One of the most recognized and trusted advertising slogans in the world is “When You Care Enough to Send the Very Best”. This phrase is more than just a slogan for Hallmark, it was a business commitment for the distinctive card company. When Ed Goodman, a Hallmark sales and marketing executive, wrote the words on a 3×5 index card in 1944, he was trying to capture the essence of why Hallmark stood as the very best in the world. Little did Goodman know just how much pressure the slogan would put on the company to be the very best and second to no other card company.
Thinking about this slogan, I wondered, do we send our very best to show we care? I don’t mean do we send Hallmark cards. What I mean is, do we send on mission the very best from our church to show a lost world we care?
The God we serve is a sending God. Nearly every time He speaks to someone in scripture, He is sending them on a mission. From Abraham to Moses to Paul, to us, God’s people are always being sent into the world on mission. God showed He cared by sending His best and only son into the world to save us. Jesus is referred to as “sent” forty seven times in the New Testament. Clearly, God is a sender by nature and cares about us.
After His resurrection, Jesus passed on his identity to His disciples: “As the Father has sent Me, I am sending you” (John 20:21). Like his disciples – we too, have a responsibility to send our very best.
We read in Acts 13:1-3 that after prayer and fasting, the church at Antioch sent Barnabas and Saul out on mission to share the Gospel. They did so in obedience to Jesus’ command to go and the Holy Spirit’s leading. Make no mistake about it, the church sent out on mission two of their best because they cared for those who had not yet heard the Gospel. They correctly believed that people who don’t know Christ as Savior and Lord will suffer God’s judgement. So why would they not seek to share the Gospel with those who need to hear it? Barnabas and Saul were strong leaders and faithful teachers, but the church didn’t try to talk them into staying. Rather, they cared enough to send out two of their best churchmen because they cared for the unreached. Our failure to send out the very best from our churches to serve on mission or start a new church speaks to our lack of care for those who have not yet heard the Gospel and experienced the grace of Christ.
In the same way the slogan put pressure on the Hallmark company, I pray the example of the church at Antioch will put pressure on our churches to send the best members out on mission. Let’s show the lost world we care by sending our very best to share the Gospel with them.
In terms of the local church sending missionaries, one of the most overlooked areas is missionary care. Providing missionaries with a touch point of Pastoral Care is critical for them to not only maintain a healthy relationship with the church, but also sustain a healthy relationship and share Christ well among the nations. In order to plant healthy churches, we must have healthy disciples. Here is a simple outline or template of a Pastoral Care Plan with touch points:
Purpose: The goal of the Pastoral Care Plan is to have every missionary family and single adopted and advocated for by the church and the pastoral care team.
Limitations: Pastoral Care is intended to provide a base level of encouragement, care, and advocacy. Pastors need not feel the full load of care and advocacy unless desired. Each missionary has access to care through multiple channels including Sunday school classes, community groups, a care team, and missional staff (voluntary or paid).
Details: I ask that pastors consider committing to a missionary family/single and following through on basic touch points of communication and being accessible to the missionary. We want each missionary to feel like our pastors are “in their corner.”
Step 1: Know what you are committing to(suggested touchpoints):
Every Month: Provide a simple touch point. This could be a short email of encouragement, WhatsApp, a handwritten letter, or something of the like.
Every 6 months: Have one Zoom call.
Every year: Send a care package from your family to theirs. If possible, build it into the budget, and do not forget to include shipping cost.
Step 2: Commit to a missionary family/single by:
1) Signing up for available missionaries on the excel document.
2) Send an email to the missionary letting them know that you are committing to be their pastoral advocate.
3) Calendar your monthly touch point so you do not forget!
Step 3: Keep other leaders in the loop as needed. If you need help, have questions, or are concerned about your missionary; please let us know and we will be glad to help.
Adopting a missionary is a simple way you and your Missional Community can begin serving in missions. For information about adopting a Kentucky MSC missionary, visit www.kybaptist.org/adopt-a-missionary. To learn more about adoption options with national and international SBC missionaries, contact the Missions Mobilization Team ([email protected] or 502-489-3530). If you have any questions about setting up a Missionary Care Plan, please contact John Barnet ([email protected] or 502-654-3385).
