If you survey the average church goer and ask if their church is involved in missions, it would be safe to assume that many are. Some would respond that yes, they are taking trips around the world to share God’s love and others would say that they give to various mission offerings.
We see that missions is the work of God through the church by which the gospel of Jesus Christ is extended in word and deed to all people in the world.If a person is born again, they have been given a very specific assignment by God. Matthew 28:19–20 reads, "19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, evento the end of the age.”
Jesus has commanded every believer to take the gospel into all of the world. To make the easy transition of adding missions to what you are already doing, it is important to help students understand the biblical basis for missions. Help them to see why we should do this in addition to what we should be doing.
The first 11 chapters of Genesis are the introduction for the missions story. With the call of Abram in Genesis 12, the missionary theme gets underway. God called Abram to leave his country and promised to make a great nation beginning with him. The missions message continues throughout Bible. Matthew 4:18-20 shows Jesus calling His disciples to “Follow Him,” so that they could fish for people. Immediately the disciples left their nets and followed him.
We see here that a disciple is a follower of Jesus and missions discipleship is the lifelong process of equipping individuals to share the gospel of Jesus Christ to all people.
A recent statistic sates that the average church attender frequents the church twice a month. If you really think about it, you begin to understand that we as leaders have to make the most of the time that we have with our students. Once we reach them with the gospel and teach them about how God is at work in the world, we can begin to share a biblical worldview and global perspective with our students.
If you are not able to have year round missions discipleship in your student groups, here are ways that leaders can add missions to what you are already doing:
Begin by examining your network. Do you have a connection to a North American Mission Board or International Mission Board? Has a missionary been sent from your church? Many times your local association or state convention can point you in the direction of what missionaries are on their stateside assignment. This can be done by Skype or in person.
Weeks of Prayer
Teach students about the state, national and international weeks of prayer. Many times state convention, Annie Armstrong Easter Offering, and Lottie Moon Christmas Offering student lessons are written to correspond with these weeks. Help students understand the importance of giving to these offerings by showing them videos, pictures, and information of how this money is used to further God’s Kingdom.
When planning for summer camp, do you have options to select one with a strong missions emphasis? Is the particular camp leading students to understanding how they can move from just learning about missions to engaging in mission action and witnessing?
Getting students to understand the needs of their community is key to their understanding of missions. Three questions that you can ask yourself are: What people live in the area, what resources are available in my church/association, and what other ministries exist in the community. When you ask these questions you may discover many different types of community missions existing in your community such as: tutoring, food ministry, clothes closet, literacy training, and so much more!
A great way to infect people with a heart for the world is through firsthand exposure to missions and missionaries through short-term mission experiences. Missions becomes real to people when they go. If your group is preparing for a trip mission team training is vital. CARRY ON by Libby Quigg (chapter 7) explains how this is done. The International Mission Board website also has great resources.
Share a Missions Story
Has a team in your church arrived home from serving on the mission field? Invite them to share their experience with the students and recall how they saw God at work. This gives the team time to debrief and allows the student to know that all members can pray, some give, and some go.
Students on Mission
Did you know that WMU is offering a new way to target co-ed group leaders looking for ways to teach and engage students in missions? Missions Journey: Students curriculum has been released and it includes a missions story, video, debrief, activity, and prayer time. This is an excellent resource for ways to drop in undated and relevant missions material.
As we are going, telling and making disciples of all nations explore ways we can teach others what it means to cultivate a missions lifestyle. Let’s join God at work and have some missions fun!
Written by Jess Archer, used by permission of Louisiana Baptists