Very often, the budget is divided up into smaller offerings to support multiple missionaries. As a result, the impact of each gift is often much smaller, and the exact impact of the church’s missions support is more difficult for the average member to understand. Consequently, missions fundraising is more difficult, because the benefit is less clear. Then, missions giving drops. The small gifts become even smaller.
This can become a downward cycle in your church in which missions is seen as a weight, rather than a win, to your missions budget.
Every church should consider sending—and, if possible, fully supporting—a single missionary.
Here are seven reasons why.
1. Missions is an extension of the local church
Missions work isn’t just about drilling wells and healing wounds. It’s about planting seeds of the gospel and reaping a harvest for the kingdom of God by planting local churches across the globe. The local church is the epicenter of God’s work in the world, and planting local churches is the primary vehicle by which God extends the reach of his kingdom into the dark places of lostness.
In that sense, missions work is no less than the global application of the command in Hebrews to meet together: “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Heb. 10:24-25).
Missions strategy is devoting to considering how to stir up in the world love and good works by not neglecting to meet together.
2. Missions is an extension of your local church
Missions is not only an extension of the local church, but of your local church. John writes: “You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God. For they have gone out for the sake of the name … Therefore we ought to support people like these, that we may be fellow workers for the truth” (3 John 6-8).
Who is he writing to? A specific audience. He is telling that audience: “Send them.” Send them. You. “Send them.” The church in the abstract can’t send anybody. Your church is meant to send somebody. Who will that person be? How can you send someone to the mission field? What missions agency could you partner with to expand God’s kingdom with excellence?
Diligently consider these questions as you consider how you can replicate what God is doing in your community across the globe.
3. Your missionary-church relationship will be stronger
The Apostle Paul writes to the Colossians: “We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you” (Col. 1:3).
They are on his mind, because he is on their mind. They have a relationship. When Paul writes to the Ephesians, he commends them, not as a generic church, but as the church in Ephesus: “For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints, do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers” (Eph. 1:15-16).
Paul does the same with the Philippians: “For God is my witness, how I long for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:8).
The sender-missionary relationship is the vital core of a healthy missions venture.
4. You can pray for your missionary more effectively
When you fully send and support a missionary, small groups can pray for that missionary. Your congregation can pray for that missionary. Your newsletter can communicate support for that missionary more easily. Needs become clearer. Prayer becomes more straightforward. The concert of God’s people in your church becomes a harmony of love for your missionary and a passion for the gospel to reach the ends of the earth.
Paul writes: “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality” (Rom. 12:13). By fully sending and supporting a missionary, you meet the need. You have a focused hope. You have an expectant and specific patience. And you have honed, collected object for your church’s prayers.
5. It’s easier to fundraise for the mission
When Paul raises funds, he raises for a specific cause and he asks specific people:
“Now concerning the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come. And when I arrive, I will send those whom you accredit by letter to carry your gift to Jerusalem.” (1 Cor. 16:1-3).
When you fully send and support a missionary, it’s much easier for them to raise the support they need for their basic needs—and even for special needs as they arise. Instead of asking 50 churches for $1, they can ask their sending church for $50. This not only creates a stronger bond between the members and the missionary, but it also makes it much easier to meet the need itself.
6. You can encourage your missionary more powerfully
When you fully invest in a missionary, that means they are fully invested in you as a church. When the church in Acts makes a concerted effort to preach the gospel, and they are met with resistance, they face it, reorganize, strategize, and mobilize together:
“When an attempt was made by both Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to mistreat them and to stone them, 6 they learned of it and fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the surrounding country, and there they continued to preach the gospel” (Acts 14:5-7).
Fully sending and supporting a missionary communicates: “Missions is spiritual warfare, and we’ve got your back.”
7. Your missionary can update your church more effectively
First of all, your missionary can send updates that are more focus on the people and culture of your church. They don’t have to create one generic update (or worse—50 unique updates) every time they update their supporters. They can send one update that is uniquely tailored to your church without unduly taxing their time.
Second, updates and connections are more intimate. They can name names. They can thank specific people. They can offer prayers, gratitude, and thanksgiving to specific people, committees, and groups in the church.
Third, their missionary furlough becomes more productive. Instead of making a pitstop at your church, your missionary can spend a longer time investing in, educating, and inspiring the people in your church with God’s work through them on the mission field.
Paul writes: “Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches” (2 Cor. 11:28). The pressure Paul feels isn’t bad. When your missionary feels a sense of responsibility to your church, this concern serves both to motivate and encourage them. It makes them feel like they’re part of a team, and it makes their updates all the more connected to the mission, culture, and calling of your specific church.
Consider sending one missionary. Prayerfully reflect on the possibility that God may be calling you, and your church, to fully send and support a single missionary to expand what God is doing locally in your community into another community in desperate need of Christ.
ABWE exists to fulfill the Great Commission by multiplying leaders, churches, and missions movements among every people.