Taking the gospel to the nations is not an easy task. As missionaries go out to proclaim the good news, they often become discouraged and consider quitting. Why? They feel as if they are entirely on their own, without the active support of sending brothers and sisters who can uphold, encourage, provide, and pray for them. The church’s desire should be obedience to the Scriptures as a going AND sending, supporting community. The little letter of 3 John calls the church to both send out and care for its missionaries “in a manner worthy of God.” It calls us to partnership – to “work together for the truth” with those we send to faraway lands. John commands us to love these missionaries with a hands-on kind of love, even if we do not know them personally (verse 5) precisely because we are partners in the gospel! This means that one of the best ways your Community Group can get involved in international missions is to adopt a missionary and begin caring for them.
The church’s vision may be to see each of our missionary units supported by several Community Groups who are strategically praying for, communicating with, and regularly sending packages to our member missionaries. Bottom line: We want each of our missionaries to have real and consistent care just as 3 John says they should. Would your group be willing to adopt a missionary, provide the care, and the love they need? If so, here are your next steps:
Talk it over as a group. Pray about it as a group. Discern your ability and willingness, as a group, to commit the time, energy, resources, and relational investment necessary to love and serve one of our missionaries or ministries well, “in a manner worthy of God” (v 6).
Designate a person in your group who will be the missionary care leader. This person/couple will connect with both the missionary and a Missions Mobilization Team member.
Get started. There are numerous ways you can care for your missionary unit:
Prayer– Get prayer requests from your missionary unit and pray as a group at least once a month.
Communication– Have personal conversations with your missionary unit at least once a month through email, written letters, or Zoom.
Care packages– Commit to send a care package to your missionary unit at least twice a year. Set a goal of once a quarter.
Have them Visit– When your missionary unit is in the U.S., have them come and visit your group.
Visit them– Encourage group members to visit your missionary unit on the field. People could do this individually or you could do this as a group, if possible.
Adopting a missionary is a simple way you and your Missional Community can begin serving in missions. For information about adopting a Kentucky MSC missionary, visit www.kybaptist.org/adopt-a-missionary. To learn more about adoption options with national and international SBC missionaries, contact the Missions Mobilization Team ([email protected] or 502-489-3530).
Care Teams are the most tangible expression of our church’s commitment to support our missionaries who are serving in cross-cultural environments. The team is centered around one team leader and can be made up of 3-8 individuals who provide on-going care and support. They serve as a primary link between the church as a whole and the missionary.
Simply put, a care team is a group of people who deeply love and care for their missionary unit. They communicate, pray for and stay connected to their missionary unit on a regular basis. Because of these strong personal relationships, the missionaries can be open and honest, allowing his or her team to see needs and share successes and defeats.
What Is the Vision for a Care Team?
There are two major roles of every Care Team: care and representation. The success of the care team depends on its ability to accomplish these two goals from the time that the missionary unit prepares to leave for the field until his or her return.
Many missionaries minister in physically challenging environments. Some are raising children far from extended family. Others struggle with cultural adjustments and language barriers. Most significantly, all serve on the front lines of spiritual warfare. For survival and spiritual health, every missionary unit needs the assurance that they are not alone, that there are others in the body of Christ who love them and are committed to their welfare and to the success of their work. Missionaries need empathetic listeners and caring friends who are not in a supervisory role. The Care Team can consistently provide that kind of spiritual and emotional care. Caring also involves identifying specific needs which the team can meet or organize others in the church to meet.
The Care Team also champions the missionary and his or her work to the church body and advocates for ongoing participation in their ministry even when he or she is far away. Thanks to the efforts of the Care Team, the church feels an ongoing sense of connection to our workers.
What Does a Care Team Look Like?
We have intentionally kept the structure of our Care Teams simple. The foundation of each Care Team is the team leader. He/She is the one who has the main connection with the missionary unit and leads the team in all aspects. The team leader either already knows the missionary deeply or commits to build a deep relationship. The rest of the team is built under the leadership of this committed person.
