The Sunday gathering is a great time to create mission awareness in your church. Assuming you are already using some graphics or slides or maybe some space in your worship bulletin, what are some other elements you can incorporate into your space to raise awareness about the mission efforts your church is involved in?
Before You Get Started
Here are some questions to consider as you design a mission space:
What are you wanting to communicate?
What is the purpose of your space?
Where will the area be located?
How much money do you have to create your mission space?
Will you have people at the table each week to field questions about your missions program?
Is there an identifiable “next step” a person can take while visiting your table?
Can you get people on an email distribution list from visiting your table?
Here are some examples I have seen over the years in various churches.
Utilize Your Church’s Existing Vision Statement
Some churches have logos for specific areas of their building that communicate the purpose or values of the church. Here is a good example of how a church incorporates their ministry aims—Love, Serve, Tell—into their building space.
Engedi Church, Holland, MI
A Temporary Space
While having a permanent mission space is nice, you don’t have to have one to create mission awareness.
In Sevilla, Spain, I visited a church that rented space every Sunday, and each week they brought a world map along with a list of missionaries and a monthly people group the church could pray for. This was a church plant less than two years old, but they wanted participation in the Great Commission to be part of their DNA, no matter their size or their worship location. They strategically set this up in the area where they served coffee, so their mission space got a lot of traffic (people love coffee in Spain!). Sure, it will add a little to the weekly setup, but it is a nice way from the outset to create mission awareness.
The Coffee Space
Since specialty coffee has become a global interest, you could stock your mission area with coffee from strategic parts of the world. (Incidentally, many of the world’s least-reached places happen to be in zones where specialty coffee is grown.) I have seen churches utilize printed paper cups that have their mission logo or a location they are trying to reach. Other churches serve coffee from areas where they have existing partnerships. Be creative. The options are endless.
Cornerstone Church, Ames, IA
The Meet and Greet
Another way to utilize a mission space would be to have regularly scheduled “meet and greets” before, in between, and after the worship gathering. You simply invite a missionary who is in town (and who may or may not be from your church), someone from a local mission partnership, or contact a mission organization and see if they have someone who can visit your church on a Sunday. Promote this to your church and have people come by to welcome them and get to know them.
Journey Church in Lebanon, TN, has a place at their mission table where people can grab a form to complete their passport application. They even offer to take passport pictures on certain Sundays. This is a great way to promote going on short-term trips and increase the number of passports in your church. You’re going to need a passport to travel outside your country—why not take the first step now?
The Journey Church, Lebanon, TN
Several years ago when I first started as a mission pastor at Sojourn East Church in Louisville, KY, I obtained a very inexpensive world map and pasted it on a cork board that I could use at our table. We asked the people in our church to come by and stick a push pin where they had traveled, lived, or served on the mission field. We had different colored pens for each category, and by the end of the second service, we had a pretty cool looking map with pins everywhere. It helped us identify people we did not realize had served, worked, or visited overseas. It also helped us start praying through some areas where we might partner as we got a sense of which parts of the world our people had a heart for or had already spent time in.
I have seen some churches put up a world map with the missionaries that are from their church or that they partner with. Some use pictures, and others simply utilize a pin and string as a visual of them being sent out to where they now live.
Sojourn Church, Louisville, KY
Many churches put missionary prayer cards on their mission table so people can grab one and start praying for or supporting their missionaries. These are great to have in your mission space, but you will need to do things that will draw people to the table, like a meet and greet or a signup for a short-term trip, so they remember there are cards there to pick up. If you create a table and don’t give people a reason to stop by, then you will most likely get less traffic. Churches who do this well constantly have activities to get people involved at the table.
Obviously, this is not an exhaustive list, so we want to know what you have done at your church to create a mission space. What has worked effectively? What have you learned that you could pass on to others to help them get started? You can reply here or jump to our Upstream Forum if you are a member and share a picture of your mission space.
Larry is the co-founder and Executive Director of The Upstream Collective. He and his family have lived in Europe for nearly twenty years, where he has served in a variety of strategy and leadership roles. Prior to moving to Europe, he was a church planter and pastor in the US. He is a co-author of Tradecraft: For the Church on Mission, The First 30 Daze: Practical Encouragement for Living Abroad Intentionally, and The MarketSpace: Essential Relationships Between the Sending Church, Marketplace Worker, and Missionary Team.