GO CHurch network
by Doug Little
For more information about Free Will Baptists International Missions, visit www.fwbgo.com.
IN MARCH 1987, TWO FREE WILL BAPTIST missionaries strained to see through the small window in the doorway of the customs checkpoint separating arriving passengers from those waiting to welcome them. A young pastor was visiting their field for reasons they didn’t fully understand. That visit marked the beginning of a process that changed the future for the pastor, his church, and those they touched for numerous years.
I was that pastor. During that trip to France, God deepened my burden to be involved in the work He is doing in France through Free Will Baptists. What I saw was etched in my heart. I returned, determined to learn all I could to lead my church to take the Great Commission personally. That desire fueled the vision and passion that has focused my ministry for the past 20 years, and ultimately charted a path for mobilizing our church and moving me to a full-time mobilization ministry through Free Will Baptist International Missions.
During the 1990s, dozens of FWB churches sent hundreds of pastors and laypeople to participate beside missionaries on our national and overseas fields. This phenomenon is more than a trend engaging just a few Free Will Baptists. While not every church will send members on mission project trips in the next 10 years, most will. I believe it is a window the Lord has opened for this generation to advance church planting movements led by career missionaries. Churches of all sizes, people of all ages, from all walks of life are finding a place of personal involvement in reaching the lost locally, nationally, and globally.
We can accomplish more to fulfill the Great Commission working together than we can independently. We can learn from each other. We can share ideas and resources. We can come together in joint efforts to encourage, support, and assist missionaries and national churches. To a limited degree, this is already happening. But the potential is far greater than we currently experience.
The Global Outreach Church Network (GO Church Network) is in its infancy. The GO Church Network is not an organization; it’s a network through which ideas and resources are provided for pastors and churches focused on missions. The guiding principle of the GO Church Network is missions is not a program of the church—it’s the purpose of the church. The objective of GO Church is to encourage and promote the mobilization of churches and their members to personal involvement in the Great Commission.
Experience shows seven essential areas to mobilizing a local church:
Personalize: Develop an annual outreach plan promoting every member’s involvement.
Connect: Relationship-building with missionaries promotes effective partnerships.
Learn: Provide comprehensive, year-round missions education and equipping for outreach.
Pray: Plan for strategic intercession for the work of the Great Commission.
Give: Promote generous financial support of Great Commission efforts.
Gather: Celebrate results and cast vision for Great Commission involvement.
Cultivate: Fuel leaders’ passion for the church’s role in the Great Commission.
Information shared through the resources and events of the GO Church Network will focus on these seven areas. More than 250 people—and the list continues to grow—have requested our e-newsletter, sent bi-monthly, free-of-charge to anyone interested in receiving it. Pastors and mission leaders find information to help their churches and associations. As the participation grows, so will the ideas that can be shared.
A booklet series, providing practical help for local church mobilization, is being published. The first, Planning an Effective Missions Conference, was released in July 2007, and is available from IM upon request. Titles projected for release this year include Mission Trip Planning Guide and Developing a Strategic Prayer Ministry. Proposed additions to the series in 2008 include: Growing Missions Giving in Your Church, Building Partnerships that Work, and Strategies for Teaching Missions. Local church mission policies and leadership structures will also be presented.
Workshops for pastors and mission leaders have been conducted in North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Michigan, and Illinois. These workshops present church mobilization principles and strategies. Future workshops will be held as needs are voiced.
Last October, North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Association equipped churches and their members to pray more strategically for missionaries and their work through a prayer summit. Regional prayer summits offer the opportunity to impact many churches at once and can be organized as interest is expressed.
A series of Global Prayer Initiatives is in development. Strategic prayer for each of the four international regions targeted by FWBIM is addressed. The prayer initiative for the creative access region takes place during the Islamic season of Ramadan. Prayer initiatives for Asia, Europe, and Latin America will also be promoted.
As interest in church mobilization grows throughout our denomination, regional mobilization events sponsored as part of the GO Church Network can dramatically raise the level of readiness of our churches and members to impact a lost world. Free Will Baptist churches, sharing a passion for missions, can exponentially multiply their ministry as this network develops.
The Global Outreach Church Network is in its infancy. But it’s growing. And as Free Will Baptists look to fields ripe for harvest, we have every reason to link our hearts, resources, and experiences to finish the task of world evangelization.
Doug Little is the mobilization director for Free Will Baptist International Misssions. To become part of the GO Church Network, contact the mobilization team of FWBIM: E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or call toll-free (877) 767-7736.