Saturday, May 15, 2010

Marks of a Fantastic Missions Conference Pt. 3

I believe that this mark of a fantastic missions conference could be the most important, outside of having the power of God upon the conference. A third and very crucial mark of a fantastic missions conference is connection between the people of the church and the missionaries. I believe the key in seeing this accomplished can be summed up in one word: time. If the people do not have time to get to know the missionaries, then they will not get to know them.

This begs the question, "Why is it so important for the people to have a connection with the missionaries?" Here are a few thoughts.

1. The best picture of missions for the people of a local church is the missionaries themselves. When people have the opportunity to get to know missionaries on a personal level, missions ceases to be an abstract idea, and becomes a personal involvement. I believe that some of the most missions-giving churches are those churches that have a missions conference in which the people have plenty of opportunities to get to know the missionaries.

2. When the people of the church and the missionaries establish a good connection at a missions conference, the also establish a good prayer base, and this is a two-way street. Not only are the people better equipped to pray for the missionaries (because the missionaries are no longer just faces on a prayer card, but real people with real needs), but the missionaries are better equipped to pray for the church.

3. The more time the missionaries have with the people, the better the opportunity is for the missionaries to make an impact on the church- especially on the young people of the church. *On a side note, I believe it is vitally important to expose the teenagers to every missionary that comes through the doors of the church. If a missionary is just in for a Wednesday night service, it would be great if the teenagers could come and see the missions presentation before going to the teen service.

4. Having been in a few meetings in which a good connection was not made between the people and the missionaries, I can tell you that in those situations the entire atmosphere of the conference is a bit insipid. In order for an exciting, vibrant atmosphere to be present in the missions conference, there must be ample opportunity for the people of the church and the missionaries to establish a solid connection.

There are many venues that provide great opportunities for the missionaries and the church members to get acquainted and build solid friendships. Having a meal before each service that is open to all who want to attend is a great opportunity. Strongly encouraging the people to visit each display both before and after the services can also be rewarding. Allowing the missionaries to be a part of the various Sunday school classes on Sunday morning can be very beneficial. If at all possible, having all the missionaries in for the entirety of the conference, as opposed to having each family in for one night only, is the best way for the people to get to know the missionaries.

These are just some thoughts.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Marks of a Fantastic Missions Conference Pt. 2

After discussing this topic with my wife, we came to the conclusion that another mark of a fantastic missions conference is organization. While great missions conferences may vary in different areas, one area they all have in common is that they are organized.

On several occasions, I have received a letter, an email, or a packet over a month before the conference began that gave the schedule of the conference (what time to arrive, where to meet, what night I was presenting our ministry, activities, etc.). It is difficult to put into words what that does to the heart of a missionary! It builds a spirit of anticipation within my heart, and it sends me the message that this church is serious about missions, and that they are eagerly anticipating our arrival. It shows that the missions conference is not just being thrown together at the last minute.

I am not suggesting that a church that does not send the schedule to the missionaries in advance is an unorganized church. We have been a part of some great conferences that did not send the schedule in advance; but they did have a schedule!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Marks of a Fantastic Missions Conference

We have had the opportunity to be in numerous missions conferences over the past eight months. I want to use the next few entries into this blog to discuss some common characteristics that I have found present in those missions conferences that were fantastic, not just mediocre.

Characteristic #1: There is an evident spirit of anticipation amongst the pastor and the people.

You can just sense it! From the moment we step out of the van and shake that first person's hand, whether it be the pastor, a staff member, or a lay person, a spirit of anticipation and excitement is present. Here is the key: this spirit of anticipation and excitement does not happen by accident. It is the result of months of prayer, planning, and promoting.

Pastor, make the missions conference the highlight of the year for your people. If possible, make it several days in duration. When the conference is just a one or two day meeting, it is difficult for the missionaries to get to know you and the people. Hopefully, these missionaries that you invite will be an extension of your church for decades to come, and they will be partners with you in the ministry. The more time you have with them, the stronger that bond will be.

A spirit of anticipation will not be built by simply going through the motions. Begin praying that God will truly empower the conference. Begin planning, and ask God for wisdom in how each day will be scheduled. Finally, begin promoting the missions conference a couple of months in advance, and encourage every member to become a part of reaching the world with the Gospel through his/her faith promise commitment. I believe these steps will help in having a truly fantastic missions conference.