In a recent article, I outlined resources for planning a Summer Mission Project. Have you planned one for your worship ministry? In this article I want to share how to train your people for effective missions.
Here are two excellent resources to identify the needs in your mission target area, whether that’s your own neighborhood or across the country:
• Search your target zip code for statistics about its cultural context: income and education level, family status, music preferences, ethnicity, etc. Websites recommended by Curt Watke, director Intercultural Institute for Contextual Ministry, to help you are: zipwho.com; city-data.com; and zipdatamaps.com.
• DoSomethingChurch.org is a ministry of Rock Church, in San Diego. On the website, click on “Resources” then “Opportunity Map.” Register your free profile, enter a zip code, then view a range of “symptom centers” in your mission target area. Each “symptom center” listing includes address and contact info so you can pray for and minister to them.
Once you have determined a target location, train your people to minister in that specific situation. Here are some general considerations for training your mission project participants:
• Secure liability insurance coverage for each trip or event.
• Perform background checks on anyone in your organization who comes in contact with minors at mission sites.
• Prayer-walk the missions area before and after every mission event and never stop praying beforehand and the whole time you are there.
• Dress toward the fashion of your target group. But be authentic and real.
• Focus on others and be outgoing. Too often Christians huddle together talking and laughing among themselves on the mission field, oblivious to those God has brought to them.
• When someone asks “What are you doing here?” teach your mission team to respond in a number of ways that are non-threatening: “We’ve came to show and tell how much God loves people”; “I’m here to show that God is making a difference in my life”; “We discovered there was a need here and felt God calling us to help meet that need”. Find a personal response that introduces your story and see if they will give you permission to share more.
• Be clean, so that your smell is neutral: no bad breath, body odor, heavy cologne, etc.
• Remove sunglasses, even in a bright outdoor setting. They prevent eye contact.
• Never be alone with a person of the opposite sex or a minor. Stay in sight of the group at all times.
• Be conversational and relational. Avoid a sales pitch approach. Use everyday language and avoid religious jargon. Don’t be long-winded.
• Avoid extreme behaviors. Be quietly confident.
• Lead people into conversations about themselves, then ask leading questions about their spirituality. Emphasize that God wants a relationship with them and focus on the gospel message.
• Have key Bible verses so well-learned that you can share God’s word from your heart in the most natural way. You don’t have to know the answer to every question. It’s okay to say, “Yeah, I’m not sure about that. I’m praying for God to show me that answer, too.”
• Never ever discuss politics (and I do mean never ever).
• Don’t play the role of wealthy provider. It is okay to graciously say no when asked for money.
• Have a plan to maintain the flow of conversation. Many times a witnessing conversation will ebb and flow toward then away from the main issue.
• Don’t belabor the point. If they are not ready, return to friendly conversation and see if you can establish contact for ongoing conversations by e-mail or other written means.
It’s a leader’s responsibility to train our people appropriately. Don’t leave it up to them to figure it out on their own. Plan training sessions where you can teach and role play effective (and ineffective) methods.