The Missionary Care Sending Church desires to make those they send feel loved, cared for, and accountable to what they are sent to accomplish. They are less concerned with a particular strategy for sending and are, instead, focused on how those who are sent are doing personally and how connected they feel to the church. Missionary Care Sending Churches aren’t working hard to be exclusive in their sending locations or strategy, but they are being strategic in their assessment and development of missionaries to make sure they send great people.
"The Missionary Care Sending Church desires to make those they send feel loved, cared for, and accountable to what they are sent to accomplish."
The Missionary Care Sending Church would likely have around fifty to three hundred members. These churches likely have an ethos of congregational involvement. This could include having many committees, lots of member-driven ideas, high focus on the priesthood of the believer, and making sure the creativity of the members is being exercised.
Missionary Care Sending Church Characteristics
The vision of these churches will be to send a certain number of people, but will put a higher emphasis on the types of people they want to send, rather than the type of ministry they want to be a part of overseas. Their strategy will be focused on assessment, development, and care, rather than a particular type of cross-cultural ministry. This falls a little more towards the shotgun approach than a rifled approach, but still has intentionality in who is sent and how they are cared for.
To be a great Missionary Care Sending Church, church leaders will want to create opportunities for those who are interested in global missions to be proactively mentored prior to going overseas. Developing the health of the potential sent one spiritually, emotionally, relationally, and personally is an important area of focus for this church. While this type of church is not necessarily ready to send out members strategically, it is able to send healthy and vibrant members as ambassadors for Christ, as well as ensuring that on-the-field team members are also healthy and vibrant.
"Developing the health of the potential sent one spiritually, emotionally, relationally, and personally is an important area of focus for a Missionary Care Sending Church."
Missionary Care Sending Churches should set up structures that involve their members in caring for missionaries. Assigning care to specific members that are good shepherds is a great first step. These shepherds should start by reading and replying to all updates from the sent one. They should also involve their small group in praying through the updates.
Other ways these members can care for sent ones include: connecting over a video call at least three to four times each year the sent one is on the field, sending care packages, potentially visiting the sent one on a short-term trip, and helping with housing, vehicles, or schooling when missionaries return to the States, whether temporarily or long-term. These are all basic ways to love and serve missionaries.
Becoming a Missionary Care Sending Church
While a missionary care sending church may not have the resources to put a staff member over global missions, it will be important to have someone with administrative leadership gifts to keep the vision of missionary care fresh and accountable for your church. This vision is easily taken over by the tyranny of the urgent for both staff and for members. Keeping members accountable to caring for missionaries will be an important part of being a missionary care sending church.
The hope for anyone associated with The Upstream Collective would be that you are at minimum a Missionary Care Sending Church. While being strategic and sending teams is an ideal, this can be beyond the capacity for some churches and there is nothing wrong with that. But, we hope that as you work to send the right people and to care for them well that some strategies and partnerships will stand out amongst the rest and form the basis of your strategic vision in the future.
In our final article we will share the pitfalls of being a Shotgun Sending church and an encouragement for how Upstream can help you continue towards becoming a more robust sending church.
Mike Ironside is Missions Pastor at Cornerstone Church in Ames, Iowa. He has served on staff with Cornerstone since 2006 in varying roles from college ministry to pastoral staff to being an overseas missionary sent from Cornerstone for 2 years. Mike is the Director of Cohorts for the Upstream Collective. He also serves as chairman of the board for Campus to Campus, a missions organization dedicated to getting US college students connected to church planting movements amongst college students worldwide.