Five years ago, our church hosted its first Global Impact Celebration. That weekend “mission revival” event was the culmination of about a year’s worth of work to get our mission house in order. With coaching and materials provided by The Mission Society, we developed a mission policy, identified significant partnerships and formed a plan for cultivating the resources to support those partnerships.
All great stuff because the fact was, we needed to clean up our mission house. Until then, I’d been what they call a “permission-giving pastor.” When someone came to me with a great idea, my response was usually, “If you can make it happen, help yourself!” Because of that, our outreach and mission efforts were a mile wide and an inch deep. Everyone’s special interest was being promoted; the fundraisers were beginning to nickel-and-dime us to death.
Even so, in the year before our first Global Impact Celebration our mission giving was about $5,700. Not a lot to show for all those yard and donut sales. And not a lot to show otherwise, either, except for some very tired volunteers.
Then we got connected with The Mission Society. They coached us toward a more focused approach. We developed a mission policy that helped us wade through all the great things out there and choose the ones that fit our vision and personality. The core litmus test for us became one line: Jesus at the center of everything we do. That one line has helped us say “no” to a lot of great ideas that simply aren’t inside our mission of making disciples of Christ. If Jesus isn’t part of it, it probably isn’t the project for us. That, and a few other guidelines, allowed us focus our energies and resources on twelve partnerships — some local, some regional, some global.
Once our policy was in place, we contacted those partners and invited them to a weekend of worship and conversation designed to educate our folks about what they do. We talked together about how best to connect throughout the year. During that weekend, we offered our folks the opportunity to sign up for intentional prayer for our partners that would continue throughout the year. Our people began to connect with the various partners as they aligned their passions and energies with the partner that best suited them. We also extended the invitation to our congregation to give beyond the budget needs directly toward missions.
As I said, the year before our first GIC we gave around $5,700 to mission causes.
The year of our first GIC? $55,370.
Yep … a ten-fold increase in direct giving to mission partners, simply because we got strategic and intentional.
And that level of missional giving was not a blip. It has continued and even grown, as has giving to our regular budget. As I write this, we are more financially healthy than ever.
Four GICs later, we’ve given more than $200,000 to mission causes. That doesn’t include the cash outlay for mission trips or denominational giving; that is strictly checks written toward local, regional and international ministries. Put that together with prayer and hands-on involvement and it begins to feel like maybe we’re actually making a difference in the world. A real difference. What’s more, our people are more passionate, more driven, because they are more Kingdom focused.
We’ve discovered the sheer joy of mission partnership. We love the folks with whom we serve! We love seeing them each year when they visit for our GIC weekend and we love hearing from them throughout the year as we pray for and support them. It feels more and more like a family reunion each time we get together. They are helping us write our family story and as partners we’re writing a chapter in God’s family story.
Why does any of this matter? Because missions is too important to get our leftovers. If we’re honest with ourselves that’s the way it tends to work, even in churches. We pay the bills, pay the staff, pay for programs, build the buildings, then hope for the best where the Great Commission is concerned. Having a strategy ensures that missions gets the best of our prayers, the best of our volunteer efforts and the best of our offerings … not just our leftovers.
We may not have the best church building in town (or even the best warehouse, for that matter) but I am absolutely convinced we are building the Kingdom as we live strategically into God’s plan for making disciples around the world.
The Global Outreach training offered by The Mission Society has changed the shape of our missions house. Every year it is like a little revival and this weekend we’ll be doing it again. From advance registrations it looks like this will be our best attended GIC yet. If you’re in town, come by and warm yourself in Mosaic’s mission fires.
Come, Lord Jesus, and give us your heart for the whole world.
To learn more about how The Mission Society helps local churches think strategically, contact Duane Brown (firstname.lastname@example.org) or visit their website (The Mission Society)