Leaders Blog

A Life-Changing Event

When you hear the words kids, summer, and camp, some pretty awesome memories probably pop into your head, but add the word missions to the mixture and you have an amazing adventure waiting to happen!

Missions camp is full of all the exciting things summer camps usually consist of, such as canoeing, swimming, silly songs, arts and crafts, and making s’mores over campfires, plus a missionary or 2 to talk and interact with campers all week.

But it is more than just the experience of doing fun activities and seeing old friends and making new ones. It can be life changing as campers hear stories of how God has used missionaries both in faraway places and in places very close to home and called them to serve in ways campers may never have heard of before. Missions camp may be when kids and teens accept Christ or what motivates them to pray, give, and serve others on a whole new level once they return home.

Feed the Hungry

Rather than just a once-a-year emphasis like Global Hunger Sunday, some churches maintain a year-round global hunger missions plan that involves all age groups and missions organizations. Some events are churchwide, some specific to a particular age or life stage, and some sponsored by one organization but open to all. Events might include the following:

CHRUCHWIDE

• Host a community Thanksgiving meal. Invite participants to bring nonperishable items for the church or community food pantry or an offering for Global Hunger Relief

• Schedule regular offerings for global hunger, the local food pantry, or the church benevolence fund—after Lord’s Supper services, one Sunday per quarter, or other times the church chooses.

• Invite a North American Mission Board or International Mission Board missionary to share how funds given to the offering for Global Hunger Relief have been used to meet physical as well as spiritual needs.

SENIOR ADULTS

Experiencing the Ripple Effect

Have you noticed that when God is at work, there is a ripple effect? Not only does He change the life of an individual, but often He also affects the individual’s friends and acquaintances.

I love seeing this happen in Luke 5:17–26. A man is lowered by his friends to Jesus. He is healed. Not only is the man healed but his friends’ faith is also strengthened and the crowd is amazed. I saw the same ripple effect course through the Familyfest held in our city of Indianapolis in 2015. 

Here’s a glimpse into what took place to plan our Crossroads Baptist Association Familyfest:

The Association: More than Marketing

We support lots of organizations throughout our lifetime: parent/teacher groups at our children’s schools, local and national charities that touch our lives, neighborhood supper clubs, professional organizations related to our employment. All these groups are excellent and meet a relevant need, but what about your local Baptist association? When was the last time you celebrated what God was doing in and through your association’s churches?

People are starved for meaningful community, and they want more than just being a target of marketing and consumerism. Associational missions can be the connector for people to experience a holy more as you partner with others of like mind. Heart-to-heart and soul-to-soul encounters through associational missions are a beautiful thing that changes you and your community.

Many church members have forgotten or never learned how Baptists partner through the association. An Associational Missions Emphasis event is a fun way to educate them. The payback is huge. God is glorified and people are loved and helped in the name of Christ.

Plan

Celebrating WMU Missions

Nothing is more inspiring and encouraging than a room full of like-minded women who are passionate and excited to serve God. It gets your heart pumping! That is how I felt attending the WMU Missions Celebration and Annual Meeting in Saint Louis, Missouri, in June 2016.

As a state WMU leader, I am always looking for workshops, ideas, and content that can be recreated in our churches, associations, and state WMU annual meeting. National WMU is always there with an encouraging word and prayer support. The national staff encourages us to realize the goals of informing churches of the necessity of missions education. As state WMU executive directors, state WMU presidents, and church and associational WMU leaders gather from across the country, we are reminded of social issues that are affecting our society today, such as human trafficking, pornography, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Annual Planning and a Movie

When you think of a WMU annual planning retreat, I surmise you do not think one of the activities would be to sit and watch a Disney/Pixar movie, right? When was the last time you watched a children’s movie and gathered leadership lessons from it?

Several years ago, my team and I had the most fun doing just that at our annual planning retreat. After an afternoon of discussion and thoughtful planning, the highlight was watching Toy Story 3.

