I'm interested in developing a missions culture at my church, but have (almost) zero budget (the church almost shut down 2 years ago, and is rebuilding, but finances are thin). Besides prayer meetings and education (eg. Sunday School classes), what can we do to promote missions?
Here’s a few suggestions, David.
1) Is your pastor behind the idea of developing a missions culture at your church (or are you the pastor!)? Ask him (or you) to preach a series of message on how God’s heart for the world is a theme that runs through the whole Bible. (I’m sending you as an attachment a series of passages from Genesis to Revelation. These might be helpful texts for a long series of sermons. They have questions which lend themselves to a small group Bible study, as well.)
2) Look for a missions project close to home. Something the whole church could get involved in, that wouldn’t cost a lot of money but would give people an opportunity to see human need and respond. Some ideas:
a. Hold services in the local jail.
b. Using the “Angel Tree” approach of Prison Fellowship, visit the homes of prisoners’ families and show them love.
c. If there are foreign students at a local college, offer to invite some to homes for dinner. 70% of foreign students in the U.S. come, study, return and never see the inside of an American home.
d. If there is a rescue mission in your city, investigate, and see if they could use some volunteers to serve meals once in a while.
3) Organize a mission trip to somewhere near. If you haven’t done this before, try to hook up with another church that has had a lot of experience, especially if they return to the same place with some frequency where they have formed friendships with the locals.
4) Encourage high school grads to attend the Latin America Mission’s Spearhead program (www.spearhead.org). This summer experience is more than the usual “mission trip.” It is an opportunity for a young person to spend 8 weeks in Mexico City getting to know Mexicans, learning enough Spanish to give a simple witness, and open his or her eyes to what missions is all about. Highly recommended.
5) Encourage your college age students to attend the Urbana Mission Student Convention (Dec 27-31) at St. Luis, this year.
6) If you church doesn’t support a missionary, visit some of the evangelical churches in your area and find out if one of their missionaries will be home on furlough, especially one who communicates well. Invite him/her to visit the church. Get the people ready by good announcements. Think of effective ways to expose the missionary to the congregation: morning worship, visits in homes, youth group, etc. If the missionary is effective, challenge individuals to write the missionary and keep the church informed as to his/her activities. Pray for the ministry. Publish photos of his family, places where he works, etc. See if you can’t organize a trip to visit the missionary on the field by a couple of key people who will bring back their own report of what is happening.
7) As you visit the other churches, see what they are doing. You’ll get lots of ideas. Ask the chairman of the missions committee of the church that most impresses you to visit your church and talk with a small group of key people to share ideas and options.
Well, David, that’s a start. Keep in touch with me and let me know how you make out.
P.S. Where do you live? I might have some friends who travel near you.
Note the resource: http://www.missiology.org/bibliographies/missionleaders.htm
Some helpful books. Here are two written by Paul Borthwick: A Mind for Missions and How To be a World-Class Christian which would be both helpful and challenging.