August 2018 | Volume 13 | Issue 8 |
Trust God for More:
Setting goals to expand your church’s global impact
“Unless there is an element of risk in our exploits for God, there is no need for faith.”
What do you believe God wants to accomplish in and through your church’s global outreach in the coming 12 months? As you “lift up your eyes and see that the fields are white for harvest” (Jn. 4:35), this may be an appropriate time to stop and consider how to best manage the valuable “harvesting resources” the Master has entrusted to you (Matt. 25:14-20).
Be courageous and visionary as you take stock of where you are and where God is challenging you to go. But also remember that attempting to change everything at once creates discouragement that defeats forward momentum. Listed below are 20 ideas to stimulate your planning process. We recommend you choose just two or three key goals for the coming year.
Begin by taking time as a missions team to assess the past 12 months. How is your global program more effective now than it was one year ago? Celebrate progress and identify lessons to learn from failures. Then use this list to launch a discussion of next year’s priorities.
1. Develop or revise our missions priorities and strategy. A clear set of priorities and defined ways to engage are key to long-term missions impact in any church. Should this be the year we tackle developing or revising these important guidelines? Nothing has as much potential to increase our impact.
2. Identify our people potential. How could we more accurately identify the people resources God has invested in our church at this particular time, especially areas of greatest untapped potential for global outreach? Should we do a church-wide survey? Ask small-group leaders to tell us about gifts of those in their group? Poll those in new members classes?
3. Map the diversity of our community. Do we know which diaspora people groups are currently represented by residents within the reach of our church? The first step toward reaching the nations among us is finding out who is here and what their needs are. Tradecraft is a great guide.
4. Challenge our people to risk and sacrifice. Should we intentionally create service opportunities where our people are challenged to step out of their comfort zone and/or give at a level of sacrifice? How can our missions team lead by example in these areas?
5. Challenge our youth in missions. There will be at least three major missions conferences across the upcoming Christmas holiday period: The Urbana Conference in St. Louis; the Chinese Missions Conference in Houston, TX; and the CROSS Conference in Louisville, KY. Should we individually recruit young adults to attend one of these events? Should we provide scholarships?
6. Expand our communications capacity, especially the ability to produce high-impact missions videos. Visual communication is the heart of reaching younger generations, so videos are an increasingly essential part of a church’s missions mobilization efforts. Should we recruit a team primarily of young adults to develop a video series that ignites vision for both what God is calling our church to do globally and the exciting ministries we are already involved in?
7. Experiment with new missions giving methods. Many churches are finding that the faith-challenge approach to missions funding is less effective with younger generations. Could we experiment with a different approach? Perhaps a matching gift challenge (would someone in our church, or our missions leadership team as a group, be willing to make a faith-stretching challenge gift?). Or a GoFundMe style online approach? Or a creatively visualized exhibit (such as a giant puzzle of the world or scaled replica of a rocket that moves across the foyer) showing progress toward the goal.
8. Double our prayer impact. What if we set as a goal to generate twice as much global intercession from our congregation this year? How could we measure the current amount of daily or weekly prayer? What would we need to do to challenge and resource children, youth, and adults to invest twice as much time in interceding for global workers and needs?
9. Send new workers. Is God calling us to set a goal to identify a certain number of members who we should ask to consider long-term missions and another group to encourage to move into a short-term assignment? Can we focus prayer on these areas and develop a list of prospects, then schedule a time to talk to each one? Should we introduce or expand our cross-cultural internship opportunities?
10. Sponsor a sermon series. Should we work with our pastor to plan a missions series focused around a particular portion of Scripture? How could we make the pastor’s job easier by providing auxiliary resources that will add impact? What various types of opportunities could we design that would be practical first steps for those who respond to the biblical challenge?
11. Encourage missionaries. What could we do this year to intentionally provide extra encouragement for one or more of our global workers? Schedule a pastoral-care visit? Fund a project? Underwrite additional training for them?
12. Empower missions integration. How could we resource leaders of other ministries in our church to integrate more global engagement in their programs? One church gave each Sunday school class seed money to jumpstart whatever global project they chose. Others fund trips so that various ministry leaders can interface with their peers serving national churches somewhere around the world.
13. Fast-forward one strategic project. Churches often engage in so many different efforts that their investments are stretched thin. Can we choose one especially-strategic undertaking and commit a faith-stretching amount of funds to launch or expand its implementation? What are our criteria for identifying such a project? Should we invite our global workers/partners to submit proposals?
14. Improve our own service. How will our missions leadership team grow our global vision and skills this year? Should we set a goal of how many members of our team will participate in a short-term trip or missionary-care visit to the field this year? Will each of us commit to engage in some personal, cross-cultural ministry that requires getting out of our comfort zone? Should we also commit to reading/listening to and then discussing one or more books or podcasts, or to taking Perspectives or an online missions course offered by a Christian college or seminary?
15. Hit the pause button. Most missions leadership teams are stretched thin just to maintain their current agenda of missions events, short-term trips, and administrative work. Should we put a major task on hold for the coming year in order to focus our time on a long-term strategic activity? What if we didn’t hold a missions conference this year, sent fewer teams, or simplified our budgeting process? That would make time for something like (1) going back to square one and re-envisioning and redesigning one entire aspect of our missions program, (2) launching a strategic local outreach to a diaspora people, or (3) having our whole team take the Perspectives course.
16. Conduct an internal missions audit. Is there someone in our church with strong analytical skills who could help us take a step back to evaluate our entire missions program? Or would the outside viewpoint of a professional missions coach help us see weak spots and strategic areas to redesign?
17. Expand key leaders’ missions ownership. How could we expose our pastoral staff and lay leaders to the exciting things God is doing today? Leaders are more likely to be interested in a missions outreach if they can connect through an area of their passion or expertise. Can we design a specialized global trip or local outreach that engages the sweet spot of at least one or two key leaders who currently are not passionate about missions?
18. Involve more people in missions leadership. What if we created a couple of new missions task force teams, each addressing one specific goal on our list? People are more likely to accept a time-limited assignment than an open-ended role. How could we design the task in a way that attracts younger people to take ownership?
19. Hire a missions coach. Should we invite a nearby missions pastor, or a missions coach from an agency or other mobilization entity, to come and meet with us once per quarter throughout the coming year to assess how our leadership team functions and suggest ways to improve?
20. Bring someone else along. Could each member of our missions leadership team identify at least one opportunity where they could invite a first-timer to engage in a missions outreach alongside them? What might that be?
Jesus’ call to His followers was costly: “‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me’” (Lk. 9:23). If we follow Jesus, we cannot be satisfied with just maintaining the status quo—either personally or as leaders in the body of Christ. How will our missions team trust God for big things for the expansion of His glory among the nations in the coming year?