Reach the World!
Decently and In Order
By Mike Augsburger
I had my first experience with gardening this spring/summer. A coronavirus quarantine caused stir-crazy people like me to brave new adventures on the home front. My 10-year-old son especially enjoyed the process of building the raised bed, prepping the soil, and tending the garden. Nearly every day he would run outside to “check on the garden.”
I learned a lot about trellises as well. I can tell you this: next year I’m going to trellis my cucumbers because I’m not sure my neighbor appreciated his trees being used as the growing apparatus for my garden vegetables! The right balance between a trellis and natural growth leads to a very fruitful garden!
In Marshall and Payne’s book, The Trellis and the Vine, they argue that churches trend in one of two directions: too much trellis, or too little trellis. Too little trellis looks like this: “We don’t organize anything. We just show up each week and let the Holy Spirit do what he wants. We don’t even have a church budget! Whatever the Spirit brings in we distribute as we see fit.”
That sounds like a Halloween nightmare to me! Other churches however, go the other direction and form committees to manage the committees that form the committees that decide who can serve on future committees. That, my friends, is a sure way to extort a resignation out of any pastor.
A NEW TRELLIS
Our church has progressed in navigating our missions ministry, but much more can be done. Over the years we’ve implemented a strategy for supporting fewer missionaries with more money. We developed and implemented a missions policy. We’ve engaged in missions trips and projects. However, much more can be done, and more people need to be involved in the process.
In the past few years, we’ve engaged deacons in the missions process, but never really raised it to the level of a missions team. With the help of a motivated deacon (thanks Mike Hiatt), we are ready to assemble a trellis that will—Lord willing—result in a fruitful missions ministry.
The Priority of Polity
Our church polity reads like this: We are governed congregationally, led by pastors, and served by deacons. This means that most ministries of the church are led by the oversight of a pastor, served by deacons, and carried out by members of the congregation.
As we form the mission team, it is led by the oversight of two pastors (Mike and Scott), and served by three of our deacons. The five of us will navigate the big picture of our missions ministry: policy administration, missionary reviews, budget needs, etc. This could be considered the executive team of the missions ministry.
A Team Powered by Sub-Teams
Beyond the big picture of the missions ministry are the fine details and micro-administration. In order to accomplish this, we have developed four sub-teams, each headed by members of the congregation. All of the sub-teams will collectively participate in planning and executing missions month, which is typically in October.
The leaders of these sub-teams are free to recruit other church members to help disseminate the workload. Here are the names and duties of the sub-teams.
CARE AND PRAYER TEAM:
This team seeks to engage and build relationships with missionaries in order to meet their unique prayer and care needs. Not only will they personally pray for the missionaries, but will also find ways to connect our missionaries to the congregation, giving us all the opportunity to pray for, and help care for their needs.
Many of you probably don’t realize that our missionaries regularly communicate with our church through letters and emails. Some of this communication is sensitive and cannot be shared publicly. In other cases, it is free to share to anyone. This team will seek to streamline the missionary communication to the congregation. Additionally, they will help produce visuals and graphics for missions month and for the missions display in our church foyer.
SHORT-TERM IMMERSION TEAM:
One of the best ways to connect with missionaries and increase your own burden for world-wide missions is to engage in a short-term mission trip. Our church has sponsored several of these in the past, but we can certainly do more! This team will investigate opportunities for STM trips, and find ways to connect these to our congregation.
When missionaries come to town, where do they stay? Who gets to connect with them over meals? In the past, our church staff has handled this administration. However, this has potentially deprived our congregation of sharing in this blessing. This team will help schedule our missionaries to stay in homes and connect with our congregation over meals. Additionally, they will seek to organize encouragement cards and notes to our missionaries while they are on the field.
From Formation to Fruitfulness:
On October 7, 2020 we met for the first time as a newly-formed missions team. Pray for us as we organize our efforts around our mission to make more and better disciples.
Also, be in prayer about how you can participate in missions. Do any of these ministry opportunities sound interesting to you? How could God use you to help further the gospel around the world through our missions ministry?
At the end of the gardening season, my tomatoes did awesome, but my cucumbers underperformed. Why? I cluelessly moved forward with very little trellis for the cucumbers. For next year, I already have a plan, and I’m hoping for an abundant harvest!
Instead of cucumbers, God’s using us to nurture and harvest souls. Let’s pray this new trellis gives us the structure we need to glorify God in the missions ministry of Soteria Church!