With 2018 just a few weeks old, is your church planning to send a pastor or leader on a care-focused visit to one (or more) of your missionaries sometime this year?
If so, we rejoice with you and your missionary that your church recognizes on-field visits are an important aspect of Sending Well. Our prayer is that you'll continue to do so and that a few of the tips we recommend below will help you to be more effective in bringing encouragement to your missionaries.
But if your church leaders haven't yet made the decision, please accept this issue of the Sending Well Wire as an exhortation from Shepherd's Staff to embrace and begin planning to bless your missionaries with this powerful expression of your love.
Here are two of the key benefits of doing an on-field, care-focused visit for your missionaries:
If your church does make the decision to send one or more leaders, here are a few tips that will help it be the blessing you intend it to be for the missionary and those who visit:
- There's no question that your church's ongoing prayer, financial support, and efforts at keeping the congregation informed about them are encouraging. But a personal visit from a church leader binds all those things together in a life-changing way. It reinforces to the missionary in a tangible and powerful way that they are loved and cared about and still regarded as a member of your church family.
- The level of relationship between the visiting leader and the missionary will be deepened significantly and meaningfully. The visit also enables the leader to experience certain aspects of the missionary's life, along with the opportunity to observe them in the context they now live day to day life in. All of these things enable them to pray more knowledgeably and specifically, and to be a much more effective advocate for the missionary to the church leaders and members.
Even though it isn't essential, an on-field, care-focused visit also provides a great opportunity for the church leader to bless the missionary with the gift of a Maintenance Debrief.
- Your missionary is worth having a church leader make the trip just to care for them, so do not include the care-visit as part of a short-term team ministry trip.
- Tell your missionary the purpose of your trip and how many days you will be there, with the ideal being at least two, but not more than five days.
- Ask them to recommend a local hotel that will make transportation to them or by them, as convenient as possible.
- But be prepared for them to invite you to stay with them. If you discern that is truly their preference, then accept their offer.
- Your visit shouldn't cost them anything except their time, so take sufficient funds to cover all transportation costs, and never let them pay for coffee, eating at restaurants, and so forth.
- Ask them if there is anything you can bring for them, including snacks or food items that they really miss—and then be sure to actually deliver the goods.
- Be a listener and a learner, and don't try to relate to them by telling them stories from your travel or cross-cultural experiences.
If you desire to add this component as one of the purposes for making the trip, please contact me, Pastor Jeff Jackson, in a reply to this email. We'll get more information out to you as soon as we hear from you.