Mission Issues

Thinking and re-thinking missionary issues

Being a mission-focussed congregation

On Thursday evening and on Sunday morning I had two absolute extreme experiences about the role of missions within a congregation. I have mentioned before that I attend a certain congregation’s mission meetings in advisory capacity. Well actually, after Thursday, I realised I’m making a hopeless mess of my task to give good advice. For more than a year now I’ve been questioning the time spent at these meetings, as my impression was that I’m actually wasting my time. On Thursday evening I turned up for their scheduled meeting. We were six in all who attended. The chairman is 70 years old and was never part of their missions committee. He volunteered to become the chairperson because nobody else wanted to do it. There were two others, a man and his wife, both mission enthusiasts but both on their way to 80. Then there was a blind person who has a heart for missions but cannot do anything himself. There was also a younger lady who attended for the first time and myself. What became clear that evening was that we are definitely wasting our time.
When asked what I think should be done, I said that any congregation who, in itself, is not driven to become involved in missions, will fail to get people involved in missions. A congregation needs to be focussed on the most important task that the church has before the members will get focussed on this task. A mission committee will never be able to shift a congregation in becoming involved in missions if the church leadership does not set the example.
After much discussion and prayer, the chairperson suggested that he will go back to the church leadership and inform them that the missions committee no longer exists. The committee has been disbanded!
I and all the others present gave our full support to this decision as I am a strong believer in the saying: If a horse is dead, dismount! The leadership still has to discuss this, but I think one of three things will happen:

  • The decision will be accepted
  • The decision will be ignored
  • The meeting will take note of the decision with shock and plan on what they have to do to revive their commitment towards missions

On Sunday I was invited to preach in another congregation, in structure and membership much the same as the first one. On entering the church, the notice board was covered in newsletters, pamphlets and photos of missionaries supported by the congregation. At the entrance fridge magnets were set out on tables for the benefit of the members. The magnets had photos of missionaries on them and the idea is that people will take a magnet and stick it to the fridge as a reminder to pray for them. After the service the missions coordinator made an appointment to see me before I left. The post of missions coordinator has a salary linked to it as a lot of responsibility is expected of her. She told me that they are spending 800,000 South African Rand (that’s nearly $120,000) this year on missions – money being spent outside their own congregation!
To be honest: I wasn’t all that surprised. When a church becomes mission focussed, everything changes within that congregation. Finances pick up. Members become more spiritually focussed. Members become less selfish.
If all this is true, why do churches struggle to make the decision to become more focussed on missions? If God has shown us (and proven through innumerable examples) that the secret of a strong church is to be focussed on missions, why are we so reluctant to do it? Or worse still: Why are members satisfied to be in a mediocre congregation, merely, as in so many instances, because church leadership are afraid or unwilling to lead their church members on the exciting road of focussing on missions?

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007 - Posted by | Church, Meetings, Mission, Prayer

5 Comments »

  1. Arnau, great post! Even though I know my pastor doesn’t need one more thing to read, I can’t resist sending this to him. Our small church has fluctuated between being missions focused and self-focused. The missions committee is finally meeting again, and the pastor has taken over being the head of the committee as he was not satisfied with the way it was going. So I pray that all the leadership will get on board and bring missions back into the church’s sights. I know you are right that the missions committee cannot act on its own, but must have leadership behind it.

    Comment by Cindy | Wednesday, October 24, 2007 | Reply

  2. I never meant my blog to put people on guilt trips but rather to let them understand how things may be done in a different way (even though I’m also struggling to find answers). But if you think it could help, please pass this on.

    Comment by Arnau van Wyngaard | Wednesday, October 24, 2007 | Reply

  3. No, no, please don’t misunderstand. I do’t mean to pass it on as a guilt trip at all, rather as an example of two ways churches handle missions and the results of both. I mean to pass it on as encouragement, as I think our church is headed in the right direction.

    Comment by Cindy | Thursday, October 25, 2007 | Reply

  4. That’s great to hear. Please share with us what your church is doing and what you think they are doing correctly. I for one will be pleased to hear the story.

    Comment by Arnau van Wyngaard | Thursday, October 25, 2007 | Reply

  5. […] they are involved with missions but at the same time they don’t want to initiate anything. In a previous post I wrote about this frustration. When writing the post mentioned, the missions committee had decided […]

    Pingback by Some characteristics of a church focussed on mission « Mission Issues | Wednesday, January 30, 2008 | Reply


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