A local church has its challenges when led by the Spirit to host an event. The biggest challenge comes when trying something that “has never been done” - whether a series of outreach activities, musicals, or a mission’s convention. I have pastored two churches, and the first had a Sunday service attendance of 35 people. Finances were a major issue in this church, and missions were an afterthought. Though I was only 23-years-old at the time, I understood the correlation between missions giving and a church’s finances.
Statistics tell us it is important that each Assemblies of God church has a convention. God uses a Mission’s Convention to bring to light what He wants to do in our churches. When a church becomes missions-minded, its philosophy of self, the community and the world changes, resulting in a Great Commission attitude.
I want to share with you five ideas that have worked for the small 35-people church, as well as for the current church I pastor in Griffin, Georgia.
1. Look at the end before you begin.
Envision in your heart what you want to accomplish. Understand that missions are much more than simply “raising money.”
2. Aim to accomplish three things during your Mission’s Convention: educate, motivate, and dedicate.
Ask yourself, “What does the congregation know and not know about the heart of God for the lost and Assemblies of God World Missions. Three to four weeks prior to the Mission’s Convention, begin to share a biblical view of reaching lost people. Your Mission’s Convention should tell a story. Great stories have an exciting beginning, a captivating story line, and a thrilling ending. I know of no better story than the sending of the Gospel.
3. Ensure everyone knows of the Mission’s Convention six months prior to its date.
Educate the church board and leadership about its goals and purposes. Involve all staff, including Sunday School and musical staff.
4. Creatively seek resources.
The small church didn’t have the money for flags or costumes, but we had a telephone, and we used it to call some of our sister churches for help. The main Bible College for the Christian Missionary Alliance located in the same city happily partnered with their largest church to lend us the flags and costumes we needed. We didn’t have the money to cater the food for our Friday banquet, so we asked each department to be responsible for a country or a region of the world. The Youth took Italy so they could provide, you guessed it, pizza! The Children’s Department took America so they could provide hamburgers, hot dogs, and apple pie. The Adult Sunday School class took another country, and so did those involved in the musical areas. Two things happened when we did this:
1) Every person took emotional ownership and became physically involved in our Friday Mission’s Banquet.
2) It cost the church absolutely nothing. The Women’s Ministry took charge of decorations! Saturday, we had a Men’s Breakfast with someone sharing about Light for the Lost and its worldwide impact.
5. Challenge your congregation.
Sunday morning and night, we asked our speaker to challenge people to give to missions, explaining also the Faith Promise concept. We collected Faith Promises during both services on Sunday and the banquet on Friday, thereby motivating people for the lost and giving opportunity for the Holy Spirit to touch lives. It was not uncommon for a person to make a Faith Promise during the Friday Banquet and by Sunday evening, have upped it considerably.
6. We ask all who feel called into full-time missionary or pastoral service to come forward at the conclusion of the final mission’s gathering.
We ask missionaries to lay hands on these individuals and pray over them, as families gather around in prayer.
I’ve seen incredible things happen during Mission’s Conventions during my years at Griffin First Assembly. I have watched people take steps of faith and see their businesses blessed, families healed, and whole lives turned upside down.
One of our youth asked her parents to bypass their plans to buy her a car and instead give the money to Speed the Light. Needless to say, she planned on becoming a missionary!
I have seen a father forgo a promotion to remain at our church so his son, who aspired to become a missionary, would grow up in a spirit-filled, mission-minded church.
The spiritual tide of our church is always very high at the end of our Mission’s Conventions. Our mission emphasis is the greatest and most important on our church calendar, and our amazing opportunity to finish the task so Jesus can come.