Missionaries supported by the church might fall into several categories. Each category might have a slightly different level or type of relationship with the church body.
Homegrown missionaries are those who, through however your church may define it, developed their missionary calling and status through your church. Your church is essentially there are home church and sending church. Other churches may support them also, but your church has the largest responsibility for shepherding and encouraging them for the long haul. We will encourage you to establish a core sending team for your homegrown missionaries. Homegrown missionaries need and deserve more information and communication than your average supported missionary. If the security in their field of service allows, you’ll want to see that they get regular church news. You might work out a system for the church office to send them a monthly packet of church bulletins, prayer request lists, newsletters, etc. If they have secure Internet available, they might be able to get some communication, even MP3s of sermons, through your church website.
Supported missionaries or ministries that don’t originate from your church still need good communication also. They need to know who is on the missions team, who is their missions advocate, who or what groups are committed to regularly pray for them, etc. It’s good for them to hear at least annually from the senior pastor with a birds eye perspective about what’s happening in the church and what teaching is going on and what major issues the church body is facing. Certainly you’ll want to communicate any changes in policy or direction that may affect them and their support status with the church. You need to communicate the church’s expectations with regard to their communication and responsibilities to the church. This would include specific expectations for visiting and reporting to the church during stateside visits.
Projects or strategic focus ministries may have a higher intensity of communication and relationship for shorter periods of time. For example, short-term missions teams have a tremendous need for communication, coordination, and logistical detail before and during their trip. However, after the trip the level of communication and relationship may drop dramatically. Furthermore projects or strategic focus ministries don’t necessarily need to know as much information about the internal family issues of the church. The engagement parameters are usually narrowly defined with specific boundaries, goals, and achievement milestones.