Our tendency to make much of the distinction between small churches and large churches hasn’t been healthy for our understanding of missions. Because big churches have large budgets and a staff dedicated to social media, they can show the great mark they’re making on their communities and around the world. Small churches don’t have the budget, the megaphone, or the people to do things on the same scale.
Too often we assume this means small churches can’t be involved in global missions and are too small to make a significant impact beyond the few saints they marry and bury. Nothing could be further from the truth, however. Small churches can fund missionaries, send missionaries, take part in short-term missions, and fan a flame for the nations in their churches.
“Small churches can fund missionaries, send missionaries, take part in short-term missions, and fan a flame for the nations in their churches.”
But these types of efforts don’t happen by accident. To have an influence beyond their walls, small churches must take purposeful steps to engage their people in global missions.
Here are four ways small churches can take steps towards engaging in global missions.
1. Pray for Missionaries
As with most areas of church life, the pastor acts as the catalyst for engaging in global missions. One simple way to get the ball rolling is to start praying for missionaries by name in your worship services. Before the offering, share about a missionary or mission effort and pray for them. Here are six (unexpected) things you could pray for.
If you don’t know any missionaries personally, contact the IMB and NAMB to get prayer cards. Place them in a prominent place in your church’s facility. Let people know that their offerings help fund these mission efforts, and encourage them to pray for the highlighted missionary during the week.
2. Get to Know Missionaries
Nothing grasps our attention and affections when it remains in the abstract. It can be difficult to get Christians to pray for and support global missions as long as it remains a discussion about places they’ve never been and about people they’ve never met.
As a pastor, find practical ways to get missionaries and their stories in front of your congregation. Talk to people in your circles and find out if they know missionaries who will be stateside and could speak at your church. Contact our mission boards to discover what resources they may have for making someone available to tell their story to your church body.
You can also show the promotional videos for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. While church members won’t get to meet the missionaries in person, they will get to hear the story of what the Lord is doing through missionaries in their voice.
3. Partner with Other Churches’ Mission Trips
Smaller churches often believe that having bivocational pastors and limited financial resources make taking mission trips impossible. However, smaller churches can find other churches or associations to partner with for mission trips. This gives members the opportunity to engage in global missions while not having to take on the massive responsibility of coordinating logistics.
“Short-term mission trips not only bless the missionaries they serve, but they also start to fan a flame for missions in the hearts of the people who go.”
Short-term mission trips not only bless the missionaries they serve, but they also start to fan a flame for missions in the hearts of the people who go. They get a firsthand glimpse of the needs around the world and how the Lord is working to meet them through his people. They come back telling stories that get other people interested and spark a passion that could spread throughout the church.
4. Serve Internationals in Your Own Community
We rightly think about “going” to the nations, especially since the Great Commission tells us to “go.” At the same time, have you noticed that the nations are coming to us? More and more of our communities are seeing an influx of immigrants. While many people debate the role of immigrants in our society, the Christian should see their presence in our communities as a blessing from God and an opportunity to fulfill Jesus’s final command.
Approach internationals living in your community as neighbors. Show them hospitality. Welcome them into your circle of friends. Find out the difficulties they face as they settle into a new home. Learn how you can minister to them and serve them in Jesus’s name.
Get Started Today
Nothing is easier than excusing a lack of passion for the global spread of the gospel. In smaller churches, we appeal to our need to simply survive. After all, how can we think about the world when we struggle to pay the light bill?
Focusing on global missions will not make the difficulties that you face go away, but it’ll give your church a reason for existing beyond keeping the lights on. You can, with the Spirit’s help, play a strategic role by taking small steps to take part in the Great Commission.
Pray, get to know missionaries, go on a trip, and meet your international neighbors. These sacrifices will make an eternal difference among the nations.