Guest article by Mike Pettengill
Scripture is clear when it explains God’s desire for his church to participate in global evangelism (Matt 28:18-20, Acts 1:8). Scripture is equally clear in explaining God’s desire for his people to train up their children in his ways (Deut 11:18–21, 32:46, Prov 22:6; Isa 38:19; Eph 6:4; 2 Tim 1:5, 3:14–15). It is no stretch to then assume our Father desires his church to train its children about missions. For the expansion of Christ’s kingdom, it is vital that the youth in our churches be taught about God’s passion for the lost and that he desires his disciples to reach out to non-believers and teach them about the grace and mercy of Christ.
Here are nine ways your church can reach the kids of your congregation and teach them about the importance of world missions:
Study Missionary Biographies
In your children’s church and youth groups, include a series of stories about the great missionaries of the past. Tell your kids about the incredible missionaries who have served in the name of the Lord. Revere the martyrs and laborers who sacrificed for God. Let the youth see how these great servants were not super-Christians, but simply obedient Christians. Have the youth study, write, and report on their favorite missionaries of today and the past.
Video Conference With Missionaries
Help the children of your church get to know missionaries by asking missionaries to use video conferencing technology to talk directly to your Sunday school or VBS classes. Take a few minutes to interview the missionaries and their kids and let the kids of your church ask questions that interest them. Help your youth to get to know the missionaries your church is supporting and praying for. Allow the kids to learn missionaries are normal people just like they are.
Study Biblical Missions
Make concerted efforts to regularly study what Scripture says about the relationship between the church and missions. Help your youth understand missions and evangelism are central themes throughout the Bible. Train the kids of your church to see missions was on the heart of God from the beginning of time and that it is a command every church is to follow. Learn about biblical missionaries like Abraham, Jonah and Paul and study how God used average disciples to accomplish amazing things.
Write Letters To Missionaries
Have the kids of your church write letters to the missionaries and missionary kids your church supports. Instruct the children to write how they learned about the missionary’s ministry and prayed for the missionary. Allow the kids to connect and create a bond with the individual missionaries. Help the youth to love and support the missionaries in their own way. Give the kids pointers, but allow them to express what is on their own hearts.
Make Ministry Gifts
Coordinate with individual missionaries and ask them how the kids of your church can serve their ministry. With the missionary’s help, share information about the people group the kids are serving. Help the kids connect. With the missionary’s direction, have your youth create culturally appropriate gift bags, blankets, dresses or Christmas gifts. Once the gifts have been shipped to the foreign culture and distributed, ask the missionary to share pictures or video with your kids.
Every Christian is a goer or a sender. Help the kids of your church embrace their calling as senders. In coordination with your church leadership, host penny drives, bake sales, car washes, or work days to raise funds to send to a specific missionary. The amount of money is not important, but regular lessons on sacrificial giving are important. Show pictures and videos about the ministry to the kids and help them see exactly how their hard work and sacrificial giving will be used in missions.
Collect Ministry Supplies
Coordinate with a missionary and find what ministry supplies or personal items are needed. Based on the missionary’s feedback, have the kids collect Bibles, school supplies, or clothes for a care package to send to the ministry. Ask the missionary to write a paragraph or record a video to the youth explaining who will receive the items and how they will be used. Help the kids connect with the missionaries and nationals and be a part of showing God’s grace and mercy.
Eat Foreign Food
Few things stimulate the imagination and help make a connection like the smell and tastes of a new culture. Sampling new foods hits home with kids and helps them relate with the missionary and nationals in a way that is hard to replicate. Coordinate with church leadership and parents to avoid allergy issues and allow the youth to experience a taste of a foreign land.
Have Missionaries Visit
When missionaries are on furlough, ask them to visit youth groups and Sunday school classes to share with the kids. Hearing directly from missionaries is impactful and building a relationship is powerful. The value of meeting the person the church has been praying for is important.
The children of your church learn better when all their senses are engaged in repetitive instruction. Help your kids truly understand how missions is important to God and should be important to all of his disciples. The missions instruction to the youth of your church will filter up to the parents and help to create a generation of Christians passionate about the Great Commission.