By Derrick Ritchie
When Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive,” we believe this calling is for not only individual Christians, but the church as well.
I confess this is a challenge, because our church will give more than $85,000 to missions this year. There are always things I would love to do with this money inside the walls of our church. Really, I have a long list in my head! But I believe God will bless our local ministry in relation to our generosity to missions and missionaries around the world as we advance his global kingdom. In fact, I would say it is the reason God has blessed our church over the years with a unified spirit that comes only from keeping focused on God and his mission. Here are five strategies that have helped us keep our niche as a missions-focused church:
1. Begin Every Board Meeting with Missions.
Our first main talking points of every church board meeting are about our missionaries, future mission trips, responding to a missionary’s request for additional support, etc. I believe having this at the top of our agenda is a big reason we rarely have arguments or disagreements in our board meetings. God blesses us when we put his grand mission first and begin with an outward focus.
2. Challenge Families to Give Up a Summer Vacation.
We challenge everyone, at least every few years, to go on a mission trip as a family or with the church. Walt Disney World is fun, but it does not change hearts for the kingdom of God. I believe every Christian family every few years should use their vacation money to go advance the gospel, encourage a missionary, and change the hearts of their family members, all at the same time. The most memorable and meaningful trips in my life have been mission trips; I look forward to my children experiencing the same someday as well.
3. Budget Money Each Month for Mission Trips.
Our church puts $200 a month into a mission adventure fund. This money normally is spent on supplies and building materials for our mission work trips, but has also been used to help people who can’t afford the travel expenses. We strive for a big trip every other year (cross-
country or international), in addition to several local trips each year.
It’s never a question of if we are going on another trip, but when are we going on our next trip. We always want funds to be growing toward our next mission trip. We have also found that the more people go on mission trips, the more they will personally give toward missions!
4. Visit Our Missionaries.
We are fortunate to have different missionaries visit us each year during our faith promise rally event, but we also believe in going to visit them. Every missionary deserves a visit from his or her supporting church. It encourages them, helps raise our enthusiasm for their work, and holds them accountable. We have not been able to visit every one of our missionaries yet, but our church knows we are working toward this goal. We are praying and dreaming about sending representatives to see the work our missionaries are doing; some missionaries have spent decades on the field without a single visit from supporting partners.
5. Get the Kids Involved.
Our challenge is for families to prioritize servanthood in their lives; we want them to be teaching kids about the importance of missions and service. It’s wonderful to see our church kids volunteer to work at Inner City Mission, get involved with Operation Christmas Child, serve at a local nursing home, shovel snow for our widows and elderly, and give up birthday presents and instead ask their family and friends to bring shoes for orphans. When kids do such things, they are showing a love for all of God’s people, no matter their color, country, or condition. Spiritual maturity happens when children don’t want the latest toy or gadget at Walmart, but instead want to live out their mission for God.
Derrick Ritchie is in his 15th year of ministry at the Tower Hill (Illinois) Christian Church.