God’s message to His people in exile in Babylon was to “seek the welfare of the city” where they were living (Jer. 29:7 ESV). This is an important message for each of us to consider today as well. Perhaps you have been wondering how you could be more involved in your community. A community missions group might be just what you are looking for.
A community missions group “is the body of Christ in community,” said Teri Ussery, age-level missional strategist for WMU of Texas. “It begins with a need for missions discipleship not provided by a local church.” This type of ministry is being put to use by women, mixed groups, and Girls in Action (GA) as a way for missions-minded people from sister churches to work together for the good of their community.
There are several advantages for forming a community missions group:
- It allows for collaboration between sister churches of believers who desire to make an impact in their community by meeting a targeted community need and sharing Christ.
- It provides an opportunity for people from various churches to be equipped in the community group and to take what they have learned to begin missions discipleship in their church.
- It allows for the sharing of resources between sister churches.
- It provides a unity of purpose and a sense of community.
- It provides an opportunity for hands-on involvement in community needs.
- It enlarges missions vision in the community and the world beyond.
- It provides a Christ-centered missional presence in a community that isn’t attached to a specific congregation (preferably would not meet in a church building) and might even lead to the establishment of a new church.
Derinda Williams said she and the other women of the WMU leadership team of Tarrant Baptist Association in Fort Worth, Texas, saw a need in their area for a missions discipleship group for girls. They also recognized a need to reach out in Jesus’ name to unchurched girls. Having been introduced to the idea of a community missions group, they decided to try it in their community. They looked for “ladies who have a passion for missions discipleship and were already involved in discipling GAs,” and they invited them to join in, Derinda said. They accepted, came to a planning meeting, and heard the vision for the group. “The vision is very important,” Derinda said. “The passion for the purpose is what drives us in the things we do in ministry.”
Realizing right away that most of the willing leaders were already involved in their churches on Sunday and Wednesday nights, as were some of the girls they hoped to invite, they would need to choose another night for community missions group meetings. They decided to wait and let the girls help make this decision based on their weekly schedules.
Next, they selected their missions curriculum, established their calendar for the year, and planned monthly missions projects for their community. Meeting weekly during the school year and providing a camp experience for the girls during the summer seemed to be their best option.
Once Derinda and her team were ready to begin, they developed a website (tarrantbaptistga.com) and a Facebook page (Girls in Action Tarrant Baptist Association).
They then printed and distributed flyers to girls in local churches and throughout the community. They even set out a giant banner at the meeting location so people driving by would see it. And with that, the Arlington Mansfield South Community GA group was born in fall 2019. It’s made up of leaders from different churches and girls from across the local community.
“The ministry provides missions discipleship and outreach to girls in the community,” Derinda said. “It focuses on helping girls come to faith in Christ as Savior and serves as an opportunity for girls to develop leadership skills, engage in missions, and have fun with friends.” Parents are also invited to participate with their daughters in the monthly missions projects.
For Children’s Missions Day, the girls painted rocks with the message of John 3:16 to hide in local parks.
The group has had its challenges. Members met together weekly until March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic made meeting impossible. They finished the school year online. Then during the summer, they had a virtual day camp filled with fun activities, a daily Bible lesson from the life of Paul, and a simple craft. In fall 2020, they resumed online weekly meetings, and all the girls returned, plus a few new girls joined.
Derinda shared that as part of missions discipleship, the “girls are encouraged and equipped to share Jesus
with their friends, family, community, and world.” In the community group, “girls have grown in faith, invited their friends, served their community and world, shared the love of Jesus, and had so much fun with their friends,” she said, noting, “Girls reaching girls for Christ” is what it is about.
Teri added, “I love how the girls are learning that ‘the church’ is so much more than a building—you are the church.” The group, she said, encourages them to come together, make new friends, and serve and share Christ with the community. “I love that they are experiencing discipleship ‘outside’ the walls of their regular church family.”
NOT JUST FOR GIRLS
But don’t get the idea that community missions groups are just for girls. Teri said women are also forming community groups.
“Baptist women are uniquely equipped to consider starting a group,” she said, but she noted it doesn’t stop there either. “What about starting a group for young moms in the community? Or maybe there is a college in your community where you could begin a community missions group for college students to participate. And then there are neighborhoods who could come together to start a women’s or family missions group that would serve in the neighborhood. This opens so many doors to help churches step outside the walls of the church and make disciples who make disciples.”
For more information on how to start a missions group—in a community or a church—visit wmu.com/missions-discipleship/getstarted/.
Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Donna Fort serves as a missionary discipler in Durban, South Africa.