Audio Transcript:

Welcome to Missions on Point, the Propempo Perspective on Church and Missions. Hello, this is episode 67 of Missions on Point. We're talking about the VISION of a sending church, and we are in number five of six in our series. Today's issue is ownership. So as we use VISION as the acronym for the steps of training and preparation in the process of sending missionaries from your church, we started with V for values. Then I for identity. S for strategy. I for implementation. Now O for ownership. The final one in the acronym is N for nurturing. There is so much more that could be said about this VISION process, and we do say it in longer training, which usually is a two-day thing with Propempo. In this Missions on Point format, we're trying to distill each of them down to 15 minute overviews. So let's talk about your church's ownership.

Basically, we're talking about sender roles and all the possibilities for the church to be involved and mobilized for helping this candidate or this couple or this family move from candidacy through the training part and strategy onto the field. There's a lot of really helpful, practical things that the church family can do to own their missionary going out to the field. We want to take every opportunity to equip your church family to be good senders. From the earliest stages of development, you want to alert key church leaders and those who are going to have a chance to put their fingerprints on your missionary candidate to look at them, observe them, evaluate them, to verify their gifts and calling, their character and doctrine, you want to take a look at their personality, their self-discipline, their initiative, what leadership traits they may have or may develop, people skills and time management. All of these are significant in their becoming faithful, long-term missionaries out on the field.

We're also going to have lots of opportunity to help them in at least the beginning stages and the mechanics of fundraising for their support for the field. One of the typical questions you ask along the way is, exactly how do we help our missionaries? We don't have expertise in our congregation or maybe we're lacking in certain areas of expertise. You have to think about their linguistic preparation to learn another language, perhaps even begin learning that other language or one related to it. What field experience do they have? Are there short-term trips that they should take by way of survey or information gathering that would help? Do they need cross-cultural counseling and preparation? Do they need specific business skills to go to a limited access country to start a business in order to be a missionary on the ground there?

Many times the church leadership will carefully choose like-minded groups to assist in outsourcing their learning for linguistics or cross-cultural training. You can partner with groups like Global Frontier Missions or Crescent Project or get involved in targeted cross-cultural ministry experience here in the US. There's lots and lots of resources available for language learning and language learning techniques, including things like Khan Academy, K-H-A-N, Khan Academy, and language learning videos on YouTube. There is software you can purchase or cloud-based software or language learning groups via Skype or internet for tutoring in language. You certainly should pick up a copy of Serving as Senders, I think the most recent version is Serving As Senders Today by Neal Pirolo. And he encourages support teams, we call them Barnabas teams in our church because it has this association of Barnabas as a son of encouragement, to be an encouragement in propelling your people out to the field.

Many churches call them PAC teams, P-A-C, standing for Prayer and Care or Prayer, Accountability and Care or Pastoral Accountability and Care. PAC teams. And there's training that should be done for your congregation that are associated with those smaller, focused teams for each missionary. We coach our small groups in our church, each one to adopt a missionary for special prayer and care through the year. In fact, those small groups are appointed to serve as the primary facilitator for hospitality and meeting needs of the missionary when and if they visit the church. Everything like the practical considerations of picking them up from the airport, returning them to the airport, if that's the way they're traveling, making sure that they have a vehicle, that they have a phone, that they have internet, that they know the contacts they need to have if they're staying for an extended time for medical care or checkups and so forth.

The categories used in Serving As Senders include encouragement or moral support. That's a given that you want to continually be encouraging and helping your missionary smooth out the rough spots in life as it naturally occurs to find their resources in the great sovereignty of God and in the church body of Christ for being encouraged and carrying on and staying with it and being faithful. There's logistic support and this involves everything from helping them pack what they're taking to the field and helping them liquidate things that they're not taking to the field. It may go so far as helping them pack things up or having a humongous estate sale or yard sale and selling their house or perhaps even managing the rental of their house. The next area is prayer. And prayer is pretty obvious, we want to stay in touch and get current information to pray for and keep working with them through prayer.

