Archive for Mission

3 Reasons to Have a Group Mission Board

blankWHY IS THIS IMPORTANT? A Missionary Board is a bulletin board or wall space dedicated to keeping the group focused on “why” we are here. It usually contains pictures that remind participants of the mission and ongoing purpose of the group.

WHAT DO I DO?

  1. Celebration of Mission Engagement. Posting pictures of the latest mission project or photos of group members ministering in other areas of the church serves as an ongoing celebration of the true purpose of any group – Great Commandment/Great Commission engagement. The pictorial celebration of these events encourages the people in the photo and challenges others to be involved. The photos can also inspire more ideas of mission opportunities in the community.
  2. Care for Missionaries. Posting photos of people who have left the group to serve in other groups or areas of ministry, reminds group members of their responsibility to provide ongoing care and assistance to these missionaries. One of the difficulties of stepping out to serve, is the feeling of loss that comes from departing the group. Group members should strive to continue in friendship and fellowship with all who serve so they will know they are still valued person in the group.
  3. Change the Culture. What you value is visible and vocal. There are plenty of grandparents that can show pictures and talk endlessly about their grandchildren. Why? Because they are treasures of great value. By developing a Mission Board, the group makes visible what they value. It also creates opportunities to talk about the importance of growing and going as a group on mission for Christ. When people walk into the meeting place of the group, they should be able to quickly access the community culture by seeing and hearing about those who matter most. A Mission Board will become a valuable tool to change the culture of the group from ‘meeting’ to ‘mission.’

3 Ways to Deploy Group Members in Ministry

care4otherWHY IS THIS IMPORTANT? The writer of Hebrews (10:24-25) reminds us that we gather to “spur one another on towards love” and to “encourage one another.” Jesus says that His disciples are recognized by their love of one another (John 13:35). If your group does not minister effectively to one another and show love one to another, then it will quickly fall apart.

WHAT DO I DO?

  1. Inside the Group. Each group should set up smaller groups within the group for prayer and ministry. The smaller the sub group (3-5) the better. These groups can be informal, put together on the spot, or formal, an ongoing group. They should meet for approximately 10 minutes to share prayer needs and pray. The smaller group will make this a more intimate time and curtail needless travelogue in prayer requests. If you form groups on the spot, you will be able to better include and get to know guests. As the teacher/leader you may want the guests in your group.
  2. Through the Group. Each Group should have a Care or Ministry Leader(s) who presents the ministry opportunities discovered through prayer groups and contacts. This should not be a lengthy recital of prayer needs, but a presentation of ministry opportunities and making assignments. It should include assigning individuals to contact a group member who is absent and organizing the group to take appropriate ministry actions for group members who are hurting (sick, unemployed, hospitalized, etc.).
  3. Beyond the Group. Encourage group members to become aware of ministry opportunities to unreached people in their relational networks. Organize members, as appropriate, to perform acts of kindness to spread Christ’s love beyond the group. Share stories of ministry that takes place and makes positive impact.

Many groups already have a system of Care Ministry and Prayer Ministry. This is commendable! However, many groups spend more time in prayer requests rather than in prayer and in discussing ministry needs rather than assigning ministry action. If this is the case for you, it may be time to recalibrate your groups and refocus them on ‘why’ they should minister to the group.

3 Ways to Deploy Group Members in Service

Growing-to-ServeWHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?

Ephesians 2:10 is a verse that gets overshadowed by its predecessor (2:9), but it contains an equally powerful message: “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” You have heard it said, “We are saved to serve” and that is true. However, in recent years we have exchanged “come, let’s serve the Lord together” for “come on in and have a seat.” People are created to serve and sense that they truly belong when they are serving in and with the group.

WHAT DO I DO?

Inside the Group

A leader is wise to involve as many people in serving inside the group as possible. Teachers, according to Ephesians 4, are not to do ministry for everyone but to equip everyone for the work of ministry. If a person is given a service to perform during the group time, they are more likely to be present and on-time.  If nothing is expected of them, then attendance becomes optional. Think of as many possible tasks that can be done: set-up team member, greeters, care leaders, fellowship leaders, host/hospitality leaders, and so forth. Seek to involve everyone.

Through the Group

Hopefully, you will begin to have group members leaving the group to start a new group or to serve in another age group ministry in the church. Groups should consider these people as missionaries serving beyond the group. Seek way to serve these missionaries. It may be serving in their place when they are on vacation or cannot be present. It may be serving them by making provisions for their new ministry. Your missionaries should see their former group as people willing and ready to serve them.

