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NAMB resource seeks to foster 40,000 mission strategy centers

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–An unprecedented package of resources from the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board is designed to help churches equip and mobilize every member in fulfilling Christ’s Great Commission.

“It’s Mission Education 101 in my view,” Tim Seanor, NAMB’s director of mission education, said of the comprehensive resources available in the recently introduced “On Mission Church Planning Kit.”

It is based largely on Christ’s message to the early disciples in Acts 1:8 that they “will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

“Instead of missions promotion or advertising, what we’re trying to do is introduce the concept of each Christian having an missionary responsibility, and each Christian becoming skilled as an effective on-mission Christian,” Seanor said.

“If we can get that point across, then what we’ll have is 40,000 mission strategy centers in our churches instead of two mission boards that do it all,” he said. “And we’ll have millions of missionaries, meaning the laypeople, and not just the 10,000 North American and international missionaries.”

The On Mission Church Complete Planning Kit is an undated resource that essentially helps churches fine-tune their entire approach to missions and ministry. It also was used as the basis for the 2001 North American Missions Study.

The kit includes a variety of resources for both group study and for use by church leaders in shaping the church’s direction.

The age-graded studies include “Acts 1:8 Kids” for children, “Purpose-Filled, Mission-Skilled” for youth, and “My Purpose, His Plan: Sharpening Your Skills for His Mission” for adults. Each study includes a teaching guide, at least one student workbook (more for the children), a supporting videotape and promotional materials. Formats are included for presenting the material over 90 minutes, three hours, or 13 weeks.

The primary church-wide component is “The On Mission Church Planning Resource,” a loose-leaf binder containing comprehensive materials for pastors and key church leaders on integrating on-mission principles in such areas as worship, missions and mobilization, education and discipleship, outreach and fellowship, church-wide ministries, children and youth.

Also included are the “On Mission Church Weekend Manual,” designed for study of the materials in a weekend conference setting and “The On Mission Team Manual” — a guide for structuring an effective leadership team for coordinating “on-mission” principles throughout the church.

The mission skills covered in the materials include such concepts as understanding the mission, praying effectively, understanding the group being reached, developing relationships, planning a strategy, getting training, networking with other Christians and sharing the message.

In re-framing the context of mission education, Seanor said the focus turns from the mission agencies to individual churches and Christians.

“The idea is that the mission boards would become partners to expand your church’s participation in missions. Instead of totally relying on the boards to do mission, churches are asking the mission boards to help expand their mission,” he said.

The new approach also allows individuals to take more of the initiative in mission strategy, rather than waiting on leadership to conceive and promote a particular effort.

“If you have these skills, you don’t have to wait on the leader. All you have to do is look for the mission opportunities,” he said.

The “On Mission Church” resources are only the first in a series of materials to be offered to churches with a similar approach, Seanor said, beginning later this year with a follow-up resource focusing on lay church planting.

(“The On Mission Church Complete Planning Kit” is available through LifeWay Christian Resources at 1-800-448-8032 or through LifeWay Christian Stores.)

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  • James Dotson