Most churches have a desire to send people on short-term journeys and see their church’s influence on a global scale. Most churches want their people to go to the ends of the earth. Most churches want to help their missionaries and be supportive of the work that they have been called to do. And I’m sure in large part those missionaries really appreciate the fact that their churches have those desires. But are we really doing the best we can? Are we sometimes more of a burden than a help to our missionaries? The answer to those questions is no and yes respectively.
What happens when you get a random group of people together to go on a Short-Term Journey? The chances are very likely that you end up with a missionary who has no idea how you can help them. Thus, giving them the added burden of trying to figure out ways where you can do something while you’re there. The result of a trip like this (assuming it doesn’t end in disaster) is generally a feeling of accomplishment on our end but a big waste of time and energy on the missionary’s end. We’ll come home feeling like we did a good thing because we traveled to a poor country and did VBS or maybe helped build something. Don’t get me wrong those might be good things to do, but probably not things the missionary could use to help them accomplish the vision that God has given them.
So how do we do better? It starts with communication. In order to supply the missionary’s needs with the people/resources in our churches we must know of those needs. If we are in better communication with our missionaries we can know what they are doing and what they would like us to do for/through them. There is a good chance that your missionaries have a specific vision that they are trying to accomplish and doing 15 VBS programs is not likely a part of that vision. I just heard two different missionaries serving in India saying how great the need is for pastors to come over and help train their new, young pastors on how to pastor a church and impart wisdom to these pastors who are still relatively new to this type of role. I know of missionaries in Russia who are focused on planting churches and only want to partner with churches who share that focus.
The two things that you can start to do right now are to clarify your church’s vision and mission and figure out how those are to be implemented into your mission’s strategy and to begin communicating regularly with your missionaries. If you have a mission’s team then challenge them to start bringing you regular reports of what your missionaries are doing, planning, needing, struggling with…etc.
These missionaries aren’t in the field so that the church doesn’t have to go, they are there to lay the ground work so that the church can go.
Marketing and Media Lead