Take Your Church Family on a “Trip” with the International Mission Study

child with vintage suitcase and map

It’s a new church year, and that means getting important things on the church calendar—important things like the churchwide International Mission Study. And right on the heels of putting the study on my church calendar, a box arrives in the mail from WMU containing all the teaching guides and promotional pieces I ordered to help me and all the age-level missions leaders in our church prepare for our study.

It’s an adventure every time I open the pages of the study books. I can envision taking my church family on a trip to a part of the world most have never visited or learned much about. It is a fun Wednesday evening when the entire church—from preschoolers through adults—is engaged in our annual mission study. The weekly bulletins with facts about our area of study, decorated bulletin boards around the church, and creative announcements from the pulpit in the weeks leading up to the study intrigue adults and children.

Rooms are decorated, recipes are tested, and publicity begins well in advance of the study. Is our Wednesday evening fellowship meal going to be based on the part of the world we are studying, or are we going to have a tasting table to create interest in the study? Both are popular with our crowd.

Studies are more interesting for adults as well as children if they are interactive. To be honest, I treat adults like my Girls in Action (GA) in playing games, role-playing, etc., and they love it. A table placed near the door of the classroom allows the participants to pick out props or other items to be used during the study. Involving people to contribute to the study is key to added interest and participation.

Our children love the mission study. Typically, we present the studies to the children in stations where the children can transition from one activity to another with leaders at each one. Because we have both GA and Royal Ambassadors groups participating, this works best at my church. Our children especially like the snacks from the area of the world we are studying. We don’t forget the decorations for the children’s rooms; they add so much to the study area and invite the children to come on in. Helping the children to see how they are like the children in our study creates empathy, and having even the simplest clothing or fabric to dress up like the children or playing the games they play makes a connection with those in the study.

Even our Mission Friends participate in their own study that evening. Our Mission Friends leaders go all out to present the mission study in a simple way that engages preschoolers through all their senses. Mission Friends can play the games, make a craft, sample food, and hear the mission story.

Hosting a churchwide mission study event has been very successful for my church. From our oldest member to our youngest, each person attending is learning about the same area of the world where God is using Southern Baptists to bring others to Him. I can only imagine the conversations on the way home about what each one has learned and how this will lead to more prayers for missionaries and gifts to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions.

Susan Bryant is the former president of Kentucky WMU. She was a GA leader in her church for more than 30 years.


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