by Nikole Hahn
“… I want to hear a song so good that it makes people want to do something about the subject.” – Bono, lead singer of U2
As leaders in the body of Christ, among our goals are evangelism, discipleship, spiritual growth, and inspiring people to action. Usually that action can be categorized in one of four action words: give, serve, pray, or go. But inspiring people often takes inspiring content. And if you’re not one of the more creative people you know, that can be a daunting challenge. And yet there is a solution to that and it comes from the missionaries your church supports.
I see this problem a lot. Particularly in the lack of understanding among fellow Christians about why it is so important that attend church faithfully, give generously, meet for prayer outside of the worship service, and especially in why we send missionaries throughout the world. Part of that comes from spiritual immaturity. We can’t control that.
But another part is in how we communicate and disciple people into increased spiritual maturity. As leaders, we need to learn how to better tell the stories of what God is doing around the world, especially through the missionaries we support, and frame it in such a way as to inspire local action.
As a leader, you can creatively benefit from the updates your missionaries share to inspire your people. Really!
Now, it’s not as simple as forwarding their email updates, making photocopies of their prayer letters to put at the missions table, or even showing a video from them at the service. Those are good things to do, and you should do them, but you can do more with those updates to inspire greater engagement, greater generosity, and greater service from the people around you. Action inspires action. And advocating for your missionaries will advocate for your ministry.
It doesn’t take much creativity. But it does take prayer and work. You can maximize that impact by connecting with the person who does your social media at the church. And if you don’t have someone running it, recruit them. In both cases, give them this article.
No one has perfected the right formula, but my suggestions will put you in the right frame of mind and direction. And I’m not theorizing this. I’ve seen this process work in other partner churches, especially at my sending church. Because I’m not just the “Digital Disciple-Making Coordinator” for WorldVenture. I’m also a missionary.
Let me show you how:
Organize Your Resources For Connection
Many mission teams are made up of volunteers. Volunteers come and go, and a lack of communication is often to blame when missionary contact information is lost. The next missions committee members coming up often spend wasted time scrambling to get the information together again.
Here’s what you need to get organized:
- Create a shared document online or in your church office between you, the missions team/committee, and any church staff. List all the missionaries you support: names, addresses, emails, social media links, and security requirements (Do they work in a closed country? Can they be live-streamed? Can their names be mentioned on social media?). Note if they can receive US mail. Every year, select a team member to check in with the missionary or their agency to update information and/or security requirements.
- Contact the missionary and introduce yourself, especially if you’re new to the church or the missions team. Make sure your email is on their newsletter list. Ask for their social media links. Friend or follow them on social media.
- Check in with your missionary each quarter. They’ll be delighted to hear from you and feel very supported. And if you ask, they might even give you a special update on the ministry that you can share right away.
- Connect with the person who does your church bulletin and/or newsletters. Ask them to make space for missions-related content. Explain why global missions is an important part of your church’s vision and purpose.
- Connect with the person who does your church’s social media. Explain that you will be providing them with content to post mission-related items. Or team up with your church social media person to plan posts related to missions. Share why global missions is an important part of your church’s vision and purpose.
- Encourage the other members of your missions team who are already on social media to check in to your church’s website and social media channels and leave comments on updates about your church and the missionaries you support. Share why global missions is an important part of your church’s vision and purpose (I’m being intentionally repetitive because you’ll need to be. Eventually it will stick!)
Teach First, Inform Next
Focus on The Family advertised a marriage conference this year that perfectly illustrates this next point. When they posted about it on social media, they started with the teaching part, then they included information:
Teach: “‘People don’t fall in love, get married and then intentionally disconnect. It takes years for the passion, intimacy, and connection within a marriage to deteriorate. Left unnoticed, soulmates slowly morph into roommates.’ – Dr. Greg and Erin Smalley, Reconnected
Inform: It doesn’t have to be this way. If you feel like you’re in a roommate marriage, join a Resist the Drift Marriage Conference! You’ll spend a weekend learning tools from Dr. Greg and Erin Smalley and come away with a deeper bond.”
