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Evangelism

In this section you’ll find resources to help you in training your church for evangelism.  What could be more important?

Many of these resources are provided very generously by Michael Green from his book entitled: Evangelism Through the Local Church. These articles are full of practical wisdom and we recommend that you read them. 

Church Based Mission Weeks

Katy Kennedy

Written by Michael Green

You can download the PDF of this resource here.

 

Has our church considered a ‘mission week’?  How would it work if we did?

Many churches have found that the steps towards a full-blown mission follow some such pattern as this.

First comes the dawning of vision! We begin to ensure that our church's energies are directed into mission, not maintenance. Our eyes become opened to the fact that current church life is not proving very attractive to those who are not members. And that is often a painful realisation, because we all love patterns we have become accustomed to, and are reluctant to change.

As vision grows and we reflect on this, we may come to see the need for changes of all kinds: in those who greet people coming in at the door; in the hospitality offered to newcomers; in the creation of a team to extend a welcome to visitors during the day or two following their first appearance. Changes may well be called for in the type of service offered. The preaching may need to be radically changed in style, content, and visuals. The style of the music may need to change. A family service may need to be set up, or a new congregation started at another time of day. The dawning of vision may have all sorts of uncomfortable but profitable implications for the life of the local church!

This vision may be stimulated in a number of ways. If we have the humility, we may learn from adapting what other churches do when they grow. There may be one or more such growing churches in our neighbourhood, and then a lengthy lunch with the minister and one or two of the lay leaders could be very useful. Alternatively, we could read about some examples of growing churches and learn from them. MARC Europe did us a great service some years ago putting out a whole series of books of this nature, such as Ten Growing Churches, Ten Worshipping Churches, and so on. Many important principles can be gleaned and adapted from such books.

But perhaps the most helpful way of all to encourage the dawning of vision is to invite a team of people to come from a church you trust where renewal is already under way. I know from experience that a visit like that, if properly prepared for and if a large number of the receiving congregation turns out, can be a tremendous step forward. Careful liaison needs to take place beforehand. But an initial visit might usefully include the following elements.

A gifted teacher should be sought from the church to which you turn, along with one or more musicians, and possibly three or four people who are skilled in the Christian use of drama and dance. One or two others might be added to the team to meet your specific needs as a church, depending on what they are. The team would come for a weekend, arriving on the Friday afternoon and staying until late Sunday night or Monday morning. They would be accommodated in the homes of your congregation.

On the first night, the visiting team might be spread around, speaking at three or four evangelistic supper parties. Members of the congregation could invite a number of unchurched friends to come and have supper and meet a couple of the visitors who would be speaking on ‘A faith for today’, or some such subject. It is often wise to place the talk on such occasions between the first and second courses of the meal, which allows conversation to develop on the theme of the evening. The probable results will be that a few people actually come to the point of commitment, while others are fascinated and determine to come to hear more from these people on Sunday.

While all this is going on, the leader of the team and one of his other leaders spend an evening with the decision-making body of your church, opening their eyes to shared ministry, body life, the growth of love in a church, the need for and possibilities of training, pastoral care, and ways of reaching out into the community in obedience to Christ's commission. It is important that a ‘three line whip’ be issued to all members of the leadership, because until their eyes are opened and their hearts warmed to the possibilities of constructive change in the life of the church, they will oppose it, and instead of unity there will be disarray.

The next day, Saturday, could well be used for a conference, say from 9am to 4pm. It will begin with a plenary meeting for worship which is fresh, open and warm. This will be led by the visitors, and will include encouraging teaching on the need for all Christians to be involved in the life and ministry of the church, illustrated by recounting how this has come about (along with all the accompanying failures and hurts) in the church from which the visitors come.

The conference will then break up into a number of workshops for which people have signed up beforehand. The local minister will have planned these with the visitors well in advance, according to the perceived needs of the church. A workshop on prayer is fundamental; others might well be offered on witness, on leadership, on preaching and speaking, on drama, on youth work, on home fellowship groups, and on adult training in the church. One of the visiting team will be allocated to each of these groups and will lead it appropriately, paying much attention to where the members of the congregation are coming from, and to their hopes, fears and doubts. There will be the chance for a good time of prayer together. After lunch, either the seminars can continue with a further session, or people can join a second seminar, and so make the contribution of the visiting team broader in its impact.

The afternoon could fittingly end with an informal eucharist where personal ministry is offered to those who so desire, and opportunity given for members to bear testimony to what they have learned from the day. All this will have greatly kindled anticipation for the following day. The visiting team can have the evening off or, better, run something special for the youth of the neighbourhood at a barbeque or concert.

Sunday is an opportunity for the visitors to lead much of the services, both morning and evening. This gives a wonderful opportunity to experiment and show new things to the congregation, without their feeling that any innovations are set in concrete. It may be appropriate to make that Sunday morning service a Guest Service where members of the congregation really seek to draw their friends to church with them for the special occasion of the visiting team. If so, an evangelistic address could well be given, and this would perhaps draw to Christ some who had already been through the Friday supper parties, as well as others who may have been in church frequently (or rarely) without having made any personal commitment to Christ. If this approach is taken, it would of course require the prior preparation of one or two tried leaders within the congregation who could run a Discovery Group for those who come to faith through the sermon.

The weekend comes to a fitting close with an evening service of high celebration and praise, led by the visiting team. It needs to give scope for testimony from those who have been blessed through the visit, and personal ministry should be available at the end of the service.

 

The way ahead

In the wake of such a visit, all sorts of possibilities open up. People will surface who have been thrilled by the weekend. If there is not already a prayer meeting in your church, one will be likely to emerge, and it is something to foster with great care. It is the place where you can gather the keenest members of the congregation, while being sure to announce it at each service so that nobody can accuse it of being a clique. The people who have come to faith during that weekend will add new imagination and vitality to the church as they settle in. Someone may have experienced a healing, or want to share a testimony or some verses of Scripture which they feel God has given them, for the benefit of the congregation. New ministries may spring up. Somebody may come and offer to start a youth group, or a mothers' and toddlers’ club.

Be sensitive to what God is doing in your midst. Be much in prayer to see what his developing vision for the church may be. It could be useful, after a few months, to have a day of prayer and discussion about the life of the congregation. You could plan another evangelistic occasion and, this time, mount it from the local resources. And the planning of invitations, the subject-matter, the advertising, the music, the shape of the service, and above all the prayer, will do much to nourish the new life within the congregation and heighten the expectancy of faith. God delights to answer the trusting dependence of his people. And we are not very good at trusting God.  We are inclined to trust almost anything else: the service, the music, the minister, and so on. It is when the congregation gets to the point of expecting that God will do something through them and their worship that his hands seem to be freed to act and to draw people to himself!

