the United States live in poverty. Kentucky’s rate of 18.4 percent remains higher than the national average.
  • Nearly half of all families headed by a single mother are food insecure.

Over 76,600 meals were provided last year to the hungry in Kentucky with World Hunger Funds.  There were over 30,000 professions of faith as a result of hunger ministries throughout the world.  That number includes 192 decisions in Kentucky as a direct result of ministries supported by World Hunger Funds.

It’s discouraging to note however, that from 2009 to 2010, giving to the World Hunger Fund dropped by nearly $1 million.  The average Kentucky Baptist church member gave less than $1.25 to the World Hunger Fund last year.  That’s less than the cost of a canned soft drink and much less than the cost of fast food meal.

How many more meals would be served and how many more professions of faith would be realized if we made a small sacrifice or a simple swap?

  • Swap your cup of fancy coffee for a home-brewed cup of joe and donate the $10 difference to world hunger.
  • Make a small sacrifice and cook dinner for your family of four at home instead of eating out and you could easily donate $35 to world hunger.
  • A night out at the movies for a family of four could top $75, but an evening at home with a DVD can cost well under $10. The difference of $65 could be donated to world hunger relief.

What other small sacrifices or simple swaps could be made to benefit hunger relief in Kentucky and around the world?  Share your ideas with us as you discover creative ways to “Donate the Difference”.   Donate to the World Hunger Fund through your local Southern Baptist Church or give directly at  For additional resources and information on hunger relief, visit