The elders and pastors of a local church bear responsibility for the accomplishment of the Great Commission. That does not mean that those leaders have to do everything that is required. They should, however, make sure that the task is planned and resourced in such a way to maximize effectiveness. They should be among the most vocal champions of the cause and should lead by example in prayer and involvement. Moreover, they must set the theological trajectory of the missions focus.
Elders and pastors should be among the most vocal champions of the cause and should lead by example in prayer and involvement.
It is typical that the regular management of a missions effort is delegated to a committee or task force of volunteers overseen by the elders. This delegated body can do much of the strategic planning for the missions effort, but it is vital that the whole board of elders be involved so that they will “own” and support the strategy in the face of difficult decisions.
Having the right people involved is key. We believe that, if at all possible, at least one pastor or elder should be involved in the planning sessions, since doctrinal questions will arise. Members of the missions committee or a similar body should also be involved. Other desirable members of the planning team might include strategically-minded individuals, deacons who can research information and get things done efficiently, elderly members with knowledge of your church’s history and connections, and persons with a good grasp of the wider discipline of church history. Each person involved should have the time, objectivity and drive to devise an effective strategy for the church’s missions effort.
It is also important to provide training to the team entrusted with such a responsibility. There are several ways to provide this training:
- Systematic instruction by pastors or elders, with guided discussions on key Scriptures, such as 1 Chronicles 16:24; Psalm 67; Psalm 96:3; Isaiah 52:7; Matthew 9:37-38; Matthew 24:14; Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:47; Acts 1:8; Acts 8:4-6; Acts 13:47-49; Acts 14:21-23; or Acts 15:35-36, 41.
- In-depth analysis of the missionary examples from the book of Acts. is is particularly helpful to see how missionaries should be trained, sent out, supported, and encouraged (see our previous post on biblical principles for an effective missions program).
- Studying a good missionary book on the subject, such as Let the Nations Be Glad, by John Piper.
- Reading a biographical account of pioneering missionaries, such as William Carey, Hudson Taylor, Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, etc., with pointed discussions related to your church’s missions strategy.
Once the leadership team is assembled and equipped to do the job at hand, you are ready to begin devising your church’s strategy.
This post was adapted from the booklet, How to Build an Effective Missions Program.