That "AHA!" Moment

Church Engagement

January 15, 2024 David M

What comes before that “AHA!” moment? That moment when a church realizes that God has entrusted the incredible opportunity to send out a missionary from their own congregation.

Several factors can prepare a church to reach that “AHA!” moment. Here are some common examples:

1 - Someone in leadership realizes that the missions map in the hallway, or the fellowship hall, or the foyer has no discernable pattern. It looks like a shotgun blast with yarn connecting the pinholes to the location of their church. There is no consistency in the types of ministry, the relationship of those supported missionaries to the church, or to any particular goal for those ministries.

2 - No one in the church can identify the missionaries the church supports by name, ministry type, or location.

3 - Someone approaches the leadership and asks the church to send them out as missionaries, whether or not the church has ever known anything about this “calling” previously.

4 - A missionary, unrelated to the church, asks the church to support them. But it’s obvious that even considering support for this missionary would continue to blur the definition, direction, and connectedness of missions for the church. It would only serve to soothe someone’s conscience about supporting anyone who asks.

5 - Supported missionaries seem to be avoiding coming to the church during their furlough/home assignment months in the USA. They don’t feel a relational connection or a ministry obligation to come. After all, isn’t the church’s job just to pray and give? Realizing this gives church leaders a gnawing feeling in their hearts for missions.

What kind of factors does God use to give the church that “AHA!” moment? Here are some common experiences:

1 - A church member tells the leadership that they feel God has called them into missions. This can be a shocking wake-up call. What is our responsibility? How do we do this?

2 - Missionaries your church supports are retiring, or leaving the field permanently, or resigning as missionaries for whatever reason. Now you are reevaluating the who, what, where, why, when, and how of what the church is doing in missions.

3 - Someone comes into the church from outside, talking about how much better missions can be if some changes are made. It could be a guest speaker, a new member from a church that does missions really well, or a visiting missionary. Someone stirs up thinking, in a constructive way, about how missions could be a joyful, effective, captivating ministry of the church rather than a burdensome obligation.

4 - God burdens the heart of church leaders to give attention to doing missions for the glory of God. Humble teachable spirits seek help to learn how to do that.

How does a church get that “AHA!” moment? Here are some of the most common insights:

1 - The leaders see in the Scriptures that the local church has been given the Great Commission responsibility to send, guide, and shepherd missionaries. They get fired up about their new understanding and seek to develop it in the church.

2 - The leaders see in the Scriptures and teach the congregation the joyful opportunities to partner in the Great Commission through missionaries they know well, having ministries that express the biblical priorities and goals of their local church. They commit to better defining and living up to those priorities and goals.

3 - Missionaries have a crisis that virtually demands that the local church, especially the sending church, takes a leading role in serving and solving the crisis through whatever means. The church steps up to more personal involvement and shepherding for the future.

4 - Church leaders visit one of their missionaries on the field and see how important it is for them to be involved in the life, ministry, and direction of their missionary’s work on the field. The church understands the need for deeper relationships, meaningful prayer, and practical resources, besides money, for their field workers.

5 - The Lord awakens the church leaders to see missions light up throughout the Bible and to desire to bring the whole church’s vision for God’s glory to all nations to find expression throughout their church ministries.

It is actually fun, a real delight, to see that “AHA!” moment show up in a church! We have been thankful that God has been pleased to use us as a catalyst for that “AHA!” moment in many churches for many years. Would you like your church to have that “AHA!” moment? Maybe God would use our self-assessment tool, the Church Missions Profile, to start that process. Maybe you could find out if your church is ready to be a sending church by filling out the Church Sending Readiness Inventory. Or, maybe just make contact with one of our Church Missions Coaches to point you in the right direction.

Your church could prayerfully have that “AHA!” moment this year!


Read other articles in this series: Church Engagement
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David M
David C. Meade has been the founder, C-level officer, and consultant for a number of non-profit organizations. He has nearly fifty years of experience with church planting, pioneering field ministry among UPGs, and leadership in international and domestic NGOs. He has a strong biblical local-church-centric ministry philosophy and commitments, serving as an international outreach leader, pastor, and elder in local churches throughout his adult life. He loves teaching and mentoring church leaders and global workers preparing for service to meet the greatest need of the neediest places on earth.

David is an international business consultant, NGO executive, and international leadership trainer. He has a weekly podcast and has authored hundreds of insightful and practical blogs, articles, and several books. David is a well-received speaker and teacher. His experience in non-profit leadership and international NGOs informs his counsel for leaders and workers in challenging areas of service, analyzing corporate strategies, conflict resolution, crisis management, and event leadership. David is passionate about core values based on timeless principles, valuing people, and leadership training. He is an avid family man, reader, fisherman, and world traveler.