The next one is communication. Communication involves a lot of things these days, but most certainly involves electronically getting their newsletter out. And because of security concerns, sometimes missionaries have to be able to send their newsletter to a trusted person through a secure channel who then disseminates and distributes that newsletter out to all the rest of the mailing list. Communication is important just to keep track with the missionary and to establish a regular flow of information coming from the missionary to the church so that you stay current with their needs and their life situation on the field. The next one is reentry. Reentry is all about when they come back. Most often, today's mission agencies call their reentry time a home assignment rather than the older term, furlough. And home assignment means that they have a regular time of two months to perhaps 10 months, depending on how long they've been on the field, to be able to greet their supporters, to rest and recover, perhaps get some additional training, to develop more resources for the field, whether that's financial resources or physical resources of some type or promote a project for field ministry.

The next major category is finances. And this isn't just support raising, but it can include assistance and administrative help with the support raising process. But it also involves things as personal and simple as filling out the missionary's IRS forms for tax season, doing personal banking and being a co-signator for banking accounts or having the authority to transfer or wire money overseas. Those are nuanced financial support things that this Barnabas group or PAC team can handle. There are four other areas that are not covered in Neal Pirolo's book. The first is missionary kid education. That is children's education. And in fact, children's education can often become one of the main preventable reasons why missionaries return home permanently from the field. That's called field attrition. They're returning home because they're confused, they don't like the options about children's missions education, it's too expensive. There's so many reasons and they didn't anticipate that or expect that or research that before they left.

They're perhaps uncomfortable or it may be illegal in their country to do homeschooling. So they've got to figure out what to do with MK education. Often if it involves homeschooling, today's Christian churches have lots of resources of people that are doing homeschooling and can assist them with selection of curriculum and management of homeschooling in the home. Other resources like just resource books and providing opportunities for them to have internet access to teaching or classroom situations or supplemental materials that will help their kids' education. Even if the children are entirely schooled in the public or semi-public, private school system of the local economy, then they still need help for learning the things that we need to learn in America, a little bit of American history, for example, and perhaps some other things that they wouldn't get in their local school. The next major area is technology. And although we expect younger missionaries to have a technological edge over us older ones, sometimes they don't and sometimes they're not really inclined to know technology very well at all.

They just might need some coaching on how to use software to best advantage and use some applications or software pieces that they've never come in contact with. Particularly when it involves producing materials and publications and communicating with people in written form. Some missionaries may really struggle with that and they need some help with technology to help them do that more efficiently. Another whole area is security and contingency plans. This is quite a specialized area and yet really every missionary needs to have a handle on their personal security and contingencies for them, their family and their field. There are specialty courses offered just for missionaries in those settings and often it requires a little bit more technology as well to understand technology that could help them be rescued if they were kidnapped or be found if they were lost, things like that. So security and contingency and having, especially in closed countries, a very low internet profile, a very low footprint in the digital world is going to help them enormously.

The last of the 10 categories is field visits or short-term missions projects and teams. So the missionary needs to be clued in as to what's expected for church leaders or representatives of the church to visit them for encouragement, for shepherding, perhaps for counsel or troubleshooting in a variety of areas, and the missionaries need to know how to handle field visits. I know I've counseled some missionaries that were in a very desirable place to visit and they had an avalanche of people always wanting to visit them and we had to stifle that a bit by having a plan and an outline and some factors that need to be considered for them to be able to sift through who is really the valuable person to come, who's not just leeching off of the missionary's hospitality and interrupting their ministry. We want the visit to contribute to their health and their ministry in some way.

Short-term missions projects or teams are similar. We want the design of those things to do something that the missionary ordinarily could not do on their own. Whether that is a construction project or an evangelism project or a literature distribution or something involving a lot more hands. Those are the kinds of things that we want to make a contribution to the ministry on the field and not just be a holiday for the people that are on the short-term ministry team. So looking back over this area of ownership, you can see that there are lots of opportunities in which the congregation can get involved in the development, the preparation, the encouragement, and the maintenance of a missionary from your church out on the field. We want people to be involved, we want that relationship to grow because they will pray more fervently, give more generously to people that they know on the field and are tracking with in sound communication back and forth as the ministry develops and you see God give good fruit for their faithfulness. May it be so for God's glory.

Thanks for joining us today on Missions on Point, the Propempo Perspective on Church and Missions. I trust that you'll find more help and resources on the website, Please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry. Now to God be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus forever and ever, amen.

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