It was followed by a set of tiles called “5 Signs of Married Roommates” (teach). By teaching first, the postings gave something of value to the person reading regardless of whether they registered for the conference. But it followed with information to get involved in case the teaching had a particular impact on the reader.
You can do the same with updates from your missionaries! Let’s reframe what the missionary sends us to give value back to the church attendee for discipleship purposes and inspire an interest in missions.
Let me give you a couple of examples:
If you support a missionary who provides an update about a successful outreach event they had among indigenous people. Celebrate the update, but also use it to remind your congregation to invite their neighbors to an upcoming outreach event or the next church worship service. If you get an update from a missionary talking about a Bible class they’ve been teaching, use that update to promote an upcoming Bible study or new Sunday School Class or this summer’s VBS and the need for volunteers. If a missionary shares about meeting tangible needs to refugees, use that as an opportunity to thank your church members for their faithful giving that allows your church to continue supporting those efforts AND meet local needs in the community.
The fear that promoting your missionaries to your congregants will divert all the time, resources, and attention to them is unfounded. Generally speaking, church members who are most focused on missions are going to be among your most faithful givers and volunteers. The one exception will be parents and other relatives of missionaries. But those are exceptional cases. For nearly everyone else, if they give more to missions, they’ll give more to your church, too.
So, create something that will inspire people to take an interest in what God is doing worldwide, and you’ll see an increase in their commitment to what God is doing locally. Because the common denominator is inspiring people to take an interest into what God is DOING. The where is incidental.
Social Media and Email
Understanding what your church attendees like to read and share on social media will help determine what you use from a missionary’s update. But many believers deeply value short teaching like devotionals.
Many of our missionaries share inspiring, Biblical devotionals within their ministry updates. And you might be surprised of the additional devotional material they can share with you if you simply ask them. Repurposing your missionary’s content saves time since content creation takes a lot of time.
This is why you sign up for your missionaries’ updates and follow your church-supported missionaries on social media. They might have content you can use to inspire your congregants. WorldVenture missionaries who have public ministry generally have a ministry profile. Some even have custom WorldVenture.com links. Ask them if they have a custom link (it’s usually short and easily remembered), and use their custom link so people can learn more about them.
THAT SAID, it’s important that you ask your missionaries for permission before you share their stuff with your church members or anyone in the public via your website or social media. When you get consent, ensure you have the correct link to share with it so the missionary receives credit. And if they request that you not share an update publicly, you must honor that request. And for global workers that are restricted-access, you could jeopardize or endanger them, their local partners, and the ministry as a whole by exposing what they are doing publicly.
One exception to that rule include the updates at WorldVenture.com, our blog, mass email, and social media. You’re welcome to reshare our posts and updates. As our president, Dr. Jeff Denlinger likes to say, “let’s give the mission away!” Just be sure to add a link to the post or to tell people it’s from WorldVenture. Give credit where credit is due!
It’s another reason to sign up for WorldVenture’s email list, check our Blog section, and follow WorldVenture social media. These are some of the easiest ways to get content for your church’s social media, then reframe it for your own purposes. I know I’m a little biased, but my team provides the content for WorldVenture.com’s blog, mass email, and social media. And there are always new updates coming out on social every week, on the blog multiple times a month, and from our email monthly if not more often.
Here are some tips and practical ideas you can use:
- A short devotional is helpful for your church newsletter to disciple your church people. It gives them something fun, followed by all your church announcements and reminders. It’s even more fun when it comes from a missionary your church is supporting. Ask the missionary you support if they would like to contribute a devotional. You need to give them a lot time (a few weeks, at least!) to respond. Please don’t give them deadlines, they have enough of those in their field work and that is where their focus should be.
- Before asking a restricted worker if you can use their text, try this: Copy and paste the portion you wish to use to a Word document and edit out any names, places or identifiable phrases. Send the edited part by email and ask their permission to use it. Ask them how to give credit so people will understand it is from a missionary your church supports. If they give permission to use it, use it only in the way they’ve agreed. Protect the work they’re doing that you’ve invested all that time and money into, as well!
