A Missions Team is a Must!

The church was founded as a missionary sending organization. It was not intended to be a religious organization with missions as only a department within the organization. Its primary purpose was missionary and its members were to be involved in the spreading of the gospel.

Unfortunately, many local churches today are not engaged in missions. Oh, they may send an offering or even pray occasionally for missionaries, but their focus of attention and participation isn’t upon missions. Sadly, many local churches have gone from being the important participant who makes things happen in missions (like in the book of Acts) to being a gentle spectator.

How can the church once again, become the seedbed for mission involvement and engagement?

First of all, we can’t assume someone in the church will automatically lead this effort. If it’s everyone’s responsibility, it quickly becomes no one’s. It’s takes an intentional effort by a specific person or group, and not just the pastor. Having a team or group of people who are tasked with this responsibility is critical to ensuring that missions is focused upon and carried out by the congregation.  So, form a team, committee or group of people who will help the church re-establish its rightful place in missions.  It’s not important what you call them, but there is something effective about a group of people that work together on how they can engage and help the whole church to focus on missions. 

Secondly, specific steps must be taken to restore the local church’s sense of participation and importance in missions. Determining how that will be done is responsibility of the “missions committee” or “Acts 1:8 team”. Here are some role recommendations that will guide this group in leading the church to once again, becoming a missions focused, engaged participant in reaching their community and the world for Christ:

Raise awareness and educate 
The first and most basic task of the missions team should be raising awareness and educating the church family about missions. This includes arranging opportunities for members to learn more about the missionaries, the spiritual and physical needs of people living within a region, and how the missionaries are seeking to address those needs. It might be slides or videos in worship or an article in the newsletter, highlighting a missionary the church is partnering with.  Consider a digest of missions efforts or missionaries supported by the church with data, pictures and testimonies, outlining ways members can be engaged.

Raise awareness through Sunday School classes, community groups, and children’s ministry. Teach and focus on missions year-round, inviting missionaries to speak or have them Skyped in during a worship service.  While some churches feel that an annual missionary conference is enough, it seldom sustains the church for the whole year.

Lead out in prayer
The missions team must lead the way by getting church members involved in missions in practical ways. First, encourage them to pray for missionaries every day.

Show them how to use the monthly prayer guides published by the NAMB or IMB. Praying for one missionary or one locale every day is a great start. Few people can pray for “the whole world,” or “all the missionaries,” in any manageable way.

Highlight prayer for missionaries and missions projects during the worship service and in small groups.  How can we expect people to give and go if we aren’t willing to set aside time to pray.

Develop strategy
Every church receives many requests from people or organizations asking for money. They are many worthy causes, but no one church can help everyone.

Develop a strategy for how you will allocate funds and support various missionaries or ministries.  A strategy will give direction and purpose to the missions committee’s task and to the church’s giving.

The missions team must decide one basic question: How does God want our church to be involved in missions?  Consider developing a strategy that simultaneously involves the church in their local community, state, nation and world.  This may sound overwhelming, but it is possible for even the smallest of churches to adopt this kind of Acts 1:8 strategy.

The KBC Missions Mobilization Team is equipped to help your missions team in the development of a strategy. They can also help the team to assess the church’s current level of missions engagement through MAP, Missions Assessment Profile. For assistance, contact www.kybaptist.org/missions, [email protected] or 502-489-3530.

Encourage missions giving 
One way or another, if God’s missionary mandate is to be fulfilled, missionaries must be supported by local churches. The missions team’s role is crucial, whether the church determines an annual missions dollar amount that is divided between missionaries and projects, raises a challenge goal amount for each of the missions offerings, or takes on the personal support of a number of missionaries.

Ideally, financial support should be determined by the church’s missionary strategies. That strategy guides budget decisions by the church. Without some direction and purpose to the missions program, money is usually spent for the most persuasive speakers and causes. This leaves little opportunity for critical needs that may receive little attention. The committee must guard against this kind of imbalance.

The missions team must also shield the budget from “pet” causes, which often come from influencers within the church. Tough, sometimes unpopular decisions must be made. This is easier to do when the church has agreed on both its missions strategy and its budget in advance.

Provide missionary care
While I’m thankful for missions sending agencies like our IMB and NAMB, I’m afraid the church has relinquished its responsibilities to nurture missionaries who are sent and now serving. In full cooperation with mission boards, churches must take more responsibility for missionaries.

After a missionary begins serving, the missions team should work to ensure they are cared for. Specific suggestions include encouragement visits, communication with them (email, letters, Facetime, etc.) providing supplies and resources, sending care packages and mobilizing short-term teams to assist in the ministry.  