 

The training of leaders

By now the vitality in the congregation should be on the increase. People may be wanting to serve the Lord, without knowing quite how. They may sense that every Christian has a ministry, but not know how to exercise it, nor even what it is. Some general principles may well be learned through the weekly prayer meeting, where you will be taking the core of the congregation deeper by your teaching. But the time will come when the pastor will want to provide some specific training of members of the congregation for the various areas of leadership into which God is leading them. He will want to put on a training course.

It is probably wise to set your sights high and send personal invitations to the key people in the church, including the office bearers. Go for a whole evening each week, perhaps with dinner supplied in the middle to break it up and to provide the opportunity for fellowship to grow. You could make it a three-month course, with twelve evenings, each divided into three parts.

The first part of the evening would be a time of informal worship, planned and led by three or four different people from the course each week. There should be time for vocal prayer, and a deep sense of worship in the singing and waiting on God. The second part of the evening should be a well-prepared address; for this, duplicated notes should be provided, and the main points presented visually. Since such a course must inevitably be somewhat general, space needs to be found within it to service the head, the heart, the knees and the feet of the participants. The head needs to be taught; the heart needs to be warmed; the knees need to bend in prayer and worship; and the feet need to be equipped to step out!

Accordingly, subjects such as these might usefully be included: every-member ministry; reasons for Christian belief; how to meet common objections to the faith; how to lead a home Bible study; how to help someone to Christ; how to prepare and give a talk; learning the art of listening; how to visit and help the bereaved, the abused and the depressed; how to lead an outreach meeting in the home; and one or two evenings on the body of Christ, first looking at the role of the family, the singles and the extended family, and then looking at how to enable  a group to function well.

There are other subjects that need to be covered. It may be good to handle these after the meal and for this third part of the evening to split the course members up into small ‘tutor groups’ (ie about six members round a leader), in which they stay for the whole of the three months. These groups will tease out the practical implications of some of the talks. For instance, the group members will all have their own problems to air on reasons for belief, and common objections that they meet with. The devotional life of the members will need strengthening, and so one or more evenings in the tutor group could be devoted to a communal time of Bible reading, prayer and sharing. On another night the group could do a role-play on faith-sharing with an interested enquirer. The care of the new believer would occupy another night, and so forth. One night would look at the practical outworking of every-member ministry; another might help the members to discover their own gifts through the perception of others in the group who have come to know and value them. And the course might end with a communion service and a commissioning.

Two other features in such a course have proved valuable. First, you could build in a full day-conference on one Saturday during the course, when you can tackle, at a practical level, some of the major doctrines they need to know: the nature of man; the reason for the cross; the fact and implications of the resurrection; and the person, gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit.

Second, let each tutor plan a weekend away in another church where they can take their small team and minister in whatever way seems appropriate. They could at least join in leading the Sunday services and Sunday schools. This takes planning, but it is eminently worth the trouble. It takes the whole thing out of the realm of theory into the realm of practice. It scares the team members and teaches them to pray with passion and to trust God. It binds them close to each other. They give a real boost to the receiving church, and they return thrilled with what they have seen God do through themselves, when they scarcely imagined such a thing to be remotely possible.

A course like this will have immense repercussions among the congregation, and will certainly throw up leaders you had never anticipated, and gifts and ministries which had not crossed anyone’s mind. It will all help in preparing the congregation for the next stage in what God plans to do with it.

Faith-sharing teams

The next step may be to gather some of those who have been through your training course, and have them as a pool from which you can draw colleagues when you are invited to speak elsewhere. This can, of course, be done without the backing of the minister at all, and in various parts of the world there are acknowledged teams of people who go to other churches on request to share what their faith means to them. But it is better if it is done with the full support and active encouragement of the minister, because then it can be co-ordinated into the ongoing and developing life of the church, and not be seen as simply a piece of private enterprise.

It is very simple to arrange. Suppose the minister is asked to speak at a Harvest Festival in a neighbouring town. He could well reply by agreeing, provided he is allowed to take a team with him. The other church may be puzzled, but is unlikely to refuse. So a group of you get together, and plan and pray how best you may be used on that visit. Try to maximise it. Ask if you can have someone sing, or lead prayers in the service, or maybe speak at a meeting of the youth. Will they allow participation in a Harvest Supper the night before? Offer, perhaps, to produce a dramatic sketch in the course of the service, or to have an after-church meeting at which some of your team could speak about the growing vitality that has been taking place in their own congregation.

In a word, you make what was a solo event into a team event. And everyone is delighted. The receiving congregation is pleased and surprised to see ordinary people like themselves sharing in taking a service. They see a team in action. They notice the power of even halting lay testimony to Jesus. They are really helped if the team do well. And if not, they may well be stimulated to react by saying, ‘I think we could do as well as that!’  Either way, your object has been achieved! And your team will return thrilled to their home church, and should be given a brief opportunity next Sunday to stand up and bear testimony to what God had done through them. The minister will then find that people besiege him, asking to be on the next team of this kind.

I can think of one dear doctor friend who was a very loosely attached church member when I first knew him. Gradually over the years, through increasing commitment, lay training courses, and going away on teams like this, he has not only become confident in evangelism but now leads such teams himself with a quiet poise and assurance. Multiply growth like that throughout a congregation, and the results are very significant. That church will be ready to go further with missions.

 

Towards the implementing of a `mission’

What I want to do now is to sketch possible ways of running a mission. The principles seem to me to hold good whether it is a mission to a university, a parish or a city. I hope that what follows will be of help both to organisations and churches which are looking for missions, and also to those who are being called to lead them.  It is impossible to define exactly how a mission in a single local church takes place, because all churches are different. The basic rule is that it should be in a manner that is appropriate for the church in question.

There is basically little difference between a mission based on a single church and one based on a town. Both depend on the church members praying, and inviting friends to events. But the mission of a single denominational church does not have the same wide impact in the community as a venture embracing virtually all the churches. It still looks too much like a particular church searching for new recruits. It has a real value, but a limited one. That is why I have come to prefer a town mission, with all the churches involved. In this way every section of the community can be reached, every house visited, and people begin to sit up and take notice of what the churches, together, are mounting in their town.

