By Shane Bennett
Mission mobilization is a little goofy. It’s weird enough simply to care about missions. What kind of person is so into Jesus they want him to be followed by people who’ve never heard of him before?!? But mobilizers? Well, being “into missions” is not enough for us! We’re compelled to persuade our parents, our kids, our church friends, and the kindly doctor who sells us contacts that they too will be happier and more fulfilled when they dedicate their next breath—and all the rest—to God’s glory among the lost and unreached.
I tend to think God looks on us kindly, maybe bemusedly. That’s nice. Other people? Maybe less so. Which is not so nice.
Of course, it’s hard to make any money as a mission mobilizer. So maybe you have a day job and are working your mob magic avocationally. Good for you. If the old adage is true about the candle that burns twice as bright burning half as long… well, we’re happy to have you while we do.
For me, having purpose is a key catalyst for mobilization motivation. I honestly believe it matters. And I believe you matter.
But sometimes you question that. And sometimes it’s just so tiring. And then that one person said that one thing and you thought, “This is what they mean by ‘the straw the breaks the camel’s back!’”
If you can’t relate to that right now, no worries. You go straight here and here. If it feels a little familiar, though, can you spare a couple of minutes for me to show some care for you? Offer a little encouragement?
I’m only asking for about five minutes of “you go, girl,” and “you’re a rock star.” The whole enterprise won’t grind to a halt if you take a minute to catch your breath and sharpen the saw (hat tip to Saint Stephen).Stuff to Remember 1. You’re making a difference.
Is this hard to imagine sometimes? I get that. An hour or two spent on Facebook when you were planning to file your 501(c)(3) paperwork or call a few pastors. Whole days when you honestly wonder, “Is all this effort really accomplishing anything?”
Can I give you some Bible? You have treasure in your jar of clay and you were made to accomplish good stuff God prepared in advance for you to do. God lives in you and smells good through you. You have no idea how much God is doing with your one wild and precious life!
The story of my life is peppered with little cameos. Someone walked onto the stage, breathed life into me, and walked off. Others, known to God alone, sought good for me from their knees in the darkness of their prayer closet.
You, likewise, are having effect you may not see. Don’t give up.2. God will provide.
Don’t give up! God knows what you need. I can personally attest that not all mission advocates are killing it from a financial perspective! If you are, good.
Maybe you messed up and you think you’re disqualified. I can relate. Of course, I don’t know you, so maybe you are disqualified. But probably not. If the Bible is any indication, God’s capacity for using flawed individuals is pretty strong. And you and I both know effective mobilizers who have at times made us cock our heads in wonder like German Shepherd puppies.4. God wins in end.
If there’s anything I’m pretty sure of it’s this: God’s going to win. Although writing this short piece last week worked a minor epiphany in my mind: This victory will “probably not exactly be the way I currently understand God and winning, but God will win. And you and I are invited to hasten that victory.”Stuff to Do 1. Take a breather.
If you mobilize for missions on top of your day job, good for you! I hope you have capacity and inclination for vacations. Are you a professional mobilizer? (That is a thing!) Try this: Submit a budget proposal to your supervisor for enough funds to cover a week-long retreat. I hear that voice in your head! Your church or ministry doesn’t do that. (Maybe you could help them start doing it if you subtly implied you were considering jumping ship to my new org, Healing Nations!)
There never seems to be enough time or money to take the breaks you need. I get that and am a prime example of falling short in this area. Honestly, though, I’ve never heard a colleague or friend return from a deliberate retreat and say, “What a waste of time. I was bored out of my head!” Get the rest you need.2. Up your forgiveness game.
Forgiveness is the leaven of our lives, the wine of The Way. Can I invite you to renew your commitment to receive and extend it? Be encouraged by this recent, stunning example of forgiveness by Brandt Jean to his brother’s killer. (Haven’t seen it? You may want to grab a Kleenex while the video loads.) This is the kingdom of God: Realizing we need forgiveness and humbly, gratefully accepting it. Then with the sweet taste of it still in our mouths, offering it freely to those who wrong us.
To not offer forgiveness, as the winsome Anne Lamott says, “is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.” Jesus said God won’t forgive us if we don’t forgive others!3. Press on in the face of adversity and betrayal.
