11 Types of Care Missionaries Want From Their Sending Agencies and Co-Workers

A key barrier to providing effective missionary care is the attitude exhibited by members of the missions community who do not appreciate, understand or value what genuine member care is.  Is missionary care valuable?  Maybe we should ask the missionaries.

Image By Defame (Eleven) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Brenda Bosch, an international member care trainer, did just that.  She surveyed over 2,200 missionaries from a broad spectrum of  nations, nationalities and sending agencies.  Apparently, missionaries wanted the following eleven items from their missions sending agency:

  1. someone to listen to me
  2. fitting my gifting to my role
  3. personal development
  4. friendship with co-workers
  5. regular debriefing
  6. regular accountability
  7. prayer partnership on the field
  8. how to raise support
  9. mutual care within my team/department
  10. help in leading others better
  11. field visit by member care worker

Sounds like missionaries want:  someone who cares about the things they care about, someone who will lead them and someone who will help them to develop into godly servants.

I’ve got a few thoughts on how to tackle these missionary desires:

  • ignore them
  • pretend we don’t know about them
  • plead the fifth when the words “missionary” and “care” show up in the same sentence

Okay, maybe my thoughts aren’t the best but they do reflect a large cross-section of Christians, churches and missions agencies.  Let’s try again:

  • Missions professionals:  Can we show up in the lives of missionaries, listen to their stories, visit them in person, ask them relevant questions such as “How is your marriage?” and “What is hard for you right now?” and then walk with them through the years helping them to develop all that God wants them to be?
  • Churches:  Can we take the time to help missionaries raise their support at the beginning of their ministries and then debrief them after every term to see what their needs are?
  • Missionaries:  Can we take the time to get with another missionary and pray with them and show our teammates that we actually do care for them?
  • Regular people:  Can we walk with missionaries and commit to help them in real ways?

I’m all four of the above categories.  Which one are you?

What can you do to provide a little missionary care today to the missionary that you care about?  These 11 desires are genuine needs.  Missionaries need to hear from you – today.

Survey Source – Brenda Bosch: MISSIONARY SURVEY OUTCOMES via the Global Member Care Network

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13 Comments on “11 Types of Care Missionaries Want From Their Sending Agencies and Co-Workers”

  1. Dave Lewis Says:

    Home run, Brian! I too am all four, plus maybe a fifth: passionate pot-stirrer for the cause of missionary care. Preach it brother; I’ll turn the pages for your!

    Reply

  2. Brian Stankich Says:

    Ha ha, thanks Dave. Stir away…

    Reply

  3. Shirley E. Wright-Masongezi Says:

    This is where we’re living right now, Brian. I had a difficult phone call day before yesterday with a pastor who refused to have us share about our vision for church planting because the church doesn’t have any money to invest in missionary support. I talked till I was pink in the face to try to convince him that we did not want any money, but only to share with his people what God was doing in Montreal and Cameroon. May God give you more insight.

    Reply

    • Brian Stankich Says:

      Shirley, I hear your frustration in your words. Thank you for sharing it. Let’s bear with each other, keeping in mind that we all have different experiences and points of understanding. Perhaps if this pastor understood your heart, he or she would have responded differently. Or maybe it has nothing to do with you or him/her at all. Maybe there simply isn’t time for that kind of opportunity in their midst or they do not value your ministry sufficiently. Hopefully he/she heard your heart and genuine motivation, even if not responding as you wished, and this will influence him/her the next in a similar situation. I would ask you to pray for him/her and also for yourself as God leads. I am praying for you as well. Brian

      Reply

  4. Jim Van Meter Says:

    Brian, thanks so much for sending this. I am also going to send you a copy of a Gallop Poll. It initially is about “health care costs”, but as you get in to it, there is a lot that interfaces with the 11 Things Missionaries Care About. I am wondering if the missions movement would turn around if we paid more attention to the 11, and as they interface with the Global desire for “good jobs” and Gallop’s suggestions for making that happen.

    Reply

    • Brian Stankich Says:

      Jim, that’s a good thought. You’d think the sense of doing things the right way would be true in missions as well. Sometimes it does but often people seem to be unable to recognize that good business practices are beneficial in missions as well.

      I look forward to seeing that report too.

      Reply

  5. Anar Says:

    How would you suggest a church takes the time to help missionaries raise their support at the beginning of their ministries?

    Reply

    • Brian Stankich Says:

      Anar, that’s a good question.

      1. Meet formally with the missionary to understand the whole picture.
      2. Church leadership decide a game plan for who will lead the missionary, how much the church will support, ways to involve the body, etc.
      3. Church leaders determine with the missionary a protocol for whether he/she can approach individual members for support.
      4. Pastor and other members introduce missionary to other churches and church leaders, writing letters of recommendation, phone calls, etc.
      5. Members host small parties with other members and friends where the missionary care share their vision.
      6. If the missionary is using social media well, which he/she should be 🙂 then other members in the church can commit to helping get the message out: reposting on facebook, retweeting, etc.
      7. Anar, #7 is for you. What do you think a church can do?

      Take a look at the sending church posts I’ve got including

      http://convergemissionary.com/2011/06/22/the-development-of-the-sending-church/

      for a better picture of the environment/context that a church can create to enhance the missionary’s overall ministry. Remember that support raising is part of the ministry too.

      Thanks for the dialogue, Anar. Does any of that help?

      Brian

      Reply

  6. Lee Giles Says:

    I was surprised at how “member care” seemed non-existent when it was talked about so much. Why do agencies, who should want their people to remain on the field, not ensure that list of needs is being met? I still find it remarkable that they told us that member care came from your team and that teams were the number one reason people left the field. It seems obvious to me that shows member care wasn’t happening, yet that remains the way member care is handled.

    Reply

    • Brian Stankich Says:

      Lee, that’s a fantastic insight. We are faced with several answers to your question, why wouldn’t agencies ensure these needs are being met:

      1) lip service – leaders don’t really want the needs met, they just want sending churches (aka donors) to think the needs are being met and for the missionaries to think the same to get them into the agency

      2) teams receive little to no support from other field leaders and from home-based support staff, for reasons unique to each agency

      3) member care is not viewed as a priority by leaders so they ‘delegate’ it to others without ensuring that it is being accomplished

      Do any of these apply to your situations? You have a unique perspective since you’ve been a part of two agencies.

      The rest of you – please chime in if you agree or disagree with any of these possibilities.

      Brian

      Reply

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. More Missionary Care | Missions Blog for Churches - May 11, 2012

    […] A few more ideas on missionary care: 11 Types of Care Missionaries Want From Their Sending Agencies and Co-Workers. […]

  2. Missionaries: The Last Frontier of World Missions? | FULFILL - July 11, 2012

    […] 11 Types of Care Missionaries Want […]

  3. Are You Listening? Really Listening? « Clearing Customs - October 9, 2012

    […] Thanks to Brian Stankich at FULFILL for drawing my attention to the survey in his post “11 Types of Care Missionaries Want from Their Sending Agencies and Co-Workers.” […]

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