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January Activate Post: Four ways to increase your members’ engagement in mission in 2017


Welcome to our new Activate Post! We hope this monthly update will help better equip your church with ideas and best practices for fulfilling Jesus’ call to make more and better followers near, far and in hard places!

For nearly two decades, TMS Global has been serving churches around the US. We see churches struggling to figure out how to motivate their members to engage in the church’s mission outreach. There may be any number of reasons for this. Perhaps it’s because, as Carey Nieuwhof suggests, we measure success by how many we attract to weekend worship, and not through engagement in things like missional discipleship and outreach. Instead of trying to figure out why our folks aren’t engaged in missions, I suggest we figure out what we, as leaders, can do differently. Let’s try these four practices in the coming months.

1. Model the way forward.
How soon we forget this simple truth about leadership: if the leader doesn’t lead by example, those who follow go astray? Take, for example, reaching out and building relationship with the unchurched. When I pastored in Nova Scotia, Canada, I diligently worked to spend 50% of my time in relationship building with folks who didn’t know Jesus and/or attend our church. The people I served knew that I tried to keep one foot inside the church ministering to the body, and one foot outside the church, ministering to the unchurched. It’s true that more is caught than taught. Also, I regularly invited volunteers to join me in outreach visitation in home and hospitals. So, you might ask yourself, “What am I doing to model outreach for those I lead?” “How much time am I spending weekly in sharing through my words and deeds the good news found in Jesus Christ?” “What short-term mission trips have I signed up for this year—even to a local trip to the food pantry or to volunteer at the school?” Leaders, show your people the way.

2. Message the mission.
As church leaders, particularly paid ministry staff, we often feel compelled to live the mission and ministry 24/7. That tends to be the nature of ministry. This means that ministry leaders often struggle with boundaries. We can be terrible examples for work-life balance. But that’s a whole different article! All to say, because we “live ministry 24/7,” we expect our church people to spend their lunch hours doing church ministry, too. But that isn’t the way it is. Don’t you believe, though, that they really want to be more engaged with the church’s mission? So maybe we’re just not communicating. If God’s mission is truly supposed to be our DNA, we have to start talking about it all the time. If our church people don’t know what’s going on, how can they get involved?

So, how to address this? Try leveraging existing and/or new creative and special messaging channels multiple times a week to bring your people up to speed about all things missional in the church, such as a weekly text reminder or using social media to promote what’s happening. Consider recruiting one person in your church to direct this messaging effort. Equip him or her to communicate clearly and often. What gets communicated gets done.

(For more helpful tips, check out the webinar I hosted with communications specialist, Anne Churchill, on “Best Practices in Communicating Missions to Your Church.)

3. Tell powerful stories about the mission.
Phillip Pullman suggests, “After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the things we need most in the world.” Everyone loves great stories. We identify with them, and we find unity and common ground as we seek to find our story within the stories of others. I encourage you to look around your church, your local community, and the world at large for powerful stories about missions. Start telling them, and tell them well—to others in public meetings and private conversations. If you don’t know many mission stories, you can easily find them on the Internet, in books and magazines, or by talking to ministry leaders and people in other churches. It won’t be long before your church people have their own stories of how they are being used by God to change the world around them.

4. Begin a training and coaching relationship this year with TMS Global.
Local churches are being equipped and energized for missions through our Activate training and coaching. In fact, one pastor told me, “We need more coaching on what to do with all the excitement and energy at our church that has come through our Global Impact Celebration.” To learn more about our Activate training, check out this video or check out this webinar on the Core Principles of our Activate Training.

To learn more about the impact our coaching has upon a church, see this video. We will come to your church at no risk to you financially to share what we see as the best practices for activating your church in mission and outreach. We will also offer to coach you forward in living into those best practices. Please feel free to reach out to us at or call me at 678.542.9043.

I’m interested to know what you are doing to engage your church’s volunteers in missional outreach. Email me at I hope to hear from you soon!

Dr. Duane Brown is the senior director of church ministry for TMS Global.