About a year ago, a couple left the church I attend after a relentless and perplexing campaign against me and the organization I worked for. It was troubling, time consuming, and painful. Maybe you’ve recently felt the surprising sting of betrayal. I’m sorry if you have. We’re people and it happens. But God’s got your back.
David Murrow recently shared on his blog, “Betrayal is not a sign that something is wrong. Instead, it’s a sign that God is at work. Almost everyone in the Bible was betrayed. Abraham. Joseph. Moses. David. Paul. And of course, Jesus… And who betrayed these heroes of the faith? Not some stranger. Someone close. A fellow traveler who shared their faith.”
If it hasn’t happened, it probably will. May God give us each grace to act like Jesus when the time comes.4. Link up.
Finally, mission mobilization can be a lonely enterprise. You’ve poured your passionate guts out before, haven’t you, only to have someone say, “Uh, yeah. Cool. But who do you think will win the World Series?” I’m excited to know who’s going to win the World Series, but I also need people in my life who care about the nations, especially the unreached. You probably do too.
- If you’re feeling a little isolated, visit a Perspectives course. Your kind of people hang out there.
- Maybe join one of my friend Jeannie Marie’s Virtual Community groups and interact with people who are figuring out where they fit in God’s great world.
- If Muslims are your jam, you might like to be a part of my Muslim Connect tribe. Subscribe to the super short weekly email here.
- Maybe you just need to share your story and get some prayer. I set up a Facebook group for feedback and mutual care specifically related to things in this article. Visit it here. Like the page to stay connected for its (likely 2-3 month) duration. We’ll talk, empathize, pray, and dream. Mostly we’ll realize we’re not alone. If you have a business card with some form of “Mobilizer” on it, please, please, please share a picture!
Mobilizers matter. You matter. Keep up the good fight. We’re with you. A crown of glory awaits, as do sisters and brothers from all over the world. I for one am happy to stand shoulder to shoulder with you. I am honored to be your friend.
A Frontiers worker shares how his team is using Facebook to connect with hundreds of Muslims who want to learn about Christ. See story below. This edition of News Briefs features several other stories of unusual or unexpected ministry.
Source: Frontiers USA, September 16, 2019
“We have been waiting for this chance to study God’s Word,” Khadija said at the start of the Bible study.
Khadija and her husband, Rayan, live in a remote community—a place that may never have been open to the gospel had it not been for Facebook.
Some months ago, Rayan started engaging with us on our team’s evangelistic Facebook page, where he watched videos about Jesus and read passages of Scripture.
Like hundreds of other Muslims who have visited the Facebook page, Rayan also studied the Word with the page’s bot, a software application that runs automated mini-Bible studies.
After Rayan completed the mini-Bible study, we connected him with one of our Muslim-background believing partners. This gave Rayan the chance to meaningfully interact with a follower of Jesus.
But before ever meeting a believer in person, Rayan had already shared Jesus with more than a dozen people. His entire family had started reading the New Testament with him, and he had even been studying the Word with several coworkers using a smartphone app.
» Read full story with prayer points. Such things are happening in many other places, too, as ministries leverage tech resources for evangelism and discipleship. While smartphone access is unequal economists now estimate that as many as six million North Koreans, a quarter of the population, now have mobile phones (Reuters).
» Another Frontiers article caught our eye and reminds us not to overlook evangelism opportunities: Jesus for the Non-poor (Frontiers UK).
Source: Joel News International, September 24, 2019
Korean Pastor Yonggi Cho was long known as the pastor of the largest church in the world. But things have changed. Grassroots church-planting movements are growing with a speed and vigor that most would find hard to believe.
What would you say if you learn that with 800,000 members the “pastor” of one of the largest churches in the world lives in North India? Beginning with just 12 people in 1994, Randeep Mathews’ house-church-based movement started even before he was a Christian.
Randeep started in one of the most hostile environments you can imagine, the city of Kinnaur in Himachal Pradesdh (India) in the Himalayas. It soon grew to 3,000, then 30,000 followers of Christ in what was once called “the graveyard of missions” because of its historic resistance to the imported gospel from the West.
[By August 2019] they already reached 800,000 members in North India (300,000 of that in Himachal) and are poised to grow to 3 million in Himachal Pradesh alone.
» Full story mentions two more similar movements in North India. Per this version of the story, the original source is a recent (but restricted) video from house church advocate Wolfgang Simpson. Your thoughts?
