Financially and prayerfully supporting worldwide missions is not just a commandment for North American churches—it is a commandment for every local church in the entire world.
When our family had the opportunity to travel on deputation nine years ago, we were blessed to be in one hundred twenty GREAT churches in fifteen months. We were able to experience being a guest missionary in missions conferences and services. It was a wonderful experience and humbling to be entrusted with taking the gospel to other parts of the world on behalf of those sacrificially giving in each church that supports us.
Now I am the missionary pastor of a young church; and I get to experience the missions conference, special love offerings, and doing things for the missionaries from the pastor and local church perspective. As much fun as deputation was, it is so much better getting to host missionaries and getting behind them financially and prayerfully as they take the gospel around the world.
Our church is similar to many churches: we have lots of new Christians and some that have been saved for a while. Our church is currently supporting five missionary families at $100 each. That doesn’t seem like a lot on some budgets, but it is about 25% of our church budget where the average wage in our area is about $250 per month. We have implemented the plan of giving through faith promise, through the local church.
When we have our annual missions conference, we pay ALL traveling expenses for the missionary families attending, give a generous love offering, and try to give a special gift to the missionary’s wife and children. It is amazing to see what the Lord is doing through a small, but faithful group of believers. I feel that many church plants wait entirely too long to make missions an emphasis and focus in the church body. Some missionaries have been able to establish a church, but have not established a missions program. Our job as local churches is not to build a surplus, or even a large church; our job is to fulfill the Great Commission, taking the gospel around the entire world and then baptizing and teaching those who get saved.
I believe that biblically, every church should be supporting missions around the world, as well as planting other churches closer to home. We take great pride in being a “local church,” and that is great; but our outreach should be so much more than the neighborhoods inside of our city. There are millions of people waiting to hear the gospel. Who will tell them?
Sending out missionaries is not just the work of North America, but rather every single local church around the world. Imagine what would happen if every Baptist church in the world took on a new missionary family each year and helped plant another local church every 3–5 years. Obviously the result would be exponential growth of the Word of God reaching around the world. It would be similar to how the church grew during the time of the New Testament.
I grew up in the USA, which is a long way from Jerusalem. But I heard the gospel as a child because of the effectiveness of worldwide missions. Praise the Lord for how the United States has been used in recent years to help send the gospel around the world, but each church in every country has the same responsibility to be a sending church.
Here are some practical ideas that we use to help our church be excited about missions, missionaries, and missions giving.
- Preach about missions.
- Pray specifically for each missionary family we support—we do this during our mid-week service.
- Invite missionaries who are doing something for the Lord, and keep the church up to date on what they are doing and the difference being made.
- Have an annual missions conference—make it big.
- Have a couple of mission emphasis Sundays each year: maybe a video call with a supporting missionary during the service or a guest preacher with the focus of keeping the people excited and thinking about missions.
- Send birthday cards to each family member of the missionaries.
- Allow the kids’ classes to participate in making special gifts and cards for the missionaries.
- Have room for display tables and create visiting time with the missionaries when they are visiting.
- Have a special offering that goes on for a couple of months leading up to Christmas. We do a coin offering trying to fill a 5 gallon jug. We then send a Christmas bonus to each missionary family (normally more than, and in addition to, their normal support).
- Help people get involved in local soulwinning, and connect that with what missionaries are doing in other places.
- Treat your missionaries first class when visiting, and allow many people to be involved with the details of taking care of them: lodging, gift baskets, special meals, etc.
- Schedule “down time” when they can just be people and enjoy fellowship and fun activities.
- Love people. This includes your local church, the surrounding area, missionaries, and the whole world in need of the gospel.
I praise the Lord for allowing me to begin participating in faith promise missions giving since I was nine years old, and then calling me to be a missionary during a missions conference in the local church where I grew up. It has been a wonderful journey, and I cannot wait to see how many more people will have the same opportunity to serve the Lord because of the focus on missions in their local churches.