We got our popcorn, turned down the lights, and started to watch the hilarious antics of Woody and the gang. We laughed so hard that night!

The movie’s premise is this: Andy (Woody and the other toys’ owner) is leaving for college. While cleaning his room, he places his favorite toys in a box to be stored, but through a series of mishaps, the toys end up at a children’s day care. The toys’ mission/vision was to get back to Andy.

We learned the following lessons:

Seven Trends That Affect Your Church

church pews

Do you long for the “good old days”? I often hear friends talk about “the way it was when we were kids.” And, those were good days—playing outside after dark, riding my bike (without a helmet or pads) to the nearby store, standing up on the front seat of my daddy’s pickup, playing with a friend who had contracted polio as an infant, worrying about a nuclear bomb attack from the Russians . . . Well, maybe not all of the days were so good.

For my parents, my “good, old days” were their “scary future”. My scary future is the world inhabited by nieces and nephews who do not know a world where polio and small pox vaccines were necessary. Yet, they also live with the pressure of a future that is changing more rapidly than any of us can fathom.

The church is no different. Is your church living in the “good, old days” or trying to make sense out of the “scary future”? Perhaps it is trying to do both, struggling to let go of old ways and yet, not quite ready to embrace the new. The new is exciting, but it is also frightening when we do understand what is happening around us.

Plan a Recognition Service That Celebrates Everyone

I remember recognition services where proud parents beamed as their children’s achievements were celebrated. Little boys squirmed and little girls smiled at the attention from the adults. Where did those days go?

Recognition services are out of sync with our sophistication today. But what have we lost? The entire church was enlivened by the simplicity, beauty, and joy on the faces of its children. Adults saw the fruit of their hard work and were encouraged. Those who worked with children and youth were celebrated and honored for their faithfulness. Children and teens felt as if they were part of the whole church and that their service to God mattered.

But what about the children with developmental challenges? How do they and their parents feel?

Our church was celebrating the end of the semester, before the holidays, with a special Sunday night service and fellowship time. The children had memorized their verses and made posters of their missions projects. They were excited and a little scared about Sunday night’s service. Their leaders were, too.

Send out the Missions Volunteers

Your missions team has prayed and is ready to go. Now it’s time to figure out how to get them there. The more folks involved in sending, the more will also be praying and feeling they are a vital part of the kingdom work God has planned for the team. Many hands also make for easier—and quicker—work.

Consider these ideas to spur your church on in its sending efforts:

Bake and Serve Silent Auction

As the WMU director, solicit donations from church members: plates of cookies, loaves of bread, or gift certificates for a pan of lasagna or a homemade meal. Consider asking for services to be donated as well: 2 hours of leaf raking, 3 hours of housework, or 4 hours of babysitting.

Carryout Dinner

Sell tickets for a barbecued chicken dinner. Ask members of adult missions organizations to gather at the church kitchen early in the day to prepare chicken, baked beans, potato salad, and rolls. Set up an assembly line to fill carryout boxes, and deliver to vehicles as folks drive by to pick up. Recruit students to direct traffic in the parking lot.

Missions Books for Bucks

Prepare with Prayer

“Prayer does not equip us for greater works—prayer is the greater work.” Oswald Chambers was right. No matter what kingdom work calls us, that work must be grounded in and fueled by prayer.

As your church prepares to send out short-term missions teams this summer, make prayer a priority. Recognize that prayer unites the body of Christ and makes those who pray just as important as those who go.

Consider these ideas to ensure those going are covered in prayer:

Prayer Cards: Create postcard-sized prayer cards that include a team photo, a key verse for the trip, and 3 specific prayer requests. Distribute cards to members of missions organizations and consider including in the church bulletin.

Prayer Sync: Challenge church members to set clocks or phones for a daily reminder to pray in the weeks leading up to the trip. If the missions trip dates are July 10–13, consider praying from 7:10–7:13 each day, for example.

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