Source: SEND International, September 25, 2019
A couple of years ago, as Jami and her family were packing up to move from Ulan-Ude, Siberia, to a small village populated by the Buryat people, they were struck by an overwhelming need to gather prayer support for their ministry.
“We felt a fresh desperation to come to God, seek him, and ask others to engage in the spiritual battle of prayer with us,” Jami said. The SEND team in Siberia has sought to pull together 1,000 people committed to praying for the Buryat people.
Now, the team says God is moving in hearts like they’ve never seen before! God graciously is allowing our teammates to see answers to some of those thousands of prayers. Jami shares about one answer that encouraged her family:
A few years ago, as we drove through some towns near Lake Baikal, we picked up a Buryat lady who was hitchhiking. It turned out she was a believer, and we had a lovely conversation. She asked us to pray for her son who was far from God. We did pray for him, but then we lost connection and didn’t think much about her as time passed.
Then we moved to our home in Spring Village. For the last several months, a Buryat guy in his late 20s has been coming to our home group. At first, he seemed a bit abrasive and antagonistic, but through the months, he has grown softer and hungry for the Word. He reads the Bible ravenously every day, and comes to the group with questions that he writes down throughout the week.
We believe that God has plans for this young man. He is a leader and has a heart for God and for his people. He shares his faith with enthusiasm and boldness, bringing unbelieving friends to church, our home group, and other evangelistic events.
At [an August] Buryat Partnership meeting back in Ulan-Ude, we spotted a face we knew: The hitchhiking lady! And, as it turns out, the young man in our group is the son we prayed for years ago!
» Read full story. Lord, raise up more prayer teams to seek you on behalf of the unreached.
Source: International Mission Board, September 17, 2019
Six months after his parents moved from California to Uruguay with the International Mission Board in 1990, Steven Kunkel stopped speaking. His parents first thought their one-year-old son had culture shock but knew something else was wrong when Kunkel did not speak for nearly three years.
When Kunkel was 4, his father took him to Sacramento, California, for a formal diagnosis. The doctors informed him his son was severely autistic, saying he would never be able to live on his own, learn to speak, or make any friends. The doctors recommended they leave the mission field and put Steven in a specialty school for autistic children, but they knew God had other plans for their family [and returned to Uruguay, with their son, who started speaking at the age of five].
Though doctors told his parents Kunkel would have trouble speaking, he showed a knack for languages early in his life. By the age of 15, Kunkel spoke three languages: English, Spanish, and Portuguese. At that point, Kunkel sensed a call from the Lord to be a missionary to Japan.
After working with the Japanese church [in Paraguay] for seven years, Kunkel answered God’s call by moving to Japan when he was 22. Kunkel stayed in Japan for two years and enrolled in Boyce College as a Global Studies major in spring 2015. Kunkel has continued to learn other languages and currently speaks seven fluently: English, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Arabic, French, and Turkish.
As Kunkel prepares for missionary service, he hopes to encourage others to trust that God can use them no matter what is standing in the way. Through living with autism, Kunkel has learned to rely completely on God’s power so much so he now thanks God for his disability.
“My autism is one of the greatest gifts the Lord has given me. The Lord healed me, but not 100 percent because he wants me to rely on him,” Kunkel said. “If it was not for my autism, I would not be determined to learn languages, meet friends, share the gospel with people, and to encourage others.”
» Read full story. Note the IMB article is a reprint from a related source published in 2015. A 2018 article which included more of Steven’s story, especially his experience with autism, reported his graduation from Boyce and plans to return to Japan later that year (Stims of Joy).
Source: OMF International, September 27, 2019
Clouds came closing in fast, the visibility deteriorated within seconds. The wind picked up and the temperature dropped significantly. We were just below the 1,989-meter (6,277-foot) summit of Mt. Yotei and icicles were forming on my beard. I stopped and changed from my sweat-drenched clothes into some dry clothes.
My two friends and I were still shivering, but all set to make the descent on our snowboards, when I spotted someone crawling up the mountain on all fours. I was surprised, because he or she were alone and far from the regular hiking route, and obviously without snowshoes, skies, or a snowboard. I knew that being alone on a mountain like this could turn into a death trap very easily, especially in conditions we were experiencing at the time. After some quick turns on our snowboards we reached the young man and I couldn’t believe what I saw.
