Recently, I’ve had several conversations with pastors who are frustrated that their members “disappear” over the summer months. These members may be at their lake home, or on vacation, or maybe with their kids who play in summer ball leagues.
Recently, I’ve had several conversations with lay members who are frustrated that their pastors seem to scold them in sermons or announcements because they spend summers at their lake home, or take vacations or spend family time with their kids who play in summer ball leagues.
When I was pastor of a church, I admit that I got frustrated, too. Now that I’m in the pew, I am still frustrated. Let me suggest a simple way to beat the frustration – and best of all, to send more missionaries into more places to connect with more people.
Rather than see church members as absent from church on Sundays, why not help them to see themselves as church every day? Why not equip, bless and send them as every day missionaries who are mobilized and deployed on mission “as they are going” (Matthew 28:19). Whether going to the lake, on a summer trip, or playing summer ball, each family member has the opportunity to be on mission, to be an extension of the Body of Christ wherever they are.
The challenge for pastors and leaders is to help God’s people be intentional about seeing themselves as church. That means pastors and leaders need to equip them with resources that can be used or adapted in various situations. Use Bible Classes and Sunday school classes to help them understand their missionary vocation and to share stories and practical helps. Devotional tools, activities, spiritual discussion starters, and Bible studies are some of the resources that could be shared for use by your missionary force. Weekly e-mails or text messages could encourage and bless them as they go. Share the Word you use in church on Sunday with a few appropriate application or action points. Suggest resources. Offer a prayer. Text a Bible verse. These media could also be means for everyday missionaries to share their stories of God at work with their pastor or church staff.
Summer is great time to consider God’s creativity as we travel and relax. Summertime can be a time for us in the church and on the road to be creative too! Rather than make church members feel guilty and ashamed because they are not always in church, make them aware of who and Whose they are, and their mission calling as the Baptized. Summer provides us with a great opportunity to disciple them as disciple-makers “as they are going.” Then send them as Summer missionaries!
If you are “just” a lay person, take off the “just” and replace it with “Called.” Your baptism is your Call to the mission field – at the lake, on vacation, at the ball field. You are called as an everyday missionary whose vocation is to make disciples as you live for and share Jesus. That’s true in summertime, and all the time!
Questions and Action Points
1. Pastors, when was the last time you thought of your congregation members as missionaries? Can you imagine the mission force God has already provided? Where could they go? Who could they reach? How intentional are you when it comes to equipping them, sending them, blessing them “as they are going?” How will you begin training and sending your missionary force?
2. Church members, when was the last time you thought of yourself as an everyday missionary? Can you imagine yourself as a summertime missionary? Where could you go? Who could you reach? What kind of resources would be most helpful for you as you are going, making disciples? Ask your pastor or other staff leader to provide this help.
3. What “advantages” do everyday missionaries have over professional clergy? How can you best take advantage of these in your context?
4. Think of disciple-making as starting with your own family. What are some simple, creative ways you can make disciples of your own children and family members while traveling or on vacation?
5. If church finances are a summer concern, have you investigated on-line giving to help relieve those summer (and year-round) concerns?
Resources You Can Use
1. 15 Ways to Beat the Summer Slump. Summertime can be a time for creative ministry while extending your churches ministry in new areas.
2. Discipleship.org offers free e-books, podcasts, blogs and more for training disciples who make disciples.
3. Dwelling 1:14 offers resources to help equip God’s people as everyday missionaries
4. Check out Concordia Publishing House and other Christian publishers for devotional materials and Bible studies which could be used as everyday missionary /discipleship tools at home and with friends.
5. RightNow Media has an extensive catalog of free videos and Bible studies for all ages, including a huge children’s library. Churches can customize libraries for their members and friends.
Mission Moments is the e-newsletter sent by the Center for U.S. Missions to bring information and encouragement to all who desire to share God's great love in Jesus Christ with others. Permission is given to copy this article for distribution within your congregation or organization. Please credit the author and the Center for United States Missions. For more information contact the Center at (952)-221-0362, or visit our website: www.c4usm.org
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