Don’t forget to make caring for the children of missionaries part of your focus as well.  The church should be aware of cultural adjustments, loneliness, and moral tests that MKs face.

Caring for missionaries while on stateside assignment (or home on furlough) gives the committee many chances to show care in meeting such needs as housing, cars, clothing, vacation retreats, administrative assistance, etc.

Call out the “called” 
Many young people receive their “call” to missions in college organizations or at missions conferences. That’s great, but I am saddened that so few of our church’s passionately challenge those God has called to go and then actively send them.

In the book of Acts, the “call” of Paul and Barnabas (Acts 13) came to them from the Holy Spirit through the church at Antioch. The missions team should look for people with cross cultural interest and ministry skills, and then challenge them to prayerfully consider serving in missions.

Be missions specialists 
Don’t let the word specialist scare you and keep you from assuming this role. The missions team can become missions specialist by familiarizing themselves and learning from many different resources.  Resources may be missions books, magazines, newsletters, special seminars, conferences or our mission sending agencies (IMB, NAMB).  

Missions team members should specialize to more effectively accomplish their role. Subcommittees (or individual committee members) can be organized by the Acts 1:8 strategy, each having a responsibility for a specific area (local, state, nation and world). Another way to organize for specialization is to assign each subcommittee/individual one of the recommended roles discussed in this article (education, prayer, strategy development, giving, and missionary care).  

In closing, a church that chooses to form a missions team that actively functions as outlined above will find itself right in the middle of what God is doing!  It will be a seedbed for missions engagement and they will be impacting the world with the gospel as God intended.  My prayer is that more of our churches will have a missions or Acts 1:8 team helping them to organize around missions, rather than religion. 

201 Students Pray to Receive Christ

When Mission Service Corps Missionary James McDonald hears people say, “I can’t believe they have taken the Bible out of school” his response is “the Bible has not been taken out of my school.”  Through BREAK (Bible Release-time Education Association of Kentucky) James and John Lowder, along with several volunteers, teach the Bible once a month in the Corbin, Williamsburg and Whitley County school systems. 

Released Time Bible Education gives public school children the opportunity to receive Bible based moral instruction as part of their education during the regular school day.  Rolling up to the edge of the school property in their big blue and white BREAK bus/classroom, they welcome children for a time of Bible lessons, fun songs and activities, challenging Bible memory and a Christ-centered environment.  BREAK is legal because children attend ONLY at the request of their parent(s) or guardian(s), classes are held off-campus (not on school property) and public schools do not provide any support for BREAK.    

The Gospel is presented with every Bible Release-time lesson. However, children are not usually invited to accept Christ as Savior and Lord until near the end of the school year – after a foundation for their faith has been established. Leaders want to insure that children truly understand and believe the Gospel and are being convicted of their sin by the Holy Spirit before they invite Jesus to come into their life and forgive their sins and become their personal Savior and Lord. Even so, BREAK teachers always endeavor to be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit in case the LORD may be calling children to Himself before the end of the school year.  

In April, with the end of 2018-2019 school year approaching, the leaders had a burden for the salvation of the children.  They began praying together, asking the LORD to use BREAK to bring children to know Jesus as Savior and Lord. They asked the ten-plus churches that support them to pray likewise.  They made decision cards with one side sharing the ABC’s of salvation and the other side being a response card – 1) I am already saved 2) I want to give my life to Jesus & be saved today 3) I am not yet ready to give my life to Jesus.  They had their time of worship, shared the ABC’s of salvation and asked each child to mark his/her card.  Almost 300 of the students expressed an interest in being saved.

While the other students had their game time, counselors talked individually with those that expressed an interest in being saved.  Of the students they talked with, 201 seemed to genuinely understand the Gospel and their need of salvation and prayed asking Jesus to save them from their sins and become their personal Lord and Savior. Thirty-one others received assurance of their salvation.  Follow-up has already begun, and four students have been baptized. 

We praise God for these new believers in Christ and for leaders that are so faithful to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with students.

They ask that you join them in praying for the children that they would abide in the faith and bear much fruit for God’s glory. Also pray for the leaders as they face a daunting task of follow-up – trying to make sure the students get connected to a local church, get baptized, and grow in their new found faith and in the joy of the LORD.

For more information on BREAK go to http://www.kyreleasedtime.org/ or contact BREAK President John Lowder ([email protected]) or Vice-President James McDonald (j[email protected]). 

Partnerships to Help Churches

The KBC approaches mission partnerships with the goal of helping churches develop gospel partnerships.  Partnerships, in the past, were developed between the KBC and certain organizations/denominations.  For example, the KBC had a partnership with the Kenya Baptist Convention in Africa or the New England Baptist Convention in the northeast.  God used those, and we are grateful for those relationships. 

