Now that I have your attention, let me tell you what it is. During our itineration times, I often spend more time sharing about my wife’s ministry to inner city, needy children, than about my main ministerial focus which is advanced ministerial training.
Why? The reason is obvious. We need to raise a budget, and people in the churches tend to empathize more with the needs of abused and neglected children than with national pastors and their need for more extensive, higher quality ministerial training. This tough choice is made even more difficult by the ever increasing time restraints placed upon us in our presentations. Sometimes we are given only three minutes. How should we use them? What should we talk about?
I know I am not the first to discover this road to returning to the field. Sometimes I am not too sure just how we would do it without the option of emphasizing that other ministry. As another missionary once told me, “People just don’t give to Christian Education ministries.”
I am very blessed to have an important role in our outreach to the children of Santiago. I love the fact that my involvement with this ministry enriches my teaching ministry with an awareness of current issues, and enables me to make reference in the classroom to the ongoing challenges of our own hands-on ministry. When on furlough, I enjoy sharing testimonies about the kids we have helped, and appealing for help for upcoming projects. But I wish it was that simple to also encourage our supporters to give generously to national leadership training.
Therefore, I want to use this month’s blog as a collection box of good ideas about how to share the challenges and opportunities of Christian Education in Latin America with an American church, which (to this writer anyway) at times seems to undervalue deeper Christian Education within its own body, much less show great concern for it somewhere else. Such a collection box might be of benefit to all of us.
Since my computer is still turned on, I will get the ball rolling with a couple of ideas – some things from my personal experience that have proven to be pretty effective means of communicating the need and importance of quality Christian Education in Latin America. Please be thinking of some other ideas you might contribute to the discussion.
1, Be a story teller. I am convinced people would rather hear a story about one person and his or her experience than a statistical analysis of a large demographic of persons. People can easily relate to an individual, with his weaknesses, challenges, failures and triumphs. Everyone loves an interesting story.
When serving in an ISUM seminar, I keep a notebook handy because from time to time I hear the most remarkable stories, such as a pastor who travelled three days and nights by bus to attend our seminar or of another who sold his car to have the money to come. People relate to people. If we can get our audience to put a face and a name on the whole subject of Christian Education, we are on the way to gaining their partnership in ministry.
2. Keep it simple. More and more I realize our churches have many people who have no idea of what LFTL, STL and BGMC are… much less do they know what SEC, CST, LAAST, LATS and ABALC stand for. (Hey, for that matter, quite a few missionaries don’t even know what they stand for!)
Just speaking about Christian Education ministries becomes an educational process in itself. We need to educate our own supporters about what is happening in our region of the world. For example, our unique regional distinctive of having a common language, shared by nineteen nations, and the wide range of possibilities that affords us, like no other region in the world, is something most people have never considered. But, when they hear about it, and understand it, they usually say, “Wow! That’s pretty cool; I had never thought about that before.” And bingo, there comes an opportunity to show just how essential our ministries are.
So, how about it? What are some ways you have communicated effectively to your support base about the importance of your service in Christian Education?
You don’t even have to make a confession.