Any major change is a signal for reevaluation. Hopefully your church and your missionary have such good and frequent communication that this major change is no surprise. When there is a major change you need to ask some of the original questions that you ask of any missionary applicant for support. Does their new ministry fall within your churches missions ministry priorities? Are they still in alignment with your churches doctrine and values? Are there good reasons for the change with which your church leadership would agree? How does the missionary’s change affect your churches relationship with their previous ministry and their prospective ministry? How does their new ministry fit into your church? And, how does your church fit into their new ministry?
There is another aspect of relationship which all major change calls into question. That is the relationship between your church missions leadership and your missionaries sending agency (assuming there is one). Hopefully you are on a 1st name basis with your missionary’s immediate organizational leadership. Also, hopefully, if you were the home or sending church your missionary would have tipped you off to this decision so that your church’s guidance could be part of the equation. You must enter that arena with great respect and care; you are the outsider; you don’t know as much about the local culture or environment; you don’t know the larger personnel needs of the mission. However, you should know your missionary and their ministry capacity and their family concerns as well or better than a regional manager. Take care to not always side with your missionary by default in every dispute. They might be in the wrong. You need to hear both sides of the story. Your role just might be to admonish your missionary and get them to honor and comply with the authority of the mission.
When a major change happens and your church missions leadership is an agreement, then appropriate information needs to be disseminated through church leaders to the entire church body as soon as possible. You don’t want the missionary returning home for a quick visit to find a Sunday school class has been praying for the wrong ministry for a whole year. Affirm your missionary of your church’s continuing love and support.
In the case of a major change happening and reevaluation concluding that this new direction is not in line with your church’s priorities, you should inform your missionary as soon as possible of the probable changes to their support. Explain the reasons behind the decision and the process of transition from their previous support level to whatever may be the new support level (or none).
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