Mission Issues

Thinking and re-thinking missionary issues

Mission Committee Meetings

In Swaziland we usually have two mission committee meetings every year – one in June and one in November. I can honestly say that I really look forward to these meetings. This is time well spent. At that time we meet with representatives from three supporting bodies of the church which started the work in Swaziland to discuss various aspects of the work. But those meetings were not always something to look forward to. There was a time, especially in the first few years after we came to Swaziland, that I jokingly told my wife that I had diarised a day of depression on the day following those meetings, after which I promised to rid myself of negative feelings and then go on with the work! Every meeting felt like doomsday approaching, because of things that were said during those meetings. (I really MUST post some of the things which happened during some of those meetings. Today we can fortunately also laugh about most of these.)
Many of you reading this blog will probably be part of some form of mission committee, possibly at your local church, in some form of mission organisation or perhaps even on a larger scale. Why is it that so many of these mission committee meetings feel like a total waste of time? Or even worse: why does it sometimes feel as though we are restricting the work and the power of the Lord at the very place where we should be thriving in the knowledge that God is in control and calling us to proclaim His saving grace over the entire world?
I can think of a number of reasons and I am sure you will be able to expand on this list. Firstly I think that the wrong people are on most of these committees. In my experience people are chosen to serve on such a committee when they reach the age where they are no longer able to serve the church on other committees. I know that we need older people with their wisdom on these committees, but they so often lack the physical and emotional strength to start with new projects. These people are wonderful prayer supporters but we need people on mission committees that have the physical and spiritual power to take on new challenges. But usually they are not there.
Mostly I’ve also experienced a near total lack of vision in these committees. I’ve sat on mission committee meetings where I’ve asked myself over and over again what we’re doing there. There seem to be little planning and no vision in many of these committees. In fact, the very thing that is probably the most essential need in missions, faith in the power of God, often seem to be lacking in most of these committees.
Another problem I’ve noticed is that churches tend to put their mission committees last on their budget. The painting of the church building, a new sound system, new offices and other luxuries all take priority over missions. And this just seem to break all enthusiasm that may still have existed. Nothing new can be done or planned, due to a lack of funds. In fact, I’ve found that the most time during many of these meetings is spent on how to get OUT of an existing commitment, rather than taking on NEW commitments.
I was once part of a mission committee in a congregation in South Africa, which I attended in advisory capacity, where things were different. Instead of the four or five people which normally attend these meetings, between 30 and 40 people would turn up (voluntarily). The chairman had tremendous vision for what God wanted to do through the church. He was a businessman and planned everything in detail, but he also had the faith that God would provide in their needs and in fact, he came to the point where he said that it was good to budget and plan this work, but that he wanted to build in a “faith factor” where a certain part of their work would be planned but not budgeted for. This made the missions committee an exciting place to be, because people attending came with an expectation that God was busy using them for things greater than they could think of.
If people expect miracles to happen in missions, shouldn’t this expectation be visible in the way in which mission meetings take place? Isn’t this the very place where the miracles should start?
What are your experience of mission meetings? What can be done to ensure that these meetings are really a meeting place with God?
Just a quick reminder that my latest Swaziland newsletter, including some photos, is available to read. Click on the link on the right or download it directly from http://www.swazimission.co.za/Documents/2007-08-Eng.pdf

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Saturday, September 8, 2007 - Posted by | Giving, Humour, Meetings, Mission, Missionary Organisations, Support teams, Swaziland

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