Here, however, we are looking at a mission based on a single church. The first thing I do, when asked to lead such a mission, is to pray about it and then meet the leadership. I want to know if there is a steady trickle (however small) of people coming to faith within that congregation: you cannot mount a mission effectively if nothing much is happening in the church by the way of outreach already. Intermediate steps such as I have outlined above need to be taken first.

The same holds good with university missions. I recall being asked to take a university mission some years ago. When I went to talk it over with the people in charge, it became apparent that they had neither seen anyone come to faith in the past year, nor were they really expecting anyone to! So I said that I would not lead a mission, but that I would come and give some talks on helping others to faith. This took place, and within a few weeks they had three new believers, much to their joy. Imagine what this did to their faith and expectancy! They did have the mission a year or so later; because of other commitments, I did not take part in it, but it was very fruitful. But they would not have been able to mount it were it not for that intermediate step.

If there are some signs of outreach from the church, I would next want to know why they thought a mission was appropriate at this time. A mission will only have real value to a congregation which is already on the move and wanting to progress. The measure of that desire is not the enthusiasm of the minister, but the solid backing that he has in the first instance from his decision-making body, and then from the church at large. Visitors cannot effectively do a mission for a local church. They can only help the local Christians with their own evangelistic responsibility to their neighbourhood, and if the church is not ready and willing to undertake that, then a mission is sheer folly. I am unwilling to engage in such a mission unless the decision-making body of the church is virtually unanimous in requesting it.

Next, you must determine what time of year is possible and appropriate for the mission, and how long it should last. At least nine months need to be set aside for the preparation of such an event, and church activities need to be geared towards it with increasing publicity and intensity as time approaches. 

The receiving church needs to have a number of points made abundantly plain to it early on in the negotiations.

First, that this is a labour of love, and no monetary reward will be received by the visitors. They will give their time and effort free. But the receiving church will need to provide hospitality, and to finance the whole venture. This financing should be done by church budgeting, special offerings and personal gifts, and should be complete before the mission begins. It is most undesirable to hold collections at events where one is stressing the grace of God and his free offer of Christ! A mission will cost a good deal of money. The team will need to be put up in the homes of the congregation, and whereas that may well be at no charge to the church, their feeding will cost something, as will their travel costs, the necessary publicity and perhaps the hiring of premises or amplification. But in financial terms a mission is not an expensive thing if it is run along these lines. At least, not in terms of money. It will, however, be costly in other ways.

Second, they need to start praying regularly for the mission. And I do not mean saying prayers in church on Sunday. I mean having special gatherings to pray for it! I mean having prayer breakfasts or a concert of prayer (music, singing, prayer, silence, on a variety of topics concerned with the mission). Prayer triplets have been found to be particularly valuable. This is a simple expedient whereby three Christian friends get together to pray for three friends each as the mission approaches. This targeting of those where there are already bonds of affection and friendship is very effective. It generally leads to the conversion of some of them before the mission even starts.

Third, a great deal of practical preparation is needed for an event of this sort. Let there be no doubt about this: it means lots of work for everyone! For, contrary to many people's expectations, the job will not be done in the main by the visiting team, it will be done by members of the local church. It is they who should plan the programme, in consultation with the visitors. Naturally, for it is their locality, and the mission needs to build on their gifts, their friendships, their openings into the community. And the better and more thoroughly that work is done, the more fruitful the mission will be.

For a missioner to take a house meeting where there is a real bond of friendship and carefully cultivated relationships between those present is sheer joy. It is easy to speak of spiritual things, because people like and trust one another. Indeed, the host himself may have such an ease of manner with his friends that he or she is able to get them to talk about their own religious situation in the most natural manner. In a recent mission one of us was in just such a home meeting, and for the first hour and more the visitors did not need to say anything! It all flowed from the leadership of the host and the ready participation of those present. Contrast that with the nervous and duty-ridden host or hostess who feels obliged to invite some neighbours in at the last moment so as to have a house meeting to notch up! A high proportion of them will not actually come, and those who do will be reluctant and nervous. That house meeting is unlikely to go well. The difference lies in the effort made to forge relationships during the previous months and even years. You reap what you sow. And if you are not prepared to work at it, then there is unlikely to be much of a harvest.

Fourth, a small committee needs to be set up to oversee all the preparation. Lay membership is generally more effective. But the pastor's backing and active promotion of the mission are very important indeed. The chairman has a key job. It is crucial to have someone who is deeply spiritual, who is widely respected, and who can work with the pastor. He would also be the major means of liaising with the visiting team.

Each member of the committee should have a particular responsibility: prayer, finance, publicity, training, youth work, accommodation, programme co-ordination and follow-up. It would be good to have a secretary who can really give himself or herself to detailed work. Early on in the proceedings this committee needs to produce a detailed profile of the church, so that the visiting team can have as accurate a picture as possible of the needs to be addressed.

 

Further preparations

It always takes the receiving church some time to understand that this is not a one-man band by a famous preacher who will do it all in church services each evening. That old-fashioned way of conducting a mission still has value, especially in some places, but it is on the way out. People simply will not come to be harangued in church these days. But they will come to a home, a dinner, a sports club or their normal meeting ground, and will probably not object to listening to one of the visiting team and discussing Christian things in such a setting. The key to effective work in missions is diversification of the team. Insofar as you penetrate different aspects of the life of the church and its surrounding area, you will have effective impact. And it needs to be done on the community's turf, not the church's.

There are some very specific preparations that need to take place at both ends as the mission draws closer. In the receiving church there needs to be a growing commitment to prayer, increasingly specific publicity, the careful selection of accommodation for team members, and the planning of any main meetings and their titles. Members of the congregation need to offer to arrange a meeting with a few of their friends in a pub, a home, a club, perhaps over lunch or dinner. Training will need to be offered in how to help a friend to faith, and how to tell their personal ‘faith story’ appropriately. So much will depend on what follows the mission week, and therefore it is important to train two groups of the most sensitive and instructed Christians available. One group needs to be able to run Discovery Groups for new believers after the mission. A second group needs to know how to lead a group for enquirers.

Equally, there needs to be a lot of preparation among the visitors. The missioner will need to surround himself with a team, probably drawn to a large extent from his own congregation. He will need to weld them into a loving, interdependent group. They do not all need to be very experienced or knowledgeable. They do need to have a personal faith in Christ, a willingness to make him known, and a commitment to give that week wholeheartedly to the mission.

