By Ann Staatz
Missions is a mindset, not a trip somewhere, Mitch Lamotte tells the congregation at Southwest Hills Baptist Church where he is pastor of evangelism and missions. Last year, between 10 to15 percent of his church's congregation attended the Mission Connexion conference in Portland, Ore.
Five hundred members of Solid Rock church will go on missions trips outside the United States this year, according to Mike McDonald, outreach pastor.
For churches to have this level of missions involvement, the leadership must keep missions at the forefront of their ministries. Here are ways these missions pastors promote missions in their congregations.
1. Include missions in your weekly church programs.
2. Organize local outreaches to train believers in evangelism. McDonald said, "If you're not a missionary locally, you won't be one globally."
- Integrate missions into your church's teaching year-round. Mike McDonald says this begins in the pulpit at Solid Rock. Church leaders need to help Christians understand their calling as believers. Missions isn't just a project one night a week, McDonald said. "Missionaries overseas are missionaries 24 hours a day," he said. "The same needs to be true here in Portland."
- Include a five-minute missions moment during the morning worship service. This keeps missions constantly in front of the congregation. Lamotte shows a missions video clip, highlights a church member just back from a missions trip, or features a brief talk by a missionary.
- Hold a monthly missions-focused potluck after the church service. Lamotte invites a missionary to speak for 15 or 20 minutes after the meal.
- Teach an ongoing Sunday school class on evangelism and missions. Lamotte says that as a result of his class, church members are learning what God's Word says about missions and evangelism as well as what God is doing around the world.
- Meet needs in the community. Solid Rock is starting a program to aid women leaving sex trafficking. Instead of helping build and support an expensive shelter, the church leadership is training interested families and couples to take these women into their private homes and help them rebuild their lives. The church is doing a similar ministry with homeless youth.
- Participate in local community festivals. Lamotte takes a team to "America's Largest Christmas Bazaar" at casino en ligne francais avec bonus sans depot Portland's Expo Center, to the Newberg Old Fashioned Festival, to the Sherwood Robin Hood Festival and to the Tualatin Crawfish Festival. Teens do "magic" tricks and offer face painting for children to attract people to the booth. The teens share the wordless book with children. Adult church members give away books to non-believers who say they are readers. "The Case for Christ" by Lee Strobel , "More than a Carpenter" by Josh McDowell and the "Living Waters" gospel of John go to adults. Kids receive "The Most Important Story Ever Told," a cartoon-style booklet telling the plan of salvation.
- Participate in community outreaches involving many churches, such as the Palau Season of Service. Lamotte said he wants his church to be a church to the community, not a church in the community.
- Help out at free health clinics. Teens from Southwest Hills Baptist Church offered face painting to children waiting in line at a local one-day clinic this fall. As they painted, the teens shared the gospel. By the end of the day, they had talked to nearly every family attending the clinic.
- Volunteer at a rescue mission. Three nights a month, Solid Rock church members serve food and talk with individuals coming to the Portland Rescue Mission. Up to 40 church members participate each time, McDonald said.
- Adopt a refugee family. Southwest Hills participates in a program similar to Angel Tree ministry. A refugee family moving to Portland receives a basket of gifts from the church.
- Help refugees adjust and assimilate into American culture. Southwest Hills members work weekly with a local organization to help refugees learn English, get drivers' licenses, and prepare for citizenship training. As the church members assist immigrants, friendships grow and provide opportunities to present Christ.
3. Support missions in the church budget. "Where your treasure is, there your heart is also," Jesus said. Southwest Hills Baptist gives more than 15 percent of its budget to missions, Lamotte said. The money comes from a designation in the church's budget and also from faith promise pledges the congregation makes. McDonald said Solid Rock gives 20 percent of its budget to missions outreach at home and abroad.
4. Provide a local missions experience before sending missionaries overseas. A couple from Southwest Hills Baptist desiring to work in the Middle East moved into a local apartment complex filled with Muslims. The church helped pay the couple's rent so they could practice loving these people before they went abroad, Lamotte said. As an added bonus, the congregation has gained an increased interest in this couple before they go overseas.
5. Meet your neighbors.
6. Go on an overseas missions trip. Solid Rock church has been sending a group to Haiti every month. Often people from other churches join the church's teams.
- Establish relationships with neighbors living near the church by mowing lawns, raking leaves and fixing fences for them.
- Hold Christmas open houses. For seven years, members of Southwest Hills have invited their neighbors into their homes to meet other neighbors, enjoy refreshments and receive a small gift. As church members get to know their neighbors, they can offer to pray for them, establish relationships and share Christ with them.
- Be sensitive to disturbances the church may cause in the neighborhood. When Southwest Hills holds its annual outdoor service, Lamotte visits each home near the church, introducing himself and offering free restaurant gift certificates. He explains to the homeowners that they may want to go out to eat the morning of the outdoor service.
- Offer a parents' appreciation day in December. Southwest Hills invites people living nearby to drop their kids off at the church for four hours of free entertainment while the parents Christmas shop or go out to dinner. The church does a background check on all babysitters.
7. Partner with local churches and indigenous ministries overseas. Solid Rock works alongside local churches in foreign countries that have a vision for ministry such as establishing orphanages.