The Church, Missions & Technology

How Returning Missionaries Can Help With Church Revitalization: Evangelism

As we continue our series of how returning missionaries can assist church revitalization we are going to look at how missionaries have a strong focus on evangelism.

Many dying churches today have not experienced a baptism celebration in several years. We have to ask a couple questions when this happens. Are people no longer receptive to the gospel message? Have the people in the community changed the way they communicate and congregate? We also need to ask how church members are sharing the gospel. Taking a look at these questions can help the church going through revitalization reshape the way they share the gospel.


There are communities where the gospel message is no longer well received. People for whatever reason are leaving the church and not returning, unlike past generations. For some it is culture change in America and for others its younger generations disgust with un-authentic relationships. A recent study showed us that 40 percent of the greater Knoxville area is done with church. This means that they once upon a time went to church but now do not attend a church. In these communities missionaries can assist churches by developing new ways to share the gospel based on the changing culture in the community.

Another question we ask deals with how we communicate the gospel message. Former missionaries monitor the new ways people communicate with friends and family. The digital forms of communication have forever changed the way we interact with each other. After investigating how the church and members of the church are communicating we have to see if it matches with current forms of communications in order to make sure that people in the community are able to see and hear our messages of gospel proclamation.

The last question we need to ask church members deals with how they are sharing the gospel. One of the most effective forms of gospel proclamation is what we call mouth to ear evangelism. So from one speaking mouth to one listening ear. However, it is super important that we make sure that our members are sharing the gospel in a way that can be clearly understood by the members of the community. Even small town cultures in the South’s Bible Belt are changing. This is another great place for missionaries to assist because they have done this before. Some missionaries had to listen and study a new culture in order to find ways to bridge the gospel.

As a bonus question, we have to ask if our members are sharing the gospel at all. We assume that as followers of Jesus they regularly sharing the gospel with unbelievers but we have found that among dying churches, Christians are not sharing the gospel with anyone outside the church building and only inside the church building among children. We must find out why these members are not sharing the gospel. If it is fear, we need to address it and hold them accountable to sharing. If it is because they do not know a lost person we need to help them expand their sphere of influence. If it is out of not knowing what to say then we need to train them how to share the gospel and disciples new believers.

For those Replanting and Revitalizing churches, it is so important that to have a strong focus on Evangelism in the community and I believe returning missionaries can help us succeed as we look out into the community to make disciples that make disciples.

Receiving Gifts

Everyone loves a new gift from time to time. “Gifts are symbols of love” says Dr. Chapman. So could this be a way for churches to show missionaries that they love them. I believe so. I think it is important to understand that most missionaries do not have a great deal of wealth or physical possessions. The church can help provide needs, and wants to the missionaries sent out to make disciples of all nations. Dr. Chapman talks about how gifts go across all cultures. Even when we lived in the Middle East my wife could not say that she liked a ring or necklace from another woman because she would give it as a gift to my wife. I hope and pray that churches love and care for their missionaries to the point that we would freely give them our possessions.

It is important to remember that the gift does not always need to cost money. It can be something hand made. We loved receiving cards from children in our sending church. We would hold some of the cards back and open them randomly so we could experience the love of this church more spread out during the year.

One last gift that I think you should give is the gift of presence. This is just being with the missionaries you support. Understand that this is not the same as working with them on a mission project. This is a gift of spending time with them. Presence is always important. This is especially true in the moments of crisis. When I talk to churches who have missionaries in difficult places I always make sure they have a plan to move at a moments notice to go and be with missionaries in times of crisis. Believe me, they will go through more than one crisis in their time on the mission field. Our family went through a traumatic experience early on as missionaries. We were hurting and confused. It would have meant so much to us to have some close friends from our sending church come and minister to us during this very difficult time.

Remember that any gift from the heart will be appreciated by those receiving it. Gifts help those serving away from home to still feel connected and not forgotten by those who are praying for them. Gifts are a physical reminder that they are loved and appreciated.

Things you can do…
Today: Send a missionary an E-giftcard to Amazon or iTunes.
This week: Have your small group write cards of encouragement to missionaries you support.
This month: Find out what the missionaries really love to receive. Find a way to get it to them as a surprise.

Loving Missionaries

Everyone talks about how much they love and appreciate those that have been sent out of the local church to the nations. However, most missionaries that I talk to do not experience this love and appreciation on a regular basis. It got me thinking about how we can love missionaries in ways that are biblical and practical at the same time.

Taking my notes from Gary Chapman, author of The 5 Love Languages, who knows a little about love and demonstrating that love in practical ways will help us in our conversation. We will look at how the church can love on missionaries through the five love languages in order to make sure that missionaries are loved and cared for by the local church.

If you do not know a missionary to love on, please let me know and I will get you in contact with one who needs a little extra love from a church seeking to be a great partner in the Kingdom.

I pray that you will take these thoughts and suggestions and apply them to missionaries you support. Remember missionaries desire relationship and community from supporting churches and I pray this will encourage you to continue to support these people who go to extreme lengths to share the gospel with people groups who have never heard the name of Jesus.