Get to Know the Missionary You Support
A Calendar for Local Churches
by Faye Wilson, Ed.D.
- Introduce your missionary to the entire church. Make sure everyone knows which missionary the church is supporting by showing a photograph, a biographical sketch, and giving her or his birthday.
- Create a display, using an enlarged biographical sketch and photos
-Put photo and bio data on an easel and stand near the sanctuary doors
-Develop bulletin inserts (tailor it for different age levels) on the missionary
- Distribute the most recent copy of their mission letter or print excerpts from the letter in the church bulletin or newsletter.
- Have a Sunday School blitz to lift up the Biblical mandate for mission and the work of the missionary. Each class should devote a ten to fifteen minute period to hear about mission work. In addition, each class should have a Bible passage to become familiar with that explains mission. Students should be encouraged to memorize this passage.
- Hold a Prayer Vigil. Missionaries depend on the prayers of committed Christians to undergird their work. This Prayer Vigil should be held at the church one evening for a period of at least an hour. Particular prayer concerns, culled from the mission letter or shared by the missionary, should be lifted up amidst singing of mission hymns or songs from the missionary's region.
- Create Bulletin Board II: focus on the customs and cultural issues of the place where the missionary is serving.
Some categories might include:
-symbols: flag, flowers, birds
-basic phrases in language of the country
-holidays and celebrations
-history of the church in that region
- Have a Mission Sunday where entire worship service - hymns, speaker, children's sermon - is focused on mission work of The United Methodist Church.
- In addition to reiterating information about your missionary, include data about a variety of mission programs in and outside of the United States.
- Distribute a second mission letter using one of the previously mentioned formats.
- Invite the congregation to "write back" to the missionary family (short notes are appropriate); also send photos so the missionary can feel a part of your church family. Put in one packet and mail.
- This is a good time to conduct a Mission Review - to make sure people have been listening and learning about the missionary the church supports
- Develop a bulletin insert or one page handout which would test people's knowledge about items that have been part of the bulletin boards as well as part of the missionary's letters.
- Hold a Mission Night potluck supper. This is a time to let people know if the church is on schedule to meet the financial goals of missionary support. If not, ask for a donation from each family for the dinner or ask individual families to make pledges to meet the balance.
- Hold a second Prayer Vigil. This time, however, print a list of prayer concerns in the bulletin and invite families to choose a concern to lift up in prayer all week long in their devotional time at home.
- Make a family connection with your missionary by carrying out a service project in your home area that replicates or is similar to the tasks that the missionary carries out (this will need some pre-planning). For example, if your missionary is a farmer, you may wish to contribute seeds for tools to a community garden.
- Create Bulletin Board III: focus on the ways the people and churches in the area where the missionary is serving celebrates Christmas. With some early planning, you might be able to obtain Christmas songs and art from that region.