Audio Transcript:

Welcome to Missions On Point, the Propempo perspective on church and Missions. Hi, this is episode number eight of Missions on Point. We're gonna talk about an introduction to missionary care. First, we'll go through a list of 10 areas to be aware of with regard to missionary care for your church as sending church. Then we'll develop a little bit more about what are ways that you can implement that and actually fulfill those areas.

Preventable Attrition

The statistics of attrition are startling. 85% of those who say they want or they think that God wants them to be a missionary never make it.  Worse, 75% of those who do make it to the difficult fields remaining on Earth don't remain five years later. What is preventable attrition? It is missionaries permanently leaving the field due to humanly preventable causes. The preventable attrition rate is worse than the slaughter of Omaha Beach at Normandy on D-Day in June 6th, 1944.

The preventable attrition rate is worse than the slaughter of Omaha Beach at Normandy on D-Day 

I believe that there are just two principle categories of reasons for preventable attrition. First is inadequate pre-field preparation. The second one is inadequate accountability relationship with the sending church. Here are 10 ways to support and sustain your missionaries. The first six are taken from a book by Neil Perlo called Serving as Senders, and the last four are my own.

10 ways to support and sustain your missionaries. 

  1. The first is moral support. This is just plain encouragement.
  2. Logistic support is getting them to the field and getting them back home and taking care of all the logistics when they're home.
  3. The third is financial support. That's pretty obvious, but it includes other things like helping them file their taxes and making sure that they have the right flow of communication and finances from their home institutions, which may require somebody to stand in for them or be authorized.
  4. The fourth is prayer support. This is essential. It's essential to every missionary.
  5. The fifth is communication support. They mean a communication specifically in secure countries to send out their prayer letters.
  6. The sixth is reentry support. What do you do when they come home, whether it's for a short time on home assignment or furlough, or longer term or even permanently? How do you help them integrate back into your church, into family life, into the normal things here?
  7. The seventh one is a big one. It's children's education. There's so many options out there today, and yet  it's one of those things that missionaries need solved with help from home.
  8. Number eight is security and contingency. Missionaries in high risk or high security kind of situations need to have a plan and helping them with security and contingency plans. Having the right equipment, having the right plans will be important to their long term safety and wellbeing.
  9. The ninth one is technology. Missionaries always need help with computers, with software, with applications, with how to use them properly and securely.
  10. The 10th one is field visits, and I'm thinking of pastoral field visits or short term missions teams and projects where the rubber meets the road is the application of these concepts to real life.

How does your church as a sending church take care of your missionaries from the very first point at which they express interest in going to the mission field through to conclusion of their missionary service? The solution to the question is actually a wonderful dovetail of meeting the needs of mobilizing the whole congregation to have ownership of missions plus serving the missionary well, in shepherding them well.

Barnabas Teams

Most churches find that it is useful to have a specialist team or group of people who look after the missionary care of that particular missionary you're sending out. They call them prayer and care teams, a PAC team, or a support team of some sort. Our church calls it a Barnabas team, an encouragement team. Other churches may use their small groups as a delegated group for missionary care or a peer group, Sunday school class of the missionary that's being sent out. It's always a good thing, whether it is for a specific Barnabas team concept or not, to have different elements of church ministries adopt and care for. Pray for specific missionaries, particularly those that your church has sent out. Propempo can come to your church and do specific training just for the prayer and care or the Barnabas team in your church, teaching them very practically the dynamic of how it can operate and what their responsibilities are. So let's start back at the beginning.

Moral Support

Moral support is just encouragement. That means birthday cards, Christmas cards, maybe anniversary gifts. We found even in secure situations, it's helpful to be able to gift the missionary with Amazon credit on their Amazon account. Encouragement largely comes through communication, whether by email, Skype, zoom, letters, cards, just letting the missionary know that you're thinking of them, praying for them and pulling for their good.

Logistic Support

The second area is logistic support. This takes a lot more than what you might think. It's not just driving them to the airport, but it may be taking care of getting goods and or services for them or delivery to them for whatever special needs they might have. In some cases, a, it may mean  computer hardware parts or a special VPN router. Obviously, these different categories overlap each other. We're talking about technology. We're also talking about logistic support and encouraging them.

