Mission agencies are moving toward a model of missions that fits the globalized and color world in which we live. These include major shifts in how they approach missions work both to meet the needs of a new day as well as to leverage their people and monetary investment. With a world rapidly approaching seven billion souls, how we approach the great commission is more important than ever before.
Many congregations are also reassessing their missions strategy – a good thing. However, many congregations are still locked into strategies that were forged in the pre-globalized, black and white world setting. This includes supporting a list of missionaries without much strategic involvement in what they do, supporting personnel that they would not consider qualified to work in their own church, and spending mission dollars in isolation from the ministry priorities of the rest of the budget. Congregations ought to approach their missions investment with the same care and analysis as they do the rest of their budget so that like healthy mission agencies, they are leveraging their investment for the greatest global impact. Given that the typical missions budget of a church ranges from ten to twenty five percent, the aggregate of those funds across evangelical churches is huge indeed. Yet many of our strategies creak along as they have for the past fifty years oblivious to the change that has taken place around us.In prior blogs I have addressed some of these issues:
When money hurts mission efforts
Western vs. indigenous missionaries
Determining what missionaries to support
Do it alone or do it together
Missions today is about....
When thinking about a missions paradigm for your church I believe there are some key questions that need to be answered.
One: Do we have a grocery list approach to missions or do we have a well defined strategic approach that makes sense? Just as one focuses ministry in other areas of church life, focused missions is far more effective than a shotgun approach. You cannot do everything but you can do some things very well. Are you focused or unfocused?
Two: Do you truly screen those you choose to support or is it more a relational thing where you support missionaries based on their relationships with someone in the church? Your support dollars are like salary dollars. You choose carefully who you will pay a salary to and one should likewise choose carefully who one supports so that your investment is a wise one. See the blog above for further comments. Not all missionaries are equally qualified.
Three: Is your missions strategy one where it is possible for your church to participate hands on either in short term trips and projects or in a way which galvanizes your entire congregation? When mission is just about sending money, people today disengage. When they can participate, they engage significantly and pray.
Four: Is your missions strategy one that leverages your mission dollars for significant results? I am not talking about how many conversions your missionaries see as that depends on the soil they are working with. But do they and the organization they work for have a definable, workable and intentional plan to see the gospel penetrate the area in which they are working? Not all strategies are equally strategic.
Five: Is your missions strategy balanced? I suggest that churches think about mission in for categories: One; supporting a church planting effort that will reach an entire city or region. Two; engaging in biblical compassion that shares the gospel and raises the dignity of people. Three; coming alongside an indigenous movement leader and helping him/her expand their church planting and holistic ministry efforts and four; making sure that the unique DNA that God has put in your church is integrated into all these efforts so that your church increases its unique influence.
Don't allow your mission budget and strategy to live in a world all on its own. Integrate it into the overall ministry strategy of your church and work to be as strategic in missions as you are in other areas of ministry.