Leaders Blog

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:

• We began by getting our associational churches excited about receiving help with their community outreach events. We let them know that missions teams from all over the country would join local church volunteers to impact their communities through a sports camp, painting a community center, Backyard Bible Clubs, and follow-up from a Vacation Bible School.

• Promotion and personal contact were key in getting churches involved.

See a Need, Meet a Need

One size fits all. Not really. I have never been a “one size fits all” woman. We are all unique. Some are tall, some are small, some are thin, and some are not at all. So if “one size fits all” doesn’t work with our clothes, why do we think it would work with our missions efforts?

There are a lot of approaches to missions growth. But I don’t think that there is one magic approach that fits everyone. Here are a few that have worked in New Mexico.

Look for a need, and then find a solution for that need. We had a small Children in Action group that we wanted to grow. We noticed that many of the elementary students had to wait for older siblings to get out of sports practice to go home. So we changed the time of our CA group to that hour. Now years later, we have more than tripled the size of our original group.

Spirtual Formation as a Leader

We all have opportunities to lead and to follow, and in both cases, our spiritual formation makes a difference in how we treat one another in those roles.

The Bible says that God knew us while we were in our mother’s womb and that He knows our days—including every experience we’ve had. So, often with gaping wounds, we limp into positions of leadership. We want to present ourselves to everyone as a whole person, and we hope that they won’t notice our bandages and scars. Yet the more we try to hide our wounds, the more we expose them.

How does this relate to spiritual formation? In the words of Dr. Noel Forlini, “Spiritual formation is a process of presenting our whole selves to God in order to experience the love of God, so that we can love God, others, and ourselves.”

The whole self includes everything—even the parts that we’ve worked so hard to forget about. Our hidden wounds are actually an important part of our spiritual formation. If we present them to God, we will find ourselves more able to love God, others, and ourselves.

Give and Pray

It is December, time to trim the tree, decorate the house inside and out, and send Christmas cards. Not to mention shop. Shop for family, friends, co-workers, the pastor’s family, the mail carrier, Sunday School teachers, and school teachers. Then there is the entertaining, baking, Christmas parties, Christmas cantatas, and everything else that we are supposed to do in December. Wow! Are you tired yet?

All these things are so fun and make Christmas special and memorable, but they aren’t what Christmas is all about. Christmas is about the incredible Gift that was given to us all, Jesus. We need to make sure that all our activities are about Him and not just about the holiday.

Emphasize International Missions

Look at the Southern Baptist Convention’s calendar and you’ll see that almost every Sunday, week, or month, there is an emphasis placed on something: senior adults, worship music, the Cooperative Program, etc. The first week in December is set aside for international missions.

And there are a number of ways your church can emphasize international missions this week and every week:

IMS Participation Often Leads to Missions Involvement

Hosting the International Mission Study is one sure way to give missions knowledge to church and community members. Participation in the study often leads to prayer for missionaries and their people groups. Many times, attendees are spurred to join missions efforts.

Gwen Moor, former president of Northwest WMU and a member of Dayspring Baptist Church in Chehalis, Washington, said prayer, advance delegating, and working out details are keys to success when hosting the study.

“We use the wonderful materials from the promotion kit to try to spark interest, [do] bulletin boards, [find] posters,” Moor said. In addition to the pastor promoting the study, it is announced in the bulletin for 3 or 4 weeks beforehand. A “guess how many of something that pertains to the country” game is presented. Church members have to attend the study to get the prize given to whoever is closest.

Pray for the World

You only need to glance at a newspaper or listen to the news to become aware of the urgent need for prayer. No longer can we be concerned with praying only for our family, community, church, and state. As leaders, we need to engage our members in sincere prayer for the entire world.

Why not start with the Baptist Women’s World Day of Prayer on November 7? Consider implementing one of the strategies Gwen Moor, former president of Northwest WMU and member of Dayspring Baptist Church in Chehalis, Washington, used to involve her church in the Day of Prayer:

• Involve all the Baptist churches in your area. Make phone calls and send invitations. Enlist a contact person from each church and ask her to personally invite women to attend.

• Plan to alternate which church hosts the prayer event each year. Or host the event at a Christian Women’s Job Corps site to highlight the ministry hosting the prayer event.

Promote Missions Growth

Our pastor concludes every Sunday morning service with the same reminder: “We are the people of God, sharing God’s love, because God’s love changes the world.”

At any time, our church has members on one or more missions trips or we’re planning trips—domestic, international, or both.

We have an international university student outreach program with welcome activities at the beginning of the academic year, an international Bible study, and friendship families who open their homes to students. For many of these students, this is their first time to attend church or hear the gospel message.

Our church also plans local community outreach, either one-day blitzes or ongoing activities, such as Bible studies at the jail or support of the local crisis pregnancy center. (The pregnancy center rents a house from the church for $1 a year.) In addition, we partner with the university’s Baptist Campus Ministries for local outreach and missions trips.

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:

Churchwide

• 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

State Missions Coffeehouse

One of our church’s most successful state missions events was the Applause! Coffeehouse. To celebrate what God is doing in our state and promote the state missions offering, the fellowship hall was transformed into a coffeehouse, complete with casual seating and subdued lighting. Specially designed placemats featured facts about the state missions offering, a brief story about one of the ministries the offering supports, and a state missions word search puzzle.

Adorning one wall was an art display featuring the state missions artwork the children had created during their regular Girls in Action and Royal Ambassadors meetings.

Specialty coffees were served, as well as tea, hot chocolate, and an assortment of bakery items. A tip jar was available for people to give to the state missions offering.

While there was ample time for those attending to converse with their friends, there was also entertainment, which included stories about missions work in our state, a comedy routine about church planting, and special music with a missions theme.

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