With 19 years of missionary experience in the Americas, International Mission Board (IMB) missionary Marty Childers has a passion to help churches become more effective in kingdom missions. He believes Missions College will provide a powerful way to do that.
“This has never been done before – at least this way,” he said about the five-day training event to equip churches to get directly involved in long-term missions.
The IMB’s International Learning Center in Rockville, Va. will host the event Jan. 13-17.
Childers said, “The main reason for doing this is because the number of missionaries we have in the Americas is less than half what it was in 2008. As we decrease in our number, we still see that the task is not finished, so how do we get the job done?”
Marty Childers, seen here with his wife Melissa, believes the Missions College, offered through the International Mission Board, will help churches for healthy, effective mission involvement.
“This training will help us get to where we need to be and help our churches be better prepared to do missions,” he added. “This is the same basic training our IMB missionaries get.”
Missions College is an intensive training for churches and individuals who are already involved or interested in becoming involved in a long-term engagement in international missions. The focus is on the Americas, but people who are going to other parts of the world are encouraged to attend, since the basic principles are the same.
“It’s a great time for churches to interact with IMB missionaries,” Childers said. Time is set aside for face-to-face times with missionaries around meals and fellowship segments. IMB President Tom Elliff and missionaries Grant Lovejoy, Terry Lassiter and others who serve in the Americas will lead the conference.
“Missionaries want to help Southern Baptist churches that see the need to go and want to get involved in missions,” Childers said. “The Americas is one of the first places many churches consider when they look at missions.”
The “Americas” includes everything in the western hemisphere, south of the USA including the Caribbean.
“One of the misconceptions is that the Americas have already been evangelized, but our best statistics say that only about 4 percent are Christ followers,” Childers said. “That means about 96 percent of the people in the Americas do not know Christ.”
The schedule includes three tracks for training. Partner connect training will prepare churches for long-term missions involvement. Community transformational training focuses on human needs, such as medical work. One segment of this focuses on equipping nationals to do ministry instead of sending teams annually.
The third track emphasizes chronological Bible storying. All of the conferences will be practical with each participant practicing what is taught.
Childers said, “As your IMB missionaries, we’ve had volunteers working with us for decades, but we’re trying to help our volunteers become partners. The basic idea is that instead of a church sending one group of 20-30 people one time a year, we are asking them, to consider sending four to five people about four times each a year. It is amazing the difference it makes.”
There are national conventions in most of the countries where IMB missionaries serve. Missions College will explain how Southern Baptist churches can work with the national convention’s churches. Childers describes that as “a very important element of empowerment.”
“We want to help Southern Baptists reach their goal of reaching the lost. We want to see the New Testament church planted, lives changed and villages changed. That does not usually happen quickly. It takes time and it takes a long-term investment.”
He said, “About 15 years ago Dr. Jerry Rankin began saying that we would never have enough missionaries to get the job done. The Great Commission was given to the local church, so how do we make that happen?
“We have churches going, and doing some great things, but some are not doing such great things.”
Some congregations are making the same mistakes full-time international missionaries have made through the years, he said.
“We want to help churches see some of the best practices – see what has not worked, avoid some of the pitfalls and be able to understand the key elements in doing missions effectively,” he said.
There are some valuable lessons churches can learn about international missions. “One of the biggest mistakes churches do involves money,” he said. “I think a lot of Americans, when we go overseas, we’re not prepared for the poverty that we encounter. To be there and experience it, breaks our hearts, and we want to help. But many times the way we help ends up hurting.”
Childers tells mission teams, “If you are sure that God has told you to [give money], then you need to do it. But, if you are not sure that God has told you to do it, … you need to be very careful and think about the implications of that. Throwing money at a need – buying buildings, paying pastors – causes jealousy among national pastors. It creates an unhealthy dependency. It can create a lot of problems.”
Missionaries know it is easy to give money and material things. But, it is harder to give time. They are asking churches to give more of their time. A physical investment is more valuable than a financial investment.
Childers emphasized, “The IMB was created to help Southern Baptists do missions, not to do missions on behalf of Baptists. So, we are getting back to our roots with so many people who are going and who want to go overseas. We want to help facilitate them.”
The Missions College training is part of a strategy to prepare churches for healthy, effective mission involvement.
“We hope churches will send a team to the conference who can attend different tracks and get the full picture,” he added.
Register for Missions College before Oct. 31 at the reduced cost of $225. After that date the cost increases to $249. For more information and to register please contact Anne Wilson, [email protected], (804) 219-1019.
Online registration: https://www.regonline.com/builder/site/Default.aspx?EventID=1273925.