He was wearing gumboots, gardening gloves, and a normal winter parka, with a scarf wrapped around his head—absolutely unprepared to be in the mountains. Straight away we offered help and, as he had no provisions, he gladly received a spare sandwich and finished up our water supply.
[While] he gobbled down the yummy bacon, avocado, and egg sandwich, I scolded him for doing such a foolish thing. But after my initial rant I asked him why he was there. He told us that his girlfriend had broken off with him, and so he’d fasted for two days straight. Then he’d decided to climb Mt. Yotei in search of a spiritual experience, hoping for an awakening or some kind of enlightenment…
» Read full story and pray for those seeking spiritual truth, that they will encounter Christians at just the right time.
Will you join Christians around the world in praying for the planet’s more than one billion Hindus during 15 days of prayer? This year’s event takes place October 20 to November 3 to coincide with Hindu festival season.
The 2019 prayer guide provides articles to encouraged informed prayer for various spheres of Hindu society, including family life, media, the arts, business, government, religion, and celebration, along with material about four major Indian pilgrimage sites: Puri in the east, Rameshwaram in the south, Dwarka in the west, and Badrinath in the north.
» Purchase the 32-page, full-color prayer guide booklet from WorldChristian.com for US$3.00 (with bulk discounts available) or download a PDF version for US$2.50. International distribution info also on the website. See other prayer guides, too.
» Want to pray without buying anything? Use this daily prayer summary. Designed for A4 paper but prints nicely on 8.5×11, too.
Source: Globalcast Resources
Globalcast Resources and YWAM Frontier Missions have launched a brand-new online course in mission mobilization and advocacy. Designed with mobilizers from the Global South in mind, it’s built around 15 short video lessons you can work through at your own pace and a WhatsApp group for peer coaching and encouragement. The class is only US$20 with discounts available.
You’ll have to act fast, though. Enrollment closes at 4pm Central time, today, September 25. Participants will have ongoing access to the material, so if you think this is for you but don’t have time just now, you could sign up and go through it later.
Source: Missio Nexus
We’re pleased to see media from the plenary sessions at last week’s Mission Leaders Conference (“Future Mission: A Challenging Look at the Future of Missions and the Great Commission”) are already posted online; no login required. Start with James Kelly on innovation in mission and K.A. Ellis on the future of persecution. There’s a thought-provoking piece from Ed Stetzer, two videos with Andrew Brunson, and more.
Missio Nexus member? You can log in and access audio recordings of most of the workshops, as well.
Source: William Carey Publishing
The Only One: Living Fully in, by, and for God, by Curtis Sergeant. William Carey Publishing, 2019. 216 pages.
Want to live a God-centered life?
“Read this book slowly and prayerfully, writing your responses in a journal. Then get a second copy for a friend and reread it, discussing it together. This book is transformational,” says Rick Warren.“I wrote this book to share with you what I have learned about walking with Jesus from decades of pioneering mission work in some of the darkest places on earth,” says author and DMM trainer Curtis Sergeant. “Though the locations were exotic, the principles are universal. They apply to everyone who desires to follow Jesus.”
“I believe the greatest enemy of genuine discipleship in the US is the prevailing paradigm of what it means to follow Jesus. I pray that God will use this book to change that concept.”
Packed with scripture, this guide to what the author calls “theopraxy” is all about growing as a disciple, especially in community. It emphasizes learning to listen to God and rely on his power to do what he says, accountable to others doing the same. Great book.
Because of a special arrangement with the author, you can download a copy of the ebook for free. Contact the publisher to set up a code to give it as a gift to your staff, supporters, or congregation.
Learn more and get your electronic copy. You can also purchase paperback copies to use on your own or with a group for US$14.99 from William Carey Publishing.
Source: Missions Catalyst Events Calendar
October 4-5, The Mobilized Church: Keys to Unleashing Missionary Potential (Mill Creek, WA, USA). Provided by Sixteen:Fifteen.
October 4-6, Business as Mission Conference USA (Silicon Valley, CA, USA). An annual event.
October 7 to February 16, 2020, Perspectives on the World Christian Movement (online).
October 8-11, Pastors to Missionaries Conference (Ridgecrest, NC, USA). Pastoral training in member care, from Barnabas International; an annual event.
October 14-18, South Pacific Region Member Care Conference (Mosgiel, New Zealand).
October 15-18, Support Raising Leaders Conference (Scottsdale, AZ, USA). Provided by Support Raising Solutions.
