Your sending church plays a critical role on the field, if it assumes its Biblical responsibilities. While your church cannot oversee your ministry from a distance on a daily basis, it should seek to carry out three major roles.
1. Your sending church, particularly its elders, serves as your spiritual authority. Your elders continue to “keep watch over your soul.” (Heb. 13.17) They should monitor your spiritual health, encourage your spiritual growth, and confront you about personal sin. If you are married, they seek to build up your marriage and monitor its health. Your sending church should pray vigilantly for you, your ministry and your engagement in spiritual warfare.
2. Your sending church provides practical care and encouragement, on the field and when back home. Whether sending an encouraging email or a care package of treats unavailable on your field, the church serves as a lifeline of care to help you thrive in ministry. A sending church ideally substantially supports its homegrown missionaries.
When you return home periodically, your sending church should proactively shepherd you and your family by helping you process your time on the field and rejuvenate. It seeks to integrate your children into the life of the church, and provides as much a home base as possible if they return to the US as young adults. Ideally a sending church proactively seeks to develop a partnership relationship with your sending agency, keeping informed on your ministry and co-laboring to provide what you need.
3. Your sending church increases your ministry effectiveness on the field by partnering with you. Some churches may provide this partnership only from a distance, by praying for you, networking with other churches involved with your team and people group, and proactively interacting with your sending agency to determine options for your increased effectiveness. Your sending church may partner with you in ministry on the field, by sending individuals and short-term teams to carry out tasks that complement your ongoing field ministry.
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