Many churches have a mission team or committee that is too narrowly focused in its responsibilities and primarily tasked with overseeing the budget, partners, and short-term trips. Another common issue, particularly in larger churches, is that missions is often led and managed by a staff member at the church. While this can be a very efficient approach, it results in fewer opportunities for other people in the church to be involved.
We want to see a lot of people in the church involved in missions. I believe one of the best ways to do this is to organize your missions leadership team around your sending pipeline. This approach allows your missions to be aligned with your vision and strategy and covers every area of your ministry, from mobilization to partnerships.
Special mission events for the church
Cultivating missions awareness for the church via social media, bulletins, etc.
Promoting opportunities and mobilizing members to go on short-term trips or local mission projects
Mission chats for potential missionaries
Mission education for children through adults
Administering the Sending Pipeline process, beginning with the application
Assessing potential missionaries in-process
Writing out and implementing a Personal Development Plan (PDP) for missionaries in-process
Developing future missionaries in-process
Coaching or enlisting coaches for missionaries in-process
Ongoing missionary care
Returning missionaries (furlough, retirement, or resignation)
Strategic development of partnerships
Enlisting champions for each partnership
Communication with partners
Coordinating with Mobilization Team for mission opportunities
There should be plenty of opportunities in your church for leaders to serve and then enlist others whom they can develop.
Remember these tips as you set up your missions leadership team:
Find your mission-activated people and cultivate those relationships. There are people in your church that are going on short-term trips, praying for missionaries, who care about missionaries, serve locally in your city, or have been missionaries before. Find these people. They do not need to be convinced of the importance of missions, and they often are already looking for ways to serve in your church. I like to create a database of such people and then get to know them. Out of these mobilization pools, you can often find not just people who sense a calling to go overseas, but also leaders in mission at your church.
Discover leaders who can enlist others and develop them. Not everyone who is mission activated will make a good leader for your team, but many of them will, and there should be plenty of opportunities for them to serve and then enlist others whom they can develop.
Have an on-ramping plan as you enlist new leaders. Your missions leadership team needs to know your church’s mission convictions, your vision for sending, and your strategy. If you are just starting to formulate these things, then your team may be great at helping you develop them, but often you will have to cast vision and lead this group of people. They need to be familiar with your convictions and believe in them. They will help implement the mission strategy in your church.
Meet with them regularly. As leaders, we cannot just set something in motion and put it on autopilot. You need to spend time with them. Have monthly meetings if possible. Make prayer an important part of those meetings. Zoom with missionaries you support or who are from your church so your team can get to know them better. Buy them resources to read. Take them to mission conferences (like this one) to help them gain more knowledge and best practices. Part of your role as a mission leader is to shepherd well these men and women who serve on your missions team.
Do not make membership on the missions leadership team an open-ended commitment. I recommend giving your team members a one- or two-year appointment. If they are doing well and would like to continue, then you can renew. Let them know at the onset that each year you will sit down with them and talk with them about how things are going with their ministry so you can determine what their participation will be going forward.
Part of your role as a mission leader is to shepherd well the men and women who serve on your missions team.
Creating and leading a missions team for your church will enable you to do more as a mission leader. If you have developed this team well, then if something happens to you or you leave the church, then their missions efforts will continue to thrive in your absence.
Want to learn more about developing a missions leadership team? We have two resources available for free for Upstream Members:
Missions Leadership Team Development PDF
Missions Leadership Team Development Video Training
Click the button below to access these documents and trainings in the File Share:
If you are not an Upstream Member, you can purchase the PDF for $1.99 by clicking the button below:
If you would like to become an Upstream Member, you can do so for $10/month at www.theupstreamcollective.org.
LET’S HEAR FROM YOU!
What are some challenges or wins you’ve experienced with having a missions team at your church?
What questions do you have about establishing and developing your missions team?
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.