By Chris Conrades
January is named “Focus on Christian Discipleship” month on the Southern Baptist Convention calendar. As I think about the importance of discipling the members of our congregations, I cannot help but think about my own experience as a young girl. I was raised in a Southern Baptist church in the suburbs north of Baltimore, Maryland. I can remember memorizing the books of the Bible and earning a Susan B. Anthony half dollar. I can remember attending Sunday School and Vacation Bible School and learning that Jesus died on the cross to save me from my sins. But there was another group that I was a part of that deeply impacted me and my understanding of my role in the church. There were three classes I participated in that changed my life and made my faith real. As a preschooler, I was involved in Mission Friends where I remember learning about missionaries, tasting food from different countries, and even dressing up like someone from the country of Japan for a Lottie Moon Christmas Offering program. In elementary school, I was a part of Girls in Action (which is now known as Mission Journey Kids). It was here that I read biographies of missionaries, learned how to share my testimony with friends at school, and even participated in my first mission trip at 10 years old to Ocean City Baptist Church in Ocean City, MD. My faith became an active part of my life, and my teachers gave me numerous opportunities to see God at work around the world. It was during this part of my life, that I surrendered my life to Jesus and became a follower of Christ. As a teenager, I participated in Acteens (which is now known as Youth On Mission). I moved from learning about missionaries to becoming active in missions and ministry. I traveled to Beaver Falls, PA to lead VBS as a teenager, I became active in promoting the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and Annie Armstrong Easter Offering through making posters and giving speeches, I met missionaries and heard their stories, and I studied the Scriptures to see God’s heart for the nations. During the summer of my sophomore year of high school, I traveled to the National Acteens Convention in Birmingham, AL and it was at this missions conference that God called me to vocational ministry and I knew that I was going to spend my life serving in and through the church.
Why do I tell you this? I believe that one of the most underutilized tools available to our churches for Christian discipleship is the curriculum provided by WMU. All of the groups that impacted me as a young girl are still available and are still impacting hearts today. And there are even curriculum choices for adults too! Let me tell you a little about what is available.
Adults on Mission:
You can purchase the “Missions for Life” resource which is a comprehensive resource for growing missions involvement in your church plant, small church, small groups, or Adults on Mission group! This book contains 12 monthly units that include plans for a Bible study and mission study. This book is available in English and Spanish!
“Missions Mosaic” Magazine equips readers with a Bible study, a prayer starter, ministry ideas, and evangelism tools. Every issue also includes Prayer Patterns, which are daily devotions followed by a listing of missionaries by birthday each month. This is an annual subscription (12 monthly issues) available in print, digital or print + digital combo. Many churches order this magazine for their missions team leader and pastor. It can be used as part of Sunday School classes, small groups, or by individuals.
“Women on Mission” is a specific curriculum for women’s groups. Each quarterly kit includes leader tips, promotional flyers, and meeting plans for Missions Mosaic articles. This is an annual subscription (4 quarterly issues).
Students have the opportunity to learn through “Missions Journey Students”. This versatile resource is customizable based on the needs of your group. Students will meet missionaries serving all around the world, be encouraged to grow in discipleship, and become active agents of gospel change in their own communities. One of the most unique aspects of this curriculum is that it is video-based. This is an annual digital subscription (12-monthly issues). Individual units also available for purchase and could easily be added as a special monthly focus, weekend retreat idea, or as part of a small group.
WMU has recently updated their children’s curriculum. “Missions Journey Kids” has three different components. First, Missions Journey: Kids Leader is your guide to leading children grades 1–6 in missions discipleship. This quarterly guide provides three month-long units, each focused on the work of missions personnel in North America and throughout the world. This is an annual subscription (4 quarterly issues) available in print, digital format or purchase as print + digital format. Second, Missions Journey: Kids Leader Kit contains full-color posters, games, and activities that coordinate with the lesson plans in Missions Journey: Kids Leader (sold separately). The quarterly kit contains a map of the missions area, a missions photo, and a memory verse poster for each monthly unit. This is an annual subscription (4 quarterly issues). And finally, Missions Journey: Kids Adventure is a full-color activity book for children in grades 1–6. Including mission stories, prayer prompts, games, puzzles, recipes, and coloring pages that are coordinated with the weekly Missions Journey: Kids Leader lesson plans, Missions Journey: Kids Adventure will get children excited about learning! This is an annual subscription (4 quarterly issues). You will need to purchase one for each child.
In addition to these curriculum choices, there are also programs where children can earn badges much like American Heritage Girls, Trail Life, or Boy Scouts. More Information about these can be found at wmu.com.
Mission Friends is a program to begin children at the youngest ages understanding God’s work around the world. In each issue of Mission Friends Leader, you’ll find session plans and weekly activities in interest areas such as music, art, blocks, nature, homeliving, and more. Creative activities and mission stories are included to help establish missions awareness and involvement for preschoolers, birth through kindergarten. This is an annual subscription (4 quarterly issues) available in print, digital or purchase the combo of both print & digital. In each issue of the Mission Friends Leader Kit, you’ll find games, songs, posters, and vibrant photos to enhance the learning activities found in Mission Friends Leader (sold separately). This kit is a must-have aid to complement your lesson each week in Mission Friends. This is an annual subscription (4 quarterly issues).
For more information or to download a sample of any of the above curriculum ideas, go to https://wmu.com/missions-discipleship/
If you have any questions, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to share more about these exciting curriculum opportunities.