Supporting churches in mission

Over the last few months we’ve visited a number of churches to share about our work in the Amazon. We’ve also been asked about how churches can support global mission so here are 5 suggestions:

  1. Make mission a key value of the church. Global mission is part of a bigger call to be witnesses and love our neighbours. Mission is something we do as individuals by our witness, corporately as churches through serving and evangelising and globally through partnership. A healthy church engages with its local community as well as playing a part in the wider world. (If you are a Baptist church this is part of the Declaration of Principal “That it is the duty of every disciple to bear personal witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to take part in the evangelisation of the world.”). One way you develop a key value is for it to be part of every area of church life including youth and children. We did something once where the childrens work set about buying fuel for a MAF aircraft.
  2. Focus on a couple of areas. There is a world of need but it is better to focus attention on a few situations / organisations and to have a mix of both UK and overseas interests. When we were in Poynton we focused our attention on The Message Trust (working with schools, prisons and young people with a focus on North West England) and Barnabas (homelessness) in the UK; NoviMost (Bosnia), BMS (Iquitos / Peru), WEC (Gambia) outside the UK – though we also had other connections.
  3. Build a relationship with the missionaries you support. This probably limits the number you can support but I (Neil) think it is better to be a significant supporter for a few people, and to remain committed for long periods (some of the most significant mission work, such as Bible translation, needs really long term support). In Poynton all our links came from people connected with the church who then served overseas, but if you don’t have those personal connections then talk with one of the mission organisations. Get to know your supported missionaries, pray for them regularly and send them news / encouragements (more often than you ask for prayer points). Maybe make them occasional extra gifts (for example towards a holiday, Amazon credit to get books on Kindle. The children in one mission family I know have a thing about UK custard powder – you can always post it!) as well as giving them regular financial support. When they are back in the UK offer practical support. For more information on supporting mission workers see this article
  4. Go and visit. Short term mission trips can be really helpful in building relationships and in giving people an insight into life in another context. (They can also be done badly but I’ve blogged about this before here). Some mission agencies specialise in short term opportunities. In Poynton we had the aim that everyone under 30 should have the opportunity to go on a mission trip.
  5. Keep Jesus central. My observation is that churches that are committed to mission are those which are committed to Jesus and to the gospel. And that this is true across the church spectrum. Keeping Jesus central is also important because the temptation to support project / development work (which is good in itself) can lure us away from proclaiming the faith, evangelism and growing healthy churches and it is vital that all our mission activity grows out of our worship and is an expression of it.

What other things would you add to the list?