Weaving Mission Partnerships into Church Life

This article presents nine tips for weaving mission partnership into church life.

Does your church send or host mission trip groups or partner with a sister congregation or community ministry? If so, you’ve probably noticed an awareness gap between the people involved in the outreach and the rest of the congregation.

Here are nine tips for weaving mission partnership into church life:

  • Earmark a portion of your congregation’s building fund for a partner church. Faith Church built its current sanctuary two years after beginning a partnership with Riamakurwe Parish. Meanwhile, Lisa Decker notes, “The parish was feeding children out of a wooden shack and sending them home. It became apparent that the children also needed somewhere safe to live.” Faith Church used a percentage of its building fund to help put up a dormitory for Tumaini Children’s Home. Some members sponsored individual children by paying for their food, uniforms, and school fees.
  • Commission people in congregational worship before they leave for their project or when they come to your church to serve.
  • Cooperate with your mission partner to create a devotional that both groups will use. Faith Church and its friends in Kenya did this before the 2010 intergenerational mission trip.
  • Hold long-distance worship services. “There’s a longstanding tradition here of doing joint worship about once a year. People use email or cell phones to plan the service. Worshiping through Skype didn’t work for us, so we did it over the phone line, through our church sound system,” says Roberta J. Kearney, interim pastor at Faith Church.
  • Preach on what mission groups are studying. “Last summer I asked what scriptures would be used for the group devotions at workcamp and in vacation Bible school. I preached on them before and after the events,” Kearney says.
  • Regularly include mission partners in congregational prayer. At Faith Church, sharing joys and concerns is a central part of worship and can last more than 10 minutes. Kearney helps jog memories about situations beyond the congregation by asking, “How should we pray for our community…for our world?”
  • Put your money where your mouth is. Faith Church serves fairly traded coffee and tea and sells it to those who want to support small farmer cooperatives.
  • Use visuals that remind your congregation of friends in the mission partnership. Faith Church has used videos in worship, photos on bulletin covers, candle holders on the communion table, and textile art in members’ homes. You might also use communion table sets or fabrics, nativity sets, special dishes or recipes at church potlucks, or musical instruments from your mission partners’ community.
  • Learn how to talk about faith. Kearney reminds people, “Tell me your story—and tell me how it showed you that faith can be different. What did you learn about your relationship with God?”

 

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