For two decades within the professional world, Stephen Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” has occupied a privileged space in the self-help canon. And although faithful, biblical churches ought rightly to be suspicious of the latest trends and touted secrets of success in ministry, many church leaders would do well to ask: What can we do within Scriptural parameters to be more effective on our mission?
Of course, nothing spells bloat and inefficiency quite like the word “committee.” Church committees are notoriously logjammed, complacent, and overly democratized. But the urgency of our global mission demands keen, cutting-edge missions program leaders willing to shake things up and do the unexpected to keep the body of Christ on task.
So, to borrow Covey’s phrasing, consider these seven habits of highly effective missions committees:
1. They prioritize encouragement.
High-impact missions committees know that engaging in the ministry of encouragement is key to their charge. Biblical encouragement is more than offering affirming words; it is the act of increasing someone’s spiritual courage, the confidence to do something. An effective missions team ranks emboldening missionaries high atop its list of objectives.
Missionaries are called to walk by faith and do bold works for God. A church’s missions team thus grasps its critical role in encouraging missionaries in their calling.
2. They give sacrificially.
Church leadership—including lay leadership—sets the pace for the church. Generous, faithful, giving (“everyone according to his ability,” Acts 11:29) is arguably the key indicator of a high-impact missions committee. It is naïve to expect a congregation to become a generous, missionary-sending church if the team that manages missions does not lead by example.
3. They create a strategy.
No church sends a missionary by accident. Neither do they increase their missions giving unintentionally. Spiritual inertia tends to keep most churches inwardly-focused until they are compelled into action. Thus, missions must be always be intentionally planned and promoted.
High-impact missions committees think deeply about their strategy. They design trips, financial appeals, conference themes, special speakers, prayer initiatives, and regular communications all as part of an intended goal or outcome. No important task is left to chance; they plan and execute.
4. They pray for missionaries by name.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but for high-impact missions committees, prayer is more than a way to begin or end a meeting. Extended, focused, Spirit-filled prayer for missionaries, by name, is powerful. “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” (James 5:16b ESV).
Prayer not only invites the Lord to bless our work; it also binds the hearts of lay leaders to the workers themselves. It stirs a spirit of genuine, loving generosity and generates compassion, compelling church members to take action.
5. They have a regimented communication cadence.
By now, you’ve picked up on the theme that high-impact teams simply do not leave anything to chance. This is especially true of the church’s communication strategy.
Creating a regular rhythm of communication bonds the church to the missionaries and projects it supports. This might mean scheduling weekly or monthly prayer for an unreached people group in the corporate worship setting, emailing quarterly updates from missionaries to the entire church body, or using pre-recorded videos from overseas workers to bring missionaries into the church announcement time without waiting for furloughs. Whatever tactic you choose, build a communications calendar with your specific goals in mind.
6. They aren’t afraid to ask.
High-impact missions committees have the faith to set aggressive and courageous goals for giving. Hoping and praying are one thing, but churches must not be afraid to make “the ask.”
The body of Christ must sense the urgency of the needs and hear a straightforward plea. Teams bracing for global impact make bold asks. Determine those in the congregation who are gifted to give, and approach them directly with clear opportunities to meet needs.
7. They create captivating visuals.
Finally, high-impact missions committees never assume people will participate in missions simply because an announcement was printed in a bulletin. Instead, they create banners, use props, erect staging, create videos, build websites—whatever is necessary to draw attention to the church’s missional calling.
To help a missionary whose people group is facing famine, why not stack 50-pound bags of rice on the main platform? If you are helping build a church building in Togo, why not fill your back lobby with construction tools? In our hyper-visual age, it is worthwhile to invest in creative means of communication to maximize global gospel reach.
Of course, no missions committee can make success appear out of thin air using only human ingenuity. We are dependent upon a sovereign God to bless our efforts. But churches that wish to move the ball forward in pursuit of the Great Commission can leave nothing to chance. We must embrace habits that over time build a missional culture. As William Carey remarked: “Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.”