If you’re a person who is interested in mission you’re always on the lookout for news and updates and keen to hear how your mission partners are doing offshore. However, for those who haven’t been bitten by the ‘missions bug’ or are new to your church, it can be hard to engage in the lives and activities of others so far away.
We don’t want mission interest to be restricted to the mission’s team or one special Sunday, we want it to be just as much a part of your church as your children’s ministry or local outreach. Sometimes this means getting a bit creative in the way you integrate your mission partners into the day to day life of our church. Here are a few suggestions that could help:
Ask them to preach or intro communion
For those who are more tech savy and have access to a good internet connection. Thereâ€™s no reason why your mission partner cant be streamed into your Sunday morning service to take part. For those who don’t have ‘Sunday morning friendly’ time zones, messages can be recorded and websites like Dropbox can be utilised to transfer bigger video files.
Include a regular prayer slot each Sunday morning to pray for Mission Partners. Try and get up-to-date prayer requests and consider asking members of the congregation who aren’t usually ‘up front’ to take a turn praying. This will be really encouraging for your mission partner and an opportunity for people to serve in a way they haven’t before.
Social media can be a great tool if used well. Encourage your mission partners to regularly update their personal profiles or ministry pages so that people can be informed and praying. Just bear in mind that some content, for privacy or security reasons, is not appropriate for such a public forum. Don’t forget to encourage your congregation to like or add the mission partner to their profiles and be active responders to things that are posted.
Food is always a great way to bring people together. Where possible research the food and customs of your mission partners serving country and organise a youth event or shared meal around them. You always feel more connected to something when you learn through experience. Make it fun and engaging and be sure to take a few photos and videos to show your mission partner.
Instead of having updates in the church newsletter, consider asking your mission partner to take a short video giving updates and showing the church where they live/serve. Make sure they are 3-5mins long and have good sound and lighting for maximum impact. And of course, encourage your church to send some in return. Never underestimate how nice it is to feel remembered and connected when serving off-shore.
Physical mail, hand written notes and tastes of home are so special at any time but even more so when you are far away from your friends, family and sending country. Don’t make this a laborious task, ask homegroups to put their hand up to send one a year, perhaps even give them a few suggestions of what to include and offer to post it for them. But just be sure to check that it won’t cost your mission partner in local tax to receive a package. If this is the case be sure to only send notes and cards.
Ask proactive individuals or home groups to adopt a mission partner. Ask them to invest in building a relationship and providing your mission partner with pastoral care year-round. These people can also be your first port of call to fill practical and pastoral needs when a mission partner returns home.
Charlie Shadbolt | GC3 Youth Director