Missionaries have different ways they like to present their work. I believe the most effective way to do this is through your preaching.
Probably many of the missionaries reading this have never seen a slide show. That is what we used back when I did my deputation. That was in the age of dinosaurs.
When we were on deputation I didn’t show slides a lot even though I think we had a good slide program. The reason is simple. Over and over I’ve heard preachers say, “Our people aren’t concerned with how well missionaries show slides. They’re interested in his preaching.” They want to know if he can win sinners to Christ through his preaching and challenge Christians to work. Once you come back from the field as a veteran missionary, people are very interested to see your work. Videos are more effective when you come back as a veteran missionary.
New missionaries should have a good video that will touch the hearts of those who view it. Your mission board will be able to give you some good ideas. Watch missionary presentations and study the best ones.
Sometimes I wouldn’t say a lot about our plans for the Philippines. I would just get up and preach on soulwinning or challenge the people to serve the Lord. If you motivate the people in churches you visit to be soulwinners and servants of God, they will in turn be burdened for your work.
There is one exception. If the pastor asks you to give your testimony or show your video you ought to do just that. Sometimes he’ll have you do that, then he will preach himself. In that case, it wouldn’t be good for you to preach if he wants you to give a testimony. If he tells you to give a five or ten minute testimony, do just that. But, if he asks you to preach—preach!
Here are a few suggestions:
1. Preach from the Heart
Let your message come from your heart to their heart. In other words, ask the Holy Spirit to use you to burden the people you speak to about the subject on which you are preaching.
2. Preach on Soulwinning in Every Church
This doesn’t mean that every sermon should be entirely on soulwinning. However, I personally feel it is best to devote at least a part of your sermon to challenge the people to be soulwinners. The way to do this indirectly is by using personal illustrations of people you have won to the Lord. People will subconsciously realize that you are actively winning souls which is very important. Of course, you also ought to let the people know you are a soulwinner by arriving at their church early and going out soulwinning.
In your sermon you should tell about people you have won to Christ on the field, in the local church you used to attend before you started deputation, and souls you’ve won during deputation.
I’ve heard many preachers say, “If you don’t win souls here in America, you won’t win souls on the field.” Often as missionaries we say, “Amen,” to that yet we do not ourselves consistently win souls while we are on deputation. What a great opportunity to win souls! You always have new cities where you can go soulwinning! You have plenty of time and prospects to do what you say you are going to do once you reach the field. Yet, some missionaries go to a church and never volunteer to go soulwinning and never lead anyone to Christ on visitation.
3. Challenge the People
When I am on deputation, I usually preach sermons that challenge people to do something. Challenge people to serve the Lord in their church. Challenge the people to give everything they have to Christ. Try to stir the people to do something for God.
4. Stop on Time
The pastor is the overseer of the church and the one responsible to God for his church. As a visiting preacher you should do what he says. If he asks you to preach for thirty minutes, stop before the thirty minutes are up. Never go over the time that the pastor gives you. It is never to your advantage to preach longer than the preacher wants you to, regardless of how good you think your sermon is. Sometimes it will irritate the pastor. Many pastors will say, “Take all the time you need.” If they tell you this, then preach as long as you feel led. Even then, I think it is best not to preach longer than what is usual for that church, unless the Holy Spirit definitely directs you otherwise.
The same holds true when you give a testimony. Never go over the time he gives you regardless of what you feel your testimony will do to burden the people. I’d rather be obedient to the pastor and have him on my side than to go against the pastor’s wishes and try to accomplish any good it might do to speak longer.
5. Give it Everything You’ve Got Every Time You Preach
Don’t let your preaching become a routine. We ought to preach every sermon like it was our last.
6. Use the Language of the People
By that I mean try to speak on their level. Don’t try to speak above their heads. (I couldn’t anyway!)
Speak so the children will understand and listen. Speak so people will think of you as a friend of theirs because you don’t try to use a different vocabulary when you preach than when you talk.
7. When You Preach—PREACH! Don’t Talk!
Use the common language of the people, but don’t just stand up and talk. Don’t be afraid to preach against sin. Don’t be easy on everyone. Many missionaries feel if they are always nice in their preaching and never step on any toes they will get support. This usually isn’t true.
If you are preaching on soulwinning make the people who are there and don’t go soulwinning feel uncomfortable. The way you win them over to your side is by using humor and stories that touch their hearts. If you do both you’ll let the people know you preach against sin but at the same time you have a heart for people and a sense of humor. It is important to have both.
8. Keep the Attention of the People
Some of the best preachers I know are missionaries. However, one common complaint I hear about some missionaries is that they are dry and boring.
You can keep the interest of people if you work on it. Of course, some audiences are harder to interest than others. The way to become interesting is through the use of humor and personal illustrations and by putting your heart in your message.