In addition to the normal activities conducted during missions emphasis, what follows are some innovative ideas for making your conference extra special!
- Make preparations for the conference several months prior to the meeting. Have special prayer meetings. Plan special music. Treat your conference like a revival rather than a money-raising week.
- The success or failure of your missions conference, as in all other activities, will rise or fall according to the leadership. If the pastor and leaders are not excited and wanting to see what God is going to do, the people will not be excited either.
- Choose your missionaries carefully. The quality of missionaries you have determines how excited your people will be about missions.
- Be sure to correspond well with the missionary before the conference. Let them know when to arrive, directions to the church, what you expect from them, where they will be staying, etc.
- Set aside a portion of your faith-promise budget to take care of your missions conference expense so that it is not a heavy burden on the church during the week of the conference. Be sure to plan and prepare ahead of time, so you can give a good love offering to each missionary, in addition to covering their expenses.
- Have a host family for each missionary who will be responsible for them and be in contact with them to meet their needs or answer questions.
- Develop a personal-type questionnaire (interview sheet should be prepared beforehand) sort of like “This is Your Life” and then reward the people for getting the information from the different missionaries. Anything you can do to encourage interaction with the missionaries will be a blessing to your people. Questions such as favorite verse, signature, birthday, wedding anniversary, home church, favorite food, and other interesting facts.
- Provide name tags for the missionaries with the name of their country, mission board, etc., but also provide the same type of tag for the deacons, pastor, staff members, etc., so the missionary will know who people are. Use a different format for church people. Example: use flag for missionary and church logo for church people.
- Pass out a photograph and biographical sketch about each missionary a few weeks before the conference, especially to the Sunday school classes the missionary will be teaching.
- Have a video or slide update each year about everything the church and mission dollar is doing around the world.
- Plan activity time with the missionaries, and be sure to include different church people in everything. Golf, bowling, shopping, etc. Be sure to give the missionary the option. Your concern is to meet the needs of the missionary family. Some may need time away from the children. (After all, they may have spent hours or days traveling in the car.) Others may need to rest or catch up on correspondence. Be sure not to make them feel any pressure.
- Prepare a special missionary passport for the children to take to the display that each missionary has set up during the conference. They will then get the passport stamped like one does going to another country. This will give the child an opportunity to meet the missionary and also have a special keepsake from the conference. It is not a bad idea to have them find out some special information about the missionary that will cause them to have to converse with the missionary.
- Put up an eternity light that blinks a few times a second to remind them that each time the light flashes, someone else dies and goes to hell. Be sure to put up a sign reminding people of how many people are dying without the Lord Jesus Christ. Right now, you can safely say that over 106 people go into eternity every minute; and at least 75 of them will have died without Christ and gone to an eternal hell. The world statistics show that about 35% of the world calls itself "Christian." Of those, how many truly know Jesus Christ as their personal Savior? Have the light turn “On” and “Off” on minute intervals with a similar note or even every 5, 10, or 15 minutes. Just adjust the death rate by the minute. Right now, 1.7 people die somewhere in the world every second.
- Put up famous missionary sayings and challenges on the wall.
- Have a missionary birthday party. A number of people are assigned to spend up to $25 on requests the missionary has given. The people buy these gifts, and when the missionary arrives, they have a specific night to have the missionary party and give the gifts.
- Have a parade of the flags that represent the different countries where you have missionaries. This can be done at the start of the conference and let your people feel the weight and influence that your church is having around the world.
- Be sure to put up lots of maps, flags, globes, and statistics to help people get a world vision. Use your flags to decorate your church. Place them on beautiful flag poles and stand them along the wall behind the choir, so that year round your people are reminded of your faith-promise commitment to get the Gospel around the world.
- Prepare a Prayer Guide booklet for your people. This is a booklet that will have a listing of all your missionaries, their contact information, their prayer requests, interesting facts about their ministry and the country, and any other pertinent information you might find interesting.
- Visit the local public school to share cross-cultural ideas with the students—getting permission of course.
- Call a missionary each week or even monthly on a speaker phone and have him lead the opening prayer in the service and also give a brief update of his work from the field. Use Skype to involve special missionaries who are not able to attend your conference.
Special thanks to Austin Gardner at world-evangelism.blogspot.com/2006/08/missions-conference-ideas.html for posting a number of the above suggestions on the Internet. Use of his suggestions is not an endorsement of his site.
Dr. Bud Steadman
Baptist World Mission