From the first days of Lipscomb Missions’ existence, when it was little more than a few volunteers borrowing Dr. Earl Lavender’s office, local church partners like Brentwood Hills Church of Christ have stood side by side with the program. Over a decade later, as a much larger program sending over 50 annual teams and nearly 800 volunteers, Lipscomb Missions work still depends on close organizational friends like Brentwood Hills.
Sometimes, when an organization gets a donation, there’s no telling what that money actually went to. But Mark Jent, the Director of Missions Outreach at Lipscomb, can say exactly what those budgeted monthly contributions to Lipscomb Missions from area churches help accomplish. “As a volunteer, fundraised program on campus, the University pays our Missions staffers’ full-time salaries, but our operational budget- the money we use through the year to recruit, train and send these mission teams safely and effectively- all of that comes from churches, foundations and individual donors”, says Jent. “Without partners like Brentwood Hills Church of Christ, we really couldn’t do much of what we currently do- mobilizing all these teams of people who really want to serve others, and need a program like ours to do it.”
As it happens, Brentwood Hills Church of Christ is no stranger to playing a key supporting role in a mission effort or ministry. They currently have eight different foreign locations they support major projects in, and in addition, they have a long list of around 10 para-church organizations, like Lipscomb Missions, whose ministry they also support. It’s obviously important to them, emblazoned on their church missions website, it says “What you need to know about going, praying, and giving to help Brentwood Hills missions is that we "go into all the world and preach the good news" Mark 16:15”.
Members of Brentwood Hills are usually pretty knowledgable about the church’s different mission points, and several Lipscomb Missions teams have been invited to come out and present pre or post-trip reports on their ministries. For a church as large as Brentwood Hills to give precious congregational meeting time to a team of college students is very rare!
“I just don’t think there’s any more fruitful ministry than what’s happening with Lipscomb Missions”, says Brent High, who is Lipscomb’s Associate Athletics Director for Spiritual Development and a lifelong member of Brentwood Hills Church of Christ. “Not only are these teams doing great, important work around the world, but the students’ lives are being changed as they go out and serve. In the last year or so, we’ve had over 50 baptisms of students in Athletics- and most of those are due to our increase in missions involvement.”
Aside from supporting the Lipscomb Missions program itself, Brentwood Hills has often granted specific funds for the projects that the teams are headed to do. In one case, the church sponsored a large part of a bridge construction in Guatemala with the College of Engineering’s mission teams. Says High, whose Honduras athletics teams have also greatly benefited from Brentwood Hills’ direct investment, “I’m really proud to be part of a church that uses its’ resources for partnerships like the one we’ve got with Lipscomb Missions. It shows that we understand that the true work of the Church is outside the walls of the building, and not inside.”
Brentwood Hills helps their members with mission trip costs, but also has a budget for helping non-member college students serve with Lipscomb Missions. Dr. Perry Moore, a professor in graduate business at Lipscomb, gets to be the gatekeeper for those seeking funds from the church for missions. “We sit down with just about any student who asks, learn about their ministry and get to know them a little bit as a person. We’re not just cutting checks- we want to create a relationship. We actually care how this person’s mission trip goes, and we want to hear about it afterwards, if possible. That’s my favorite part- just seeing how much these experiences mean to the students, and how much they impact them afterwards”.
Samuel Montoya, a recent graduate and team leader for Lipscomb Missions, is thankful for that kind of spirit-filled generosity. “I really felt called to serve, but I just didn’t have a lot of fundraising contacts like some do, here at Lipscomb. I sat down with Dr. Perry Moore and told him about the work we were going to do, and he said Brentwood Hills could help out a little bit. It made all the difference, for me, and it changed the way I felt about the trip; knowing that a church had invested in me, as a missionary and representative of Jesus”.