Home    David Mays   March 20, 2009


Missions Priorities in Contemporary Churches

David Mays


Church leaders follow a strategy - that is they exercise priorities.  Financial and involvement decisions are made on the basis of some things being more important than others.  The strategy may be well thought out and consistent or it may be pragmatic and change frequently.  It may be worthwhile to identify and state the priorities that drive decisions and examine their appropriateness. 


Who benefits most from the identified priorities?  Are these the best priorities for making important decisions?  Financial support decisions can be made for a variety of reasons, some perhaps hidden.  For example:

a.   This is the most effective way to help fulfill the Great Commission.

b.   This best fits the interests and gifting of our congregation.

c.   This provides help for people we know and love who feel called to ministry.

d.   This supports organizations and ministries that some of our people lead or promote.

a.   This builds a relationship with people we consider important and want to befriend.

b.   This fulfills an obligation to a former seminary colleague or relative.

c.   And so on.


Two overriding foundations for priorities might be: 

  1. What helps us make the biggest possible impact on the world for Christ? 
  2. For what kinds of ministry roles has God best equipped us?


Church leaders evaluating their missions priorities might consider the following nine categories and identify which ones best help them answer the above questions.



How important is it to work toward reaching or ministering to particular groups of people? 

This may be indicated by continents, countries, religious groups, or people groups.



How important is it to achieve a better balance of local and global efforts?

Do we need to adjust the ministry locations of our dollars, workers, projects, or partnerships?



How important is it to adjust our focus?

Should we shine a beacon or glow with 1000 points of light? 

Is it better to do one big thing, many small things, or somewhere in between?



How important is it to continue to expand and build on the mission efforts and values of the past?

Do we need to separate from mission efforts that are no longer effective?

How much do we need to change and how quickly?


'Our Own'

How important is it to support those we know or who are part of our congregation or fellowship?

Are we willing to build new relationships to support some who are doing strategic ministry in our areas of focus?


Our Roles

How important is it to engage in ministry that fits the gifts, skills, and vocations of our people?

If we insist on congregational involvement, will we give up ministry in the desperate and difficult areas?



How important is it that our people be able to contribute hands-on to the ministry?

How important is it that we work in areas that are safe, close, or cost effective for our travel?



How important is it that our congregation partner with other entities in mission work?

How important is it that the projects or missionaries we support are part of larger partnership efforts?



How important is it for us to evaluate, select, and support ministry tasks that are strategic, critical, and urgent?

Are we willing to undertake ministry that does not build back into our congregation if the task is that important?



Some Follow Up Questions:


1.     From Scripture, what do we understand to be the overall goal of missions ministry? 


2.     Which of the above areas are most important for making the greatest impact in the areas of greatest need (i.e. strategic)?


3.     After considering the top two questions, which other areas are important for our congregation to minister effectively and grow in our missions vision and efforts in the future?


For more help on missions strategy, see strategyintro.ppt