I often hear pastors say, “My people just will not come out for mission conferences.” I understand mission conferences are not the easiest meetings to promote; however, if a church is to develop a good, well-rounded missions program, it is absolutely imperative that they have an annual missions conference. Let me give you three examples that may encourage you to start and aggressively promote an annual missions conference.
In April, I was with the Temple Baptist Church in Herndon, Virginia, for their twenty-second annual missions conference. It was probably the most exciting and most well-attended meeting of that great church, but it was not always that way. It took the church a few years to really get the conference to be what the pastor desired. The first three years I preached their missions conference we did not see a lot of great things, but a foundation was being laid. For the past fifteen years, Temple Baptist Church has had a great impact on world evangelism. The church has several families on the mission fields of the world. They consistently give over $400,000 a year for missions. The missionaries leave that conference greatly encouraged and well provided for.
The very next week, I was with the Valley Forge Baptist Temple. Pastor Scott Wendal was used of God to plant that church twenty-five years ago. I preached their first missions conference in 1990. The faith promise was approximately $20,000. This year the faith promise was $520,000. They had five missionary families in the conference, and the church gave them many unbelievable gifts. The church immediately began financial and prayer support for each of the five families. The church building was practically filled to capacity every night during the conference. This church also has several families serving on mission fields around the world.
In my home church, Lancaster Baptist, we have a wonderful missions conference each year. The first time I preached in this conference was 1991. At that time the church was supporting three missionaries at about $50 per month. We are now supporting over 200 missionaries, and the church has given over a million dollars per year for missions during the last two years.
We usually have about twenty missionary families in the conference, and all of the missionaries who are invited to the conference receive monthly financial support as well as the prayer support of our members. The conference is well-promoted, and there is always an excellent attendance. We now serve as the sending church for over ten missionary families.
Many churches feel that they have a good missions program simply because they are doing something for missions. But think how much you could do if your people were challenged to get totally involved in God’s plan. I have noticed that as people are challenged to get involved in praying for and giving to missions, many of them are called to the mission field. When you begin to send out your own missionaries, missions really comes alive in your church. Faith promise giving and an annual missions conference will not detract from your church, but will add a whole new dimension.