Is your Vineyard church involved in a missions partnership yet? If not, why not? Perhaps you’ve run into roadblocks or you don’t know where to start. Maybe you think your church is too small or you don’t have the money? You’re not alone. But let’s not just leave it there. Let’s push into those hesitations.
Tim Mengler, the Pastor of Crystal Lake Vineyard in Illinois and the Partnership Leader for the Mozambique Partnership, has asked to share his story and experience with missions partnerships. We are exploring how he’s faced these struggles and overcome them.
This is part 2 of a 7-part series. For part 1, click here.
Where do I start?
Another big objection I hear from pastors as to why they're not involved with missions is that they don't know where to start. It seems like a daunting task. There are so many questions, and quite honestly, usually a little bit of fear. But fear is something we need to pay attention to and face head on. So often the decision to start in missions is based on what feels safe, what feels like a comfortable first step – maybe something close geographically like Central America or some place in the Caribbean. I think God still honors that, but it might not be the best starting place. Don't get me wrong. Those places need the mission of God. But we shouldn't start there just because that felt safe or was a good first step. We have to start in the place God is calling us, where there is an open door, where we already have relationship. That may feel really scary but that's okay.
My church first got involved in mission in West Africa (in particular, Senegal). Senegal is 98% Muslim and is largely unreached with the Gospel. Senegal isn't where you might normally start. It doesn't feel safe and wouldn't be considered a typical first step.
I was meeting regularly with a small group of Vineyard pastors so I knew these other pastors well. One of them invited me to join the mission partnership he led, which was Senegal. We prayed about it and joined. We joined in part because of the relationship I had with the other Vineyard pastor who was the leader of the partnership. I knew him, and I trusted him. That's the beauty of doing mission in partnerships. While Senegal felt scary, working with my friend made it feel reachable for us. Africa had been in my heart since the days of reading about David Livingstone, the great explorer and missionary to Africa. So while I had a heart for Africa, I didn't have a clue where or how to start in missions. But my friend talking to me about the work in Senegal is how God opened that door for us.
Then years later I was again invited to help start a partnership for Mozambique. I, of course, immediately said yes. But then later I started to have second thoughts and considered backing out. But right at that moment with fear telling me to back out, I looked down at a magazine I was mindlessly flipping through, and—I kid you not—written on the page were the words, "Next Stop Mozambique." I knew I had heard from the Lord, and I stayed in the partnership. I'm now the leader of that partnership. Two partnerships for a church our size – that must be God.
So maybe you’re still not sure where to start. Start by praying. Get a map of the world and just start praying over it. Does God quicken your heart for any particular area? Does He quicken your heart for a particular people group or religious group? Does God remind you of a dormant passion for a part of the world? Chances are, that call may already be deposited in you. Be deliberate about this. Actually take the time to search this out. Then when you think you have an idea on what part of the world God is calling you to, contact the Vineyard Missions office and they will help connect you with people working in that part of the world.
So as you think about where to start, don't start safe. Start where God calls you and where there is an open door. Also, remember you don't have to start alone. Join an existing partnership, and work with people who already have experience.
Tim & Amy Mengler planted the Vineyard of Crystal Lake Illinois just outside Chicago in 2005. As a church their first foray into mission was with the Senegal partnership. Then toward the end of 2013 they were invited to join the work that God was doing in Mozambique. Tim and Amy took their first trip to Mozambique in June of 2014 and of course fell in love with the people and the nation of Mozambique. Tim now leads the U.S. side of this partnership.