The history of student involvement in missions is interesting, inspiring and challenging. Brilliant and talented students, with sound academic background, and prosperous future were used of God as mission catalysts. Some were used to cast vision, and some were used as foot soldiers to mobilize human, financial resources, and volunteers to serve overseas. They counted it all joy for the surpassing glory of the Lord and the growth of His kingdom.
This article examines why some Baptist Conventions and Unions in Africa are not reaching out to students or embracing the ministry enthusiastically in spite of its success stories in Germany, England, and America. Using Nigerian Baptist Convention student ministry experience, the article suggests what Baptist Conventions and Unions in Africa can do to “own” the ministry in the 21st Century.
The Beginning of Students Involvement in Missions
The earliest known student involvement in world outreach was in Germany, in the early seventeenth century.
a. Model - I do it and you watch.
b. Assist - You do it, and I watch.
c. Delegate - You do it.
d. Assign - You do it, and train someone else.
a. Confront privately, not publicly.
b. Deal with the situation as early as possible.
c. Address only one issue at a time, and be specific.
d. Direct your criticism to the action, not the person.
e. Avoid sarcasm and anger.
f. Try to get the person to admit responsibility.
g. Sandwich criticism between compliments.
h. State your suggestions, expectations or conclusions clearly. Don't be ambiguous.
a. Listening to ideas, dreams, and plans.
b. Delegating significant assignments or responsibilities.
c. Sharing your dreams, visions, and plans; and being honest and open about your own mistakes and vulnerabilities
d. Allowing your deacons to be a part of the goal-setting and problem-solving process.
Deacons: Empowering Your Pastor(s) to Serve with Distinction
Pastors have one of the toughest jobs in the world. For one thing, they have multiple "bosses." Regardless of church polity, they have to answer to every church member. It does not matter if your church is small or large - the work of the pastor weighs heavily as he seeks to balance time between the needs of his personal family and the church family. Your pastors need honor, love, support, and blessing to function optimally. You need to overwhelm your pastors with love and appreciation if you want a healthy church. 1 Thess. 5:12, Heb. 13:7.Someone noted that “when Deacons are all that they should be and do what they are ordained to do, the church would become all that it should be.” Since deacons are the real force behind many successful ministers and ministries, what you do to and for your pastor will determine what your church becomes. As a deacon you have the responsibility of encouraging your pastor to live a faithful and truthful life. Here are just a few of the creative ways in which you can honor and partner with your pastor in order to make your church healthy:
1. Pray for the Pastor – Romans 15:31. Pastors are always in need of prayer. They cannot accomplish anything of lasting, supernatural impact through their own strength. Pastors can feel the difference when the people of the church pray for them. It is hard to criticize and undermine the ministry of those whom we pray for. Prayer is the key to the spiritual power of the church, and deacons should be exemplars of prayer in the church. What can your body of deacons do to increase the amount of prayer support for your pastor?
2. Promote the vision of the pastor – Pastors are charged with being the vision casters for the church, but deacons can help that vision become a reality. Good deacons listen attentively to the desires of their pastors, and seek to meet them. When deacons demonstrate their loyalty to their pastor, they can be a great encouragement to the pastor. What can you do to show your pastor you are on the same side with him as he ministers?
3. Praise – Recognize your pastor's gifts. Tell your pastor with sincerity, "God has really gifted you in (choose one: preaching, teaching, counseling, wisdom - whatever fits). It is good to see Him using you in that way." Be truthful, and don't flatter. 1 Thess. 5:11
4. Protect – shield the pastor and his family from unjust criticism – 1 Tim.5:19. Stand up for your pastor when he is not present to defend himself. Whenever you hear people criticize your pastor, encourage them to go directly to him with those comments. Do not stand for gossip. Do not tell someone else what you heard about the pastor. That is gossip. If you agree with what the other person is saying about your pastor, then make your own appointment and get things settled between the two of you. What can you and other deacons do to protect your pastor from disgruntled critics?
5. Pay – 1 Tim. 5:17 Work with the deacon body and leadership of the church to make sure that your pastor is well taken care of by the church. Pay him by providing a good salary. Make sure he gets sufficient rest, time off, and family time. Give some money toward the tuition of the children of the pastor if they are in fee-paying school. Celebrate your pastor's anniversary. Creatively find some way to mark the anniversary of when your pastor came to your church, either on the very day or on the weekend closest to it. Remember other special dates like birthdays and wedding anniversaries.
6. Provide Counsel – Proverbs 15:22. Sometimes the pastor needs to be pastored himself as he walks through personal setbacks and sorrows. Deacons can serve as truth-tellers and accountability partners. They can also to help their pastor progress in his own spiritual pilgrimage. To help your pastor, you should strive to be a trusted confidant and friend.
7. Presence: Pastoral ministry can be lonely. Most pastors appreciate having deacons who go along with them for evangelistic visits, hospital visits, shut-in visits, and nursing home visits. Your presence may enhance the quality of your pastor's care ministry.
Good deacons are always problem solvers. Because they are respected and trusted leaders in their church and community, they are in a unique position to solve problems that arise within the church. Deacons can intervene among the people of the congregation to soothe hurt feelings, mediate disagreements, clear up misunderstandings, and resolve personality conflicts.