Ministry Team Helps Churches Connect in Mission Locally and Globally
Many churches are doing great work in their local mission fields, but there are some who want to try new areas of ministry and aren’t quite sure how to get started. The purpose of Sending Ministries is to help churches achieve their ministry goals and impact their communities in new ways.
“Sending Ministries has representatives in each district who can help churches develop and grow in mission,” noted Rev. Noel Denison, chair of the Sending Ministries committee. “Our purpose is to educate, equip and encourage local churches in Mission.”
“There’s no cookie cutter for churches,” Denison continued. “They are each gifted and called in mission in a unique way. We love to sit down with churches individually to discuss expanding or developing their mission outreach... Thinking through their gifts, calling, and what they feel led to do is a process.”
Kathie Mann, Director of Partners in Mission, said PIM and Sending Ministries work together. “Our goal is to enhance each other’s work to facilitate missions both within the conference and outside conference boundaries.”
Sending Ministries representatives stay informed about needs locally and around world, including projects through the General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM) and United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR). They also know about the work of United Methodist Missionaries and act as the hands and feet in our districts to tell the missions story.
“It is critical that we educate our conference on missions,” Mann added. “Our districts want to know what other churches in their area are doing. We have key people from each district positioned to help disseminate information to districts and have people in each district to help us understand what the needs are and how PIM can facilitate teams.”
David Barstow, Central North District Representative for Sending Ministries and a member of Foundry UMC in Houston, said he has only been involved in Sending Ministries a little less than a year, but has been active in foreign missions since 2000. “This is a fairly new branch of mission programs in the conference. We gather information to take to churches to help them understand what foreign and local missions are available,” he said.
Barstow said his major goal is to educate churches on the needs available and show them how they can get started in local mission work. “We have a lot of churches standing still in this area because they don’t know where to go. They don’t know what to do.” Barstow said he wants to visit churches that aren’t currently active in his area and talk to those interested in getting involved.
He emphasized the need that exists and listed several ministries in their area as examples, which included Cypress Assistance Ministries, Youth Reach, Mission of Yahweh, CareNet, Child Advocates, and Brookwood Community in Brookshire.
“The Foundry has gone on an extensive program of getting out into the community. We’ve adopted two elementary schools with mentoring and tutoring and getting the facilities spruced up. This is just one segment of this local outreach mission project. There are all kinds of outreach that the community really needs.”
Another way Sending Ministries reaches out to churches is through Mini-Mission Forums.
Rev. Denison said the forums allow ministry leaders to connect with and learn from others experienced in local and global missions work. PIM has worked with Sending Ministries to host two events already and Mann said they would love to help host mini forums in all the districts.
Barstow agreed that the mission forums are a good resource for churches. “A major thrust [is] introduction of missions that are available where churches can learn about existing projects to support,” he said. “There are a number of different options with information on how to go into a neighborhood to help with different kinds of assistance.”
The training sessions include topics such as Missions 101 - which covers basic types of preparation and research to help determine the right project for a church. Missionaries also come to the forums to establish contact with churches and talk about their work. Barstow said the forums are a boost to those who had been doing mission work and an eye opener for those who had not.
Melissa Brigman, the North West District representative of Sending Ministries and Director of Missions at Marvin UMC in Tyler said they try to involve people in hands on missions throughout their district. “We have lots of different opportunities for churches, whether they have 3,000 members or 20, they can participate and have a great Methodist presence and do so much good for others.”
She added that, while they look at ways to serve both locally and internationally, there are more hands-on opportunities locally and more people can get involved. “Local missions is critical. Sending Ministries tries to balance both – but provide opportunities for people to get connected and put their faith into action. We also try to coordinate district to district. It’s important that all district coordinators partner and share needs so others elsewhere can be part of something good.”
Brigman encourages people to go out into the community to get involved - not only to change the lives of others, but to change their own life. “Our biggest opportunity is in June when we have Mission Week. From June 17-25th we’ll have about 600 United Methodists from multiple churches do mission projects around the Tyler area.” This is the 23rd year their district has had mission week, and she said it’s a great opportunity for all sized churches to come together and do great work, for a lot of people.
They offer ongoing opportunities such as work with St. Paul Children’s Foundation, where volunteers work in a clothes closet and food pantry. They point volunteers toward medical ministries such as Mercy Ships, where people from Methodist churches volunteer at their headquarters or go to Africa on mission trips. Every two years they work with Texas Mission of Mercy where 500 medical volunteers will do treatments for 2,000 people over a weekend.
“At Christmas there is a special two-week project where we turn a house in East Tyler into Santa’s workshop. It takes 300 volunteers from different churches, who allow families to come select gifts for children free-of-charge,” Brigman added.
Sending Ministries representatives want opportunities to interact with local churches to learn what they are currently doing and to serve as a resource.
“We would love to have the names of the mission contacts in every church. Information about what churches are doing through mission reports to the conference are very helpful,” Denison noted.
For those wanting to learn more, contact Rev. Noel Denison by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact your district representatives. They can tell you about work already going on in your area or offer insight into what you might do to start a new ministry of your own. They can also help you learn how to host a mission forum in your district.
See contacts and additional Sending Ministries information at www.txcumc.org/sendingministries.