Some churches just write checks.
That’s not a bad thing; when you’re a missionary or a missions organization, faithful, regular financial support from a congregation is crucial to building and supporting a stable ministry. But at Fourth Avenue Church of Christ in Franklin, TN, one of Tennessee’s most historic congregations, their philosophy of missions goes far beyond just financial involvement.
“We really see our members’ involvement as key to growing and sustaining a passion within the church for missions”, says Matt Rehbein, a member of Fourth Avenue’s missions committee, and a former missionary to Brazil who was supported and sponsored by Fourth Avenue. “I think there’s just a different level of investment when members from the church have visited and worked alongside the missionaries that we support. I know from experience what a huge blessing it was to have this church stand behind us when we were on the field. There were close personal connections there, and they would send people to visit and encourage us. It definitely let me know that I could always count on them.”
Dr. Mike Williams, another member of the church’s missions committee, has also seen how the congregation’s personal involvement has led to a multiplication of the church’s support for different partner ministries. “One of our guys who visited Brazil came back really excited to personally take on the fundraising for a new ministry project at the mission site, outside of the church’s regular commitment. The same thing has happened with families who have served with Mission Lazarus in Honduras. Our mission team comes back and all of the sudden our kids’ bible classes are raising money to supply chickens or a calf for a needy family. It’s circumstances like those that help us see that it’s worthwhile to keep people personally engaged to the church’s mission efforts.”
Jarrod Brown, who co-founded Mission Lazarus with his wife, Allison, has experienced a long history with Fourth Avenue’s emphasis on members having personal involvement in mission work. “The Fourth Avenue men’s team that comes down and builds for us every year is such a great thing, as well as the women’s group that came down to specifically encourage the ladies in our area churches and ministry programs. We’ve even had teams made up of entire families serving together, and they’ve been able to be the hands that directly facilitated Fourth Avenue’s provision of Christmas gift boxes, food and staple items for hundreds of people, partnered with Mission Lazarus and the local Honduran churches of Christ. We’re really thankful to have them as friends and supporters”.
Fourth Avenue has become a key church partner for Lipscomb Missions over the last several years, supporting the operations budget of the missions mobilization program, while also encouraging members’ involvement on trips, and helping to connect Lipscomb to new ministry partners. For example, one of Fourth Avenue’s long-term partners in Nicaragua, Misión Para Cristo, is slated to become a Lipscomb Medical Missions partner this winter. Additionally, Fourth Avenue’s continued support made it possible for Matt Rehbein to serve as a team leader for Lipscomb Volleyball Team mission trip, serving in Brazil.
“With so many points of connection, there are lots of opportunities to grow this relationship”, says Mark Jent, Director of Missions Outreach at Lipscomb. “Our church partners make our program possible, financially, but even more, we value the church’s involvement as trip participants and team leaders, not to mention the chances to coordinate ministry activities and learn from each other."