This team will have regular sessions for training. Each session will aim to bind them together in worship, to give them a deep confidence in the Lord and trust in one another, to explore one another's gifts, and to get practical training for things that will be required of them in the mission. They will all need at some time or other to tell their spiritual story: so they need help in knowing how to present it. They will all give a talk: but they may not know how, until they have had both instruction and some opportunity to practice. They may all be called upon to help someone who wants to know the way to faith: so they must learn that way with simplicity and confidence. They will all have to contend for the faith among people who do not believe a word of it: so some exposure to basic Christian apologetics is required. They will all be thrown in at the deep end, far beyond their capabilities and experience: so they need to be made aware of the power and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. They will need to know about first steps in nurture: so they must be clear about the arrangements that have been made for local Discovery Groups after the mission.

In addition, there are all sorts of other practical things they need to know. How, for example, should they try to bring a meeting to a conclusion? What books will they find useful? I find it a real help on a mission to have everywhere available a small comment card. It is then easy to say something like this at the end of a meeting: ‘You received when you came in` (or, ‘You will now be handed by one of my colleagues’) `a simple card. We should very much like you to fill that in with your name, address, e mail and phone number, and tell us frankly what you made of this evening. How could we improve it? Where did we go wrong? In particular, if you are seriously considering Christian discipleship and will commit yourself to an eight-week course on getting started as a Christian, tick the box that says, “Count me in”. If you feel you are not there yet, but would like the chance to talk matters over with someone, then tick the little box that says “Tell me more”, and we will contact you in the next couple of days.` That can all be done without the least embarrassment. Amazingly, people respond!

Some time before the mission, it is advisable for the missioner and a few of his team to come and lead a day-conference for the parish. There will be things that need talking over, and he, himself, needs to give some training to the key members of the host congregation, set minds at rest over problems, and motivate those who are not sure about the whole project. Time spent in the building of relationships and confidence in this way is not wasted. People in the congregation will be much more likely to risk inviting their friends to hear a visiting missioner if they have already gained some confidence in him.

I have not yet mentioned another vital part of the preparations of the visitors. They need to develop, if at all possible, the use of the arts in evangelism, in particular the three main areas of music, drama and dance.

Music is a very powerful agency, and a judicious use of instruments and songs and modes of music is required, a good deal of it ‘upbeat’ for a mission. It should embrace the best of traditional and modern material.

The use of drama in the presentation of the gospel is very old: witness the mystery plays in the Middle Ages. It is reviving strongly these days, and those who want to begin to get a drama group together for use in church and in the open air would be wise to avail themselves of the books of Paul Burbridge and Murray Watts, Time to Act, Lightning Sketches and Red Letter Days, or Scene One by Ashley Martin, Andy Kelso and others, together with Using the Bible in Drama by Steve and Jane Stickley and Jim Belben. As the group develops it will probably want to write its own material, but to begin with you could not do better than to get a performing licence for these brilliant short sketches which go to the heart of the matter amusingly and powerfully. They are a marvellous adjunct to preaching. I often use two such carefully selected sketches in the course of an evangelistic address.

Dance is a sensitive medium. It is a powerful communicator of feeling, and can be a great help in directing the hearts and emotions of the congregation towards God. There are occasions in a mission where its use can be breathtaking. A valuable book on this subject is Know How to Use Dance in Worship, by M Berry. Many congregations are entirely unprepared for this medium, so if it is used it will need careful explanation beforehand.

Preparations in these three areas all take a lot of time, a lot of co-ordination, and close working with the main speaker. There is much to prepare at both ends before a mission takes place.

 

The mission itself

But what about when the mission comes? The week will have been carefully planned by the local committee, who will have agreed all the main matters with the visiting team. There is a lot to be said for having a central meeting on the first night, so as to motivate the church people afresh for their full involvement in the week. Experience tends to show that it is not best to have central meetings every night. They tend only to attract church members and a small ‘fringe’. It is much more effective to go for small meetings, hosted by members of the church in their homes, workplace, clubs, and so forth. And the team are the evangelists! They go in pairs (if possible) to these events. They liaise carefully beforehand with the host, and learn as much as possible about who will be there. They arrive in good time, armed with appropriate literature for sale or giving away.

If the meeting is in a home, one of the team will speak for a few minutes after the refreshments, while the other may well say a few personal words about the difference he or she has found Christ to be in daily life. The meeting could then be thrown open to questions, and usually it is hard to stop it at the predetermined time! All manner of objections and red herrings come up, and it is part of the skill of the team members to handle them as best they can. One of them should end with a brief summary of the evening, and a warm, natural explanation of the way to faith in Christ.

Comment cards could then be used, if appropriate. And it often is appropriate. I have become convinced of the value of them, although I used to be very wary. If introduced in a relaxed way, and if all are invited to fill them in, there is no embarrassment, and those who have been touched by the talk and want to take it further can tick their box ‘Count me in’ and thereby join up for a Discovery Group without attracting unwelcome attention. These cards become very valuable. They are the only tangible way of assessing response, and team members need to gather them up and hand them in daily at their team meeting.

Preferably, this daily meeting for the whole team takes place in the morning. If the team are going to be any use during the rest of the day in giving out to others, they need to be nourished by God and encouraged by each other earlier in the day. A good plan might be for the mission team leaders to meet with their host minister and his close colleagues each morning at 8am for news, a review of the way the mission is going, and to go over the plans for the day. This would be followed by a meeting of the whole team for worship, prayer, teaching, news, encouragement and forward planning. All administrative details can be handled then, before the team disperses to lunch meetings, afternoon visiting and so forth.

Other team members will be involved in the youth events that have been planned. I shall have more to say about that below, but it is crucial to remember the importance of young people. Statistics show that by far the highest proportion of conversions take place before the age of twenty-five. Evangelism that does not major on young people is courting failure in the long run.

The visiting missioner is likely to be the main speaker at the central meetings, assisted by the musicians and dramatists. The programme should be varied, and notably different from a normal church service. Use should be made of testimony, and it is often helpful if someone answers one of the common objections against Christianity. There should be a great time of celebration on the last night, which invariably draws a large crowd. In between the first and last night's central meetings, it may be sensible to include one other. But it may not. The missioner may be better employed in smaller, sectional gatherings which meet on neutral ground, like a restaurant or club. These could include business colleagues and friends of, say, a businessman or lawyer in the congregation. These people would be most unlikely ever to come to a central rally.

