Whether it’s supporting missionaries, sending short-term teams, or partnering to send your college students on middle-length missions trips, your church has abundant opportunities to partner in God’s work across the globe.
But here’s the reality you’re living with:
- The missions fund isn’t growing.
- Your church is excited about other things.
- As a pastor, you have more urgent dilemmas.
Here’s the good news: There is a solution.
If you dedicate one short season to building your missions committee with the right vision and the right people, you could have a lively culture of missions support in your church that doesn’t steal all of the time and money away from other important ministries.
Let’s dive into ten ways you can build an energetic and effective missions committee in your church.
1. Cast a vision.
Before you approach anyone, articulate your own vision for what your church’s missions committee could be. This is a starting place for your church. People are more willing to get on board with a vision than to create a vision themselves. If you pitch your elders with a passion to reach the nations for Christ, the right people will be invigorated.
God burdens the hearts of his people with his command to reach all tribes with the gospel: “Proclaim his glory to the nations, his mighty deeds to all peoples” (Psalm 96:3). When you cast a vision, very often, God works in the hearts of faithful men and women in your church to commit themselves to the work.
2. Pray for the right team.
Remember that building a missions committee in your church isn’t something you do without any help. God can be very persuasive. You don’t know what he might be doing in the hearts of your emerging church leaders. Begin to pray that God would start getting people excited about missions work. Pray for the right opportunity to come to your church that could serve as a starting point for deeper missions work.
There are many missionaries and international churches worth supporting, but it’s important for your church to find a fit for a long-term partnership: “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (Luke 10:2).
3. Find a single “point person” to lead.
Find one person who can run point on the missions committee. This might be someone who has expressed interest in missions in the past. This person should be self-motivated and organized. And, at the same time, they should have a sense of calling—a sense of the worthiness of the mission to faithfully advance the gospel of Christ to every nation, in suit with the Apostle Paul: “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace” (Acts 20:24).
Find someone with this Spirit and share your vision with them. Ask them what God has placed on their heart, and come up with a vision that would make the most sense for your church.
4. Evaluate what’s working (and what’s not).
Don’t marry a specific idea. Be open to the possibility that the first idea is not the best idea for your missions committee. You might be passionate about doing ministry in the Ukraine, but your ideal team has a heart for the Dominican Republic.
That’s a beautiful thing. Building a missions committee is about giving your church the blessing of serving missionaries around the world by investing in them financially and spiritually. Let your missions committee do what makes sense for them, in the spirit of Christ: “For even as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).
5. Ensure that your missions programs are accomplishing meaningful work.
Some missionaries are ineffective. Some ministries are showing no return because they are not living up to their commitments. This is often a big reason people stop giving to missions—the missionary or organization itself seems unconcerned with planting seeds and harvesting. In that case, don’t feel too badly about prayerfully and ethically changing your support from one mission to another.
James tells us: “Religion that God considers pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (James 1:27). Find a missionary that does whatever this looks like in their context in the name of Christ and support them.
6. Approach one member at a time.
It may be wise not to sit down with your entire prospective missionary committee at once. Sit down with each member, one at a time, and get a sense of their passion, whether they would be a fit, and what time and resources they would be willing to invest in the committee. Don’t encumber your team-building process with a crowd—save that for when each member has expressed interest, and then meet together.
Sometimes, multiple-person meetings can feel more chaotic than they really are, and become a cause for discouragement more than vision. Make the Apostle Paul’s prayer the prayer for your committee: “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 15:5-6).
7. Involve your church in prayer.
The Apostle Paul sets a great example for us in this: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (Galatians 6:9-10).
Supporting missions work is difficult, because church members are not face-to-face with the missionaries. Supporting a missions committee can feel like even more of a stretch. But you can encourage your church with Paul’s exhortation: “Let us not become weary in doing good.” God calls churches to support missionaries. As difficult as it is, a missions committee actually makes it easier to not grow weary in doing “good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”
Ask your church to pray for your growing committee. Ask your church to pray that they would be united in a vision for preaching the gospel among the nations. Ask your church for the right team to come together to support this important work.
8. Meet with missions teams from other churches.
Don’t reinvent the wheel. Meet with other missions committees and ask how they got started. Ask if you could bring your committee to one of their meetings to get a sense of how vision, meeting, and administration is best done. The Apostle Paul expresses his appreciation for this kind of fellowship to the Thessalonians: “We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us” (1 Thessalonians 2:8);
9. Refrain from micromanaging.
Support your mission committee’s vision even if it wasn’t your original vision. And, even if your missions committee isn’t doing everything perfectly—with event planning, fund raising, announcements, and coordinating with missionaries—give them grace. They will learn. Teams need time to learn to do things well. If you constantly insert yourself in their process of planning, they will never learn to work as a team.
Offer to get them what they need to function as a successful team, but don’t act like the boss just because you put the committee together. Let God work in them and grow them as a committee to do his work. Be a steward of their work, not a lurking supervisor. Paul’s advice is applicable here: “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe” (Philippians 2:14-16).
10. Set a healthy budget.
Your elder board should be sold on the idea of funding and supporting your missions committee so that they are able to have an impact. This doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t fundraise on their own, or coordinate with the church to put on special fundraising efforts. But if your missions committee is new, you should financially and spiritually invest in them so that they have some initial momentum to do something special that can ignite a passion for missions within your church.
Remind your missions committee that their work is a labor of fulfilling God’s love for the lost: “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us” (1 John 4:11-12).
Missions is a matter of Christlikeness: “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you” (John 20:21). Therefore, in one sense, the missions committee is a Christlikeness committee. Your time will not be wasted, and God will not be disappointed, if you route some of your energy and time toward building this self-sustaining team. At every step, from vision to budget, prayerfully seek the guidance of your fellow elders and ask God to guide you at every stage.
ABWE exists to fulfill the Great Commission by multiplying leaders, churches, and missions movements among every people.