In previous posts, we’ve traced the biblical motivation for missions and some of the broad principles that should govern a church’s missions activities. This post is intended to help you devise your church’s strategy within that biblical framework. To do this, we recommend constructing a Missions Strategy and Policy document (MSP). This is a simple yet exceedingly helpful document that will provide both a foundation for your church’s missions effort and guidance for future related decisions. The end goal of the MSP is to provide a list of how your church wants to invest its missions budget, assigning percentages to each activity that your leadership agrees on. We believe these efforts, when done prayerfully, and when motivated by God’s glory, will produce fruit for years and even decades to come. Such a document will help keep God’s mission in focus, and will provide an objective basis from which to make adjustments to your church’s missions effort. A well-written MSP will also provide continuity as you go forward, allowing for consistency in decisions and practice.
A well-written Missionary Strategy and Policy document will also provide continuity as you go forward, allowing for consistency in decisions and practice.
There are many questions that must be considered when developing your church’s MSP. In the end, the answers to these questions will form the skeleton of your MSP, so it is important to work through them in a deliberate and thoughtful manner, looking to God’s word and seeking God’s direction at every point along the way. To begin the process of drafting your MSP, you may start with some of the large, foundational questions that shape the majority of your missions support, such as:
- What major activities comprise biblical “missions”? (see our post on Biblical Principles for a list)
- Which of these activities does our church deem most strategic and important? In deciding this question, it will be helpful to assign each activity type a relative priority in the form of a percent value of overall resources. For example, Activity A: 50%, Activity B: 30% and Activity C: 20%. This will facilitate future resource allocation decisions.
From there, you may wish to wrestle through some of the more particular questions that will shape your missions program, such as:
- How should our efforts be distributed between local and global activities? Local efforts should be a priority because God placed your church in a particular place among a particular people, but the needs are also very great. It is often the case that more manpower can be devoted to local activities, but more financial resources will be required for missions elsewhere in the world.
- Should our church focus on particular geographical regions or people groups? Focus on particular regions may facilitate a congregation’s sense of connection with the missions effort but choosing not to focus may facilitate a broader perspective on what God is doing around the world.
- Do we want to conduct our missions efforts primarily through missionaries we have sent out or are well known to our church, or do we want to send resources to support another organization? A local church most directly takes ownership of the Great Commission task by sending out its own missionaries but it is also the case that financially supporting a missions organization can be exceptionally strategic with a broad impact.
A local church most directly takes ownership of the Great Commission task by sending out its own missionaries.
- Do we want to favor any particular modes of missionary activity such as career missionaries, bi-vocational missionaries (tentmakers), short term missionaries, or national missionaries? Historically the greatest gains in making disciples of the nations have been through career and national missionaries—those with deep, long-term commitment to a work. However, other modes of activity, when done well, can contribute significantly to the missions effort.
- Do we want to support a large number of missionaries with small dollar amounts, or do we want to support a smaller number of missionaries, but in higher amounts? While the broader approach may allow your church to participate and rejoice in ministry successes from all over the world, the narrower approach enables a better relationship between your church and supported missionaries. Being the sending church and the majority financial provider for a missionary communicates commitment and facilitates mutual participation, care, and accountability.
As you work through these questions together, document your answers. With the results, you can form budgetary goals that are guided by your answers and reflect your priorities. As an example, after all the options are weighed by your leadership team, you may decide that in your MSP, you want your church missions budget allocation to look as follows:
- Evangelistic outreach/Church planting: 40%
- Leadership training: 30%
- Mercy ministry: 20%
- Ministry administration and support activities: 10%
This post was adapted from the booklet, How to Build an Effective Missions Program.