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Intersection of Life and Faith

Support Foreign Missions

  • Russell L. Penney
  • 2002 14 Mar
Support Foreign Missions
Churches should keep foreign missions and the need for foreign missionaries ever before the people. Doing so helps remind members that believers are commanded to make disciples among all the nations (Matt. 28:19-20; Acts 1:8; 2 Cor. 5:20; 1 Tim. 3:15). The church that focuses on missions is constantly reminded of God's bigger program and is less likely to become ingrown, working solely toward "building a bigger local church." The leadership of the church must be the driving force in the promotion of missions. ...

When the leadership is committed to missions, certain objectives can be established that will enhance and maintain the church's focus. [Harold] Cook lists the following seven objectives for establishing an effective missions program:

1. Create interest in and enthusiasm for missions on the part of as many members as possible;

2. Support that interest and enthusiasm with accurate and current information;

3. Secure as much prayer support for missions as possible;

4. Contribute as much material support for missions as possible;

5. Provide personnel for the missionary enterprise;

6. Train prospective missionaries as far as is possible for a local church;

7. Assist missions in other ways as circumstances permit (e.g., the promotion of joint missionary conferences). ...

The key to the creation of interest and enthusiasm is providing information, a pattern that can be seen in the ministry of the early church. We live in the information age, but information about what God is doing around the world through His church generally and what God is doing through the missionaries your church supports particularly must meet certain criteria. First, the information must be current. Second, it must be visually appealing. And third, it must create enthusiasm in the church member. ...

Prayer support is necessary because, no matter how gifted, talented, educated, and adaptable to another culture a missionary might be, God is ultimately the One who accomplishes the work of missions. ...

The Bible ... does encourage prayer for missionaries (1 Thes. 5:25) and for boldness and opportunity for them as they proclaim the gospel to the ends of the earth (Eph. 6:19-20; Col. 4:2-4; 2 Thess. 3:1). Prayer is the indispensable ingredient for successfully reaching the nations. ...

The percentage of a local church's budget that should be committed to missions must be determined by the leadership. The amount, however, should be significant. Tom Telford has worked with hundreds, if not thousands, of churches, and he states that if a church desires a top-notch missions program, it should commit at least 30 percent of its annual budget to it. He notes that some churches give as much as 75 percent to cross-cultural ministry. ...

To many missionaries, the adage "out of sight, out of mind" is all too true. Churches that do well in recognizing, training, equipping, and sending out their missionaries often fail at field and furlough care. ...

Keep abreast of the ministry in which the missionary is involved. ...

Write letters and send care packages.

Help missionaries continue their education.

Give missionaries a vacation. ...

The leadership of local churches should be aware of the effects of reentry on their missionaries. Steps can be taken to help them deal with those effects and slowly reorient to their own culture.

Excerpted with permission from Overcoming the World Missions Crisis: Thinking Strategically to Reach the World, copyright 2001 by Russell L. Penney. Published by Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, Mich.,, 1-800-733-2607.

Russell L. Penney (M.A., Th.D.) is a researcher, writer, and missionary teacher in Bolivia, South America, where he serves as the Director of Postgraduate Studies at Hebron Seminary.

Why do you think it’s important to support foreign missions? What are some of the ways in which your church currently supports foreign missions? What are some ways your church could do better? How can you help your church grow in this area? Visit Crosswalk’s forums to discuss this topic by clicking on the link below.