Beyond the Group

It is wise for every group to look for service opportunities for members in the church, in the community, in the city, and beyond. Mission service projects tend to unify the group and focus it on being a Great Commandment/Great Commission ministry. Look where group members go and are engaged beyond the group, are there ways the group can serve in those areas? For example, if group members have children that are involved in a recreational sports league, how might your group serve and minister to others who are involved. The Great Commission reminds us to make disciples as we go and wherever we go. So, go and serve.

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Daniel Edmonds is the Director of the Office of Sunday School and Discipleship at the Alabama State Board of Missions

Sunday School in a Transformational Church

This is article five of a ten part series. Click here to view the previous article.

Word Driven

Read Luke 10:25-27 and listen for Jesus’ teaching method…

Just then a religion scholar stood up with a question to test Jesus.  ‘Teacher, what do I need to do to get eternal life?’

Jesus answered, ‘What’s written in God’s Law?  How do you interpret it?’

He said, ‘That you love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence – and that you love your neighbor as you do yourself.’  ‘Good answer!’ said Jesus. ‘“Do it and you’ll live.’  Looking for a loophole,  he asked, ‘And just how would you define neighbor?’    Jesus answered by telling a story and encourages the scholar to listen for the answer to his question.

(Jesus tells The Good Samaritan story)

Jesus asked, ‘What do you think?  Which of the three became a neighbor to the man attacked by robbers?’  ‘The one who treated him kindly,’ the religion scholar responded.  Jesus said, ‘Go and do the same.’

Jesus began by pointing the scholar to the scriptures, The Law and asked for his interpretation.

Jesus didn’t tell the scholar anything.  He involved the scholar in discovering for himself the biblical truth that could transform his life.

Then he sent him on a mission!  Jesus knew that knowledge was not enough; the truth must be appropriated into life for it to be transformational.

Principle:  A Word-Driven Small Community ‘begins with, returns to, and ends with God’s Word which is relevant to any challenge or discussion.’ Stetzer/Rainer

We Baptist fume and fuss about the Bible, but I’ve discovered that we will do anything to keep from studying it and when we do, we make it the most inane hour of the week.  As I have traveled across NC over the past 30 years, I’ve asked this question to a multitude of churches:  How long do you spend in actual Bible study every Sunday? The average answer is about 30 minutes.  Sunday School classes practice the “Three Baptist’s B’s” quite well  15 minutes of shooting the Bull; 15 minutes of talking about the Ball game, and maybe 30 minutes of Bible study.  We also spend an inordinate amount of time on announcement and prayer requests, plus we must wait until everyone is there before we do these, because it would be a tragedy for anyone to miss the announcement/prayer requests, but Bible study can go out the window!  You can tell that I have a bit of passion around this subject.  We must remember that announcements do not make disciples; that we’re praying ourselves into biblical illiteracy (and I believe in fervent prayer); and that hour on Sunday morning is sacred unto God for Bible study.  We’re fooling ourselves if we think that people are getting it anywhere else.  They’re not.  So, what does it mean to be Word-Driven?

A Word-Driven Sunday School…

  • Has the Word of God as its anchor.
  • Is not an emotional support group.   Members are always brought back to God’s word as the source for every need.
  • Shares stories and experiences when the biblical passage and life experiences intersect
  • Teaches with DEPTH …less about covering the content and more about engaging the content.

Regarding depth, Adults indicated that only 14 percent of a possible study time should be dedicated to teacher explanation or lecture as opposed to 40 percent for discussion and hands on learning. The Younger Unchurched and the Churches that Reach Them, Stetzer, Hayes

I have the joy of teaching a small group of adults on Sunday mornings.  I’ve discovered that they really do want                   a ‘word-driven’ Bible study that ‘begins, returns, and ends with God’s word’; one that doesn’t waste time but uses the full hour for Bible study.  I’ve also discovered that they enjoy learning in creative ways and that transformation has no age limit; even senior adults.  Paul wrote in his letters that transformation comes by the “renewing of your minds”.  This renewing work of God’s Spirit is a life-long activity.  All adults continue to be transformed into the likeness of Christ by God through the renewing of their minds and attitudes.  We do not change the way we learn as we mature.  Our learning style doesn’t shift so much as does our reticence to change.  If we have been used to learning only by lecture, then this is the way we expect to learn when we come to Bible study.  It may not meet our primary learning style, but it’s the way “ we’ve always done it.”

That doesn’t mean, however, that adults don’t enjoy learning in creative ways; even senior adults.  Simply check out the programs that are offered at adult centers and YMCAs, and you’ll discover that adults are some of the most involved, creative people around.  Why should Bible study be different?  Church is often the only place that adults are asked to come sit, soak, and sour.  This should not be!

