In previous years, our church, First Central Baptist Church of Chicopee, MA, held a week-long missions conference. We had guest speakers on two Sundays, a Wednesday evening session, and a missions banquet on Friday evening. This year, we reduced the conference to one weekend with a missionary speaking at both the Friday evening banquet and Sunday services.
When changes occur at our church, people seldom complain to me directly. But they do talk to their friends. With that in mind, I sent the note below to our church leaders so they would be able to answer any questions and/or comments that came their way. So far, I’ve received a number of comments affirming the changes, the direction we’re headed, and the fact I addressed the issue directly.
Dear FCBC leaders,
How come First Central is no longer committed to missions? We used to have a missions conference. Now we have a missions weekend. What’s next, no missions at all?
While I have not heard that statement directly, I would not be surprised if it is voiced, or at least thought, over the next couple of weeks.
Let me offer a brief explanation of what we are doing so you will be able to answer the question should you hear it in a class or small group.
Yes, we have changed from a week of missions to a weekend of missions. But we also added four “What in the World?” missionary lunches this year. Instead of only hearing from 2 or perhaps 3 missionaries in October, we will hear from six missionaries in May, July, August, October, and November. And that doesn’t count my report of my trip to Russia in February.
Rather than merely hear about missions, we emphasized getting out of the pew and doing missions. We did service projects in Chicopee in September 2013 & September 2014. We served with Springfield Rescue Mission (October 2013) and Pregnancy Care Center (October 2014). We collected gifts for homeless children in Chicopee (December 2013). I went to Russia (February 2014) to train leaders, a team rehabbed houses in South Carolina (March 2014), our youth went to Philadelphia (July 2014), and two of our members served in Ghana (August 2014). We will be participating with Operation Christmas Child during November. On the drawing board are possible ministry trips to Russia, Echoing Hills, and Ghana in 2015.
Counting the What in the World? lunches, short-term ministry trips, service projects, and missions weekend, we have done more in the area of missions and outreach in 2014 than we have in any previous year.
In the past, churches measured their missions commitment by the number of missionaries they supported and whether or not they had an annual missions conference. Rather than just give money to people and projects, our desire is to come alongside and partner with our missionaries. While we may have fewer missionaries going forward since we reduced the number last year due to economic necessities, we want to have closer relationships with those we support. We are starting that process this year with the __________, and we want to expand it in the future.
Yes, we are making changes in how we do missions. Rather than reduce our commitment, we are attempting to raise our level of commitment in new ways. Rather than do business as usual, “that’s the way we’ve always done it,” we want to become more effective and fruitful.
Thanks for getting the word out and for being part of what we do.