Pastoral Advice for Missionaries

As a missionary myself, I am always interested in what others are saying about missions and missionaries.  I recently came across this great blog post from Pastor Jeff Brewer on his blog, churchplantpastor.org and really thought it had great value – so I am re-posting it here in its entirety.

MISSIONARIES: HELP US HELP YOU

I love missions.  Really.  I’m not just saying that because pastors are supposed to say they love missions.  But perhaps I should clarify.  I love Christ.   I want others to love Christ too, and  I want our churches to be churches who love Christ and long for others to know him.  I love Christ, therefore I love missions.  Healthy churches are churches that are gripped by the urgency of the task to take the gospel to those who have not heard.  Clearly, this must start in our own neighborhoods and towns, but it cannot stop there, nor should it be called “missions.” That should be called “normal Christianity.”    The local church has a responsibility to look to areas of the world that are unreached and pray how they might be involved in the task.

I was a missionary in a 10/40 window country.  I know the sacrifices you have made and are making; raising support; being separated from family and friends; difficult and hazardous living conditions; hard and unreceptive hearts from those to whom you are ministering.  Your sacrifices are many and your difficulty is real.  We want to support you and uphold you in prayer and by other means.

So here are ten things I, as a pastor, would like you to keep in mind when you share your ministry in a local church so that people in our congregations are gripped by a love for Christ and urgency for the task of world missions:

1. Prepare what you are going to say beforehand like you would if you were preparing for a major presentation or proposal.     Craft your talks.  Have points that relate to and support the main point you want to get across.

2.  One goal should be to show people that it is essential for you to be doing the ministry you are doing.  People who are compelled by your ministry are more likely to pray and support you.

3. You want the people to feel the passion that you feel.   It’s OK if you are not a gregarious person.  We’re not asking you to be.  Just be yourself and demonstrate the passion you have for the gospel and in making Christ known in the ministry to which you have been called.

4.  Please be careful in how you speak and write in your prayer letters about vacations you take while on the field.  Fiji might have been just what you needed and a very inexpensive place for you to minister to your family, but there are more important things to regularly report on than where you went on vacation.  (But do take vacations! You need them and it is essential for you to care for your family and lead them well.)  See the next point.

5.  Ask three friends who will be honest with you to read and evaluate your communications that you send to your supporters.  Ask for feedback concerning content, length, prayer requests, financial appeals, etc…  Remember what you wrote the last few months to your supporters because there is a cumulative effect that your letters have as people read them regularly.

6.  Shoot for a presentation that is ten minutes less than the time you have been assigned then ask for questions.  Most missionaries shine in the Q&A time. Listen to the questions people tend to ask you and shape presentations based around them.

7.  If you are a missionary who is preparing to go to the field, don’t talk as if you have all the answers before you get there.  If you are a missionary who has been on the field for a long time show the people the wisdom and expertise you have gained through your time in country.

8. If you are going to use multimedia, which is a good thing, use it in such a way that it aids you’re presentation and points.  Use images to draw us into your story.  Remember to communicate beforehand with the contact person about what multimedia options there are and what adaptors you might need to bring.  Arrive early enough that the presentation is ready to go and always have a “plan B” in case the projector/sound doesn’t work.  For some reason, we here in the states have issues when it comes to making technology work consistently.  Assume that there will be a problem and plan accordingly.

9.  Tell us about how you are doing personally. Share with us how your family is adjusting to pressures that you face. Let us know how to pray for you.  If you are struggling and need encouragement, please share this with us in an appropriate way that enables us to empathize and care for you.

10.  Don’t assume people remember everything that you share in your prayer letters.  A lot of people who support missionaries receive many letters a month.  Remind people about what you have been asking them to pray for and share with us how God has answered those prayers.”

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