Last week’s “Back Page” editorial shared my experience with a megachurch in North Carolina. I mentioned that I was extremely “upbeat” about the future of missions, in view of that church’s enthusiasm and action. Following that editorial, we received this note from a missions minister at another megachurch, this one being in the Mid-south: “I really enjoyed your article on upbeat about missions. It is a great word at a critical time for missions in view of economy and budgets(global, US, church and individual). To the matter at hand. We have an annual Missions Expo/conference here every February. We bring in 50 to 60 missionaries/organizations in for this 2 week event. It is helpful to missionaries and shows our church body all that we are involved in as well as all the opportunities out there for them. The event is much like a fair, with each group having a both that our folks can go by a visit. We will have one Sunday that our Pastor will give us for Missions emphasis form the pulpit. I am looking for anything(large or small) that would help or cause our folks to get excited about missions. To get out of the church and on the street/field. I was wondering if you have seen or done anything recently that God has used to put a passion in the hearts of people. I am thinking anything from a promotional piece, drama, song, teaching or word from the Lord.”

I realize that this church’s request could be viewed as somewhat of a general question. Essentially, it almost sounds like, “How do we help our church become really upbeat about missions?” But as I thought about it — that’s really a fair question. What are some of the best state-of-the-art tools for doing exactly that? We’re not looking for gimics here. In fact, just the opposite. Having tried missions fairs for several years… having struggled to *personalize* missions, this congregation is seeking true, deep-seated mobilization. Our quest is to help them — and many others — truly *transform* their church body into a missions-active group. What are the secrets to make that real? How would you answer the request? I explained to the church that we could turn their question into this week’s BackPage editorial and they were intrigued by the idea. Now — would you please help me give them something of an answer? Please remember, when you click “comment” below, feel free to do so “anonymously” if you desire… and by all means, you don’t have to give your email address here on the web with our response software. But please *do* identify the URL, address or phone number of any resource that you mention. Let’s see if we can’t give them some practical ideas for building their church into a house of prayer for the nations. Thanks for any tip, idea, or resource you might share.

I’ll start the discussion with 3 sample keys that seem to be helping us lately with waking up churches… and giving them something more than a mere one-Sunday emotional “Missions high.” There are certainly more keys than these… but these 3 should get us started.

*** Center the event(s) around prayer — There’s an undeniable link between missions, the unreached, and prayer. Yesterday I spoke on missions to a group of 3rd and 4th-graders at a near-Mega-church. The passage I focused on seemed to hit home with them: Matthew 9:35-38. When these young people heard how much Jesus cared for the unreached of his day (that he had compassion for them), and when they heard the words that Jesus used to describe them (animal husbandry words.. “harassed”, which was a word that described an animal whose skin had been ripped off, and “helpless”, which was a word that would be used of an animal with a badly broken leg), these young people were sobered by the importance of prayer (to ask the Lord to raise up workers for the harvest fields), as well as the immediate *answer* to prayer (that the disciples ended up becoming recruits themselves — see chapter 10. No matter what the age, people seem capable of understanding that they can already *pray* for the unreached. We need to work hard at helping them see that their prayers make a *difference* for the lost. Either way, it’s truthful and it’s effective.

*** Focus the event around some kind of action step — For me, the easiest way to do this is to help the church fully embrace the vision of taking personal responsibility for launching a new work among some unreached people group. Let’s face it: congregations get excited about doing something tangible, especially when they truly understand that virutally nobody else is tackling a particular project. Well guess what: these ‘unreached’ people groups are that way (‘unreached’) because virtually nobody else has paid attention to them yet. They are, in Dr. Winter’s words, *hidden*. Well… let’s pull off the sheets and expose the need… then connect the need to tangible *action*. Make sure the psychological distance isn’t too great between the event and the action step. At least for people in *this* homeland (the USA), it seems there has to be a fairly quick action step. Your homeland might be different.

*** Involve the preaching minister(s) — One of the most exciting projects we’re facilitating is a megachurch here in Louisville in which the senior preaching guy and the associate preaching guy are *both* going on the unreached people vision trip. Talk about potential. Can you imagine both the *congregation* (as they worry about their two beloved pulpit men) and the preaching ministers themselves (as they acquire more illustrations and imagery than they ever dreamed)? But for this to really work, you have to somehow get these pastors on board. That’s the subject of an another entire “Back Page.” :-) All I know is, without their involvement, you’re facing an uphill battle. It’s not impossible: It’s just *harder*.

So there are 3 keys to prime the pump. Now — what’s *your* experience on this challenge?


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