Two actual student samples of the assignment. Note: Church names have been changed to fictitious ones.
While these examples serve to help students working on this assignment, I hope they will also help those browsing the Internet to think about what their church is doing to fulfill Christ's call to "make disciples in the nations."
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 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 altogether. 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, and an announcement of the monthly emphasis (all utilizing information from the weekly NMI Central email). This has been much more effective and we have gotten much greater support for missions.
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 world missions involvement by 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 obligations 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 regarding world missions is that we are generating almost no prayer support for global outreach. 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, some older Nazarene mission books are kept on a back table in the sanctuary. Those do get checked, 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 participate on a Nazareme Mission Team or similar short-term 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.
Abbott, Richard, pastor. Phone
Dixon, Dina, NMI president
Montromgery, Darrick, long-time lay leader
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 to support world evangelism for the coming church year. This traditionally includes missionary speakers and weekend events 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 the 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 world 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.
- Videos of our mission work supplied by the denomination's Global Ministry Center are used regularly, either 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 information from the weekly NMI Central email newsletter or in response to a special need on the field we have heard about, or to promote a specific offering such as Alabaster.
- Each Sunday morning features a mission moment. This may be a video, a skit, a prayer, an interview, or something else.
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.
Through the denominational Links program, our local church "adopts" a missionary family 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 the opportunity to write to them and are encocuraged 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 saying that a donation has been made to the church for world evangelism in the card recipient's name. A display of these cards 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 a 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.
Nazarene Mission Teams:
Local churches and districts send Nazarene Mission Teams around the world 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. Our whole congregation get involved in raising and/or donating these funds. We have had several people go on Nazarene Mission Teams in the past. A portion of the Faith Promise giving for world evangelism is reserved annually to go 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. Such sponsorships the child of a needy pastor in a foreign field to go school, or they provide a daily meal for a child, or they allow a young girl to attend one of our boarding schools and thereby escape being sold into sexual slavery, or they give training for a year for a widow and her family in an impoverished country to learn a self-help trade, etc. The cost of monthly sponsorship is $30. 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.
The Local church has a Missions Council of elected persons that serve to administer and promote the global missions program of the local church. 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 global missions office of the denomination's Global Ministry Center 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 be 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 global mission office has a budget which means that many 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.
Moon, Barbara, missions president. Phone
Nelson, Dwight, pastor
Ramos, Sharon, missions council member. Email
Attitudes prevalent in two different churches regarding ends-of-the-earth gospel outreach.
What things in each of these two church types most resemble the congregation to which you belong?
-- Howard Culbertsonm