Important concepts on how to mobilize a church.

See also PRAYER:Principles

Q From: Christopher T. Vannoy <74224.677@CompuServe.COM> ..Can you provide me any info on how to most effectively mobilize the local church? ... What are some principles that are seen in effective mobilizations?


ANSWER From: Robert Schroeder <100714.1660@CompuServe...>
One of the most important keys to mobilizing churches is to mobilize the pastors. If the pastors do not have a heart for world missions, you cannnot moblize the church. In order to win the heart of a pastor, one must develop a trust. Therefore, if you want to mobilize churches, you will have to develop relationships with the leaders. A missions mobilizer with pastoral experience has a good opportunity to build such relationships, because he can understand the pastor with all his cares and concerns.

Another way to develop trust, is to show interest in all areas of church life. Being pushy is counter productive.

Because most churches are under informed about missions, a seminar can be helpful to motivate and inform a congregation. However, before the church is ready for a seminar, their interest may need to be whetted through sharing stories about what God is doing around the world.

I am presently doing a missions mobilization project in the Czech Republic. The first church in which I conducted a seminar, has taken steps to become mobilized. We are now encouraging this church to share it's experience with other Czech congregations. This is only at the beginning stages, so I cannot report results, but I think it will be helpful.

ANSWER From: John Olson <73551.3251@CompuServe.COM>
...We served as church planters in the USA before serving as missionaries for nearly 30 years. Teens think we are old but my peers say age is relative! So we have been serving as District Missions Consultants for the last 5 yrs with the Ev Free Ch Mission and still have a few to go before retirement. Both Wilson and Schroder did a good job in replying. Nate gave mostly program suggestions. So I will give some other principles. With fear of turning you off let me just continue with the alliteration inasmuch as Vannoy asks about principles.

  1. PRAYER. ...First of all YOU must pray much, not just get the church to do it. W/o prayer you or your congregation will go no where. You must pray for God to change hearts.
  2. PASTORS. W/o a pastor on board you are fighting a losing battle. Short-term trips are good for the pastor, but they are not a cure-all. Some do no better than laymen, ie, they go and come back only wondering when they can go again. You see no difference in the pulpit or program. For others there is dramatic change but VERY few mobilize the entire church for mission, therefore, another person is needed to mobilize.
  3. PERSEVERANCE. Be ready to stay in it for the looong haul. It can't be done in a year or two. If your church policy is to have the missions chair rotate off the committee after 3-4 years you have a strike against you. In 3-4 yrs you will just have a good start.
  4. PATIENCE. You will need much of it. People will not always understand and you will have to teach them.
  5. PARTICIATION. ...Start by getting the committee or people in the cong to participate in the work. Even if you do one person at a time in a year you will be 2 or 3 ahead of where you were last year.
  6. PLAN. This sounds so basic it is taken for granted but my guess is by far most churches do not have long range plans. They probably would like to have one but they don't know how to make one and carry it out.
  7. PRACTICAL SUGGESTIONS. If you belong to a denomination request help from your missions consultant or rep. Most denom have, or will have, in the near future a person who can help you over that looong haul. For example, we work with a church four to eight months as consultants and coaches and are always only a phone call or e-mail message away. Besides that we gather several churches together twice a year in different areas for continuing missions ed. If you do not belong to a denomination that offers help be sure to join ACMC, attend their conferences and see if they have an area rep that will neet with you and your church. Even if your denomination offers help, join ACMC. If you are charismatic there is a counterpart [AIMS].
  8. PURCHASE the new book, Global Action Planner, by Dr. Bruce Camp. Contact ACMC. 708-260-1660

Don't overlook the suggestions of both Nate and Robt to build relations. You must know what the entire church is doing, appreciate the work & show it. After all every single program in the church should be driven by the command to "make disciples". That is not only for missions. But most often people don't realize it.

From: (Chris)
Several people have written in the past about the role of discipleship in mission mobilization. Mission work is not an add-on, optional program that the American church invented to supplement the lack of geography teaching in the public school system. Mission is at the heart of the discipleship process as well as its goal. For effective mobilization to occur the Christian disciple must rest his head on the bosom of Jesus and rejoice in the vision of heaven while living in exile on a pagan island. Mission is not the result of a successful pro

gram or exciting, creative ministry. These may generate excitement and emotional commitments, but the mobilization that generates long-suffering missionaries that stick it out in the hardest fields are those who understand the suffering of Christ on the cross on behalf of the sins of mankind. They are those who believe in the tragedy of hell and the efficacy of God's call, who are rooted in a life of believing, persevering prayer, who believe that Christ's blood is sufficient to cleanse us from iniquity, God's grace is sufficient in our weakness, and God's Spirit is able to lead us through darkness and fear. These are the disciples who will be more than conquerors through faith in Jesus Christ. They will "go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands." Isaiah 55:12.

Any church-based mission program should ensure first that the discipleship ministry of the church is in good working order. This involves knowing that the church is a safe haven for vulnerability because God cares (1 Peter 5:7), a place for deep, loving, nurturing relationships, because we are called to love each other in the love of God through Christ in us (John 13:34), a place for grow th through trials and testings (James 1:2-3) and a place that is known as a house of prayer, and not a den of thieves (Luke 19:46). God's grace and love should be modeled in the life of every church member. The Word of God should be taught powerfully and faithfully with little accommodation to the ways of our culture.

