REPRINTED FROM WMU.COM
As the new church year begins, many are asking how we can best disciple our children and youth to cultivate a missions lifestyle within them. The following testimony exemplifies how the involvement of others can direct a young person’s walk with Christ.
By Sandy Wisdom-Martin, Executive Director, national WMU.
Someone once asked me, “How do you cultivate a missions lifestyle in young believers?” I answered the question with examples from my life. It started when I was in Acteens. The Girls in Action leader of my church asked if I wanted to help her with GAs. Then I was given opportunities for leadership through state missions camps and state Acteens Activators teams.
In college, the associational WMU council invited me to join its team. We traveled for hours together to state training events. I taught missions discipleship conferences in the association. I was awful. They loved and encouraged me anyway. When I felt God’s call on my life and made the decision to go to seminary, my associational WMU director used her own money to drive me to visit the campus two states away.
Do you get the picture? Missions leaders taught me. They loved me. They accepted me. They gave me responsibilities. They let me fail and learn. They poured their lives into mine. We have to love, nurture, bless, and turn our young people loose for God to do what He wants through their lives.
As you begin to think about the church year ahead, explore ways to cultivate a missions lifestyle in all members of your church. But pay particular attention to the next generation sitting on the sidelines waiting to be asked.
Our 2016–2018 emphasis, By All Means, challenges us to follow Christ’s example to step into the world around us, cultivate relationships, and create opportunities to demonstrate the love of Christ. Paul wrote, “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings” (1 Cor. 9:22b–23 NIV).
The WMU Year Book is a planning tool to help you engage your congregation in missional discipleship. Throughout the year, offer opportunities for your church members to go deeper in their missions development. Also stretch Christians to be personally involved in the transformation of the world through the hope found in Christ. We need to be doing both: growing as Christ followers and sharing Christ with those around us. Cultivating a missions lifestyle is making disciples who make disciples.
Effective missions discipleship does not just happen. It is intentional. Planning is essential to life-changing discipleship. More than 100 years ago, our president, Fannie E. S. Heck, gave the challenge to “[b]e prayerful in your planning. Be patient and persistent in your fulfillment.”
So start with prayer. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide your decisions. Make plans, but always submit them before God. Then work to carry out the plans with excellence. We honor God when we give Him our very best.