Pro Tips for Hosting IWs
At least once a year your church will find itself hosting one or more International Workers (IWs) for anywhere from three days to a week. What’s the best way to steward these times? That answer will vary from church to church, but below are a handful of thoughts and ideas that have been gathered over the years that can help you make the most of this opportunity.
- Plan. Some of you wouldn’t label yourself a “planner” – that’s okay. Your plan may be elaborate, or it may fit on a sticky note, the point is that you have one. Take some time with another team member and think through how these days will look.
- Involve the IW. As you plan, work with the IW. They have skills and abilities that will suit them better for some types of ministry than others; capitalize on this. Additionally, they may have ideas or suggestions that you haven’t considered.
- Schedule Downtime. It’s easy to forget that after the ministry time with your church, they will likely begin serving right away at another church. Make sure that they have some down time to rest and recharge. Perhaps this would include planning some activities that would allow them to experience the beauty and unique opportunities of your area.
- Communicate. This seems like a no-brainer, but you might be surprised how often this issue comes up. Make sure that ministry leaders, host families, and the IW themselves know what is happening, when it is happening, and who to contact with questions.
- Multiple Venues. The thread of IW Tour can be woven throughout every ministry of the church: Sunday morning, kids ministry, student ministry, small groups, men’s and women’s gatherings, outreach or service events, or even engagement with church leaders or governing board members. And in each of these settings there are multiple ways in which the IW can participate. Working with the IW and playing to their strengths can maximize their impact in these areas.
- Remember the Spouse. If the IW is married and their spouse is not traveling with them, take the time to remember and appreciate them. They are giving up time away from their spouse and often managing a home and children single-handedly. A note of appreciation with a gift card or gift basket communicates that you are aware of, and appreciate, their part in making this ministry possible.
- Give and Take. Hosting an IW isn’t all about what you get from them. In addition to thinking about how the church can benefit from their ministry, consider also how the church may bless and serve the IW (Rom 1:12). Prayer support, love offerings, recreation activities, or even just an interested and listening ear are ways to minister to an IW.
- Leverage Partnership. With the new funding changes the question often arises, “How do we navigate IW Tour when we already have other partnerships?” While it is true that the majority of IWs that you host will not be partners, it is also true that your church will likely only see your partner in-person once or twice over a four year period. Hosting an IW both broadens your church’s exposure to missions and ignites passion for the things God has already called you to.
- Call for Responses. Many today, in a well-intended effort to resist a one-and-done gospel presentation, have resisted calls to action (altar calls, etc.). However, while our Christian life is not a singular moment, it is made up of moments. IW Tour is a great opportunity to present the call to serve in missions. Also, use this opportunity to challenge people to prayerfully commit to give to missions above and beyond their normal giving (Faith Promise).
If there are things you’ve done to host an IW that have worked well for you, I would love to hear about them. Please feel free to drop me a call or shoot me an email so that we can grow together in our ability to plan meaningful times for missions engagement.
Together with you,
firstname.lastname@example.org or (406) 647-2764