"We have so many parents who have never before had a conversation about spiritual matters with their children. They just don’t know how," says Shawn. "Imagine them sitting down with their kids around the dinner table and talking about their sponsored child in Africa. Or writing letters to that child. For the first time, they are talking about spiritual matters together. Through those conversations, Compassion sponsorship has raised the bar of discipleship for hundreds of our families."
Not only does Mountain Lake Church encourage discipleship of its own congregation through Compassion child sponsorship. A vital ministry of the church is planting new churches and mentoring church planters to reach the growing American unchurched population. "In the five years that we have had this ministry, we have planted five churches," Shawn says.
"One thing we emphasize in our church planting ministry, called 'churchplanters.com,' is that churches need to be involved in global missions from day one." But Shawn realizes that to new, struggling churches, for whom putting on a Sunday service week after week is a monumental task, getting involved in God’s global work might seem impossible, or at least a long way down the road.
Discipleship Through Child Sponsorship
That’s why, he says, "It’s a big part of our heart to expose new churches to how they can be involved in the world, without a big missions budget, from the very beginning. Compassion child sponsorship, just $38 a month, is a great first step for a new church to give its people a broad perspective of what His Church is all about."
And to demonstrate the feasibility of this vision, Shawn cites his own church as a case study. "We had a Compassion Sunday campaign, and 298 children were sponsored. Then, just a few weeks later, we had a Christmas offering, and people gave $100,000. Our church had become more generous almost overnight. And I can say that Compassion partnership has never adversely affected our church finances."
"The Christian Life is All About Giving...
decreasing ourselves so that God can increase," Shawn emphasizes. "And it’s our job as pastors to shepherd our people into becoming more generous." He adds, "I believe the hope of the world is His Church, and Compassion is a perfect way for local churches in the U.S. to partner with churches in developing countries to fulfill our calling, as a body, to serve the world’s 'least of these.'"
The mission of Mountain Lake Church is to "give people a place to belong in a healthy relationship with God and others, and help people become more like Jesus."