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Mr. Rogers Teaches Partnership

                                   By Wayne Dinsbeer

                                            Church Partnership Lead

This week my wife, Donna, and I went to see the movie “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” about the life of the famed children’s TV host, Mr. Rogers. As you would expect, it was very uplifting and full of character building lessons for all to learn, even the adults filling the theaters. 

As I watched this story unfold (ok maybe a little later) I realized one of the great lessons being taught paralleled our H2T teachings to churches and missionaries about “Partnership”. Without disclosing too much of the story line, for those who have yet to see the movie, let me share my observations. Keep in mind this was a secular film made from a non religious  point of view. Yet, it had applications to “Partnership” that are very true to life.

The movie focused on the set and filming of one of the “Mr. Rogers Neighborhood” episodes. Woven into the theme was an encounter Mr Rogers has with a very popular magazine writer tasked to do a story about Fred Rogers. This writers reputation was that of ripping apart anyone about whom he had ever written. His goal for this story was to accomplish the same results.

As the story progresses he, the writer, finds a much different writing path than he expected. The difference come about as he encounters the life of Fred Rogers in a real way. Many of these experiences depicted relate so much to our teachings on “Partnership”.

First, Mr Rogers was very warm and sincerely interested in meeting this “not so pleasant” writer. This was an unexpected surprise for the writer who was used to being shunned by his subjects. One of the things missionaries experience is this same negative response from Pastors. One Haiti missionary told us his greatest need was just to talk to someone, but he couldn’t get Pastors to take his calls.

Partnership starts with building a relationship that allows for communication between missionaries, pastors, members, and friends. Everyone needs to know that they can talk to someone at anytime about anything. H2T teaches churches how to establish MSTs(Missionary Support Teams) that are trained to address and meet a varied format of needs a missionary encounters as they serve.

The open communication between Mr Rogers and the writer proves to be a “game changer” in the way the article is written. Open Communication between your Missionaries and Church Leadership will make all the difference in the world for the Missionary as well as those in your church in touch with that Missionary. This will also have a great impact on and in your church!

Another item in the movie that stood out was a scene where Mr Rogers was kneeling by his bedside and calling out names of people for whom he was praying. Mr Rogers had sensed a need in the writer’s life and had expressed to him his intention to pray for him.

In H2T one of our core values is that nothing happens without prayer.

For that reason we always start our coaching discussions seeking to discover what prayer mechanisms are in place to support the ministry being discussed. H2T has a tool we provide churches and missionaries to assist them in establishing organized, intentional, systematic Prayer Ministries targeted to address the needs of the church or missionary.

We are all familiar with the verse in James which speaks of how the fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. That being truth, can you vision how much greater that impact could, should, and would be with an organized Prayer Team of righteous people lifting up the needs of a church and missionary on a consistent basis?

Prayer makes the difference that we alone can’t make. It is that God connectivity that must be a part of the equation to maximize the power afforded each of us to accomplish His work and will in our lives and ministries. Without it we miss so much that God intends for us to have when He is invited to be included in all things.

If your ministry does not have an organized Prayer Team in place I urge you to contact Here2There Ministries to discuss the implementation of one.

Back to our movie, we all know that Mr Rogers is surrounded by his own support cast called the “Neighborhood”. When the writer became a part of the plot for that day’s episode he was thrust into the “Neighborhood”. He became a part of the “Community” of friends living together, in this case make believe. Both churches and missionaries have this same need to be surrounded by others living in community which become their support group for all things they experience and encounter.

Members and missionaries alike need to feel a part of something greater than themselves. We know how easy it is for a Missionary to experience this feeling of being alone as they are separated from others while serving in far off lands. H2T teaches both missionaries and church leaders how to address this need by various methods of including the missionary and member in church life. One important key is the effective work of an MST assigned to the Missionary.

Did you know that church members can also feel alienated from their church neighborhoods and experience that same “does anyone even know I exist” attitude?

Church leaders often use the excuse that someone in this condition just needs to get more involved. Lack of Vision driven strategies in a ministry leads to this member disconnect. 

Here2There teaches the importance of seeing “Missions” as the DNA of the church. By this we mean that every aspect of the church ministry IS MISSIONS. Whether it is sending someone across the ocean or across the street to your own community, there needs to be a Vision Driven Strategy that considers how you will teach, train, budget, resource, mobilize, support, and celebrate the work being targeted. H2T works with churches and missionaries to accomplish this important goal.

One very touching scene in this movie was when Mr Rogers and the writer were on a subway train in New York and the passengers broke out singing “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood, a beautiful day for a neighbor, would you be mine, would you be mine…”  Everyone was singing this. At that point the writer experienced first hand the impact of the sincere work of Mr Rogers on and in society. 

Each year at Christmas I send a gift to my Here2There Partners in appreciation for their Prayers and Partnership with the ministry. This year I am sending  them a book written by MIssionaries who went to serve in New Guinea in the 1950’s. This book recalls their encounters with tribes who had never seen people other than their kind. They also had never seen a written word. What a blessing to read of how this couple responded to life’s ups and downs unlike anything most of us will ever experience – all because of the passion, calling, and vision God had given them to reach these people.

It took years to develop a written version of their language for the translation of their first copy of God’s Word. The impact these missionaries had will only be fully known in eternity.

The impact we have as we minister day to day may only be known in eternity. It is important that we make the most out of the opportunities God puts before us. Here 2 There Ministries is purposed in teaching and training church leaders, members, missionaries and others seeking to make an eternal impact how to accomplish His Great Commission. Partnership Development is a major part of our Vision Driven Strategy.  

One book that would give you insight on the importance of changing the way we do missions and the need for “Partnership” is Antioch Revisited by Tom Julien.

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