Participating in international missions can be transformative for your congregation, and it likely doesn’t require the investment of time or resources you’re anticipating.
In the wake of COVID-19, the need for tangible, global support is greater than ever before, and the need for gospel truth is equally pressing. Many people are struggling to survive, and there are whole cultures that have never encountered Christianity. How could the average American congregation possibly meet all these needs?
Whether your church is large or small, the eternal impact you could have is immeasurable. And in contributing to the health of the global church, your own congregation will benefit immensely.
Why International Missions?
1. Your church can take a more active role in the Great Commission.
It can feel overwhelming to think about the totality of the task that Jesus Christ left: spreading the gospel to all the nations of the world.
So, how do you, as a pastor, effectively approach the challenge of the Great Commission? Start by connecting with missionaries and organizations all over the world. They’re serving in large cities, rural outposts, and villages, doing the daily work of ministry. They understand the needs of the individual communities they serve and how to best use donated resources.
Just as a shepherd returns for a single sheep, so too does God treasure each individual soul. Today, your church can help these local organizations effectively identify and minister to individuals. While financial support is always appreciated, your congregation can also contribute to the Great Commission’s call by building relationships with native missionaries and by offering emotional and spiritual support to those on the ground.
2. Your people will be energized by the tangible changes they see.
We’re called to not only work on our own spiritual health and growth but also to reach out and help others. Missionaries are addressing real-world problems in real time, but support from churches and individuals is critical for this work to take place.
Seven Saves is one example of a successful, tangible partnership that can be forged between churches in the United States and the work being done around the world. This program works with individuals on the ground in Latin America as they serve alongside local churches to distribute meals to children in need. A $7 donation can feed a hungry child for a month. And each donation also funds a secondary project, such as delivering Bibles, building water filtration systems, or providing school supplies.
Even a small monthly contribution can be galvanizing to your church. Congregants can be inspired by understanding the global need, recognizing that their financial contribution is helping feed both bodies and souls. Such impact can provoke more energizing, unifying work.
3. Your work together can foster a fresh sense of unity.
Talking about the collective work of your people is powerful. Consider how to foster conversation and brainstorming around ways your congregants can contribute. This may look like hosting meals or open houses, providing starter questions, and watching how the Holy Spirit can guide and direct.
Just as every individual believer is gifted with unique talents, so individual churches have particular bents or giftings. Encourage your congregants to lean into their various areas of experience and expertise, and then ask how they can leverage these abilities to further the gospel around the world.
4. Your church will grow in understanding.
In the US, we are often isolated from the challenges of extreme poverty and underdevelopment, but one benefit of participating in international missions is gaining awareness of the immense struggles many face. Whether personally serving or supporting those who serve internationally, increasing awareness will stretch your congregation’s imagination and capacity to see and help.
Consider the ripple effects of one significant global struggle: access to clean water. How does the lack of a clean and reliable water source affect daily life? Water collection may take such a great amount of time that individuals miss paid work, or they drink water that is contaminated and then makes them sick, which perpetuates a host of additional problems. Perhaps due to water issues in your own city, this cause is one your church is particularly motivated to contribute to.
Food insecurity is another pressing issue. When someone is unsure where their next meal is coming from, they are less likely to be able to focus on higher-level tasks or even plan for the future. How can a country prioritize education or breaking the cycle of poverty when basic needs remain unmet? Learning more about this struggle may inspire your congregation to invest both in a local food pantry and global work addressing food scarcity.
Participating in international missions gives your church a healthier perspective by cultivating awareness, understanding, and empathy. And, as a result, your people will be inspired to be more generous stewards of God’s gifts as they strive together as a community to see and meet these global needs.
Seven Saves, a new program through Food For The Poor, can provide everything your church needs to identify and execute meaningful international missions projects. Even better? It’s an easy-to-launch initiative that provides you with planning and resources for free. Learn more at SevenSaves.org.