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Missions education for men fueled by varied approaches

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–Getting men involved in learning about and participating in missions traditionally has been foundational to Southern Baptist efforts to fulfill the Great Commission. And the best way to increase that involvement, many churches are finding, is through a broad and dynamic array of opportunities.
The impetus behind much of the growth has been a biblical axiom stressed in the popular “Experiencing God” discipleship study: They see where God is working and join him.
“We try to be sensitive and see where the Lord is at work, and if we have four or five men come up and ask if we are doing anything with prison ministry, we look at that as a call from the Holy Spirit that maybe we need to investigate that,” said Scott Overby, men’s ministries director at Morningview Baptist Church, Montgomery, Ala. “He doesn’t call us to anything that he isn’t able to equip us and help us to accomplish.”
Baptist Men’s Day, the annual emphasis on missions education and involvement programs for men in the church, will be conducted in churches convention-wide on Sunday, Jan. 25.
Under the recent reorganization of the Southern Baptist Convention, the new North American Mission Board (NAMB) now has responsibility for equipping churches in promoting missions education and involvement among men, a role held by the former Brotherhood Commission. The assignment of developing resources for men’s ministries, which can include resources for ministering to the particular needs of men, has been given to the Baptist Sunday School Board.
The details of how the specific relationships and responsibilities will be implemented are still being worked out, but NAMB leaders are excited about the possibilities.
“We are committed to creating missions education materials for men in partnership with the Sunday School Board,” said Tim Seanor, NAMB’s director of missions education.
One new option available to churches is “Missions in Motion,” a video resource designed to make missions education come alive. The quarterly kit provides a video and companion curriculum guide providing material for one session each month focusing on a particular area of missions. The first issue for the winter quarter includes curriculum materials for December, January and February.
“Missions in Motion” replaces the Brotherhood Commission’s “Missions Today,” magazine, while adding the video component and being targeted more toward the group leader than the individual.
“It’s a more effective resource than we could have developed at the Brotherhood Commission,” Seanor said. “That’s because of the new resources of the North American Mission Board in video production.”
Increasing opportunities for missions education through the use of such resources is one of the goals for Morningview’s Scott Overby. The congregation has experienced a transformation in the involvement of men as it has expanded the number of opportunities it encourages and supports.
At Morningview, Overby said a “search and discovery” group sought God’s direction for four months before they came up with several areas of ministry: a construction team that helps build churches and other projects in the United States and overseas; a Promise Keeper’s group; a prayer ministry team, in which men pray for the pastor before each service; another prayer group that meets Saturday mornings; a lay renewal/church renewal team; and a response team, in which men respond to specific needs of both church members and those outside the church. A quarterly fellowship meeting, with a meal and a guest speaker, is also held to help motivate men toward further involvement.
Other men are actively involved in helping raise up a future generation of missionaries through Royal Ambassadors and Challengers missions education groups
An interesting aspect of the broad-based approach is that different men participate in different areas. “We don’t want to overlap too much, but still be sensitive to the Lord and where he’s at work, and try to provide the men an opportunity to plug in,” Overby said.
David Kahler, director of men’s ministries at Tabernacle Baptist Church, Mount Zion, Ill., said he sensed the need for new opportunities for men at the church about five years ago. He started with prayer as the foundation for other efforts, beginning with early morning prayer meetings on Mondays and Thursdays — an approach to seeking God’s direction he now recommends to other churches. Since then, coincidentally, the church’s Sunday school attendance has more than doubled.
Kahler recommends a strong program of RAs and Challengers for boys and teens, and MissionKids for a coed missions education program. The church also has started several Promise Keepers-style “encouragement groups,” and the whole church earlier this year had the opportunity to participate in “Experiencing God.”
Other missions activities that have developed include Campers on Mission volunteers and a variety of missions service projects by individuals. Missions education is integral from the pulpit and many of the ongoing ministries.
“First we established some prayer times, and out of that has resulted several different kinds of things occurring that are blessing some people and reaching out to other people,” Kahler said.
And in Plano, Texas, traditionally missions-minded First Baptist Church also has seen a revitalized men’s program with similar components. Men are involved in disaster relief through Texas Baptist Men, leading missions education and encouraging missions trips among the youth and children, prison ministries, ministry to shut-ins, construction projects and support of local mission churches. The entire month of November is devoted to missions emphasis, when members get a concentrated look at missions efforts in Texas, across the United States and Canada through NAMB, and overseas through the International Mission Board.
The “springboard” for much of the involvement by the men is a Tuesday morning Bible study led by the church’s pastor, according Cotton Bridges, chairman of the church’s missions committee. “Our pastor (Michael Riley) wanted to make it more than just a Bible study,” he said, noting it, more than anything else, has gotten men involved in other ministries of the church.
“Right now, it’s just exciting to be a part of it,” he said of the church’s current enthusiasm for involving men.
As for future plans, he said their process also is heavily dependent on God’s leading. “We don’t make plans,” Bridges said. “We looked to see what (God) is involved in, and when we see what he’s involved in, that’s our invitation to join. That’s the approach we’re taking and that’s why its so effective.”

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  • James Dotson