I recently created a new Ministry Information Packet (click for PDF). It is based off of our old one which detailed our prospective ministry with World Team and our target location. In our new one I have expanded some sections to include a bio on me and Joe as well as laying out multiple ways to partner with us in ministry.
The three main ways individuals can partner are as Prayer Partners, Financial Partners, Advocates, or any combination of those options. In this blog post I wanted to talk about being a Missionary Advocate.
I think when most people think of partnership, they hear "money". Though financial partnership is vital to ministry, there are so many other ways to support and partner with missionaries - and a big one is Advocacy.
An Advocate is defined as
a person who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy;
a person who pleads on someone else's behalf
Being an Advocate is a great way to partner and support, especially if you have to desire to support missionaries but are unable to financially.
You are in a wonderfully unique position to reach out to your own network of friends, family, coworkers, church members on behalf of your missionary to provide credibility for them. Not only does your excitement and support of your missionaries rub off onto your friends, it is also incredibly encouraging and edifying to the missionaries. (It is easier to stand on the hard days knowing that you have these partners and advocates standing with you.)
As you are probably aware, most missionaries are required to raise funds for their mission and ministry. In years past missionaries would go on "deputation" and travel around speaking at churches all over the country, seeking financial support from the churches. Times have changes. Churches are reluctant to even speak to a missionary unless they have an advocate within that church. Most missionaries today are actually supported by more individuals and families than churches. We need advocates who will help us reach out to people outside of our own network.
Here are some simple and practical ways to be a Missionary Advocate:
1. Pass out prayer cards to your friends or church family. Prayer cards are to missionaries as business cards are to business professionals.
2. Pass out Updates. Like, Comment, and Share missionary updates, blog posts, and videos on social media outlets, such as Facebook (As appropriate - some missionary information can be very confidential.). Print off their email update and pass on to your church's mission board or forward their email updates to your friends that might be interested.
3. Host a gathering. Invite your friends over for a missions-themed evening and let your missionary friends share their ministry vision.
4. Invite them to share at your Bible Study/Small Group.
5. Do the "Ask" on their behalf. In the blog post on train4missions.org, Pastor Mike writes, "Believe it or not, it is more comfortable and more helpful for you to ask for money for your missionary than it is for your missionary to do it themselves. It is easy for me to say, “you should donate to so-and-so.” I’m not getting the money, nor am I receiving any of the benefits; I’m simply serving as an advocate. It is much harder and more awkward for a missionary to say, “Would you consider supporting me?”
6. Listen. Simple, yet incredibly important. Take a few moments to meet with missionaries and listen to their ministry vision. Listen to their heart. Feel their passion. Catch the vision.
Other ways to partner include hosting prayer meetings for missionaries and helping with practical things like mailings and phone calls. Missionaries raising support and building partnership team make lots of phone calls to individuals and churches in search of people who are willing to listen to their ministry vision.
*Some other great blog posts by Train4Missions.org:
The Most Powerful Thing You Can Do For A Missionary
Setting Your Missionary Up For Success