In a culture of moral decay, the missionaries sent out from a church should be strong enough to overcome the pull of earthly gravity and not come crashing back after a launch. He or she must be very secure in God's love.

All the glitz and glamor of a Missions Weekend won't cover up the stench of decay if the Spirit of God is not revealing God's love for the world, the love that sent his Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for the sins of mankind, the love that raised him from the grave so that all who believe should not perish but have eternal life.

What else can I say, it's the preacher in me.


<> My wife and I did some church planting in the US before going to Venz in '62 with the Ev Free Church. We wore several hats during our nearly 30 yrs there, including church planters. Since coming back to the US in '91 (& NO, I 'm not retired!) I have been a mobilizer, of sorts, for the EFC Mission in the Great Lakes Dist: 170 churches in IL, IN, W. OH, Lo MI, St. Louis Cty, MO, and a couple of churches in KY. (How did MO and KY sneak into the Great Lks?)

As I read over the MANY messages from this "brigada" I get all excited and think here is another mobilizer with a terrific idea. We MUST invite him to come and tell us what the secret is and how to really do mobilizing! But alas, when someone is honest enough to tell it like it is: "low attendance, no one came, etc.", I realize most of us are not having much more success that the rest.

We all know by now that missions is NOT numbers: most meetings, most miles, most new fields, most candidates, money or even conferences (although some still seem to measure success by these standards.)

Take a look at our brochures: ACMC, yours, mine and others. Really great topics: How to do this and that. Boat/home show type envelopes full of info. Mine are the best of course! Results? Not many!

Why are there not many results? I have studied this over from the mission side as well as from ch. growth & infrastructure, because I am on the church planting commission in this district. Here are a couple of conclusions: 1) Most churches change board/committee members far too often, therefore there is no continuity. This includes not only missions but also elders, deacons, [Christian Ed.], etc. You all knew this, of course! 2) Our topics on vision, involvement, what we can look like and do; plans and strategy are WAAAY over the heads of most pastors (seminaries don't teach planning) and laymen. I used to think this was due to so many churches with blue collar missions committees. By talking to white collar workers directly and asking them about long range goals, plans and strategies, etc., I have found they know little more and do no more than others. AND this is not only in the realm of missions but any other area of the church.

Here are two topics I think we should all announce in our next brochure and then send to all the pastors: 1. "How the Missions Committees Plan to Take Over the Entire Church." 2. "Why Our Pastor Should Be Rotated from Committee to Committee from Year to Year and Not Allowed to Replace Himself After Three Years."

Couldn't resist that as I knew I was losing you! On the serious side I decided long ago that I could not work with 170 churches on an individual basis. I have formed nine networks of missions committees in our 17 areas, which means I have 8 left to go! I have met with several churches in these 9 areas twice a year for three years with moderate "success". By that I mean, where there are only 3 or 4 churches, attendance may be only 4-8 people. When there are several churches in an area, attendance is from 20 to 30. So far, people have left saying they learned a lot and are willing to return in six months.

I have never attempted this in connection with any other meeting, conference, etc. We have always met from 9-11:30 a.m. on Sat. We have never had 100% attendance from any committee and only get participation and attendance from "non-fanatics" when we announce something in their area of work. Example: Sunday School and CE people may come when we talk about miss ed. People who have been on short-term trips come when we announce sh-terms as discussion topic, even though they may not be on the mission commmittee. (I would be willing to dialog w/ anyone out there mildly interested in these "networks".)

The area I judge to be most successful and which has the most pastor attendance and participation is an area where all the pastors have visited a miss field at least once and some several times. Although I judge these "networks" to be moderately successful, I still feel they leave much room for improvement.

The Orinoco River, Venz., floods tens of thousands of acres of low lands every year. Though it is many miles wide, it is very shallow in a lot of places, thus the proverbial "ten miles wide and 1" deep." That is probably a parable of the mobilizers because we want more attendance, acceptance and action. I am going to continue to do the "networks" but will now work with a very few churches on an ongoing basis (once a month for six months) as coach/mentor. Why is that so amazing when Jesus had ONE disciple whom he loved, an inside group of three, and only twelve BEFORE the 120 in the upper room and 500 AFTER the resurrection?

Last Feb. I felt led of the Spirit to preach an evangelistic message. We asked God to send us even first time visitiors. He did that. One is a man, born in Amman, Jordan. He received Christ within the week of his first visit. SERENDIPITY! He is also very interested in missions and I am "discipling" him in the faith and missions. He has personally written to all the missionaries supported by the church, redone the mission bulletiin board and is giving a 5 minute "heartbeat" with prayer for the miss'y of the month in the adult SS class. All this in a church that badly needs new blood and help.

Dag Hammarskjold said, "It is more noble to give yourself completely to one individual (one church) than to labor diligently for the salvation (mobilization) of the masses." (parenthesis mine. Quoted in Covey's "7 Habits of Highly Effective People", p. 201)...


Book review: Too Valuable to Lose

    1. Don't attempt to provide/create the total missions infrastructure by yourself.
    2. Develop careful (but not impossible) standards in the selection, screening, equipping, training, sending and shepherding process. Be proactive in these areas.
    3. Provide your own special kind of shepherding for missionaries, and also hold agencies accountable for the promised field-based shepherding.
    4. Question the current (Bible School and seminary missionary training) process that focuses primarily on formal study plans and degrees. Ensure equipping that focuses on character, relationality, on ministry skills, and substantial knowledge for missions.