Maximum use needs to be made of the Sunday services. There is a lot to be said for a major evangelistic challenge on the Sunday morning, when many visitors can be expected, arising from the impact of the past few days. A challenge to commitment, followed up by an invitation to join Discovery Groups, is frequently very fruitful at such a juncture. On the last evening a Communion service may be appropriate, but one which includes elements such as testimony, exultant praise, the opportunity for people to say what the week has meant to them, and prayer in small groups throughout the church rather than being led from the front, followed by personal ministry for those who so desire. The theme ought to be forward-looking, concentrating on going on with Christ, and reiterating the challenge to join Discovery Groups. If comment cards are plentifully scattered throughout the seats of the church, large numbers of them are likely to be filled in, and the church is going to be left with a major job in nurturing the new believers, and continuing, perhaps through Enquirers' Groups, the ministry to those who are ‘almost persuaded’.

A mission such as this will do a great deal to stimulate the Christians. It will breathe fresh life into the structures of the church. It will show what a team can do, as the body of Christ, as against one talented individual. It will draw many people to Christ. It will make a lot of others think. And it will heighten expectancy in the congregation that the God who acted so powerfully in the mission can be counted on to continue with them in the future under circumstances of less frenetic activity.

 

Training the team that leads the mission

Working with a team, whatever the size, has many advantages over the single-missioner approach:

{C}a.      Meetings can happen in more sections of the community.

{C}b.     Team members learn much and return home able to contribute more to their own church.

{C}c.      Host church members realise that it is not necessary to be a `professional Christian worker' in order to speak about Christ, and will want to take part in their own evangelistic projects.

{C}d.     A team demonstrates what the body of Christ can do in a church or a community when it is seeking to `love God and love our neighbours as ourselves' — and people notice.

 

No qualifications are needed, except a personal knowledge of Christ and a willingness to speak about him and try out new things!  Members should however make the training sessions a priority and come for the whole mission. Some will have had experience, whereas others may not. They should work in pairs, with the team leader ensuring that those with less experience work with those who have had more.

 

Recruitment

As the missioner will probably take people from his own church, then a personal invitation, along with an announcement in a Sunday service, should be enough. The missioner should spend time individually with all prospective team members, in order to find out what particular gifts, interests and experience they have. Depending on the size of the team, it may be appropriate to devise a form asking for name, address, email, phone, age, work experience, length of Christian commitment, any previous experience of mission, denomination (for a city-wide event), a brief personal profile (which could be sent to the host church or city), any allergies or dietary requests to be passed on to their hosts, and whether they have a car to bring.  The team size will depend very much on whether this is a single church or a city-wide event. Estimate the number of proposed meetings and decide accordingly.

Team Training Sessions

These are important to enable members to get to know and trust one another, and to be trained for what lies ahead. Allow time for relationship building.

Worship is vital and should be a central focus of the meetings. Time for singing, silence, meditation, teaching from Scripture — all ensure that the team acknowledges its dependence on God before it seeks to do or say anything.

Prayer is needed - for individual needs as well as for specific areas of the mission. The home church needs to pray, whether there is just one person or a whole team going; information should be given in church bulletins, and special prayer meetings organised.  Each person on the team should be encouraged to find a prayer sponsor, for before, during and after the mission. Team members should pledge to pray with and for each other.

Whatever the size of the team, and whether people are experienced or not, there will be some who say, ‘Where do I fit in?’ Members need to be encouraged to ‘be themselves’ and contribute different gifts (cf l Corinthians 12). Some will be used more publicly (eg, speaking, acting); whereas others will use their gifts in listening, praying and encouraging.

Take time to keep the team informed about the mission and up-to-date on the programme, special prayer requests, etc. It may be good to give a brief written update for each meeting if working in a large team.

In the training sessions cover topics like: how to give a testimony, how to lead someone to Christ, how to counsel, handling problems, how to give a short evangelistic talk, how to use Scripture, how to lead (or host) a small home meeting, open-air work, visiting during a mission, how to fill in and use response forms.  (This course can be adapted for use in equipping both the visiting team and the congregation of the church hosting a mission.)  Amend this course to suit the mission in question!

It is important to make the sessions as practical as possible. Use both lecture-style and role-play methods; role play (when two members pair up to try out their skills) works well in highlighting weak areas, and it helps members get to know each other. Encourage homework. Use other literature, videos, books as appropriate.  Teach about the reality of spiritual warfare before going into the front line of the battle.

 

Encourage the team:

{C}a.    To make use of books such as Paul Little's How to Give Away Your Faith, Leighton Ford's Good News is for Sharing, Michael Green's You Must be Joking, World on the Run, Why Bother with Jesus? and Ten Myths About Christianity, and David Watson's Is Anyone There?

{C}b.    To prepare ahead of time a couple of outline talks.

{C}c.    To practice talking to people they do not yet know (eg at the end of a Sunday service).

{C}d.    To get used to talking about their faith, initially with friends and then with others.

 

Specialist preparation may be needed in the areas of music, drama and dance. Certainly any musicians should meet together, and preliminary planning needs to be done to decide how the team's resources can best be deployed. Drama needs much preparation time, and the missioner needs to do advance planning on themes and subjects so that material can be chosen and rehearsed. Any dance in the worship services may be in the hands of a small dance group, but circle dancing can be done by anyone, and it is good to teach a few dances to the whole team, so that if a dance needs to happen spontaneously, as it may in the open air, anyone can join in.

It is in the team training sessions that the teaching is given, and on the mission itself that the lessons are learned.

 

The Missioner and/or Team Administrator

This may be one or two people. If two people are involved, they need to work closely together at all stages during the preparation for the mission, in getting to know and equip the team, as well as being in close touch with the host city or church. Their responsibilities include five major areas:

1. Discerning the gifts of the team. Many gifts will emerge during the mission, but use those you already know (eg, if you have someone good at leading worship, playing an instrument, or teaching, then use them in the team meetings). Individual time spent with team members will give many insights as to where their strengths and weaknesses lie. It is good to have a few experienced members to boost the team initially in confidence and numbers.

 

2. Training and teaching the team in specific preparation for the particular mission ahead.

 

3. Liaising regularly with the host church or city:

  1. Keep the host church informed about the team. Send short profiles of the team members ahead of time, and perhaps a team photograph.
  2. On the basis of the profile received from the host church or town, adjust the training of the team accordingly (eg, if the team needs specialist information about a particular cult).
  3. The missioner or team administrator need to make at least two or three visits (depending on the distance) to attend committee meetings and get to know the committee, as well as speaking at some pre-mission meetings or training days. They need to be able to get to know the church or town.
  4. The programme needs overseeing as the planning develops. A visitor can often perceive local needs more easily than can a resident. It is important to ensure that the team can cope with what is outlined on the programme, that there is time built in for regular team meeting times, and, if the mission is over a week, that a complete day off is insisted upon for all the visiting team. The programme should be available at least a week before the mission starts.
  5. The missioner should give advance thought to what titles should be given to any of the larger meetings, and agree these with the committee in good time for publicity to be printed.

