MISSIONS EMPHASIS: A How To Guide

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 Introduction

 

A Springboard for Action

Mission emphasis events provide a special opportunity to praise and thank God for what He is doing to advance His kingdom.  It is a time when a local congregation can focus attention on the work of missions at home and abroad.

By reading this you have already shown a desire to expand and sharpen the mission focus of your church.  Your interest in creating a successful mission emphasis event is the result of the Holy Spirit working to strengthen and expand God's kingdom.  This information is not intended to be an exhaustive list of ideas but to serve as a springboard for your church's needs and creativity.  Add your own ideas and freely adapt the ones given.

 

A Successful Mission Emphasis Event Can...

1.        Unite church members, missionaries, and guests to work for a specific cause.

2.        Share what is being done on your behalf in local and overseas ministry.

3.        Give missionaries and ministry representatives an opportunity to share what God is doing through their work.

4.        Increase prayer and financial support for ministry.

5.        Strengthen and encourage the work through a time of sharing with faithful supporters.

6.        Produce positive feelings about being part of God's mission plan and help to stimulate interest and involvement in missions throughout the year.

7.        Challenge people to get involved in short-term or career missions.

 

 

Initial Plans

Most mission emphasis events get started with the local church board or staff.  To get the event off the ground, it is imperative to enlist plenty of prayer support and the skills of a good planning team.

 

The team could include:

            A group of mission-minded church members

            A church-school teacher or parent who can identify children's needs and interests

            Individuals who are detail-oriented or have strong organization skills

            A member of the worship team

 

Dates and Preparation Time

As a team, choose a preferred and alternative date for the event.  Be open and flexible.  The date may change depending on the availability of speakers, facilities, etc.

Remember that a mission emphasis event takes time!  Give yourself and your church board, other teams, and groups enough time to prepare.  This could be a couple of months for a missionary visit or 6 to 12 months for a missions emphasis week.

 

Getting Started

The planning team's tasks may be divided into three sub teams:

1.        The program team

2.        The publicity team

3.        The food team

 

Responsibilities:

            Chair
                          Conducts the planning team meetings and keeps record of the major "to do" checklist as tasks are completed.

            Program Team
                           Arranges for the speakers, events, audiovisual programs, and special music.

            Publicity Team
                           Arranges displays, brochures, banners, and other promotional materials.

            Food Team
                           Arranges for meals or refreshments for each of the meetings and the events.

 

Note: You may want to assign an additional team for children's activities.

 

Why Are We Doing This?

Before taking another step, discuss the purposes of your missions emphasis event and write a general statement of what you hope to accomplish.  Do you wish to introduce new mission workers to the congregation?  Develop a deeper commitment to reach people who do not know the Lord?  Keep church members informed about missions work? Discover and nurture prospective missionaries?  Encourage greater prayer support?

 

Goal-Setting

Decide on some specific goals or statements of measurable outcomes that will show if you have achieved your purposes.  Examples:  Ten people committing themselves to working for a week in urban ministry; a group of members meeting to pray for the lost before each church service; to increase mission giving in your church by 10 percent.  Decide on some goals, or statements of measurable outcomes that will show if you have achieved your purposes.

 

Choosing a Theme 

CURRENT THEME:  http://www.missionstheme.ag.org/

We recommend that you utilize the Assemblies of God national theme.  However you may choose a theme that reflects your goals.  Select a Scripture passage that reflects your theme.  If your theme is not a song title, select a related song that will appeal to children as well as adults.

Other Suggested Theme Titles:

•  A Light to the Nations

•   Lord of the Harvest

•  Across the Street, Across the Sea

•   Making a Difference in our World

•  Around the World with Christ

•   Missions on the March

•  Attempt Great Things for God

•   Neighbors-Nearby ... and Far Away

•  Blessed to be a Blessing

•   Reaching the Unreached

•  Each One Reach One

•   Saved to Serve

•  Gather All God's Children

•   Send Out the Light

•  Let the Earth Hear His Voice

•   Sowing Precious Seeds

•  Let the Son Shine

•   Sow ... Reap ... Rejoice (John 4:36)

•  Let the Whole World Know

•   You Are My Witnesses (Acts 1:8)

 

 

 

Setting the Budget

When requesting funds from the church board for your budget, consider the following:

            Speaker expenses:  Travel, lodging, meals, baby-sitting.

            Publicity materials:  Programs, bulletin covers, posters, advertising, material for banners, etc.

