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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.

In the Bag

A number of years ago, my husband took a new pastorate. I was quite saddened to learn that there was no missions organization in the church and determined that I would seek to change that.

Shortly after settling in, I mailed a plain brown lunch sack to each woman who actively attended the church. Inside it was an invitation to a women’s get-together at the church with instructions to put something in the bag that represented her and bring it with her to the meeting.

As the women gathered, we shared what was in our bags. Some women brought an item from a favorite collection. Some brought items representing their hobbies. One woman brought a favorite recipe. One woman brought pictures of her grandchildren. Another brought a book she was reading. One after another, the women showed what they’d brought and told their story. We oohed and aahed . . . and had fun learning about each other.

Lead from Your Strengths

Delores does not like being in the limelight and prefers to work behind the scenes. Evelyn delights in speaking from the platform. Donna has never met a stranger and is very outgoing. Kay’s quiet demeanor and gentleness are well respected by those who have been blessed to know her. Sandy is creative and thinks outside the box. Dawn appreciates her strong missions heritage.

What do these women have in common? They are all strong WMU leaders. I have had the privilege of working alongside each of them.

Perhaps the greatest leadership truth I’ve ever learned came from this collective group. They have taught me that there is not just one way to lead. In fact, there are as many different styles of leadership as there are leaders—because no two leaders lead exactly the same way.

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Gather around the Campfire

Judy grew up in a large family. Her parents had 7 daughters, adopted 2 sons, and provided a home for 53 foster children over the years, 5 of whom stayed with them until high school graduation. Judy remembers that they all had chores to do and claims she was an amazing dishwasher, partly due to lots of practice since the counters were often full of dirty dishes. She mostly wore hand-me-downs that were often the wrong size or worn out or both. She often felt awkward in group settings, but she also says life was good in that large Christian family where love abounded.

When she was 9 years old, Judy, who by then was a tomboy nicknamed “Bugs” because of her fascination with insects, went to missions camp for the first time. She considered it a great privilege to be there and a life-changing experience. Some of the camp highlights for Judy were singing silly camp songs, learning new ways to pray, developing friendships (some that have lasted a lifetime), growing spiritually, and being enthralled with the missionaries who shared their stories. As a result, Judy developed a love for missions that she now instills in others.

Report More than Numbers

I like the number 3. In fact, I like it so much that when my husband asked me to marry him, I asked him for 3 good reasons why I should. Fortunately he had 3 good reasons and we’ve been happily married 33 years. We also are the parents of 3 children.

Did I mention I like the number 3? Therefore I’m going to give you 3 good reasons why reporting what your WMU has accomplished in the past year is important. Notice I said what, not how many. While it’s certainly OK to tell how many people were involved, reporting is more than that. It’s sharing the stories of what your WMU did and how lives were changed as a result.

Let’s enthusiastically report to our churches what has been accomplished through WMU this past year for 3 good reasons.

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