Two actual student samples of the assignment for Introduction to Missions. Church names have been changed to fictitious ones.
Church: First Church of the Nazarene, Slapout, Oklahoma
I wish I could say that I have exciting information to give about my church's involvement in global evangelism, but unfortunately that is simply not the case. If there is one area in which my church falls short, it is probably this. Having said that, I also need to say that, in the past year, strides have been made toward improving our missions emphasis (though it is nowhere close to where it should be). For this report I talked to the pastor and to the missions president.
From the pulpit in public services
Our church used to have a long and very dry "Missions Minute" at the beginning of every Sunday morning service. The problem was that it was anything but a minute. Our missions president would give a five- to ten-minute presentation every week. People became unhappy about this and quickly began to tune her out all together. We've now managed to get her to shorten it to a true minute. Then, once every month she has an entire Sunday night service to talk about missions. During this service we have a lesson, a prayer time, (utilizing information from the NMI prayer hotline/web) and monthly emphasis. This has been much more effective and we have gotten much greater support for missions because of it.
Personal contact with missionaries
We have not done real well in making contact with and interacting with our assigned LINKS missionary families. We have not had a missionary speaker in our local church in a long, long time.
Financial and material resources for missions
Another problem with the missions involvement at my church is what we've done with Faith Promise. For decades, this has been the way our local church has raised financial support for missions. Sadly, when we did Faith Promise this year, we only received two commitments and I was told that both of them ceased being honored in less than three months. I think one reason we only received two pledges was because the planning of the Faith Promise offering encouraged people to take commitment cards home and to bring them back a week later filled out with their pledge. This took away any and all Spirit-led impulse giving that may have occurred. Because of our lack of an effective push for regular Faith Promise giving, almost all of our missions giving this year has had to come from our general tithes and offerings. As one can imagine, this has strained an already tight small church budget. There have been several months when we haven't been able to pay all our bills in full although we have managed to pay all our missions budgets thus far this year.
On a more positive note, I have seen my church do very well with one particular monthly NMI emphasis: the Alabaster offering that is taken in February and again in September. We have several in the church that make it almost a game to put all their change away and then pour it in on Alabaster Sunday. This year we even had it extended to a two-week offering because so many people complained that they didn't get to give theirs.
While some neighboring churches have gotten involved in putting together Crisis Care Packs we have yet to get involved in that program.
Mobilizing prayer support
I feel that the main reason for our apathy when it comes to missions is that we are generating almost no prayer support for global evangelism. Our NMI president has short prayer time for world missions during her once-a-month Sunday night. Other than that, we don't lift up global needs in any way. I think our NMI president is the only one in our congregation who spends significant time in prayer for world missions. Missions prayer needs are not mentioned by the pastor nor in printed bulletins and newsletters.
As to missions education, the Nazarene missions reading books are kept on a back table in the sanctuary. Those do get checked out on a weekly basis, so I know some are hearing messages of global evangelism. I have even found some of the teens' interest caught by the books.
We do not have any bulletin board space dedicated to world evangelism.
We haven't had anyone that I know of from our congregation go on a Work & Witness or similar mission trip.
I know that there is much more that my church should be doing in the area of global evangelism, but it is simply not happening as quickly as it should. I feel that in the near future there will be some changes made that will greatly help our missions emphasis.
Church: Third Church of the Nazarene, Deserted Mesa, Arizona
In researching this report I interviewed the pastor, local NMI president and the district NMI president.
Each year we hold a Faith Promise Convention to enable the church body to make pledges for the support of the world evangelism for the coming church year. This traditionally includes missionary speakers and events over a weekend with commitments being made during the Sunday a.m. service. Prior to the convention, those in children's church are educated regarding the meaning of Faith Promise and given opportunity to pray about making a pledge. The children can become a Jr. Missionary Cadet and receive a recognition certificate on Faith Promise Sunday morning if they meet the criteria. Our goal for Faith Promise giving this year is $29,800. (Our total missions budget is $35,000).
During the church year we have other visiting missionaries speak in services when possible.
- Missionary reading books and books on audio tape are offered to all ages. The children's books are read in children's church.
- Quarterly videos of our mission work supplied by the denomination's headquarters are used regularly, ether in a missions moment on Sunday morning or at other times.
- On occasion our pastor gives up the pulpit on Sunday evening for 30-45 minute missions presentation. This is usually a time of sharing something from the lesson book provided by the denomination, or in response to a special need on the field, or to promote a specific offering for an unforeseen need that has arisen on the field.
- Each Sunday morning features a mission moment. While this is often filled by use of a video, at times it may be a skit, a prayer, or other format.
Prayer on behalf of world missions is always and continually a part of our local church. On Wednesday nights the prayer needs from the denomination's missions prayer line are printed and distributed. Prayer is offered during the service and the sheets may be taken home for continued individual prayer.
Annually, the congregation is reminded of the special needs of the persecuted church, and time is provided for corporate prayer.
A project is adopted annually during the Faith Promise Convention (see above) for a need identified by the visiting missionaries for their field of service. A promotional display is placed on the missions table on the main level of the church, with a duplication placed in our children's church. This allows even the very young children to participate in giving. Traditionally, we raise between $1,200 and $1,500 in this annual Penny Drive.
The local church "adopts" a missionary family each year and remembers them and their children (who may be separated from their parents due to educational needs not available on the mission field) at times like birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays. People are also given opportunity to write to them and to pray for them all year.
Crisis Care Kits:
This is an ongoing project of the church each September through May. Small items such as personal hygiene items, hand towels, and stuffed toys are collected monthly according to a list supplied by our denomination's headquarters. The kits are assembled and shipped to headquarters for distribution during times of crisis (e.g., floods, war), both in the U.S. and abroad.
