Missions Team Serves Church by Finding New Ministry Opportunities

Every year FBCO plans many different mission activities that include local, U.S., and overseas trips. How do those trips come about?

Throughout the year the FBCO Missions Team reviews requests from different organizations seeking aid—whether it’s financial or onsite help. During the evaluations some requests rise to the possibility of sending a group from FBCO. Those possible trips trigger a rigorous process of discussion, discovery, and dedication before dates are set and trips are announced.

The first step is usually an in-person or video conference between the Missions Team and organization representatives. The introductory meeting allows both sides to discuss the ministry’s work and need. Further communication usually occurs before the Missions Team commits to sending a two-person “vision trip” team to the ministry area. The time from the initial aid request until a vision trip occurs can be 3-9 months. COVID and travel restrictions have certainly had an impact on these trips.

Pastor Lee Sanders and layperson Rob Simmons visited the Netherlands in December 2021 on a vision trip to learn the logistics, work projects, and ministry area for a potential mission trip in late 2022. Lee received the first communication with the ministry in mid-2020.

Pastor Brandon Kiesling and layperson Mike Smith visited the Cincinnati area in August 2020 on a vision trip to meet a potential partner after Brandon’s initial contact earlier that spring. The first FBCO mission trip occurred just after Easter 2021.

Vision trips do more than simply provide face-to-face meetings. Trips help determine costs and logistics of sending a group from FBCO, and answer other related questions.

During the Netherlands trip, for example, Lee and Rob experienced flying to Amsterdam, clearing customs, and getting to the home area of the potential ministry partner in Rotterdam.

They looked at lodging, dining, and in-country transportation options, considering whether acceptable unpaid lodging was available, the costs of eating out versus preparing meals in rented quarters, and the ease of using trains and other public transportation to move around the ministry area.

During a vision trip by Brandon and Mike to Butler, IL-based Love Packages—which recycles Christian materials to overseas ministries—the pair learned the town was too small for restaurants and the nearest ones were inconvenient. However, the organization had a full kitchen. When seniors went to Love Packages in October lunch was prepared for them on-site by a team member.

Vision trips also uncover how a future FBCO team might promote and expand the local ministry. Is a construction project needed? Will a team do door-to-door neighborhood canvassing? Should VBS or another youth project be a focus? Is there a community event that can be tapped into?

When Brandon and Mike met with a potential Cincinnati partner during the vision trip they learned the church could use construction help. However, even the pastor agreed it wasn’t a great need as church members provided much aid. However, an idea arose that FBCO could help another pastor launch a new church. That pastor, Ben Mangrum and the Inspiring Hope Church, eventually became FBCO’s ministry partner in the Cincinnati area.

Ultimately, the vision trip helps the Missions Team determine the purpose of sending an FBCO group, understand the resources of a partner, and begin focusing on the skills, needs, and training for a team.

After a vision trip report the Missions Team considers how best the church should proceed. Some ministries under consideration might get only one-time or short-term financial help. Others might see a trip or two planned. Still others might receive multi-year FBCO support.

The Missions Team decided there were multiple benefits for our folk to be involved in helping a church launch and grow in suburban Cincinnati. FBCO entered into a sustained partnership with Inspiring Hope Church.

FBCO’s U.S. ministry partners get a three-year commitment for financial and trip support. That commitment helps prioritizes projects, sets the expectations for partners, and produces a clean exit point so both sides understand when the partnership ends.

During the commitment term the partner church receives FBCO funding (from the missions budget) that decreases year-over-year, and regular missions trips to help encourage and advance their work.

As FBCO’s partnership began with Inspiring Hope Church in 2021, our partnership started winding down in Colorado with Cross Family Church. That partnership ends in 2022.

Overseas, FBCO has partnerships in Girvan, Scotland (Milestone Church); Chiapas, Mexico (Clay and Tammy Richardson); and, Jerusalem, Israel (the Baptist Center).  A new partnership starts in late summer with Shawn and Chelsea Sanson in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

Because of the cost and increased challenges of overseas trips, support for our international partners is handled more on a case by cases basis.

The Missions Team looks for mission opportunities to involve all FBCO age groups.

Not everyone can go overseas or commit to a full week several states away. Events like O’Fallon’s July 4 Heritage and Freedom Festival, and organizations like Love Packages and the Christian Activity Center in East St. Louis, provide missions opportunities that are nearby, inexpensive for members, and capable of involving any age and ability. These types of activities may or may not receive ongoing financial and volunteer support.

The Missions Team is always on the lookout for new projects and welcomes your ideas.

Mission Team members for 2022 are Jerry Woodruff (chairman), Dale Bredbenner, Jeff Herndon, Paulette Inman, Linda Kinder, Roger Parrish (as the Finance Team representative), Rob Simmons, Mike Smith, and Matt White.

Pastor Brandon serves as the pastoral liaison.