At World Renew we talk a lot about asset based community development; that is, discovering the assets that God has already placed in a community rather than focusing on perceived needs. This approach works with churches, too! What hidden assets might be in your church, just waiting to be deployed for missions?
Here are ten ideas from Catalyst Services
- Dissatisfaction. What? How is dissatisfaction a form of untapped potential? We’re talking about dissatisfaction that represents a deep spiritual longing for more—more gospel impact, more compassion extended to hurting people, more evidence of the Spirit changing lives. Have you had conversations with people in your church—not everyone, but at least individuals here and there across the congregation—who share a deep desire to see God use them in a more powerful way? Wonderful! You’ve got the most important type of untapped potential because the hunger to be used by God is the only essential for engaging all the other types of hidden resources.
- Leaders with a special passion. Sometimes church missions leaders lament that instead of being enthusiastic about missions, their pastor and other leaders are passionate about some other aspect of ministry—perhaps Bible teaching, local compassion service, discipleship, etc. Here’s more buried treasure! Regardless of what it is, every pastor’s passion is useful in global ministry. You just need to find the connection.
- Effective ministry. What does your church do well? Without a doubt, whatever ministry expertise you’ve developed could enrich global ministry too. Is your VBS the best around? Take it on the road—around the world. Your worship is phenomenal? Brainstorm how to use that universal language to communicate anywhere. You’re known for being friendly? Your people are gifted to build friendships that can bridge cultural barriers.
- People with an unusual gift or vision. Many churches have members who commit a lot of time and energy to something quite unique. They may make quilts for AIDS babies, minister to drivers at a truck stop, write prisoners or…the possibilities are endless. Many “specialty” ministries can have an even greater impact somewhere else in the world. Look for connections!
- Powerful intercessors. What a tremendous treasure these folks are! As you contemplate how to better engage your church’s resources, think about how to more fully utilize the dedicated prayer ministry of your intercessors as well as how to make their prayer commitment more infectious!
- Professionals. People with professional expertise are in great demand in Majority World nations: university administrators and professors in any field, medical personnel, city planners,chefs, government officials (one church’s field partners set up a peer-to-peer visit for a group of law-enforcement officers; it launched relationships that the on-site workers could have never developed on their own). Any specialist can be a bridge to his/her peers in another country.
- Members in a life state of special opportunity. God can use people at any age, but during certain periods of life, people can more easily invest significant amounts of time in global ministry. Gap year—More and more teenagers are investing a year in missions between high school and college (a certain level of maturity re-quired). Recent college graduates—While the recession has made finding a job difficult, young adults can invest time in overseas ministry, especially if their church will help with college loan payments. Teachers—Sabbaticals may be harder to snag, but most teachers have several months during the summer that they could invest in missions. Businesspeople—Today some of the highest-impact ministries are carried out by businessmen and women who can arrange their schedules to spend sever-al weeks at a time, several times a year, in overseas ministry. Retirees—Since “70 is the new 50” for many senior adults, their potential productivity during retirement years is huge. Opportunities abound!
- People who have lived abroad or travel frequently. With a little research, you may find members of your church who have lived overseas due to military or diplomatic corps postings, job assignments, study abroad programs, or other reasons. Some in your congregation may regularly travel to a particular location overseas for business. These can be God-given connections.
- Individuals with practical skills. Almost any hobby, skill, or area of expertise can be a door opener in missions. Hairdressers. Scrapbookers. Auto mechanics. Little League coaches. Counselors. Computer geeks. Jugglers. Golfers. Knitters. Everything is useful somewhere!
- Individuals with humility and faith, teachable, and sensitive to the spirit. In other words, any child of God with a willingness to serve wherever and however needed is a wealth of untapped potential. The quiet servants are the ones who make missions happen. Their potential is their availability—and their value is limitless!
Hopefully this list gets your wheels turning.
What other ideas do you have for untapped missions potential in your church?