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Overview of Sending Church Element 15: Receiving Sent Ones During Reentry

A sending church receives sent ones during reentry by planning to meet their sent ones’ needs (including children) when they leave on furlough, transition indefinitely, or retire. Aware of the unique challenges of reentry, church leaders and members give special attention to formal and informal debriefing. They also seek to help sent ones assimilate back into culture and reintegrate into the church’s local mission. - Upstream Collective Sending Church Element #15

Trying to live within two different cultures is challenging. While Sent-Ones find their roots in their Sending Church, they quickly find their home in the city they are sent to. Their friends, their team, their new favorite restaurants and all their possessions are in the city they are sent to. While going Stateside or returning home for good might feel exciting for family and friends, Sent-Ones have mixed emotions when returning “home.”

"Consider how you can serve and love the Sent-Ones from your church as they make this difficult re-entry for a short period of time or permanently."

The Sending Church can make this transition easier by providing for tangible needs like housing, transportation, or schooling opportunities for missionary kids. Beyond these tangible needs, Sent-Ones likely need the space and opportunity to reflect and re-evaluate their next few years of ministry overseas, or their next step in life back in the States. Giving Sent-Ones time with key leaders in your church that are great at counseling people through life decisions is a helpful step. Providing the opportunity to go on a missionary debriefing retreat, and/or covering the costs with a pre-selected counselor that understands culture re-entry is a great way to love your Sent-Ones.

As Sent-Ones come back they can often face a greater culture shock than when they first went overseas! Consider how you can serve and love the Sent-Ones from your church as they make this difficult re-entry for a short period of time or permanently.

Upstream is here to help you Receive Your Sent-Ones During Re-entry. Here are a few ways:

  • A subscription to the resources on our website gives you access to practical ideas for Receiving Sent-Ones During Re-entry. Resources Include:

  • Check out Upstream’s book, Receiving Sent Ones During Re-Entry by Zach Bradley.

  • Our book, Sending Church Applied (Fall 2021), will take a deeper dive into how to Receive Your Sent-Ones During Re-entry.

The Advanced Cohort will give extensive training and personalized coaching to help you Receive Your Sent-Ones During Re-entry in ways that are unique to your context.


Mike Easton is the International Program Manager for Reliant Mission. Prior to that Mike was the Missions Pastor at Cornerstone Church in Ames, Iowa, for eight years, where he got to experience the ins and outs of being a sending church. He served on staff with Cornerstone 2006 to 2022 in varying roles–from college ministry to pastoral staff to being an overseas missionary sent from Cornerstone for two years. Mike is the Director of Content for the Upstream Collective. Mike, his wife, Emily, and their four kids continue to live in Ames, IA, and serve at Cornerstone.

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