Helping churches go where they are led

    
When the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention talks about partnership missions, it’s not with a one-size-fits-all approach in mind.

What the convention does have in mind, says Tiffany Smith, SBTC missions mobilization associate, is helping congregations connect where they believe God is leading them.

The SBTC has several high-priority mission partnerships to which they direct churches that come to the convention staff with open-ended requests for help.

But roughly half of the churches that come to the SBTC mission team seeking help in mobilizing their people already have a people group or region in mind, Smith said.

So if Church A has a plan of action and a people or place in mind already, they might need help connecting with “boots on the ground” in that place.

But Church B might be new to hands-on missions altogether. Where they abound in willing hearts and contagious enthusiasm, they might lack in direction or knowledge about engaging a lost people group.

Group A might need some help with the finishing touches, but Group B will need help discerning who and where it should engage, and everything that follows, Smith said.

“When I came into this job, I realized that not every church could be pigeonholed into one area. And so I took the approach that we would try to serve the churches according to their needs. So we do have a broader network than what has been traditionally done in the past,” she said.

“The point is to mobilize more churches to be on mission,” Smith added, “because if they are not called to East Asia, for example, we don’t want to send them to East Asia. We want to help them to get to wherever God is leading them.”

A one-year-old partnership with an East Asian region is one of the SBTC’s established partnerships, along with other regions in North America and abroad.

“We strive to work alongside the IMB in their strategy, and with NAMB in their strategy for the SEND focus cities of North America. We do emphasize that, because that’s where God is working. They have people on the ground to partner with long term for maximum effectiveness.”    

An example of that would be Montreal, where relationships are established and footwork is already being done for Texas church groups to go right to work when they travel there.

But the options for churches are diverse. Opportunities for engagement exist in places as widely varied as interior Mexico, China, and West Africa, to name just three.  

Internationally, the IMB has affinity group connectors that help church groups find vital links in engaging the lost abroad.

“I work with these affinity group connectors,” Smith said, “to make sure these churches are tied to an established ministry once they hit the ground.”

Among the SBTC mission partnerships, opportunities exist for all age groups as well—from elementary-aged students to senior adults and families, Smith added.

In cities where block parties or Vacation Bible schools are vehicles for ministry, children are especially effective at outreach and even evangelism.

The size of groups needed to orchestrate what would be considered a bonafide mission trip has changed some from what it was in years past, Smith said.

In fact, she noted church planters and missionaries increasingly are requesting smaller teams domestically and abroad.

“Three, five, seven people. It makes it easier logistically and it’s actually safer when you are talking about overseas missions. Certainly, there is a place for larger teams if you are doing larger block parties, for example.

“What needs to be emphasized is that you can take three people on a mission trip. It doesn’t have to be a large group, which would be a benefit to some of these smaller churches that think, ‘Oh, we don’t have the money to send a large group.’”

The profit of mission trips to the life of a congregation goes beyond just seeing the change in perspective that many people experience upon visiting an impoverished or restricted culture, Smith said.

“And it does build your faith and it helps you have a broader worldview in understanding that God is the God of the nations. He has blessed us to bless the nations. It’s very strategic. It’s very purposeful. It’s not random.”

For more about SBTC missions opportunities, visit sbtexas.com/mobilization.

TEXAN Correspondent
Jerry Pierce
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