When I moved to the small New England town I moved to a couple of years ago, we started looking for a church. There were three non-negotiables we looked for: 1) It had to be a Bible-teaching church, 2) It needed to be a safe place for my kids and grandchildren to learn about God at their age level, and 3) the church needed to have a heart for reaching the nations.
I realize this looks like a shopping list, but let me assure you, I do not have the energy or motivation hunting for the unicorns that the “perfect church” is. I’ve learned that most churches are closer to perfect than we give them credit for. In most cases, you don’t have to look too hard to find a church that meets all three of the requirements listed above. That said, many churches struggle to communicate about what the impact they are having in missions with their congregations and communities.
When I visited the church my family now attends, I sat down in a padded pew and opened the bulletin. The list of weekly activities was short, but if you wanted to grow in your faith, the list demonstrated that opportunities were provided. But what really grabbed my attention was the excerpt from a missionary newsletter included in the bulletin. Apparently this church had a strong relationship with a missionary family working among and unreached people group. It was a people group I had never heard of and had to pull out my phone and search for who and where this people group was. I found my new church home.
The church I was visiting that day has about 200 adults and children in the building on a typical Sunday. Their communication about missions to congregation and community is done very well.
What follows are five things any church can do to communicate well about missions.
Post pictures and brief stories about missions efforts on social media.
Whether it’s an excerpt from a missionary’s newsletter, or pictures from a missions trip someone in the congregation took, there is content that is easy to share on free social media platforms like Facebook. As you know, very few people look in the phonebook for a church anymore. They search for you on the internet or social media. These are the new phone book. Social media, while it offers paid advertising, is free. And it’s a great place to have conversations with people about how your church is involved in missions.
For under $500 a year, your church can also have its own website and podcast. Platforms like Squarespace and Podbean offer easy to use tools for your church to establish a digital footprint. Give ownership of these tools to someone in the congregation as a ministry. Look for a person that behaves like a reporter. This individual doesn’t have to be a trained journalist, but he or she writes good emails and posts fun and interesting things on social media. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that this can only be done a young person. You’d be surprised to learn that some of the “more seasoned” people that come to church are digitally savvy.
Time in the pulpit.
Give missionaries access to the congregation on Sunday morning. This is the most traditional approach to sharing about missions in church. Encourage visiting missionaries to use powerpoint and video in their communication. This will help them focus on what they’re sharing as well as give you content to post on your church website or free social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Your YouTube videos are easy to share on your website or even free blog sites like Medium or WordPress.
Weekly update from the pastor.
This will get read. People love to hear from their pastor on days other than Sunday. Excerpts from missionary newsletters like the one I read in the church bulletin can be shared in short emails along with sermon recaps, and “save-the-date” information about church activities. Free email tools like the ones offered by Mailchimp allow you to collect email lists in forms easily posted on your website. Emails like this can also link to the other stories and pictures you have in social media or church website.
Turn a church service into a missions conference.
Sunday mornings are when you have the greatest opportunity to connect with the congregation. During a time when missionaries are home on furlough, turn a Sunday service into a missions fair. Whether you have one missionary in town or several, take one Sunday a year and dedicate it to missions in adult and children’s services. Begin to compile newsletters and information from those that have taken short-term trips and give them a platform to share their stories about what they’ve learned from going into another culture through short talks and presentations. If possible, set up a Skype video call with a missionary in the field in a classroom or home fellowship meeting. Make sure you let the community at large know what you’re doing on your Missions Sunday through digital and print channels.
Finally, don’t neglect the communications payoff afforded every Sunday morning by putting an 8.5 by 11 inch folded piece of paper in every church attenders’ hands. This is where I saw the first blurb about missions activity at my church. This is where I learned about what my church values most.
You may already be using some or all of these tools as part of how you communicate about what your church is involved in. If missions isn’t in the mix, pray about how it can be.
If you have any questions about how to get any of these tactics up and running at your church, please reach out to us here.