            Food:  Coffee, tea, drinks, snacks, meals

            Miscellaneous expenses:  Long-distance phone calls, postage, room rentals

If you invite a missionary, check with them regarding travel and lodging expenses.  It is helpful if you are able to cover these expenses.  Gifts or offerings may be designated for support or travel expenses.

 

Schedule Speakers

The speaker and the topic will largely contribute to the tone of your mission emphasis event.  Contact potential speakers immediately to see if they are available.  You may wish to invite missionaries whom you support or contact the mission agencies to see who is available.

 

Don't overlook members of your own congregation.  Consider missionary candidates, volunteers, or workers within local service and outreach organizations.

 

You can contact the Wisconsin Northern Michigan Ministries Network to obtain possible speakers besides the missionaries who are currently home on furlough.  715.258.8118 or check out this link:  http://202060.org/index.php/2012-09-24-14-41-01/ininerating-w-m

 

After the program has been designed, contact the speakers or missionaries to confirm all arrangements. Ask if the speaker requires any special equipment for his or her presentation.

 

Sample Schedule

The following is a sample schedule that was used to raise mission awareness in their community’s congregations.

 

Notice that the churches scheduled at least one activity that would be of interest to each church group.  A good combination of low key and highly organized events at different times of the day enabled many people to attend.

Wednesday

                        10 am Coffee Break Women’s Fellowship - Story Hour with a visit from missionary

                         7 pm Worship Service with the missionary/missionary spouse

Thursday

                        10 am Worship service with the missionaries at another retirement home

Friday

                         9 am Mission presentation at local high school by missionaries

Saturday

                         8 am Men's Breakfast with Skype conference call

                         6 pm A combined church meal with ethnic foods and missions speaker

Sunday

                        10 am Worship service with guest speakers or missionary

 

 

Motivating Programs

When planning your event, pray for the Lord's guidance. Then brainstorm about the kinds of activities you might include in your schedule of events.  Schedule the program of your event so that it will accomplish the goals identified earlier. Establish a preliminary schedule and be sure to include children in your plans.  Here are some activity ideas to get you started:

Ten Program Ideas for a Lively Missions Emphasis Event

1.        Invite mission workers to preach or introduce themselves at Sunday worship services. Include visual aids such as a related banner, flags, artifacts, or a slide program.

2.        Incorporate the mission emphasis event Scripture passage.  Use a Bible concordance to find passages related to your text.  Thread your theme through the children's message as well.  Remember to use visual aids.

3.        Plan special music that fits your mission theme.  Weave together familiar hymns and praise and worship songs that are easy to learn and sing.

4.        Arrange for worship leaders, praise teams, or musicians to help lead worship during the various events.

5.        Ask those involved with a particular event or other interested church members to join you for prayer before each event.  Pray for the Lord's blessing and that each person attending will be touched powerfully by God's Spirit.

6.        Develop a daily devotional guide to be used throughout the weeks or days of your mission emphasis event.  A gifted person in your congregation may be willing to write this guide.  Try to incorporate all of the missionaries that your church is currently supporting.

7.        There are artistically gifted people in every church!  Ask them to direct a drama.  Check your local Christian bookstore or online for suitable scripts.  Go one step further and ask the youth in your church to write the script and be the actors.

8.        Involve children in your time of missions emphasis.  For instance, provide time for crafts, poster contests, map-making, puppet shows, and storytelling.

9.        Ask missionaries, pastors, and gifted members to lead seminars on missions and evangelism.  Where appropriate, ask missionary teens to talk to teens, groups or the church-school children.

10.    With a few church families, meet informally at home with your missionary.  Getting to know your missionary can be a rewarding experience that results in a lifetime of friendship!

 

 

For the Adventurous...

If your congregation has had mission emphasis events for several years, you may be looking for some new ways to present the mission message.  Consider these ideas to pump new vigor into your church's passion for missions.

            Organize a theme night to teach the congregation about a specific mission in your church.  Use costumes, videos, and artifacts to educate about a particular geographic region.

            Utilize modern technology by connecting a missionary live to your congregation on a speaker phone or Skype during a special event or worship service!

            Act out a drama set in the country or city where a missionary is serving.  Write the missionary and ask for information about food, culture, current events, and other items of interest.  Members could also write and perform the skit based on information from the missionary's newsletters.  Give a video-taped copy of the drama as a gift to your missionary.

            Plan a community-wide missions emphasis week or invite several evangelical churches nearby to join you in a combined program.  This way, you can share expenses and give mission workers the opportunity to speak to several congregations at once.  Either begin or end your week with a mass meeting for all the participating congregations.

