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Ways a Sending Church Can Financially Support Marketplace Workers

We are often asked what a church does differently in sending a marketplace worker compared to one who is going as a full-time vocational missionary. I think it is a fair question. The answer is that it does not have to be different at all but at the same time it will look different. Let me explain.


Marketplace worker daily life will not be the same as vocational missionaries. Most likely what marketplace workers are allowed in structured time on the field with a team or local church will vary.


But, similar to vocational missionaries, the marketplace workers’ sending church still needs to assess them for cross-cultural living. The church can help them prepare by training and discipling them towards missionary work. The church needs to find a way to commission them, even though often they cannot do this in a public manner due to their work but they can, in a secure way, involve the church’s elders and perhaps the workers’ small group to pray for them as they are sent out.


The church should also have a prayer strategy for them and set aside an advocacy team for them. These things would look similar to what they would do with anyone the church sends out.


Do Marketplace Workers Need Financial Help?


However, for the marketplace workers who have their basic income, benefits, and insurance needs met, what can their church do for them financially? I often see these types of workers want to ask their church for help but feel bad about doing so because they do have a day job.


"Most likely each marketplace worker’s needs will be different."

My recommendation is to beat them to the question. Ask them if there is anything the church can do to help them on the field.


Over the years I have worked with quite a few sending churches who have financially helped their marketplace workers. It ends up being a blessing for the ones sent but also it really engages the sending church in the ongoing work overseas. Financially supporting marketplace workers also blesses the church.


Ways to Financially Support Marketplace Workers


There are several areas for which a sending church can provide financial resources for their marketplace worker.


Language - In higher level marketplace jobs the company may help the worker with language acquisition but their family usually does not get the same benefits. In other cases the worker does not have funds for language. Language is very important if they are going to adapt to the culture and engage in cross-cultural evangelism and discipleship. Your church could set aside some funds for them to learn the local language during their first year overseas.


Travel - Do they need help getting their possessions overseas or even tickets to get there themselves? Again, mid level management global transfers will most likely have a package but many people who are teaching ESL , working remotely, retiring with a purpose may not have these funds readily available. Could your church help them in this area as a one time gift or reimbursement?


Ministry Funds - Often the marketplace worker is involved in structured ministry projects that they participate in or that they start. Your church could help their team with resources for the project. This is a great way for the church to participate in their ministry. It could also lead to some opportunities for the church to send short-term teams.


Hospitality - The intentional marketplace worker can use a lot of their personal funds in entertaining seekers, throwing outreach dinners, etc. as they try to engage their people group. But often they do not always have the resources to do so. I know several churches that give a gift to help them throw a holiday party for their friends. I have seen others send a care package with some American goodies so they can host the near perfect Thanksgiving dinner (turkey not included of course!).


Local Transportation - I know of another church that helps pay for local transportation for their college student who studies abroad so she can attend gatherings and training for the missionary team she is working with in the city.


"Financially supporting marketplace workers blesses the church."

Children’s Educational Needs - A big financial need on the field is education for workers’ children. Some companies may provide this as a benefit but in other cases your church may help them in this area. Educational needs can be expensive so you will want to think this through before you make a commitment. There may be tax implications on the worker so you would need to be in conversation with them on the best way to handle something like this if you go this direction.


As you think through and plan out what a financial investment looks like with your marketplace workers, be sure to understand that most likely each marketplace worker’s needs will be different. You will have to determine what is the best way to resource them. Any financial gift will most likely need to be included as a 1099 for the worker. You may consider doing more of a reimbursement model instead of a honorarium or allowance. You would also want to consult your church’s business manager on the best way to do this as a church.


There are many ways a church can financially support a marketplace worker. It may take some work on your end. It will take good communication with the ones being sent and what their needs may be. Each one will most likely look differently but it is worth the effort. It is a great way that the sending church can be a participant with individuals who are being sent through the marketplace.

 

Larry is the co-founder and President, CEO of The Upstream Collective. He and his family have lived in Europe for nearly 20 years, where he has served in a variety of strategy and leadership roles. Prior to moving to Europe he was a church planter and pastor in the US. He is a co-author of Tradecraft: For the Church on Mission, The First 30 Daze: Practical Encouragement for Living Abroad Intentionally, and The MarketSpace: Essential Relationships Between the Sending Church, Marketplace Worker, and Missionary Team.

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