church

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.

One great way to help keep the season all about Jesus is to promote the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering® and the Week of Prayer for International Missions. The more creative you get, the more excited people will get in their giving. Here are a few approaches that really worked for churches in New Mexico:

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.

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.

These did not happen overnight. They grew and continue to grow from a concentrated focus on missions. The following 3 steps remain vital for our church or any church to promote missions growth:

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.

By All Means

 What does "By All Means" mean? How can you explain the 2016–2018 WMU emphasis theme clearly to church members of all ages? Instead of telling them, why don't you show them? Use the following 5 scenarios to paint a picture of what serving "By All Means" looks like in everyday life. 

Each of the 5 scenarios can be expanded as time allows. The performers remain in place at the end of each scenario. The skit concludes with a responsive reading.

Scenario 1

A man with cancer asks his doctor if they can pray together before his risky surgery. The doctor replies, “By all means, yes,” and the 2 bow their heads to pray.

Scenario 2

A teenage boy asks his dad if he can borrow the car to take his unchurched friend to the evangelistic youth meeting at church. The father says, “By all means, son,” and hands his son the car keys.

Scenario 3

A visitor at church asks to sit next to a church member. The church member says, “By all means,” and the visitor sits down beside him.

Scenario 4

Adults: Prepare to Do Postmodern Missions

We live in a postmodern world. You probably already knew that, but you might be wondering what it has to do with missions.

Postmodernists don’t believe in absolute truths. They believe everything is relative and shaped by the cultural context of a particular time and place. So when you share the gospel with postmodernists, you may get rebuffed, because what is the truth for you is not truth for them.

Don’t give up. Adapt.

First, let go of assumptions you may have about postmodernists:

  • They have a felt need for God. (Many don’t think about Him.)
  • They fear death. (They don’t believe in an afterlife.)
  • They are hopeless. (Most are quite satisfied with life.)
  • They will come to Christ fast once you introduce them to Him. (Most need the environment of a relationship with a Christian to progress toward a relationship with Christ. You must be willing to make a lifetime investment in people.)

Then, remember what Christians are called to do: make disciples. A disciple is a learner, and discipleship is a process of becoming more like Christ. Discipleship has at least four interpenetrating dimensions:

Prepare Students for a Postmodern Culture

As you work with students, you are inevitably facing attitudes and actions from them that are being formed through culture—the shows they watch, the music they listen to, and the people they follow on social media. So how do you equip students to live with a Christian worldview and be the light of Christ in their post-Christian/postmodern lives?

We’ve all heard the popular Christian phrase reminding us that we are to “be in the world, not of the world.” This phrase comes from Jesus’ prayer in John 17, where the night before His crucifixion, He prays for His disciples, sending them out to make disciples and asking God to protect them from the evil one because they “are not of the world.” This is a perfect framework for teaching students to live sent for Christ, helping them see how they can be a part of culture without owning the culture. Here are a few tips to guide you:

TEACHING CHILDREN TO SHARE JESUS IN A POSTMODERN WORLD

“Then the 11 disciples went to Galilee. They went to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.  When they saw him, they worshiped him. But some still had their doubts. Then Jesus came to them. He said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. So you must go and make disciples of all nations. Baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And you can be sure that I am always with you, to the very end’” (Matthew 28:16–20).

The Great Commission. As Christians, this is what we are commanded to do—share the truth of God with the world. But this is not always easy to do in today’s postmodern society, especially for children.

From the friends they interact with at school to the messages constantly bombarding them through various modes of entertainment (TV, movies, radio, social media), children are extremely vulnerable to the postmodern belief that “anything goes.” After all, today’s children are postmoderns living in a post-Christian world. This is all they have ever known.

Prepare Preschoolers for a Postmodern Culture

Our preschool group looked at a photo of the missionary family we studied that month in Mission Friends. We had been learning about this missionary family for a few weeks. I had just finished telling our mission story for the week of how the missionaries tell others about Jesus. One of the 3-year-olds leaned in to look at the picture and asked, “Are they real?” At first, it struck me as an odd question. Of course, they are real. As I thought about it, I realized that this question is indicative of the current times in which photos are altered and what seems to be real may not be the truth.

Searching for reality and truth is part of the postmodern world of which our preschoolers are a part. Preschoolers are growing up with a postmodern worldview that people can determine their own truth. Growing up as postmodernists, preschoolers will also have a much more global worldview than previous generations.

Pages

Back to Top