Logistic support does not stop just because they're home from the field. There's a lot of logistic support in supporting them and taking care of them when they arrive at home. They need housing, they need food. They need doctoring and dentist and a car and phone and internet. All of those things basically become part of logistic support to make sure that their needs are met even while they're on home assignment. Financial support is the next category, and likewise, it's a little bigger than you think. It's not just helping them raise and or maintain their support they need for the field, but it may be things like helping them with taxes while they're out of country, giving them financial advice, getting into their details enough to be able to give them wise counsel about how to handle their finances and plan for the future.

Prayer Support

Next is prayer support. Pretty obvious on the missionary scale of things. Certainly having smaller groups pray for your missionaries on a regular basis is a good thing. I remember one church saying that if the missionary didn't send fresh relevant prayer requests, then the church might hold their support for a month until they get those requests so that they can do their part in prayer.

Prayer is seriously the basis for forward movement and spiritual progress on the field. It's an essential characteristic. So anything that you can do to generate more and consistent prayer from your church family for your scent missionary is excellent.

Communication Support

Communication support is the next category. And while it seems obvious that in today's world we have so many more means of rapid, instantaneous communication, there's still some needs, particularly in high security situations for the church family to step up and help the missionary or the missionary family on the field communicate in a secure way to those people that are praying for them, supporting them, and really care about them. Back in the day when my wife and I were on the field, we had no internet, no cell phones, no long distance phone calling. Our letters took two weeks to get home and two weeks to get back.  So correspondence was not on a real short term basis. Our newsletters were sent through a missionary letter service that received a physical mailed copy of pictures and letters. They laid it out, they printed it, they mailed it. It could be one month from the time we wrote a prayer letter to the time it got delivered to our supporters. However, even with today's virtually instantaneous means of communication, missionaries often still need help with generating the kind of communication and the frequency and quality of communication that people need in order to pray well and give well.

Reentry Support

The next category is reentry support, which is not just when the missionary returns home for good, but when they come home for home assignment or furlough. When missionaries come home, they often have a huge list and a blur of meetings to accomplish. They need to visit the doctor. They need a pediatrician. They may have a used car that has a problem and they need a mechanic. They need housing and food and transportation and cell phones and internet in order to survive in today's world. So helping them do those things, helping them solve those problems with whatever means they have and the church has at its disposal, can help them a great deal.

Missionary Children Education

Did you know that missionary children education is one of the top five reasons why missionary families return home from the field? Their kids may have special needs, good educational opportunities may not be available in the way that they would hope or expect out on the field. All of a suddenly realize that they're not a great homeschooling family. Or in some cases, homeschooling may be illegal where they are more than ever before. Getting wise balanced counsel about the education of their children and the long term education and expectations of education and academic achievement of their children is a really important role for the sending church to play.

missionary children education is one of the top five reasons why missionary families return home from the field

Security and Contingency 

The category of security and contingency is huge. There's a lot of technical detail involved in that we're not gonna get into, but in today's world, no matter where you live, personal security and the contingencies of perhaps violent crime against an American serving overseas are more real than ever. So missionaries who may naturally be loving, trusting, relational kind of people, might need some coaching and specific training to help them understand situational awareness and simple things that they can do to improve their chances of having a good experience with security of their person, their family, their home, their stuff. This is often an opportunity for education of the Pack or Barnabas team itself, because we don't face those same kind of things. And whoever takes on this particular category of service and support for your missionary will have to learn a lot about what security and contingency looks like in the field of their missionary.


The next to last category is technology. Technology has been intertwine in our lives in such a way that we hardly can understand how we could live without it. And it's similarly so on the mission field. In fact, there may be one sense in which missionaries are even more dependent on technology than we are at home. It's also just as possible that a missionary may be addicted to technology as much as people here at home maybe, and they need help with that aspect. They can't do very much ministry if they're hooked on Facebook and can't have enough Skype meetings with family back home.

Field Visits 

This last area is field visits and short term missions teams, or short term missions projects related to your Senate missionary. Now, this whole area requires probably at least another podcast or two in the future, but let me just say that the sending church needs to be careful about how you approach field visits.

There needs to be serious shepherding done. We're looking for the sending church pastor or elder or mission leader to go to the field with some kind of frequency every couple of years in order to better understand the missionary, what their situation is, what the needs are, and how to communicate that back to the home Church again for better care. The whole subject of missionary care is huge. It really does make a big difference on the missionary's effectiveness. I wanna say happiness on the field long term, and that means fulfilling the role for which you sent them. So take it seriously, and if you need help calling us, we'd be glad to come to your church and train you in these things.

Hey, thanks for joining us today on Missions On Point, the Propempo perspective on Church and Missions. We trust that you'll find more resources and help on the website,

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