Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Sucessful Missions

     I have been in approximately 70 churches in the past months while on deputation and I try to be observant as to how a church is doing especially as it related to being able to support new missionaries. I want to pass along a few positive actions that have translated into greater involvement in giving and greater growth numerically I've garnered by watching and by taking time to talk personally with pastors.
     The first key is prayer. This may sound almost trite considering we 'are' talking about churches and missions but I'm talking about prayer exercised in a real way. I have seen the altar flooded with men in Lima, OH and again in Paw Paw, MI which I believe God blessed in seeing these churches grow under their present leaders. I know prayer can be done anywhere but it just seems heaven may get a little closer when men humble themselves collectively at the front of the church. 
     Another act I liked was the month of prayer about Faith Promise Giving under Pastor Bickelhaupt in Oak Harbor, OH. He did not limit praying about what God would have you do in giving to just a week, but he passed out a 'prayer commitment' card in advance of his annual Missions Conference. Members were asked to pray about missions and, in particular, what God would have them do for a month before indicating on a given Sunday what the Lord had impressed upon their heart. Again, this was a growing church and a church that was able to add new missionaries on an annual basis.
     One more church I learned from was Grace Baptist Church under Dennis White in North Ridgeville, OH. Along with prayer ahead of time he also planned a 2.5k day on the Saturday of the Mission Conference. The goal was to distribute gospel literature to 2500 homes. The end result was 2800 homes were given tracts with a church invitation and 5 first time visitors were recorded the next day (Sunday). Again, prayer was integral but "shoe leather" was added to push for a big day as part of reaching their Jerusalem with those reaching around the globe.
     There are churches growing. There are churches adding missionaries to those they already support. Each has an emphasis on prayer, corporately and individually. All of these churches are doing so under the present economic conditions too. Just saying.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

     I'm of the opinion that Missionaries ought to be seen as real Christian human beings. By this, I am referring to how we as Pastors may respond to those whom we may disagree with on the foreign field once we take a new Pastorate. I recently heard from a veteran missionary brother serving in a difficult field that if a pastor resigns and moves on that 30% of the new pastors taking over his existing work will either drop or diminish this missionary's personal support, "While still on the field"! This is just not Christian!
      I was a Pastor of a church for twenty years and during that time we had a couple of missionaries we supported go awry. One man we supported monthly failed to say he had been divorced (early in ministry I just assumed every man from Hyles-Anderson had been vetted before being ordained, my bad) and according to the church's position we would not support a divorced man as a church planter. Once I found out I called this missionary and he confirmed that what I heard was correct. I explained that we would continue to support him for a year to allow him time to adjust his budget or raise the loss of funding. The point being we wanted to do what I believe was the "Christian" thing to do. {This man served here in the States}
     Another missionary had to come home from overseas for moral failure. We were sent a letter from his mission board saying he had returned and that support should be stopped. I continued sending a support check with a letter stating the monies should go to his wife for her and the family's needs during this transition in life.  He may have made a wrong decision but the wife and kids did not, so why should they suffer unduly. Again, we as a church sent a monthly support check for a year because we believed it to be the "Christian" thing to do.
     Somewhere along the line I think we have missed the human connection when dealing with missionaries, perhaps they seem less real to us because we see them for such a brief period of time during their deputation scheduling. Whatever the reason may be I think we ought to be very careful about "dropping" some one's support while they are on the field. If at all possible we should wait until they are back on American soil before financial changes are made. Just saying.