The denomination offers two professional looking greeting cards, one for bereavement and the other for general purposes such as a thank you. In addition to an appropriate verse, the cards contain information that a donation has been made to the church of for world evangelism in the recipient's name. A display of these is kept in the church foyer.
In addition to the Faith Promise giving program of the church, specified free-will offerings are taken for missions during special denominational monthly emphases times. While the Faith Promise funds go to support the overall world evangelism program of the denomination and their distribution is governed by need as determined by the denomination's headquarters, these freewill offerings are collected for and distributed in support of a specific need. These include such things as World Radio Broadcast, the broadcasting of the gospel of Jesus Christ into world areas where missionaries are not allowed. Additional, special freewill offerings may be taken if an unforeseen significant need arises, such as was the case with the tsunami tragedy. We anticipate over $4,500 in free-will offerings this church year.
In addition to these corporate efforts, there are individuals who respond in prayer and/or with funds to needs they hear about on a mission video, read about in the denomination's magazine, or learn in some manner about the expansive compassionate ministries program of the denomination. Sometimes this reaches beyond our own denomination to cooperation with other organizations, such as Heart to Heart or Wycliffe Bible Translators.
There are also teens who through various avenues by personal choice participate as individuals in mission. In the past two years, four different teens have done this. One served in a Christian camp for special-needs inner city children. Two served in mission in two different world areas through programs offered by the college in which they were enrolled. One joined as group from our denomination designed to give cross-cultural experience to teens seriously considering missions as their full-time vocation. These efforts were supported locally by prayer and financial support. On their return, the kids educated the rest of us with reports of their experiences. These also served to increase faith and to put the option of choosing missions as a life's career in the forefront for our young people.
Outreach at Home:
- Food pounding for a struggling pastor and his/her family each Christmas. This sometimes includes an additional pounding for a needy member of the congregation.
- In cooperation with Women's Ministries, at least one and usually two local mission projects are sponsored per year. Examples: mitten tree at Christmas for needy children; donations to Aid to Women, a local clinic serving as an alternative to abortion. This clinic provides education, services, and practical needs such as baby furniture and clothing.
- The teens in the church select service projects each year. These may range from helping the elderly or those on welfare with yard work or painting their house, to volunteering their services at a Christian summer camp for underprivileged children. Last Christmas they participated in a national project to fill shoe boxes with specified items similar to our own Crisis Care Kits (see below). Each box also included information about Jesus Christ, and a picture and note from the teen assembling the box. The boxes are distributed in needy areas or areas in crisis worldwide.
Work and Witness:
The denomination sends Work & Witness teams around the world to mission fields to assist in completion of a construction project (e.g., school, church). In addition to the construction project, the team members will evangelize in various and creative ways. Each local church team must provide funds for the project (usually $10,000, sometimes less), and each team member must cover their own expenses. The whole local church involved in raising and/or donate in these funds. We have had several W&W teams in the past, and a portion of the Faith Promise giving for world evangelism is reserved annually toward the cost of a future project.
There are about 18 people in the congregation who individually sponsor a child through an international program of the Nazarene Church. Sponsorships may be to allow the child of a needy pastor in a foreign field to go to elementary or the equivalent of our junior – and high – schools, to provide a daily meal for a child, to allow a young girl to attend one of our boarding schools and thereby escape being sold into sexual slavery, to give training for a year for a needy widow and her family in an impoverished country to learn a self-help trade, etc. The cost of monthly sponsorship is $25. Child sponsorships include school sponsorship in Islamic countries, where many children from the Islamic faith will attend our Christian-sponsored schools because of their superior education. This is one avenue of evangelism to Islamic families.
Prayer of our Kids:
A few years ago each child in the church put their fingerprint and individual information on a card and these were distributed to each adult willing to take one. By doing so the adult agreed to pray daily for this child and to ask God whether this child might be one He would call into full-time Christian service. The children were told which adult was praying for them. Though this program has not been repeated since, I am aware that there are still some adults who are still praying daily for "their" child, and others who continues to do so even through their child is now a young adult himself or herself.
The Local church has a Missions Council of elected persons that serve to administer and promote the missions program of the local church. From time to time, others in the congregation provide service in support of the missions program as they join the Council in their work.
When a child or young person indicates that they seriously believe they may be called to the mission field or other avenue of full-time Christian service, this is formally recognized by the congregation. In addition to prayer support, the world missions office of the denomination's headquarters is advised so that they can begin to correspond with the child or young person, help them to understand what is involved, and help them form their response and commitment. Whenever a missionary visits, or there is a missions emphasis in the local church, the missions council looks for ways to include this child or young person in some manner. We currently have two teens in this category, one who feels called to the mission field and another who feels called to being a youth pastor.
I forgot to say that those occasional Sunday evenings when the pulpit is surrendered for a missions program include either a time when the children are interactively drawn into the presentation or a portion of the presentation is designed to whet their interest.
Also, it is encouraging to me that because of the World Evangelism Fund of our denomination, the world mission office has a budget which means that individual missionaries are not required to raise their own individual support. Rather, their salaries and support including medical insurance and other benefits such as retirement, are provided through what local churches give to the World Evangelism Fund. This allows them to remain on the field except for periodic return trips to their "home" for do speak in local churches and to raise funds for work on their field of service. These are not support funds for them personally but rather for special needs on their field of service.
Howard Culbertson, Southern Nazarene
University, 6729 NW 39th, Bethany, OK 73008 | Phone:
405-491-6693 - Fax: 405-491-6658
Copyright © 2002 - Last Updated: May 11, 2008 | URL: http://home.snu.edu/~hculbert/picture.htm
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