 

4. Caring for the team. Often, especially when the programme is busy, team members can easily go at the whole thing in their own strength for the first two or three days and then collapse. They will need love and encouragement to finish the task, and a fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit. Depending on the size of the team, it may be best to divide the team up into small groups of five or six around a more experienced member to pray together, both before and during the mission. Do encourage team members to look after each other.

 

5. Practical planning.

a. Attention needs to be given to practical arrangements such as the provision of transport and the organisation of a team base in the host town.

b. Counselling: As all of the team will have been trained in counselling skills, they are available to act as counsellors, whether in an informal home setting or in a larger meeting. Outline to the team what is expected of them at each event, and how they will work alongside any locally trained counsellors.

c. Literature. Ensure that whatever counselling literature is to be used on the mission is made available to team members beforehand, so that specific instructions can be given and they can know how to use the material.  The team will need a supply of Christian literature (mainly evangelistic books), which can be used to supplement the spoken message at all the different meetings. A local bookshop may be asked to supply these, on a sale or return basis, and they can be set up in a large bookstall at the team's base. The team will then be able to take a small number of books to each of the meetings they attend. Detailed instructions need to be given on which are available for sale and which can be given away, to ensure that the money is accounted for at the end of the week.

d. Response forms. These will need to be circulated to the team in advance, and detailed instructions given as to how to fill them in. The team needs to know what are the follow-up procedures for the mission, and what a Discovery and Enquiry Group is, so as to be able to explain them to people they meet. Clear instructions should be given to the team as to what their responsibilities are in contacting those they have counselled. In some cases it may be that team members need personally to follow-up each person within twenty-four hours; but in some cases, by agreement, the local counsellors will do that.

e. Accommodation arrangements.  Staying with hosts during the mission can be daunting for some team members.  Mention needs to be made of the need for punctuality, friendliness and helpfulness at all times!  Practical matters like asking for a key to the house (in case they need access when hosts are out), and giving plenty of advance warning if an evening meal is not needed, should be highlighted. It may be appropriate to remind team members to buy their host a small gift too, before they leave, and to write a thank-you letter afterwards.  Do not assume that your hosts are keen Christians, and be sensitive to their children. Ministry with hosts, formal or informal, may be the most useful thing team members do on a mission.

 

Allocating the Programme

{C}a.    Ensure that a complete programme has reached the team administrator well in advance of the mission. There may, of course, be additions or deletions, but it enables preliminary allocation to be done.

{C}b.    Prayerfully allocate the team to events, matching experienced members with less experienced members; also, using the completed information sheets (see above), match people with suitable gifts to particular events.

{C}c.    Plan who will speak at the larger meetings. Obviously the missioner will address a fair proportion of these, using experienced team members for others.

{C}d.    For youth events, choose the most experienced youth speaker. If working with a musician or group, ensure that both parties have had a chance to talk over the event.

{C}e.    The Sunday service during the mission is important. If more than one church is involved, allocate the preachers at least two weeks or so in advance, so that it can be announced in the services the week before. Then build a small team around the speaker, to read lessons, give testimony, do a children's spot, act, dance or sing. The service is usually geared towards people inviting friends and guests.

{C}f.      For the smaller home meetings, try to match age and background with those who will be attending.

{C}g.    Team members would probably do about two meetings a day, and the missioner probably not more than two evangelistic addresses in a day, in addition to the regular team meetings.

{C}h.    Stress to team members that it is all right to take some time out for quiet and for rest.

 

The Team during the Mission Week

{C}a.    Allow time for the team to be briefed on local details after arrival.

{C}b.    Have daily team meetings. Obviously the length of time needed will depend on the size of the team. Ensure that no events are put into the main programme when the team is scheduled to meet. Have an open session of worship, news sharing, prayer, and a short `thought for the day', followed, after coffee, by time for detailed planning and allocation of people to events.

{C}c.    If working with a large team in a city-wide event, suggest that the first part of the meeting (ie worship, news sharing, prayer and `thought for the day') is open to anyone in the community — this encourages involvement by local Christians.

{C}d.    For a large team (fifty plus), a starting time of 8.45, with a half hour coffee break, should mean that the team is available for events from 1130 am onwards. A few members may need to arrive late if involved in breakfast meetings.

{C}e.    Daily meetings for the missioner, team administrator and chairman of the mission committee are needed, to ensure that all is on course for that day and to deal with any last minute changes. This meeting is often best held before the team meets together.

{C}f.      All the local ministers need to be invited to meet with the missioner towards the end of the mission, to look back over the mission and to encourage the unity among the different churches in the community after the mission is over.

{C}g.    Discovery Group leaders should have a final training session towards the end of the mission to which the missioner can go and give some input and encouragement before the groups start in the week following the mission.

{C}h.    At the last team meeting warn team members about the difficulties, when tired and excited, of re-entry into the normal world, and of relating to those at home who have been praying.

 

Debriefing the team after the mission

{C}a.    Plan a time after the mission is over for the whole team to meet again, to debrief, to share what personal lessons have been learned and what new gifts have been discovered, and to praise and to pray. This will also be a valuable way of learning lessons on general mission administration for the next time!

{C}b.    Have a detailed reporting back slot in the Sunday services of churches from which the team members come, to encourage those who have been praying.

{C}c.    Think ahead to the next mission!

 

Summary: Preparing for a mission in your church

Clarify the aim

This is the first essential. Is this event to be directed within the church, to renew the life of the community and to sharpen churchgoing into joyful commitment to Christ? Or is it aimed at the wider community who have little or no links with the church? Clarity on this issue will determine all that follows. Confusion at this point will have disastrous results.

Once you are clear on the aim, you can then proceed to the closely allied issues of the length of the mission and its content. Should it last for a week, two weeks, or one or two weekends? Should it be based in a church or in a neutral location? Should it concentrate on large meetings, or rather seek to approach different interest groups in the milieu where they are most at home? Alternatively, should the focus be a series of small home meetings?  The time of year may well be critical. Once an answer has been found to these questions a church is well placed to move on to the next imperative.

