Famed 19th-century missionary Hudson Taylor suggested a four-part process for engaging congregations in missions.
1. Missions are preached every Sunday;
2. Every person in the church knows his/her personal responsibility to support the work of missionaries;
3. Missionaries must give accurate and compelling reports; and
4. All of this must be bathed in prayer.
Taylor’s third point describes journalism – accurate and compelling reports – and it catalyzes the other points. Maybe someone took the time to interview a refugee family from a war-torn country. Maybe someone produced a video about a culture that desperately needs the Bible in its own language. Or maybe someone talked about tutoring troubled kids in your town, and asked for help.
Those kinds of reports inspire kingdom impact. People not only pay attention, they also discover their own role. Think about it: Every person who engages in mission has been influenced by someone’s story. If those stories aren’t being told, or if they’re being told poorly, people don’t pray, give, send or go. They tune out.
How does your church fare on Taylor’s four-point scale? Are you satisfied with the amount of mission engagement? Is there untapped potential for impact?
Accurate and compelling reports can transform people from consumers to participants in ministry. What if your short-term mission teams came home and engaged the congregation – not with Facebook selfies or tales about the gross foods they ate, but well-crafted stories, photos and videos about people whose lives they impacted?
Go a step further. What if we took Taylor’s advice and preached missions every Sunday? Maybe it isn’t always the full sermon. But what if a brief, accurate, compelling story of God at work in the world became part of every worship service? How would that impact your church? How would it impact the world?
Does your church want to produce more world Christians: people who accept responsibility for their part in reaching the unreached? It starts with equipping your congregation, and the missionaries you support, to report those stories better.
I really agree with #3. I think church ministry and missions really struggle with communication to the point where it can be detrimental to their ministry. I’m hoping that in two or three years, I’ll be launched as a communications consultant for missionaries in the field and missions organizations. We gotta step up our game!
Good to hear! The mission world needs this kind of training. It’s our primary focus, too.