October 19-20, Missions Fest Seattle (Bellevue, WA, USA). Free annual community missions event.
October 20-25, ABIDE re-entry debriefing for global workers (Joplin, MO, USA).
October 22-24, Crescent Project National Conference (Nashville, TN, USA). An annual event.
October 22-26, Buluşma Noktası (Ephesus, Turkey). Meeting of all interested in ministry in Turkey. Sponsored by the International Turkey Network.
October 23-25, Refugee Highway Partnership North America Roundtable (Toronto, ON, Canada). An annual event.
October 25–27, Mountain Feet Weekend (Choctaw, OK, USA). Discern and respond to God’s invitation on your life. From Beautiful Feet Boot Camp.
October 28 to November 23, COMPASS (Palmer Lake, CO, USA). Language and culture acquisition provided by Mission Training International.
October 29 to November 26, Hands-On Media Ministry in a Mobile World (online). Mentored course to leverage ministry outreach using mobile phones. Offered by Mission Media U.
October 29-30, Support Raising Bootcamp (Fayetteville, AR, USA). Training provided by Support Raising Solutions.
October 31 to November 3, Catalyze Pacific Northwest (Camas, WA, USA). Three-day intensive designed to impart practical missional skills. Provided by Frontiers.
» View the complete calendar. Additions welcome. Want to know more about a specific event? Contact the event organizers.
Source: SEND International, September 5, 2019
A year ago, we asked you to pray for the hundreds of thousands of Muslim immigrants and refugees who had recently arrived in Europe, most of them fleeing war and civil unrest. We wrote about their tremendous needs and about the tremendous opportunities for us Chris
Our awesome God is answering our prayers in ways almost beyond belief! Hundreds of former Muslims are stepping forward and not only giving their lives to Christ, but also being baptized.
Baptism is a very hard step for many former Muslims to take; historically, there have been some who have professed faith in Christ, but who delay baptism. Almost all Muslims see Christian baptism as the final severing of any ties to Islam, a step that once taken, is irrevocable. There is no more fence-sitting once you have been baptized, and ostracism and persecution are almost certain to follow.
However, amazingly, in one European country in particular, Muslims are accepting Jesus as their Lord and Savior, being baptized, gathering together, and even meeting openly as churches.
» Full story addresses the issue of false conversions (there are some) and includes ways to pray for these refugees and those serving among them.
» Read how a worker with the International Mission Board describes what discipling Muslims really looks like in his context and how baptism is seen.
Source: Mission Network News, September 10, 2019
[On September 2], Lebanon declared a state of economic emergency. This could be mistaken for a state of emergency, but a state of economic emergency allows a government to implement economic emergency measures. Per the Associated Press, Lebanon has one of the highest public debts in the world. The country is hurting.
“Because of the Syrian refugee crisis, and the economic impact that’s having on the country, [Lebanon] has been on the verge of bankruptcy. And this is just one more step in that process. The Prime Minister, [a] couple [of] weeks back, was in the United States. He’s been all over asking the other nations to help them financially help take care of this crisis, and nobody is,” [says Tom Atema of Heart for Lebanon].
“When in great hardship, great persecution…there’s a there’s a wide-open door for the gospel like never before. I don’t want to lose sight of that in all the negativity of this topic. Muslims are coming to Christ like never before, and reaping a tremendous harvest,” Atema explains.
Heart for Lebanon is in the process of opening its new Hope Ministry Center, which officially opens October 1. This center serves the refugee community in the Bekaa valley with Bible studies, informal education for the children, job training, and more. In being the hands and feet of Christ to people who fled their homes, Heart for Lebanon is also helping relieve some of the economic pressures the Syrian refugee crisis has placed on the Lebanese people.
Source: International Mission Board, September 11, 2019
[When Ruslan] first heard the gospel from relatives in the big city, he couldn’t sleep for days. On the fourth day, he visited their church and heard the truth about Jesus again. In tears, he repented and believed in Christ for salvation.
Ruslan is now a married father of four, an evangelist, and a church planter. Many people have come to Christ through his obedience to boldly and faithfully share the gospel at every opportunity. He fasted and prayed ten days for the salvation of his mother, who came to faith. His older brother also repented and believed through Ruslan’s witness.
Another Christian met Ruslan at a wedding and asked him to share the gospel with his antagonistic older brother. The older brother had been threatening to inform the police about the Christians. Ruslan was hesitant and said he would share with the older brother during his next visit.