However, in recent years, we have shifted the focus of partnerships away from the KBC and placed the emphasis of the partnership between local church and local church . The KBC exists to help churches form gospel partnerships for Great Commission impact. 

Therefore, we desire to connect KBC churches to gospel partnerships in Kentucky, North America, and the nations.  We want to resource, train, and introduce KBC churches to missionaries, church planters, established churches, and ministries in order to develop relationships that will further the gospel around the world through the local church.

There is no better way to develop strong gospel partnerships than by spending time together. The church and/or missionary you are prayerfully considering partnering with is best begun with an initial visit. As your church explores possible partnerships with other local churches or missionaries seeking to plant churches, how should you approach your time of discerning if this connection will make a good partnership? Make the most of your short your time while on an initial visit to the church and area.  How might you do that?

  1. Be prayerful—With Paul, pray always.  Be in prayer as you travel from point A to point B. Pray as you walk and talk.  Pray as you hear from planters. Pray as you return to your room.  The point…pray!  Ask the Lord to lead you in how He would have you maximize your impact in this place.
  2. Be flexible—the time is short and filled with much to see and hear and experience.  Be prepared to spend long days with potentially shifting schedules.
  3. Be attentive—take careful notes both on paper and in your head of missionaries/planters, stories, and situations that stand out to you.  What might speak to you now might be forgotten if you do not write it down and make note of why it impacted you.  Be observant of the area you are in (what is the community like, the people, the needs, etc.).  Take whatever notes necessary, so that you can make a prayerfully discerning decision about partnerships later with your leadership team.
  4. Be interactive—this partnership is an experience, not a vacation.  When able, talk with the planters or your hosts about the city, the needs, ways to be involved, etc.  The point is to be engaged in the mission.
  5. Be willing—to partner as the Lord leads you.  As David Platt suggests, bring a blank check (of your life) to the table and ask the Lord to fill in the amount.

In the end, the Great Commission is about the local church partnering with others for the advancement of the gospel.

Where is God?

Natural disasters continue to strike with little warning across the globe. In the aftermath of these tragic events, people often ask, “Where is God?”

Intellectual answers even when based on fact do not take away the pain or the loss of those affected by disasters. People need hope and grace amid the darkness, and I am absolutely convinced that only God can provide this healing of the heart. Yet this still does not answer the question, “Where is God?”

The Bible teaches that God is all-powerful and all-knowing, but the existence of evil and suffering in our world makes some wonder if God is good. The atheist says God must either be weak, sadistic, or non-existent as he looks at the suffering that exists on our planet. The unbeliever defies anyone to give an answer for such suffering after a disaster. Yet, the very question coming from an atheist is illegitimate and beyond reason. If one really believes that God does not exist, then one has no ability to question the events of life. If there is no God, then the very ideas of good and evil do not exist. Apart from God life has no meaning nor moral compass.

Men point to tragedy and question God’s goodness, but God points to the Cross of Calvary and declares here is the evidence of my love and goodness. Jesus Christ is the proof of both God’s goodness and the depths of His love for His created ones.

So, the real question is not where is God, but how can we know God’s hope in the brokenness? I offer these foundations:

Choose to follow Jesus Christ in a personal relationship. The only real answer for the brokenness of this world is know Jesus in a personal relationship. The assurance of our faith hinges on the one whom we have placed our faith. The only sure hope in life is to know Christ and the life that He has given.

Trust the promises of His Word. God does not reveal to us all the mysteries of life, but He does promise that He will love and care for all that have placed their faith in Him. The Bible reminds us again and again that God loves us and will not abandon us. Hear God’s promise in Isaiah 41:10, ” Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand.” In the present, we live in the trust of His promises not in explanations.

Remember, God has a plan. God and his purposes are more than any of us can understand. If God could be completely understood, then He would be like us. Thankfully, God is greater than us and beyond our complete understanding. We live in a fallen world, but we are promised that God has a plan. A day is coming when God will answer every injustice, all suffering will end for those who are His, and His glory will be revealed to every person. Blessed are those that trust God’s character when they are struggling to see His hand.

Where is God? God is ever-present, and offers His strength, grace, and hope to all who will open their hearts to Him. It is not a coincidence that those with a spiritual foundations cope with the stress and trauma of disasters in ways that strengthen recovery.

Psalm 46:1-3

” God is our refuge and strength, a helper who is always found in times of trouble. Therefore we will not be afraid, though the earth trembles and the mountains topple into the depths of the seas, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with its turmoil.”