Missionaries and ministries send prayer (read: “support”) letters all the time.
Why can’t a champion or church send back a letter indicating the kind of support that they themselves need and, scripturally, have a right to ask for from seasoned Christian workers?
Jonathan Martin oversees Global Outreach Ministry at Good Shepherd Community Church in Portland, Oregon. In his recent book, Giving Wisely, he graciously includes the letter that he sent to a number of local missionaries and ministries the church supports. Goes like this:
We here at the church want to thank you for all your faithful service to our community over the years. You have been serving our Lord faithfully and have been fruitful. That’s why we’ve been supporting you.
We’ve recently made a philosophical change, and we’ll be looking to support those ministries that get our people serving in the community. What we’re asking of you is to train our people as you do your work. The more of our people that you take with you and train to do your ministry, the more fruitful we believe you’ll be as you multiply yourself, and the more fruitful our people will be. The kingdom wins. To quote from Ephesians 4:10-13:
“And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.”
We really do see the primary job of those we support as ministers in the community to be to train those in the body to do ministry. We’ll do anything we can to get you into the many classes at church to share your ministry and to recruit folks to go with you. We’re even glad to interview you in front of the whole congregation to connect you with those in the body. But fundamentally we believe local ministry is for everyone to be involved in, and our money will go to those getting our people involved and in touch with our community.
Jonathan is spot on. The only change I would make is to also send this letter to national and global missionaries as well. After all, which is better–for a missionary on home assignment to travel from church to church seeking support by telling touching stories while showing a DVD and PowerPoint presentation…or for a missionary on home assignment to travel from church to church creatively providing hands-on local field training to interested Christians in how to grow in their biblical calls to:
- assist the stranger
- comfort the afflicted
- instruct the ignorant
- reprove the wicked
- provide food, clothing, and drink to those who have none?
The local community setting provides a great gymnasium for missionaries and international ministry workers to train Christians in the very skills that such workers use halfway around the world…and that all Christians are called to grow in on the way to full maturity in Christ.