The other Christian disregarded Ruslan’s offer to follow up later, and he brought the older brother into their conversation right there at the wedding. Despite his fear, Ruslan shared the gospel with the man and talked for an hour about Islam and Christianity. Ruslan noticed a phone in the man’s chest pocket but assumed it was off.
A couple of days later, Ruslan learned the man recorded their entire conversation on his phone. Ruslan’s first reaction was fear, but he gave it to the Lord and prayed, “Use this for good. May your will be done.” He later found out that instead of giving the recording to the police, the man listened to the gospel message again and again. He too believed.
» Full story goes into further detail about the risks and tensions associated with sharing the gospel in sensitive contexts.
» You might also read The Risk of Reaching the Unreached: Finding the Balance Between Safety and Compassion (Lausanne Global Analysis).
Source: Ethnos360, September 16, 2019
In the Iski people group of Papua New Guinea, “marriage is an ill-defined term,” said missionary Aurélie Tousch. “People go out together, move in together [and] break up, a bit like in the West. There is no wedding day but a ‘trial period’ that often ends in separation even after the birth of a child.”
After the gospel was presented and Iski believers began growing, the missionaries taught biblical principles of marriage. Though counter-cultural, the Iski believers accepted the teachings and have been waiting since 2017 for an opportunity to demonstrate their obedience.
One of these Iski believers is Bitris, a young, single lady. Bitris’ friends encouraged her to marry, but she chose to wait because there were few single, believing Iski men.
Meanwhile, in a different language group far across Papua New Guinea, Moombi, a young Mibu elder, began looking for a wife. For years, he waited to marry because he “felt rather strongly that God wanted him to focus on ministry and leave these things in his hands,” said missionary Chris Walker. Then in December 2018, his brothers “informed him that it was time for him to get married,” and Moombi followed his family’s wishes and began growing his beard in a Mibu cultural practice to “advertise” that he was looking for a wife…
Source: Open Doors, September 2019
“In primary school we were told that all missionaries were terrorists… they will be nice to you at first, but when they get you into their homes, they will kill you and eat your liver.”
Join Christians around the world on Sunday, November 3, for the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church—a global prayer meeting for our Christian brothers and sisters who boldly witness for Christ at any cost.
VOM’s 2019 IDOP short film, Sang-chul: North Korea, provides a dramatic example of the challenges of following Christ inside the world’s most restricted nation. The film will inspire you and your family, group, class, or church to pray for persecuted Christians in North Korea and around the world.
Filmed on the Korean peninsula, the film shares the true story of Pastor Han, who was assassinated by North Korean agents in China because of his effective gospel work among North Koreans. The story is told through the eyes of one of Pastor Han’s disciples, Sang-chul, a man who has followed in his mentor’s footsteps by continuing to share the gospel with North Koreans despite the danger.
» See also a recent, thoughtful article from Open Doors, Five Reasons People Persecute Christians.
By Shane Bennett
How are your plans coming together for Pastor Appreciation Month in October? You have a pastor or two, right? And you appreciate them? So, what are you waiting for?
Missions mobilizers ask a lot of our pastors…
- Preach about the Great Commission.
- Read these missions books.
- Raise the missions budget.
- Make our thing the main thing.
- Go to Pakistan for a month with me!
I think we can agree: it’s time to give back a little.
Paul, in 1 Timothy 5:17, encourages us in this. “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.”
Likewise, the author of Hebrew advises, “Remember your leaders who have spoken God’s Word to you. As you carefully observe the outcome of their lives, imitate their faith” (Hebrews 13:7).
Maybe you think pastors should be appreciated all year long and Pastor Appreciation Month is simply a retail gimmick designed to pad the coffers of greeting card companies and Christian book sellers. You may be right. It seems to have originated with Focus on the Family in 1992, and they clearly sell Christian books.
But personally, I can use a little reminder, a focal point for expressing gratitude to my spiritual leaders. And Lifeway, more of a stuff-selling company than Focus, doesn’t mention buying stuff until halfway down their list of gift ideas for Pastor Appreciation month.
If this little reminder has caught you flat-footed, don’t worry. I have a list of ideas for you to consider for your pastor.Top Ten Pastor Appreciation Gifts 1. Live peacefully with each other.