            Plan a church talent night with music and drama.  Use a theme such as "Develop Your Gifts for Ministry" to reinforce your congregation's commitment.  This may spur on members to attend a missions workshop or volunteer on an overseas work team.  Consider giving awards for different areas of talent.

            Highlight volunteer opportunities during a worship service or special event.  Contact mission agencies and local ministries for displays and volunteer opportunities to promote.  Recognize people that already volunteer by highlighting the ways in which they serve.

 

Reserve the Right Facilities

Decide what kind of facilities you will need for each part of your program and how much space is required.  What special sound equipment will you require? What seating arrangements would you like?  After consulting with the food team about their needs, make the reservations.  Arrange, for a team of volunteers to help you set up any tables or chairs, do the dishes, and cleanup. You may wish to arrange for nursery facilities and attendants too.  If required, arrange for audio-visual equipment such as video projector and sound system operation.

 

 

The Drawing Factor...Food

One of the most effective ways to have a good turnout for your event is to use food as a drawing factor. Build in a communications loop between the program and food teams so that no details are missed.

The food team can recruit volunteers as needed to accomplish their goals.  At least one person on the food team should have experience with planning meals for large groups.

 

 

Good Food, Good Fun, Great Missions!

Here are a few ideas for using food to draw a crowd:

            For summer events, plan an ice cream or strawberry social on a Sunday afternoon. Set up mission displays and play some missions-related games.

            Invite a small group or a family to host a missionary family or short-term missionary volunteer for an afternoon or evening, a meeting or a meal.

            Host a pancake breakfast or brunch for men, women, or the whole family.  Ask a ministry worker to share about his or her work. Enjoy the fellowship!

            Host a hunger awareness meal.

            Plan an international potluck where participants are encouraged to bring foods from many different countries (i.e. Italian, Mexican, Asian, Dutch, etc.). Or focus your dinner on a particular geographic region and choose foods that are commonly eaten there.

            After an evening potluck, divide into small groups to hear a mission presentation. Rotate the schedule so that church members can hear the presentations of several mission workers.

 

Don't Let the Food Get Cold!

Want to speed up your buffet lines? Ask people to place their food contributions on the table in front of their place settings.  Divide the rows of tables into groups of two.  The people sitting on the inside of each pair of tables walk clockwise around the inside while serving themselves.  The people on the outside walk clockwise around the outside of the tables.  All people are being served at one time and are finished serving and eating at the same time. For second helpings, people are invited to explore any of the tables. This avoids long lines and shortens the time needed for eating.

 

Making a Checklist

Along with the full congregational events, assess and arrange the food requirements for the smaller gatherings.

 

1.        Which events need food or refreshments?

2.        What facilities are needed to prepare and serve the food?  Forward your requirements to the program team.

3.        Who is in charge of the food for each event?

4.        What food is needed?

5.        Who is responsible for table settings and decorations?

 

 

Publicity How-To’s

The attendance at your mission emphasis event depends greatly on how well you promote it.

 

 

Start early!

Let people know what your plans are as soon as you can. It can take up to seven advertisements before the date and announcements begin to sink in.

 

            The starting point for all of the publicity that follows is determining a theme.  Display the theme on banners, bulletin boards, flyers, bulletin covers, brochures, and other promotional resources.  To get ideas, contact the denominational missions agencies for samples.  Look over back issues of missions brochures and other resources for visually appealing ways to make your event stand out.  Be bold and use lots of color!

            Contact your missionary well in advance for country or ministry facts and prayer requests.  Set up a display area containing enlarged photographs, artifacts, brochures maps, etc.

            Create a banner for your event, hang it at the front of the sanctuary two to three weeks before your event.  Have an explanation printed in the bulletin with a few quick facts about missions to spark people's interest and curiosity.

            Order missions-related bulletin covers or ask a student or artist to design one for you.  Start writing bulletin announcements about six weeks prior to the event.  The first few announcements should be teasers.  The remaining ones should spell out the five Ws: Who, where, when, why, and what.

            Distribute flyers in the bulletin the week before and the week of the event.  Do not leave them on a table--they will not get read!  List the different activities or events with the phone number of whom to contact for further information.

            Ask an articulate member of the team to make a public announcement the Sunday before the event.

            Contact local radio stations and newspapers and share events that might be of interest to the broader public.  Local news media are always interested in featuring a hometown resident who works abroad.

 

 

Helpful Hints in Brochure Design

1.        Set deadlines for the production and completion of the brochure.

2.        Acquire speakers' pictures and biographical information to profile them in the brochure.

3.        Highlight the schedule of events, speakers, and the goals of your event.

4.        Get copy ready for print at least one week prior to event.