17 March 2014

Caring for missionaries #3 - getting the church excited

Promoting missionary care in church:
*   Be linked to a missionary and make sure they visit your church when they are on home assignment.  Make their visit an event – interviews, a meal together...hands on.  It’s your event...organise it well.  And be generous with them as they visit you.  Make it an opportunity to care for them as they serve your congregation.
*   Take ten minutes from a service four times a year (March – before Easter, July, September and November – before Christmas), hand out A5 paper and pens and write short letters.  In church!  It is amazing how much you can write in ten short minutes.  On Monday morning go to the post office and send off your parcel of encouragement.
*   Publish fresh prayer points in the church newsletter every month.  If you have nothing specific that is new and current then work in some of the general prayer points. What is important is to provide people with new, regular prayer points to keep them praying.
*   Pray through those prayer points from the front of the church – in its own dedicated spot during the service or during the service prayer time.

*   When a prayer letter arrives from a missionary, don’t just stick one copy up on the pin-up board.  Photocopy it and hand it out with the newsletter for everyone. 

*   Midway through a missionary’s tour, hold an event at your church to refresh everyone’s memory.  Have a national meal, give news, pray, maybe have a Skype link up if you can set it up or even just a live email exchange and spend ten minutes writing letters – or at the very least, send around a card that everyone can sign.

Incorporating missions into the children’s programme:

*   During each of the school holidays, run a kids’ mission session with the Sunday School children.  Tell them what the missionary has been up to lately and show photos if some are available, spend some time learning about the country (and try some food from that location if you can), pray for the missionary, write letters and draw pictures. This works especially well if you can link your Sunday School children up with a missionary family.  The children may find this a bit abstract to begin with but if it is done every holidays, and if the missionaries make contact back with the children, a relationship soon forms and it becomes quite a natural thing to do.

*   Take up a “kids’ collection” during Sunday School and direct it to a missionary.

Incorporating missions into a Bible study group:

*   Have the missionary’s prayer card on the table each week – a visual reminder.

*   During the prayer time share prayer points for the missionary and make sure they are prayed for each week, alongside the members of your group.

*   Four times a year (or once a month even!!) write a letter – individual ten minute letters on A5 paper or pass around an airletter during the study for people to add a few lines, pass around a computer and add to an email or write a short note in a card.

*   Take up a “spare change” collection (this can add up to quite a sum of money over the course of a year) and save it to give to your missionary for when they are on home assignment for a few luxuries – or direct it to their missionary support.


Sarah said...

Ah, now that is very pertinent to me at the moment. I particularly like the idea about handing out paper and getting everyone to write letters. The only thing about distributing the missionary's prayer letter is that sometimes missionaries in 'closed' countries specifically ask supporters not to hand out print copies, email or pin their letter to the church notice board. In that case I think it's best to give out the missionary's email address so people can contact them if they want to receive their letters personally.

I've found getting the congregation excited about missions to be hard in that the missions slot is often 'cancelled' when it's a long service. I think a lot of people find it hard to be interested when they haven't met the missionary and their experiences seem so far removed from ours. It's also hard when you've got a mix of people, some who know who you're talking about, and others who are new and haven't the faintest idea who this missionary is and what they're doing. I always remind everyone in case there are people who don't know.

My church seem to like power points and visual things. I've used maps, made power points which detail the country where the missionary is serving etc. Lots of people have told me they find it much more interesting than just reading a letter.

It also helps to focus on shared experiences. Even though we haven't been serving Christ overseas we know what it's like to do evangelism in a country that doesn't seem to care less that it needs a saviour. Many of us have moved away and had friends not keep in touch. This has helped people see that missionaries are not 'super Christians' but people like us who get lonely and would appreciate correspondence and encouragement.

Meredith said...

Thanks for the reminder about the visuals and power point presentations. I forget about these things as I sit under my technological rock. But you are right - photos of the people and seeing them on location are really useful.

And I agree about getting people excited when they haven't met a live missionary. I know that was (and is) my experience. I am much more diligent about it all when I have met them in person, which is why it is so important to get them to your church when they are around.

Your last point is excellent. I have thought - and many missionaries have mentioned - about not being super Christians. But taking it back to our own experiences of evangelism actually gives that idea its legs. Superb.

Thanks for your input. Wonderful insights.