W. Austin Gardner
Mission’s Conference Ideas
The following are just ideas that I have gleaned along the way as I visit churches, talk with pastors and missionaries. I by no means want to imply that all of these should be put into place in every church. I am also sure that many of you may have other ideas that I have not added to this list. If you will send them to me I will be glad to add them to this list.
Provide name tags for the missionaries with the name of their country, mission board etc.. but also provide the same type of tag for the deacons, pastor, staff members etc. so that the missionary will also be able to know who people are. Use a different format for church people—Example: use flag for missionary and church logo for church people.
Involve the people of the church by having them take different missionary families out to eat or have them eat in their homes, sleep in their homes, etc.. Get as many people involved spending time with the missionary that you can.
Each evening have a joint meal with different people from the church, one night with the deacons, pastor and staff. Another night with the entire church. Be sure to instruct the missionaries and the church people that they are not to be with the other missionaries or their friends but with the people so that the church people will really get to know them.
Pass out a photograph and biographical sketch about each missionary a few weeks before the conference, especially to the Sunday School classes where you will have the missionary teaching.
Have a video or slide update each year about all that your church and their mission dollar is doing around the world.
Have a missionary teacher in every Sunday School class.
Plan activity time with the missionaries and be sure to include different church people in everything. The more people that are involved the more they will know the missionaries and be concerned about them. Golf, bowling, shopping, etc. Be sure to give the missionary the option. Your concern is to meet the needs of the missionary family. Some may need time away from the children (after all they may have spent hours or days traveling in the car all cooped up). Others may need to rest or catch up on correspondence. Be sure not to make them feel any pressure.
Prepare a special missionary passport for the children that they can take with them to the display that each missionary has set up during the conference. They will then get the passport stamped like one does going to another country. This will give the child a chance to meet the missionary and also have a special keepsake from the conference. Not a bad idea to have them find out some special information about the missionary that will cause them to have to converse with the missionary.
Be sure to correspond well with the missionary before the conference. Let them know when to arrive, directions to the church, what you expect from them, where they will be staying, etc.
Have a host family for each missionary who will be responsible for them and be in contact with them to meet their needs or answer questions.
A suggestion from an ex-missionary, have fewer missionaries so that you can support for a larger amount. $100 should probably be considered minimum support today. This would help the missionary get to the field much more quickly without running themselves ragged on the deputation trail.
Put up an eternity light that blinks a couple of times a second to remind them that each time the light flashes someone else dies and goes to hell. Be sure to put up a sign reminding people of how many people are dying with out the Lord Jesus Christ. Right now you can safely say that over 106 people go into eternity every minute and at least 90 of them will have died without Christ and gone to an eternal hell. The world statistics show that about 35% of the world calls itself "Christian". Of those how many truly know Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. Have the light turn on an off on minute intervals with a similar note there or even every 5, 10, or 15 minutes. Just adjust the death rate by the minute. Right now 1.9 people die somewhere in the world every second.
Put up famous missionary sayings and challenges on the wall.
One church gives 1% of their offerings to each of the missionaries who are members of their church on a quarterly basis. Home churches should consider giving at least 10% of the needed monthly support to missionaries out of their own church.
Be sure to put up lots of maps, flags, globes, and statistics to let people get a world vision.
Be sure to have your most lively missionaries spend special time with the teenagers and young adults that God might work with them and call them to be missionaries. Use the missionaries that God is already using on the field so that they will be challenged and motivated to do something with their lives.
Develop a personal type of questionnaire (interview sheet should be prepared before hand) sort of like “This is your life” and then reward the people for getting the information from the different missionaries. Anything you can do to encourage interaction with the missionaries will be a blessing to your people. Questions such as –favorite verse, signature, birthday, wedding anniversary, home church, favorite food and other interesting questions.
Have missionary speakers in your mission’s conference. Let the people meet real missionaries and spend time with them. Have a couple of missionary testimonies 10-20 minutes and then a missionary message to end each evening.
Make preparations for the conference at least a month prior to the meeting. Have special prayer meetings. Plan special music. Treat your conference more like you would a revival than a money-raising week.
