Missions Strategies: Part 1 – Staying Aware
Missions Partnerships are one of the best vehicles a church can use to engage fully in missions. A healthy partnership will contain five elements, and the first element is Staying Aware. If we are to be good partners, we must be intentional about staying connected and maintaining a good relationship with our IW counterparts. Staying Aware means more than just receiving occasional updates. It means keeping current on what is going on in their ministry and how their family is doing. It also means finding meaningful ways to communicate this information to the church at large. The goal is to cultivate the relationship between the church and the IW partner by keeping them in the minds of the church family. A good strategy for Staying Aware will facilitate strong engagement in the other four elements of missions partnership.
Here are a few ways that churches have approached and engaged in this strategy. Perhaps these will stir up some creative juices and help your team think through how this will look in your church.
- Updates. Work with you partner to determine what updates from them will look like. Is it a written newsletter? Video update? Text chain? Will it be monthly? Quarterly?
- Primary Contact. Establish a contact person through whom most of the communication will pass. This keeps the IW from being overloaded with requests or messages to respond to. Likely this person will be on the missions team.
- Missions Moment. A short portion of a Sunday service in which a quick update could be shared followed by prayer for the IW family and their team.
- KidMin. Plan regular times to share interesting facts about the IW, their host country, or their ministry with children’s groups. Kids love this and over time it makes missions (and this IW in particular) a normative part of their Christian life.
- Youth Challenges. Take an aspect of your IW partner’s ministry and challenge the youth group to an activity that helps them relate. Maybe it’s driving for a week without A/C, or sleeping for a week on the floor, taking cold showers, or adhering to a specific diet.
- TCKs. If your IW partner has children, make a point to have the children of similar ages “adopt” them by getting to know them, arranging a call during a class if possible, or sending notes, pictures, etc.
- Zoom Church. Arrange a time for the IW to Zoom into a live worship service to share an in-person update or a word of encouragement. Time zone differences may make this prohibitive on a regular ongoing basis, but many IWs are very happy to do this.
- Newsletter. If your church has a weekly or monthly newsletter, keep the IW and their updates as a regular and visible part of this communication.
- Small Groups. Forward updates to small group leaders and encourage them to take a portion of their small group time to share the update. This is a great place to hear questions that people may have about the IW or the partnership which can deepen communication and connection.
- Displays. A well-crafted display in a prominent part of the church building can draw attention and share information about your IW partner.
Perhaps you’ve discovered other effective strategies for maintaining relationship with your IW partners, please drop me an email – I’d love to hear them! As always, you are welcome to call anytime to discuss this or other ways that I can assist you or your missions team.
Together with you,
firstname.lastname@example.org or (406) 647-2764
PS – It’s VERY important to maintain proper communication protocols when communicating with IWs, especially if they serve in a Creative Access Country (CAC). Keep a copy of these guidelines close at hand and follow them carefully in your communication to and about IWs.