It is important to understand your role with respect to the work on the field. If your missionary is working under a sending agency, the primary responsibility for supervision, strategy, and results lies with the agency. If your missionary is sent out from your church, you have a significant responsibility with respect to partnership with the agency leadership at all levels directly affecting your missionary (assuming they are sent out under a mission agency). If your missionary is not sent from your church but your church feels a significant ownership relationship, then your communication and responsibility must be in harmony with the sending church and sending agency.
Given these basic boundaries, your missionary is basically an extension of your church ministries. You will want to know about their ministry goals and how they intend to achieve them. You’ll want to be informed about prayer needs, obstacles or difficulties in the work, and specific milestones.
In most cases, wherever possible, we recommend that the senior pastor and/or mission staff plan to visit each missionary of the church having a significant support relationship over the course of time. We will give some recommendations to pastors about this visit in another section, but suffice it to say here that the intention of this visit is not to put the visiting church leader and a spotlight ministry or a whirlwind tour of the country. The purpose of this visit should be pastoral, observational, and fact-finding in nature. It helps the church discover through its representative what life is like for your missionary. Though it may highlight concerns that may require more follow-up, it is primarily for encouragement and relationship building.
Extended communication and visitation can produce awareness of specific details in which the church might serve the missionary by providing resources and assistance beyond the usual financial and spiritual support. You may discover that your missionary means a better water supply, or computer support, improved security, shipment of schoolbooks or games or periodicals. Leveraging the many ways which church members may travel in these days (e.g.-using frequent flyer miles, add ons to business travel, nonrevenue flight passes) can improve your opportunities for regular “missionary care” visits.
When it is appropriate or may be needed, hopefully with the full knowledge and approval of field leadership, you may want to be involved in guiding and assisting in the strategy for ministry in their field. Certainly you will be involved through prayer. Field-based information and culture should prevail over any Western culture generated or oriented or initiated plans. However your missionary might have genuine need for a sounding board on strategy. That means you, as a missions leader, or someone designated might need to do a lot of study and investigation in order to get up to speed on the issues facing your missionary and the scope of strategies and methodologies which may fit. Be very cautious and sensitive about entering the arena of field strategy. There are so many relationships and cultural issues to keep in balance. It is best not to initiate, but to wait for an invitation to offer suggestions only based on the solid footing of your established relationship and reputation with your missionary.
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