A few posts ago I wrote about the “Sending Church”. I have some more thoughts that I want to put out there.
I believe the sending church can and should play a vital role in the spiritual and emotional life of the missionary by giving pastoral care and support even while on the field. The sending church should not assume that these needs are met while they are on the field. While many missionaries are from sending organizations and these organizations often have quality member care services I think the missionary’s sending church can also minister in some amazing ways even when they are 1000’s of miles a part. However, it takes effort to keep the relationship at that level. I believe consistent and meaningful contact with the missionary is vitally important.
Consistent and Meaningful Contact – I know many of us on the field try to write newsletters, blogs, emails, etc.. to let our prayer advocates know how to better pray for us and what are needs are. However, the church does not need to wait on the missionary to write their monthly newsletter in order to have conversation with them. It means so much to the missionary to just get a contact from the sending church even if it is just say “hello and that we are praying for you” or “how can we help you or your family?” “How are your children doing?” “What is the Lord teaching you right now? Etc…
How is this best done?
Is it better for a church to have a designated point person for contact and needs?
What if the sending church has no strategic involvement in the missionary? What should the church’s role be if this is the case?
Longevity - One problem that I hear from missionaries is that often that the longer one is on the field the less the contact from the local church. I would agree. We have been on the field since 2001. I can tell a difference over the years. Does it mean that they do not care? No! There are many variables including some on our end. I think the longer you are on the field the more intentional the worker has to become in cultivating those relationships.
When you are first sent out it is a new thing for the church and much excitement exists but what happens after 3, 5, 7, 10 years or more?
Obviously many missionaries choose to go with a mission sending organization. These organizations can help assist the local church but the local church should not simply hand over the missionary and feel like their job is done. The Great Commission was given to the church and not an organization. The sending church has great responsibility when they send someone out.
How are you doing with the ones “sent” from your church?
Next – my list on how we as missionaries can give back to our church!
Also - Check out www.edstetzer.com and the conversation today about our vision trip to Asia.