Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Mission Dartboard

It seems that the traditional role of the mission committee of most local churches has been to decide year to year what missionaries were being added to the church budget for financial support. These additions usually were chosen because someone on the mission committee was familiar with them. If there was no direct connection than it was almost as if all of the potential support seekers were put on a dartboard and then a dart was blindly thrown that direction to seek the will of God.

Obviously I am being facetious but here at Grace we have established a more fresh approach to what the job of the missions committee is and what the purpose of missions is in the church. Mike McCracken is a lay leader in our church who currently leads our mission team. We have had some wonderful meetings together in which we have crystallized the role of this team. They don’t exist to randomly pick missionaries for our church to support. Rather, this team exists to help raise the heart beat of missions within our church. We don’t just want to be a church that gives a hundred dollars a month to as many missionaries as we can. We want to be a church that partners with our missionaries so that when that part of the world is mentioned on the news, our ears perk up.

As a result, we have made our first priority supporting missionaries who come out of our church and to support them at larger levels. We don’t want people from Grace having to scrounge through dozens of churches to get just enough support to stay on the field. We want to be sure that missionaries that come from Grace have their needs met. We would rather support fewer missionaries at larger levels than to support multiple missionaries at minimal levels. The other bonus in this is that when these missionaries come home to the states for their visits and furloughs, we get them for the majority of the time they are stateside rather than them having to travel to several dozen churches to give reports.

Does this mean that we don’t support missionaries that are not from Grace? That is not what this means. But you must understand that we get multiple calls each week from missionary candidates or current missionaries who need to raise more support. How do we decide what missionaries to take on and what missionaries to reject?

Remember, when it comes to supporting missionaries outside of Grace, not only is it not our first priority, but we don’t really want these partnerships to begin simply by sending financial support. Instead we want our mission team to take on the role of seeing where God is already working in the hearts of our church people when it comes to the world. We want to develop a greater interest and heart for that part of the world and the needs that are there. We want to try to find ways to get our people to experience that part of the world through education and even a short term mission’s trip. Then, as we see that God has raised the heartbeat of our church for that part of the world or for that missionary, we make the financial commitment to that ministry. In the near future our mission team will be doing just that as we look as a church at the possibility of partnering with a ministry on a continent that we are currently not having any active partnership with as a church.

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