 

Choose the missioner

This is of vital importance, and you need to bear in mind the church's strengths and weaknesses, along with its ambience, as you make the decision and issue the invitation. Usually the missioner will be known to the local minister, either personally or through books and videos.

Once he has been approached, it is important to invite him over for an exploratory meeting with the church leadership, ordained and lay. It is helpful to combine his visit with a main Sunday service if at all possible, so that the congregation can begin to get to know and trust him. People in the church need to be clear what the aims of the mission are, how it fits in with the ongoing life of the church, and roughly what is envisaged. They will also need to be taught the value of his bringing a team with him on the mission. After his visit, there needs to be a firmly backed decision by the leadership of the church to invite him and to support the mission at all levels. Meanwhile, the mission needs to be given a high profile in the notices of the church so that all church members begin to grasp the vision and see where they fit in. It is no bad idea to get someone other than the minister to do this, so that the mission does not look like his personal hobby. Now is the time to begin detailed planning. It should start at least nine months before the mission itself.

 

Plan the build-up

The sequence of events may helpfully be as follows:

{C}a.    Form the mission committee and get members active on their portfolios.

{C}b.    Make sure the goals (and dates) of the mission are crystal clear to all concerned.

{C}c.    Choose a title, in co-operation with the missioner. It needs to be short, attractive, descriptive and related to the locality, not to the visiting missioner. It must be designed to communicate to people outside the church.

{C}d.    Distribute a short information document to the congregation.

{C}e.    Plan the training and teaching programmes leading up to the mission.

{C}f.      Organise a rough outline for the mission week.

{C}g.    Recruit people for counselling and follow-up.

{C}h.    Publicise the mission widely.

{C}i.      Start the training course(s).

{C}j.      Make careful final preparations for the team, the programme and the publicity, and move into the mission itself.

{C}k.    Start the follow-up immediately the mission is over.

{C}l.      A few weeks after the end of the mission, new members will be transferred from Discovery Groups into the small home groups of the church. Enthusiasm may even run so high that the church's own mission team is formed.

 

Form the mission task force

Once the mission invitation has been accepted, it is time to set up the administrative framework to enable the church to be fully mobilised, informed and trained. It is sheer folly to rely on one person, especially the minister, to be responsible for the many tasks that need to be done. It is best to form a small lay Mission Task Force from among your church leadership. This may well mean temporarily releasing them from regular church commitments in order to allow time for preparing for the mission, without unduly encroaching on their family time or work load.

This must be a working committee. Choose people because they have the necessary gifts, not because of their standing in the church. Certain areas have to be covered: prayer, finance, publicity, youth work, counselling and follow-up. Other areas may well emerge as plans develop. Some of these tasks can be handled by a single individual, but there is much to be said for forming small sub-groups, composed of two or three people, who can handle different sides of the enterprise. Each of these sub-groups works in its own area, and is represented by its co-ordinator on the mission task force.

The chairperson needs to be selected with especial care. Such a person needs to enjoy widespread respect, and to be able to motivate the congregation and envisage the course which the mission may take. He or she also needs to be able to maintain oversight over the whole development of events leading to the mission.

A vice-chairperson is also often very important, to work alongside the chairperson, and to share the load of responsibility. If the chairperson is ordained, the vice-chairperson should be a layperson. One of these two needs to be charged with the task of keeping in regular touch with the missioner.

A mission Secretary is essential, to record minutes and handle correspondence. This could well be the church secretary. But if so, then extra help will be needed in the church office before the mission, to ensure that church matters are not neglected. The mission Secretary could be the ideal person to co-ordinate the mission programme.

 

Assign the responsibilities

Small sub-groups, or individuals, will need to attend to a number of different areas.

Prayer: This needs to start first, for without prayer, nothing is accomplished. There are a number of ways in which prayer can be encouraged:

{C}a.    Introduce ‘prayer triplets’, encouraging three friends to meet weekly and each to pray for three of their friends who are not yet Christians.

{C}b.    Design a prayer card with the mission title on it. On one side encourage people to pray for a specific number of people. On the other, give general prayer needs for the mission, preferably arranged under the days of the week. This could be in the form of a book-marker.

{C}c.    Mention the major prayer needs for the mission in church each week, and get them prayed for.

{C}d.    Inform and encourage any prayer groups in the church and engage their prayer backing.

{C}e.    Supply details and news, as it emerges, in the weekly news sheet, giving both requests for prayer and answers to prayer.

{C}f.      Organise special prayer meetings, concerts of prayer or half nights of prayer for the mission.

 

Finance: A draft budget will need to be drawn up. Church members may be asked to contribute, using specially designated envelopes in the services for this purpose. One Sunday could be set aside both for prayer and for all the offerings for the mission expenses. Try to raise all the necessary finance before the mission, so as to avoid having to ask for money at any of the mission meetings. The most costly items are usually the hiring of any special meeting rooms, technical equipment, travelling expenses for the visiting team, and materials used for counselling and follow-up.

 

Publicity: This might possibly be handled by one person, but it is better dealt with by a small sub-group of people skilled in publicity. It will be needed both within the church congregation, and also for alerting the wider community. This group will need to work in close liaison with the rest of the committee, producing art work as required, and handling all the designing and posters required for the mission. Three areas are particularly important:

{C}a.    Design a simple sheet for church members, giving information about what the mission is and how they can be involved.

{C}b.    Approach the local newspapers, radio and TV as appropriate, for advertising and with news items. If the missioner can be interviewed, so much the better.

{C}c.    Design small, attractive cards, inviting people to various mission events, which could also be useful in door-to-door visiting.

 

Youth: The youth leader of the church should be involved from the outset. He or she needs to create a programme for the young people of the church and their friends. The leader(s) need to work in close co-operation with the older members of the youth group to plan, pray for, and facilitate the programme. They could organise a concert with a Christian guest artist who has skills not only in music but also in presenting the challenge of Christ. They could plan and host a sports event, a film evening, a pizza party, a barbecue, or whatever might be the way in to the lives and interests of the young people in the area who are currently strangers to Christ. They may well be able to publicise these events in local schools. The visiting team, of course, is likely to comprise several members who have expertise in youth work, and this needs to be explored and taken into account early on in planning the programme. It may be right to plan some events for the younger children, if these are within the plan of the mission. It may sometimes be possible to visit classes, take an assembly, or do lunchtime events in a local school.

 

Counselling: Members of the congregation could profitably be trained in how to act as counsellors for those who have responded during a mission. They need to know how to lead someone to Christ and how to deal with the more common objections and difficulties that are usually encountered. It is wise, therefore, to devise a short training course in personal counselling, to publicise it widely in the church, and personally to invite those who you feel ought to be involved. If a public invitation for volunteers in this area is issued, those who apply need to be screened for suitability at the end of the course.