- A quote from a missionary in a graphic, online update, or on a slide at the worship service is always lovely and inspiring.
- Share a post from your missionary organization’s social media or website whenever your church-supported missionary is featured. Sharing a link from another organization, individual, or website back to your social media can help your page show up more often in your members’ social media summaries.
- Celebrate people coming to Jesus! Ask your missionary permission to share photos and text from their update whenever someone comes to know the Lord or gets baptized. Because by supporting your missionary, you helped get them to that country and are part of the team that God has used to save people. Give your congregation more reasons to rejoice with them!
- Take a photo of your missionary and add a quote from them. You can make a graphic that includes the quote or just type the quote under the photo.
- If your missionary shares photos of worship at the church in the country they serve, share it on Sunday and online! Or simply ask them for a photo of their church in that country! Help your congregation see the beauty, variety, and the size of the family of God throughout the world. And if you really want to inspire people, take a picture of your congregation one Sunday and send it back to your missionary to share with the people they serve! It’s an act of honor, hospitality, and unity to do that in many other cultures. Try it and be pleasantly surprised at what happens next.
- If your missionary preached recently, take a good quote from their sermon and create a quote graphic with their picture. Or just share a picture of them with the quote typed under the photo.
- Some missionaries are video savvy, too. Ask them how they would feel about answering some questions from your church on a video. You might be surprised at what they send you, especially the sights and sounds in the background. That said, this can be difficult and takes time. Best to ask them about making a video like this first and ask them what time and equipment they have to do it (honestly, all they need is their cell phone, but some missionaries are more nervous about this than others, so be gracious if they decline). Even if they say “yes”, making a video especially for your church takes planning and, most likely, several weeks between suggesting the idea and getting something back you can use. But it’s worth asking. Just don’t expect anything professional. You’ll get a “selfie” video, in most cases. But your congregation will LOVE IT! Try it.
- If you create your own content from the content provided by WorldVenture missionaries, make sure to tag WorldVenture in the social media posts. If we see your post, we’ll repost it on our social media! It’s fun and it helps both of our social media platforms stand out.
Two Cautions To Always Follow:
- If a missionary’s name is not mentioned in the update they provide, please do not post the missionary’s name on your social media or public emails. Missionaries don’t accidentally leave out information. They leave out information on purpose. There could be a security or cultural issue they haven’t explained. Trust them. Don’t add info they leave out.
- Never tag a missionary in any post unless you have received permission. ESPECIALLY if they are doing work in a restricted-access area or working with people (often refugees) originally from those restricted-access areas. They are our family and we need to protect them all!
And One Super Easy Way To Get What You Need:
Again, I want to encourage you to use what’s posted on WorldVenture’s social media platforms and website blog. If you see it on our website, social media, or monthly mass email, you can be confident we’ve already acquired the correct permissions for public sharing.
There are some updates we ask people not to share, but we make that explicit.
So when you see updates from WorldVenture about missionaries, projects, ministries, and opportunities to serve and these updates would help you promote the ministry God is doing in and through your church, please use them. Just remember to give credit where credit is due! And if you’re in doubt, ask!
Advocating For Your Missionary Advocates For Your Ministry
Remember, advocating for your missionary can advocate for your ministry. Use the action of our missionaries to inspire action in your people. It’s not a competition, it’s a cooperative!
We’re all in this together and we all have the same command from Jesus to go into the all the world and make disciples of all nations. Since we’re in this together, let’s share the funds (you have) and content (we have) that God has given all of us to accomplish His work together.
If you have any questions about sharing updates to inspire your church to pray, serve, give, or go, please email or connect with me on social media. Because, together, we’re engaging the world for gospel impact!
Other Articles Of Interest:
- Learn more about Nikole Hahn here.
- 4 Ways To Process Emotions Online
- 3 Lessons About Social Media From John 8
- Sowing Seeds in Europe