Suggestions from Missionaries Who Are In Your Church
1. Arrange a welcome home party, come and go. Also, a good-bye party would be nice when they get ready to return. It’s hard to say good-bye when there are so many last minute things that you are trying to do. The church could be a big help in this area. It would be a great help for the local church to arrange housing, and car (if needed).
2. Housing is huge, but anything that has to due with utilities, voice mail and new technology the Missionary would like some help and support. A vehicle. Doctor/Dentist.
3. Is it a bulletin or worship folder, do you have a song leader or a worship leader? Do you meet in the chapel, sanctuary or worship center?
4. Gather together needed furniture and a car.
5. Elicit beforehand how the missionary himself feels most comfortable serving you when in your area — you can take him outside his comfort zone, but do it aware-fully! That way you use his gifts and don’t just plug him into the church’s agenda when it may not fit.
6. Consult with the missionary about finding an appropriate paid place of service while on home assignment with the church (probably part-time)–we want to serve the home church that sends us.
7. Set up your annual church calendar with the missionary’s schedule in mind–don’t lose him to another outside commitment because you scheduled a missions retreat, etc. at the same time. Ask him well ahead of time about his schedule while in the states.
8. Have some fashion-savvy ladies in the church take the missionary wife out shopping for clothes when they arrive home from the field (one church whose mission�s conference I participated in actually did this for all the participating wives!)
9. Depending on the missionary’s financial status (whether he’s been able to save up over the years), the church may want to pursue funding a down payment for purchasing a house, with the missionary responsible for repaying the loan. The church could manage and keep up the home when the missionary is on the field, so that rental income could be used to repay the loan. This is a way to help the missionary set down roots in your community when on home assignment and enable him to get equity as well as a home for retirement someday.
10. In all things, focus on the missionary as a family unit–make the fulfillment of the needs and concerns of the wife and children just as paramount as the missionary husband.
11. Make available to the missionary couple a few months of marriage counseling–not because they’re falling apart, but because you want them to have the best marriage of anybody around so they’ll stay strong on the field.
12. Make available life/career planning for the missionary couple, especially if their mission agency is weak on staff and career development.
13. Have living and working necessities ready: automobile (with necessary carseats), furnished house with food and bedding (they need not pay the rent, but arrange in advance with missionary), office space at the church.
14. Express an interest in the missionary’s work by asking for reports before the relevant board, a presentation before the congregation, and hosting a congregational reception wherein church leaders introduce the missionaries and their accomplishments and relate this to the life of the local church.
15. Be ready to advise on local schools, insurance requirements, etc.
16. I enjoy being given tasks which match my experience and gifts. Short of that, I enjoy being given any tasks at all.
17. Each time I’ve been on furlough, my home church has done something wonderful that has said a lot about what they think of my family. They arranged housing for our family, and had the house all set up, with food in the refrigerator, sheets on the bed, etc.
18. Have a car available temporarily (with any necessary car seats) until something more permanent could be arranged.
19. A big help to us was someone pre-registering our child in school so that he could start on time.
20. Sometimes just making schooling, housing, car, etc. options known is a big help when you’re trying to organize one year’s life from long distance without telephone, e-mail, etc.
21. Asking can be a good way to obtain specific answers for specific missionaries.
22. Missionary families would like to get to know other church families and be able to talk honestly about their needs and experiences rather than have to put on their “church face”, if you know what I mean…sometimes people seem shocked if the missionary is really honest about their feelings.
23. Finances are a burden many times. The missionary family wants to “look right” but don’t have the funds to buy the “right” clothes or whatever else.
24. Give the missionary time to readjust. Understand that there is a different way of thinking. Treat the missionary as normal forgiven saints.
25. Relax! Personal contact with the Senior Pastor (if he is a true shepherd) to work through feelings and issues that come up.
26. It would be nice for a woman or several women in the church to take the missionary wife shopping for some clothes that are in style. (The missionary doesn’t need a whole new wardrobe, but a new dress and a slacks outfit would be nice. The missionary wife wouldn’t feel so out of style. However, it might take the missionary some time to get used to the styles if she has been out of the States for a long time.)
27. Be a listening ear to the many miracles, blessings, and places God has taken us through. We need to share out thoughts, for people to be blessed on our ministry and work.
Suggestions from Mission Service Agencies/Churches’
We present missionaries with one rule, and we enforce it! That is, to make themselves at home. It seems simple, but I really believe it puts them at ease and lets them rest. We make very few special arrangements for them. We expect them to eat and drink and come and go without asking. While we normally fix the meals, we have found guests in the kitchen cooking for us. I think the way they are often treated (with everything provided and furnished,) they feel like they impose. Allowing them the freedom to be themselves, without time restraints or plans, works wonders. And it lets me work without interruption.
1. The small rural church I pastor built a small cabin for missionaries.
2. We have developed “Missionary Encourager Teams” for each missionary family/unit; this team handles correspondence, get-togethers, regular prayer times and encouraging the missionary specifically. This has been really good for our missionaries, and has helped some to broaden the “mission�s vision” among our church family.
3. We have each Adult Bible Fellowship class take responsibility for 6-8 missionary families/units each year regarding weekly prayer, updates, sharing, letter writing, Christmas cards/gifts, special needs. My particular class sent out 17 Christmas packages last year as we have our current 7 units, plus 10 others who we know well, some having gone out from our class over the years. The assignment of missionaries rotates each year to a new class.
4. We send each month all the Sunday services on tape to each of the missionary families/units not present at our location. When I was on the field, this was one of our few “English mainstays”, and good encouragement while we didn’t know enough local language to understand in the local church, etc.
5. We have two (2) homes which we keep up for furloughing missionaries. We can’t supply for all missionaries, but we do what we can. These homes were given by deed/gift from some of our own members who passed on, and our mission�s budget includes the maintenance. We charge rent back to the Missions Org. while families stay there, but this has been a blessing, and very timely in time of crisis.
6. We have focused our Missions Pastor’s job on missionary care, resulting in longer service, more effective service for our team who serve.
7. Our Missions Office sends out weekly briefings to our missionaries, (gleanings from each other’s prayer letters) so the “mission’s family” is further knit together.
8. We keep an email interchange going with as many as possible.
This article “Suggestions from Missionaries Who Are In Your Church” by Neil Pirolo was excerpted from: www.missionarypoint.com web site. January 2008. It may be used for study & research purposes only.
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”