Each Care Team will look different. Some will have a team leader with 6-8 additional people on the team while others will have a leader with just one or two additional people on the team. Both types of teams can serve as great care networks for our missionaries.
Depending on the team members’ season of life, people may need to step out of their Care Team. We ask however that team leaders commit to the missionary full term (2-4 years) and/or be willing to replace themselves in this role if needed.
What Does a Care Team Do?
Teams can meet at anytime and anywhere; we just ask that each team meet once a month to fulfill their role as advocates. We suggest that you build a team around a missional group that already exist in the church. For example, Sunday School Class members, Prayer group, Life Group, Community group, etc.
The main role of a Care Team is to pray monthly as a team and on an individual basis. We also ask that you hold your missionaries accountable to regularly update their prayer requests.
Ask any missionary and they will tell you that they rarely stay connected with their friends and church family back home. Part of providing care to missionaries is the commitment to stay connected. Your missionary unit should hear from you at least once a month. This can happen through emails, Zoom, handwritten letters or any number of creative ways. Make sure this is part of your team meeting.
Send Care Packages
Nothing says I love you to a missionary quite like a box full of ranch dressing mix, chocolate and a few good books! Care Teams will send at least two care packages a year to their missionary unit. Perhaps the church can help with the cost of shipping two packages each year with hopes of your team sending a few more packages using personal funds, if possible.
Help with Departure and Arrival
Some of the hardest times for your missionary unit will be preparing to leave for the field and returning home for a stateside visit. There are a thousand things that need to be done and we ask that your team jump in and help as much as possible.
How Do We Get Started?
Here are three things to do to get your Care Team started:
Email the Team
Once the team leader is in place, he/she can email others on the team or start recruiting for the team. Get everyone on an email list and start communicating with one another.
Email your Missionary
The team leader needs to email the missionary and let them know their Care Team is forming. Ask for prayer requests and invite the missionary unit to the first meeting via Zoom.
Meet as a Team
Set a date for your first meeting. Pick a home to meet in and share a meal with one another. During this meeting make sure you get to know each other, pray for the missionaries and if possible, talk to your missionary unit on Zoom. Also make sure you set up a regular time and place to meet.
Matthew 22:36-39 – “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
This is one of the most quoted verses in the Bible because loving your neighbor as yourself is the second greatest commandment, after loving God.
Jesus calls us to love our neighbors and most of us actively try to do that by meeting their needs and showing love in tangible ways. But another valuable way we can love our neighbors is by praying for them.
I have often found myself so caught up in helping neighbors with their needs that I forget to pray for them and the community we live in. While the work I do with them, or even for my neighbors is important, nothing is more important than the prayers I pray for them.
Hudson Taylor said “when we work, we work. But when we pray, God works.” Through prayer, God invites us to work with Him for the well-being of our neighbors. It is God’s way of giving us a stake in His Kingdom building work.
We want good for our neighbors and the community we live in, but too often we rely on the work of our hands instead of partnering with God and seeing things really happen. I must confess that prayer is sometimes the missing element in my attempt to care for neighbors and bless my community.
Let me suggest the following ways that we can pray specifically for our neighbors and the community we live in.
Pray that God would …
Give neighbors a hunger and thirst for God and His Word.
Heal the emotional wounds of people living in my community that relationships between neighbors would be made right.
Remove any racial or social barriers that exist between neighbors.
Destroy poverty in the community and grant economic growth to meet the financial needs of families.
Deliver the community from alcohol and drug addiction.
Drive out all occultic influence and evil activity in the community.
Strengthen families in the neighborhood and bless each home.
Provide opportunities for sharing the gospel so that many would hear and receive Jesus.
Give believers a deep burden for the lost and an increasing desire to share the gospel with them.
Bless the pastors and churches of the community, granting them power and protection as they minister.
Deliver the believers in this community from self-centeredness and indifference toward those who need Jesus.
Transform the homes in this community so that they will be Christ-centered.
THANK YOU Lord for placing me in this community and for what You are doing to bring about Your kingdom here. I pray that my neighbors in this community will come to know you!