It should be noted at this point that implementing a new or redefined missions strategy requires great wisdom in leadership. Though a team of qualified leaders may develop a biblically principled missions strategy, the entire congregation must embrace it. A shepherd who walks too far ahead of his sheep will soon find himself without a flock. It is essential, therefore, to communicate to your church as you lead them through this endeavor. Communication is not really a step as much as it is a requisite constant throughout the process. It should begin early and be maintained rigorously through completion. It is placed as a step here because it could have serious ramifications if you did not begin to communicate with your church and missionaries at least by this point.
Below are three components of communication that are critical to successfully implement your strategy:
Communication is not really a step as much as it is a requisite constant throughout the process. It should begin early and be maintained rigorously through completion.
- Teach the word: God’s word is the foundation for all ministry efforts and any evaluation thereof. Concerted efforts must be made to read and study the texts of the Bible that deal directly with missions in order to grasp what they teach and command. Moreover, the whole counsel of God’s word reverberates with great and glorious themes that will fuel the fires of missions within the hearts of God’s people. Christ will build His universal church; and as people are filled with and yield to His Spirit, they will zealously give themselves up to this grand design.
It is safe to assume that in developing or adjusting a missions strategy, as in all church matters, the greater the change the more teaching is needed. Adjustments of this nature require nothing less than indefatigable preaching and teaching, in season and out, making full use of Sunday services, evening classes, small groups, and one-on-one interactions. This fundamental component of communication cannot be neglected; indeed, it is precisely one reason why churches need gifted teachers.
- Relate the process: Realigning your church’s missions strategy to more faithfully adhere to biblical principles is a praiseworthy endeavor. The process should be related openly, honestly, and straightforwardly at every juncture. Make your decisions known to all individuals and groups affected by them. This consideration should be extended to:
- The congregation: Your congregation should know that the missions program is being evaluated by a godly team to ensure that it is biblical and strategic. It is safer to err on the side of too much communication than risk leaving your people in the dark or blindsiding them. It maybe helpful to set up a church meeting where the leadership team can field questions and present to the congregation a strong, unified, biblically-principled front. Listen to the people; members of the congregation have wisdom, perspective, and information that may be extremely helpful in making the right adjustments to your strategy.
- The missionaries: Nowhere is honesty, forthrightness, and love more critical than in your communications with your missionaries. As you begin the process of examining and possibly changing your missions strategy, it is vital to be up-front and open with the missionaries your church currently supports. They will likely hear about the process from contacts they have in the church and it will only contribute to anxiety and mistrust if they do not hear about it first from church leadership. Let them know what you are doing and why. It is even advisable to involve them in the process and solicit their input.
- The agencies: Your church may have longstanding relationships with missions agencies or other organizations. While these relationships are not as close as those with supported missionaries, it is still important to be open and honest. The determination of when it is best to share information will require wisdom. The important thing is to maintain integrity and to be considerate.
- Convey the vision: We lead by our ability to convey a vision. When the leadership team has developed a strategy, it should be conveyed to the people with such conviction that they will readily unite behind it and desire to put it into action. The church needs to know exactly what the leadership team is attempting to do so that they can support and facilitate these efforts. Your new or realigned missions strategy is best communicated by a combination of venues, which may include:
- Personal communication best expresses the conviction, drive, and enthusiasm behind the missions strategy. As we strive to do that which we know God approves, we are free to convey our zeal to others and bring them along with us.
- Bulletins, pamphlets, and printed articles are exceptional media for conveying clear, focused thoughts. These could include victory stories of God’s grace at work in the missionaries/agencies you aim to support, while explaining how everything fits into your church’s missions strategy.
- It is well worth your effort to design and encourage the development of visual representations of the missions strategy. Consider posting relevant missions-related videos to your church’s website, setting up booths with posters and information, or printing out photos and cards to set up on tables or post to bulletin boards.
- Guest speakers: Having missionaries and representatives from a missions agency visit your church can provide much-needed depth and color to your communication, especially as the speaker relates their work to your church’s missions strategy.
- How and for what you pray communicates to your people a great deal. Make God’s great universal glory your overarching emphasis in prayer, and expand the scope of corporate prayer to include your biblically-motivated missions strategy.
This post was adapted from the booklet, How to Build an Effective Missions Program.