Make sure pastor and key leaders are excited about world evangelism and have a good attitude. The success or failure of your mission’s conference, as in all other activities, will rise or fall according to the leadership. If the pastor and leaders are not excited and wanting to see what God is going to do then the people will not be excited either.
Choose your missionaries carefully. The quality of missionary you have will determine how excited your people will be about missions.
Have a missionary birthday party. A number of people are assigned to spend up to $25 on requests that the missionary has sent in. The people buy these gifts and when the missionary arrives they have a specific night to have the missionary party and give the gifts.
Set aside a portion of your faith promise budget to take care of the expenses of your mission’s conference so that it is not a heavy burden on the church during the week of the conference. Be sure to plan and prepare ahead of time so that you will be able to give a good love offering to each missionary that will cover their expenses and be an offering.
When figuring how much to give as a love offering please remember the miles traveled (car and gas expense), hours on the road, amount of time that they will be in your church (especially if they will miss opportunities to be in other churches) and meals that had to be eaten on the road.
Have a parade of the flags that represent the different countries where you have missionaries. This can be done at the start of the conference and let your folks feel the weight and influence that your church is having around the world.
Use your flags to decorate your church. Place them on beautiful flag poles and stand them along the wall behind the choir so that all year round your people are reminded of your faith promise commitment to get the gospel around the world.
Prepare a Prayer Guide booklet for your people. This is a booklet that will have a listing of all your missionaries, their contact information, their prayer requests, interesting facts about their ministry and the country, and any other pertinent information you might find interesting. I first saw this at Fairwinds Baptist Church in Bear, Delaware. They have a picture of each family, their sending church, their mission board, birth dates, anniversary, email, web page, mailing address, prayer requests, the country flag, present activities, interesting facts, etc. The booklet also contains a letter from the pastor. This is an exciting way the folks can see how their Faith Promise Mission's money is being spent. The following is what Pastor Carlo DeStefano put in his prayer booklet there in Fairwinds Baptist Church: "Charles Malik, Lebanese ambassador to the United Nations, asked in a speech: "What has been the greatest American contribution to the rest of the world?" Has it been money? Has it been food?" Has it been medical skill? Has it been military might? Has it been industrial know how?" Then he answered, "The greatest thing to come out of America has been the American missionary effort: The quiet , selfless men and women who have left the comfort and security of their homeland to bring the Gospel of Christianity to less favored nations."We hear about churches that are "mission-minded." Fairwinds Baptist Church does not have a mission's program, WE ARE A MISSIONS PROGRAM! Spreading the Good News of the Gospel throughout the world is the mission of Fairwinds Baptist Church. It is our total thrust from the cradle through the senior saint; the pew to the pulpit.During the Battle of Britain in the summer of 1940 Winston Churchill said of the brave men of the Royal Air Force, "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few." A similar statement could be made concerning our missionaries. Compared to the larger body of Christians who are content to remain at home, our missionary force represents but a small, almost insignificant percentage of the whole. Yet, millions around the world have a hope of Heaven because of the sacrificial ministry of these frequently forgotten heroes of the faith. They leave the comfort for their friends, and the often-superior conditions of this country to preach the gospel to those who might not ever otherwise hear.IN the pages to follow you will find the "Heroes of Faith" that we here at Fairwinds Baptist Church support through Faith Promise Missions. Let's use this book to remind us of them and their need of our prayer and financial support. When they get to Heaven the Lord will greet them with these words, "Well done thou good and faithful servant."
In a missions conference in Newport, North Carolina with Pastor Clyde Eborn we had the privilege of visiting the local public school to share cross cultural ideas with the students. For many years their church has been going to the public school system. Sure they have to be careful not to try to mix religion in with the public school but they tell what it is like living in a different country, speak a little of language, teach the children to be thankful for their country and their family. We had a delightful time and I believe that it is something that could be done in more schools if we would just step up and try. We also participated in a similar experiment in Elkton, South Dakota.
Call a missionary each week or even monthly on a speaker phone and have him lead in the opening prayer in the service and also give a brief update of his work from the field. This will help your people to better think about and pray for your missionaries. It will be very special to the missionary also.
If at all possible put your missionaries in a nice motel rather than homes. Many missionaries have found themselves in compromising situations or uncomfortable accomodations.