A MAJOR TREND IN MISSIONS
One of the most significant trends in missions today is the increasing number of churches that are focusing their ministry participation. The reasons for this direction include the following motivations:
- Desire for greater long-term impact in missions
- Desire to identify God’s unique calling for their church in missions
- Commitment to greater coherence and alignment in ministry involvement
- Interest in supporting fewer missionaries with more funds
- Desire for deeper relationships with the field
- Interest in collaboration with other sending churches
THE NEED FOR FOCUS
Developing a missions ministry is a bit like digging a well. To reach water, one must dig a well with the proper dimensions: it must be deeper than it is wide. Not only will such a well more likely reach water, the water will be fresh and plentiful.
Many churches are discovering that to have a lasting impact in missions, their missions ministry must have the right dimensions. It must be deep: the investment of prayers, energy, and finances should be significant. And while they may support people all over the world, their primary emphasis must not be too wide, perhaps focusing on one or two areas of commitment. No matter what size, all churches would do well to identify as precisely as possible the Lord’s missions direction for their congregation.
Through prayer and study, the following issues can help churches develop the right dimensions for going deep in their missions ministry:
Does your church currently support a missionary? Is a church member serving as a missionary? Do you have other connections to an ongoing ministry? If so, you may want to deepen an existing relationship rather than start a new one.
Church members’ vision
Are there members or leaders of your church who have experience and/or a desire to work with a particular people group or area of the world? Have members of your church participated in short-term projects that have given them a heart for a certain group of people? God very often uses the vision of a few people to lead an entire church in the same direction.
Does your church have a unique relationship to a region? Perhaps people from a particular country live near your church, and members have developed an interest in working with them locally and overseas. Or perhaps the nationality of a church member could serve as a
natural bridge to a part of the world.
Do you have a close relationship with another church that is already working with a particular people group? Developing a partnership for ministry may be a natural and effective way to go forward.
Do you desire to participate with a particular type of ministry? Or do members of your church have certain skills or occupations that could be used most effectively in a specific field?
Some churches have developed a small committee to explore these and other issues in order to bring a recommendation to church leaders. Selecting a missions focus is no small task and one that must be supported by much prayer, study, and time. This investment on the front end will help determine God’s leading for a significant long-term commitment.
PARTNERSHIPS: A NEW MODEL FOR MISSIONS
Once an emphasis is determined, your church may want to explore joining others who share your commitment. Ecclesiastes 4:12 says a “cord of three strands is not easily broken.” Historically, the three strands of missions ministry have been churches, agencies, and field workers—though each has had to work fairly independently. Today, however, advancements in communications and transportation have appropriately given churches a desire for more direct involvement in field ministry. Mission to the World affirms this development, and is committed to facilitating churches in deeper connection to the field. Effective field ministry requires that this connection be coordinated, so that churches, MTW, and the field are working closely together and in a common direction. In order to accomplish this, Mission to the World is establishing partnerships for the development and support of ministry teams all over the world. The partnership would work closely with the field team to devise a common strategy for such responsibilities as:
- promoting the ministry in the U.S.
- recruiting and assessing short- and long-term personnel
- praying for the work and workers
- providing pastoral care
- determining what resources are needed in the field and working to provide them
- advocating for the persecuted Church
- providing financial support to a team ministry account
- helping connect field work with related people groups in the U.S.