Andragogy is the art and science of adult learning and it assumes that adults come with experiences to share and if they do not share, then little or no learning takes place.  Many adults have had years of biblical study and many wonderful stories.  The leader can set up an environment in which the members can feel safe and unthreatened to share what they know or some of their experiences.  Remember, the statement, “Where there is no involvement, there is no learning” was written by Gaines Dobbins when he was in his eighties!  As an educator of adults he recognized the benefit of involving people, at all ages.

So, teach like Jesus.  Ask your class, What’s written in God’s Word?  How do you interpret it?  What do you think? Then sit back and let them get involved in discovering for themselves biblical truths that can transform their lives.

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Phil Stone is the State Sunday School Director for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.

Sunday School in a Transformational Church

This is article four of a ten part series. Click here to view the previous article.

Mission Oriented

 

If Sunday School is to become a transformational ministry, its mission must be to make disciples that become more like Jesus.

But I believe that in many of our churches Sunday School has lost its purpose.   It has become simply a program that exists to sustain itself.  Today, we have a lot of people that diss a program.  There is nothing wrong with a program; it’s simply an organized way of doing something.  We’re reminded in TC:  If structure is not added to what God starts, the powerful momentum can be short lived. Tri Robinson, Revolutionary Leadership

However, when a program is not mission-oriented it quickly loses its reason for being.  The focus is on keeping the program spinning, and consequently on Sunday morning the Sunday School Director goes to the secretary’s office and helps her count nickels and noses and if there is a vacant hole, he grabs a round person and stuffs him into that square hole just to keep the program spinning.  It exists to sustain itself, not to accomplish the mission.  Sunday School must re-discover its true identity and purpose; not as a program or a church growth strategy but a mission-oriented ministry for making disciples and transforming lives through Transformational Small Communities.

Read Acts 8:30-35 and Listen for God’s Mission…

Later God’s angel spoke to Philip:  ‘At noon today I want you to walk over to that desolate road that goes from Jerusalem down to Gaza.’

He got up and went.  He met an Ethiopian eunuch coming down the road. He was riding in a chariot and reading the prophet Isaiah.

The Spirit told Philip, ‘Climb into the chariot.’  Running up alongside, Philip heard the eunuch reading Isaiah and asked, ‘Do you understand what you’re reading?’ He answered, ‘How can I without some to help?’ and invited Philip into the chariot with him.  The eunuch said, ‘Tell me who is the prophet talking about:  himself or some other?’  Philip grabbed his chance.  Using this passage as his text, he preached Jesus to him.

The Message

What was God’s Mission? For Philip…For the church…For Sunday School…For your class or small group…For you…

The Mission has not changed! Principle:  A Mission oriented Sunday School is outwardly focused and intentionally evangelistic.

What is needed to develop a Mission-Oriented Transformational Small Communities ministry?

A Mission-Oriented Pastor

  • To lead the church to discover its Mission.
  • To Empower the Sunday School to accomplish its purpose of making disciples.

A Mission-Oriented Sunday School Ministry Team – Without a team, the SS Director’s hands are tied.  He can’t do this by him/herself.  With a team, a mission-oriented, transformational, disciple-making strategy can be planned.

  • Sunday School Director
  • Outreach Coordinator – Works with Class Outreach Leaders
  • Ministry Coordinator – Works with Class Care Group Leaders
  • Adult Representative – One of the Adult Teachers
  • Student/Youth Representative – One of the Youth Teachers
  • Children’s Representative – One of the Children’s Teachers
  • Preschool Representative – One of the Preschool Teachers

Functions of the Sunday School Ministry Team:

  1. Annual Planning: to accomplish the mission of the church.  Each spring the team meets for an extended planning time to plan the year of Sunday School Ministry.  Example:  Meet Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday afternoon.  Divide the year into seasonal quarters and plan each quarters work.
  2. Monthly Coordination: Keeping track and measuring progress of Transformational Ministry.
    1. Evaluate past ministries
    2. Coordinate current ministry
    3. Plan Ahead for future ministries

The team meets for one hour monthly to keep the ministry coordinated around the mission. 

A Mission-Oriented Sunday School Organization with a Missionary Mentality in which each group can answer the question:  Who is your ‘People Group’?

  • Age Grading
  • Life-Stage
  • Generational Group
  • Affinity Group
  • Inter-generational
  • Ethnicity

Organize your Sunday School based on who needs to be reached in your community. Create small groups so that each has a people group to reach.  Example:  People in a small group for 25-35 year old adults will focus on the 25-35 age group as their people group to reach.  This is a missionary mentality for developing a disciple-making culture.

Mission – Oriented Care Groups in Adult/Student Classes

  • One Care Group Leader for every 4-6 members
  • Function:  Contact Every Member and Prospect Every Week.

Next week’s blog post( number five of ten) will on Word Driven

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Phil Stone is the State Sunday School Director for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.