4 Ways Your Church Will Benefit By Participating in International Missions
Has your church ever participated in international missions? If so, you know how rewarding and important the experience can be.
There’s a huge need for tangible aid, as well as plenty of opportunities to share the gospel. “At least 4,000 cultures (out of 14,000) have not encountered Christianity, most of which are Muslim, Hindu, or Buddhist in the Global South,” according to a research article written by Christian scholars.
While a few hundred thousand people worldwide serve as long-term missionaries, as many as 2 million Americans take part in short-term missions each year.
Even if travel is not part of your plans, there are plenty of ways to support these efforts, including financial and spiritual support. You’ll notice a real difference in the communities you’re helping, and then watch for the transformation in your life and your congregation.
Here are 4 ways your church will benefit by participating in international missions.
1. You’ll feel a sense of fulfillment when you take a more active role in the Great Commission
It can feel overwhelming to think about the totality of the task that Jesus Christ has left us: spreading the gospel to all the nations of the world. But it’s vitally important.
How can we break down the challenge of the Great Commission? We can start by connecting with missionaries and organizations that are on the ground all over the world. They’re working in communities and villages in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and beyond. They understand the needs and how to be most effective with our resources such as time and money.
While we know billions of people have not yet heard the Good News of the gospel, it’s crucial for us to understand that reaching even one or two people is a success. Focus on what you have control over. Can you find a way to support a mission financially? Or can you share your time? You could help organize friends and family to give to a cause that you’re passionate about, or you could even go overseas on a short-term or long-term mission trip.
Brainstorm one or two ways you can dedicate yourself and your church family to this central tenet of our faith.
2. Your congregation will be energized through making a real difference
We’re called to not only work on our own spiritual health and growth but also to reach out and help others. Missionaries are helping to solve real-world problems. Support from churches and individuals is critical for this work to take place.
Seven Saves is one example; participants feed a hungry child and change a life for just $7 per month. The program has people on the ground in Latin America who partner with local churches to distribute the meals. Each church participating in Seven Saves (since we mention churches in the previous sentence, I think this needs some clarification) also picks a project to fulfill a need, such as providing Bibles, water filtration systems or school supplies.
Even making a small monthly contribution can be energizing. Church members recognize that they’re feeding hungry kids in Latin America, and they are nourishing souls at the same time. This is meaningful work that can provide a morale boost to your congregation.
3. You’ll foster a fresh sense of unity by pooling your resources to tackle a bigger goal
Talking about the work your congregation is doing collectively can be unifying. Is there an engaging process behind selecting a project? Are there open houses, written materials and opportunities to ask questions and have conversations?
Once your church has decided where to center its efforts, there may be a sense of buzz. People can come together and chat about the opportunity, the updates and their role in the bigger picture. That can bring your congregation closer together.
4. You’ll increase your familiarity with global challenges
Serving internationally will help shape your heart as a Christian and as a global citizen. We are often isolated from the challenges of extreme poverty and underdevelopment, but one benefit of participating in international missions is gaining awareness about the immense struggles in other parts of the world.
What does it really mean to not have access to clean and reliable running water? When collecting water can take a good chunk of the day and then drinking it can make you sick, that presents a whole host of other challenges. It can take away from paid work or community development, which then perpetuates the status quo.
Have you ever missed a day’s worth of meals? What’s it like to suffer from food insecurity? Which is worse, the physical toll or the mental one – anxiety, uncertainty, fear? When you’re unsure where the next meal is coming from, it’s likely impossible to focus on higher-level tasks. For example, hungry kids have a harder time focusing in school, which can prevent them from breaking the cycle of poverty.
Participating in international missions gives you new perspectives on how others are living their lives – and how we can help by being better stewards of God’s gifts. More familiarity with global challenges makes us more educated and calls us to be more compassionate, which can have benefits that ripple through our personal lives and our church community.
Seven Saves is a brand new program through Food For The Poor that can provide everything your church needs to identify and execute a meaningful international missions project that will lift more people out of poverty. Even better? It’s a “plug-and-play” initiative that provides you with planning and resources, with no commitment of church budget. Learn more at: sevensaves.org.