Paul’s no dummy! On the tail of his admonishment to the Thessalonians to hold their leaders in high regard, he tells them to “live in peace with each other”! Hands down this is the best thing we can give our pastors!2. Write a thank-you letter.
Collect pen and paper, envelope, and stamp. You’ll feel quaint and nostalgic, but the effect will be intense. Thank your leaders in general for the time they spend, the effort they make. Thank them specifically for ways their lives have blessed you. The more specific, the better.3. Take out a thank-you ad in the local paper.
This might not work if your local paper is the LA Times, but if you have neighborhood rag, a big, splashy Thank You! might be cool. If you submit artwork consisting of everyone’s signatures, even better.4. Give them a custom bobble-head doll.
Oh, yeah, this is a thing.5. Send them to a conference.
Google “pastor’s conference” or ask around. Let them choose from a selection of three or four, then take care of the details. If you send their spouse along, you’ll get triple the effect for double the price!6. Give them a shot at ax throwing.
A gift certificate to a local ax throwing venue, like the one owned by my friend in lovely Bluffton, Indiana. can be a great stress reliever! If you’re feeling cheeky, include a copy of the church photo directory with your presentation.7. Offer them baby sitting or elder care.
Whether your pastor’s date night preferences run to the latest Kendrick Brothers film, food adventures, or getting fresh ink, someone probably needs to watch the kids. Or perhaps stay with an elderly parent. A thank-you card bearing a promise of a free night of babysitting might be a home run.8. Appreciate their spouse.
Give some kind words in a simple card. A fistful of Kohl’s Cash. Jerky of the Month subscription. Whatever works. Many pastors could only hope for half their productivity if it weren’t for their spouses. Appreciate the pastor by appreciating their partner.9. Give them time with Tom.
N.T. Wright, the most popular British Christian scholar (double-initialed or otherwise) since C.S. Lewis, has begun to offer courses online! Nothing says thank you like a gift of time with Tom. If your pastor doesn’t care for Dr. Wright, you may want to look for another pastor. (Just kidding. Mostly.)10. Pray for them.
I’d like to camp on this one for a bit. Praying for your pastor has some distinct hidden benefits. It’s free, for instance. And as long as you do it privately, there’s no concern for whether they liked the gift or not!
Seriously though, there may not be a better gift to give your pastor, unless it’s #1 above. Ed Stetzer put this way:
“What better way is there for you to uplift your pastors and church leaders than through approaching the throne of grace with confidence?
“The Lord hears the prayers of his people, and the Lord cares for the leaders of his people. Take time regularly, each day even, to pray for the men and women on your church staff. Pray for their emotional well-being, their physical strength, their spiritual wellness, and any specific needs you know. This is definitely the simplest and perhaps most impactful way you can support your church leaders.”What to Pray
A pastor friend of mine says this is what he’d like his church to be continually praying for him:
- For my sermon preparation every week. Unless God opens my mind to his Word, I’m dead in the water.
- For wisdom! We need God’s guidance to lead his people, his church.
- To finish well and finish strong. Too many men are failing and falling out of ministry.
- For my wife and kiddos, that my marriage would be strong and that my kids would love the Lord their God with all their heart soul mind and strength! They get this right, everything else will take care of itself!
You likely know additional, specific ways to pray for your pastor and church staff. Sometimes the trick is actually doing it.
This October I plan to ask for some Sunday morning platform time in which we’ll invite the church to gather around our pastor and his wife to pray for them. Our relatively diminutive size is an advantage in this context. We’ll actually pass a mic around and let whoever wishes to lift up a prayer of blessing and thanksgiving. The size of your fellowship might prevent that.Wall of Prayer
I also love this prayer wall hanging at the back of one of the coolest churches in Southern California, a region replete with cool churches.
I’d love to see this on the wall of my church, filled with handwritten prayers for our pastor from fellow parishioners. Can you see your pastor and staff encouraged as they pull out and read the prayers of their people?Prayer Calendar
Finally, I’d like to offer you this simple prayer calendar for our pastors and their families this October. I’m planning to make it available to my friends at church and invite you to print it out, slip in it the bulletin, post it around your fellowship, and share it as widely as you find useful.
Paul’s admonishes in 1 Timothy 2:1-2, “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.”
Our obedience to this scripture will bring blessing to our pastors. And really, they’re probably only going to go to Pakistan with you if they’re doing pretty good at home.