 

As the mission draws near, make a rota for each main meeting so that counsellors do not have to feel they are on duty every night, but can be encouraged to invite friends. See that they know exactly what will be required of them, are familiar with the materials which they will be giving out, and that they have a session with the missioner at the outset of the mission to ensure that all is in place for them to operate confidently and naturally. Do not have a special meeting for counsellors (even a prayer meeting) just before the event where they expect to be used, as this can discourage them from bringing friends; and they are probably the most highly motivated members of the congregation to do just this. You will need to ensure that all briefing is complete at the final training session.

 

Discovery Groups: The plans for the nurture of new believers need to be in place well before the actual mission. This will require the oversight of a couple of people who have great spiritual sensitivity and organisational skills. They will need to work closely both with the counselling group and with the chairperson of the mission task force. They will need to decide what follow-up materials to use, and to familiarise all the leaders of these Discovery Groups with the materials.

 

But more is needed. They will need to train leaders for these Discovery Groups, which will emerge as people come to faith in Christ during the mission. However skilled the leaders may be in home Bible studies, they will need at least two careful training sessions on the handling of these groups for new Christians, for they present particular challenges and call for love, dedication and considerable skill.

Those responsible will need to find out what time of day the leaders of Discovery Groups can offer, and organise these leaders into little teams accordingly, putting a more experienced leader alongside one or two who have had little or no experience of running groups with new Christians.

During the mission itself the leaders of the follow-up will need to monitor the response cards as they are handed in, and immediately after the mission they must ensure that the names are sorted out sensitively into appropriate Discovery Groups, and that the leaders of those groups are immediately informed who is in their group, so that a start can be made in the week immediately following the mission.

The person in charge of follow-up needs to keep in the closest contact with the Discovery Group leaders, so as to effect any necessary changes of personnel. He or she will retain a master list of all the groups, and also be responsible for ensuring that there is a smooth transfer of members from the Discovery Groups to the regular home fellowship groups of the church, at the end of the course.

The above portfolios will always be needed. Depending on the size of the church, a small sub-group may also be needed to co-ordinate hospitality for the visiting missioner and his team, and another to handle the musical requirements if, for example, both a singing group and a choir — let alone a small orchestra — are to be involved. It may be wise, also, to have a small and skilled group, rather than one individual, in charge of the technical aspects of the mission, such as PA systems, staging and seating.

 

Plan the programme

It will only come together nearer the time, but it is wise to get the main thrust of the mission preparation in hand early on. As the mission task force approaches this responsibility, it will need to compile a profile of the church in its surrounding neighbourhood, so as to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the church and the extent to which it relates to the needs of the community. Not only the mission task force but also the missioner will find this invaluable.

First, the mission task force will need to determine general policy, then move into specific planning, and in all this ensure congregational involvement to a high degree. It is important to decide how best the team can be used, to find out how often the missioner is willing to speak each day, to determine whether you are going to major on main meetings in the church each evening or whether you are going to make meetings in the homes of the congregation the main objective, or whether, perhaps, it would be best to go for sectors of society - professional people, business people, night workers, working people and so forth. It may be possible to get involved with some local event such as a music festival taking place the same week as the mission. Or there may be some imaginative means of reaching the community through tackling some obvious need in the community with the whole team. General issues like these will determine the whole thrust of the mission and need to be carefully thought through, and prayed over. Throughout, the views of the congregation need to be considered: they will expect the mission task force to take the initiative over the mission, but they will naturally want to have a say in what goes on.

The specific programme could well include special Sunday services led by the team; home meetings; meetings for young people, for doctors, lawyers and other peer groups; debates; special meetings in a neutral location; Rotary meetings; a church midweek meeting opened up to guests; open-air work on the streets and in shopping centres.

The mission will be ineffective unless the congregation is behind it. Every effort therefore needs to be made to involve them at all levels. Constant publicity and regular prayer are vital, and it helpful to offer some training to the congregation in hosting home meetings and helping an enquirer to faith. It is best to devise and circulate a response form to the whole congregation, highlighting the main areas where personnel are needed, and inviting volunteers. These could include visiting, helping to counsel, leading a Discovery Group, offering meals or accommodation, offering creative gifts in music, drama or dance, technical skills, etc. It would be good to hold a congregational meeting early on, preferably with the missioner present, to clarify vision, answer hesitations, maximise participation and arouse enthusiasm for the project. Out of this enthusiasm imaginative ideas will flow, and the mission task force will find their job immeasurably eased.

Launch the mission

All too soon, in view of all that needs to be done, the mission will be upon you. Careful thought needs to be given to the accommodation and transport of the team throughout the mission, and the visitors will need to have a complete list of their engagements in their hands a few days before they come. Daily meetings for prayer will need to be arranged in the church, and the visiting team will need time to meet daily, pray, plan and be encouraged, for this is tough work. It may be good to get a church leader to come and commission the team for their task. At all events a gala launch, preferably at the main service on Sunday, is an enormous help in getting the mission really well supported in the local area.

Ensure that someone well informed about the mission is available to answer the church phone throughout the week. The daily time for team worship, news and teaching can be opened to members of the congregation, who will be thrilled as news of answers to prayer emerges and be drawn even more closely into the whole enterprise.

It is impossible to know in advance how the mission will turn out. Everyone involved needs to be closely attuned to the Lord, seeking to discern his will in the unfolding events of the week, and ready to adapt plans as required, even at the last moment. Always the team will have exciting stories to tell of how they found the guidance of God time and again throughout the mission, often when they had no time for preparation or were intending to do something quite different! A mission will not only be fruitful outside the church: it will bring great blessing to a congregation which throws itself into the enterprise, and most of all to the team who accompany the missioner. It is often no less than life-transforming.

Before the team leaves, it is important for the local leadership to have a time of debriefing and a look at the way ahead. Encourage such debriefing meetings in other sectors of the church's life, in order to learn from mistakes and to implement lessons learned. A few weeks or months after the mission, it is very helpful if a duly-considered appraisal is sent to the missioner, and if he responds with a similar evaluation of the efforts of the local church.

 

Michael Green and Jane Holloway.

Michael has written a whole book on this topic drawing on his wide experience of such outreaches, titled Forgotten Dynamite: rediscovering the power of an evangelistic mission.

© Michael Green and Jane Holloway.