By John M Galyen
Since its inception, the church has been focused on outward expansion. We seek to win people to Christ, not just to have bigger churches or more volunteers for ministry, but because we serve a missionary God who is in the sending business. God sent his Son to redeem us and provide a relationship with himself. Now he sends the Church to spread the good news of Jesus Christ to a world in desperate need of a Savior.
The local church is charged with the responsibility of spreading the gospel both locally and globally. For many churches and church leaders this may seem like an impossible task. How can a small church is Arkansas, or Missouri, or Kentucky reach the world with the gospel? Obviously, no church can single-handedly reach the world, but we each have a part to play in God’s plan to redeem every nation, tribe, and tongue. As a pastor, I want to make sure my church is engaged in local ministry, but I also want to lead them to give to, pray for, and go to all nations because this is what we are called to do. There are at least eight ways church leaders can encourage their churches to maintain this missional focus.
Pastors have a tremendous opportunity to influence their church’s understanding of missions. You might consider having an annual “Missions Day” at your church where the entire service, including the sermon, is focused on informing and challenging the congregation to live a missional life. If you are the pastor, either prepare a message that speaks to the Church’s calling to share the gospel, or invite a GBIM staff member to come talk to your church about how they can get involved in international missions.
2. Promote Mission Opportunities
When is the last time you publicized General Baptist mission opportunities in your church? General Baptists provide numerous opportunities for mission involvement throughout the year. The Mission Volunteer Program (MVP) plans trips to countries like Mexico, Honduras, the Philippines, and India, among others. You can learn about these opportunities from the weekly Leadership Team emails, The Messenger, or by contacting GBIM. Promoting these trips provides church members with valuable information, but also gives them the sense that they can become personally involved in what General Baptists are doing around the world.
As people from your church take advantage of these MVP opportunities, you will want to provide them the chance to share their experiences. One of the greatest advertisements for missions in the local church is a testimony from someone who has “been there and done that.” Hearing from a fellow church member who just got back from a trip where she worked in a clinic and shared gospel with people in another context can be a very impactful way to remind people of our Great Commission calling. A testimony service is also a great way to glorify God and let the church know what the team members did while on the mission field. It can be a fantastic way to remind the church that missions are an important part of your church culture.
Prayer is an important part of our worship. As we gather from Sunday to Sunday, one way to help people stay focused on the Church’s mission is to include a time of prayer that focuses on a person, country, or people group that needs to hear the good news. You could spend a little time doing this each Sunday, or set aside a special prayer time monthly or quarterly. If your church is sponsoring a GB missionary, do more than just mail in your check. Take time to pray from them and the work God has called them to do. You can even make your people aware of Operation World or joshuaproject.net so they can pray for foreign nations during their personal quiet time.
John is the pastor of Leigh’s Chapel in Greenville, Kentucky, where he has served for the past 8 years. Check back on Thursday for Part 2 of his article on the Church’s mission.