Partnering to Move the Mission Forward
Over the years, several significant and unique partnerships between churches and missionaries have been able to launch new fields, projects and missionaries. For example, these partnerships provided personal support systems that launched the Karis and Fotizo fields.
Though some of these partnerships have faded over the years, their impact has provided lasting value and continues to bless the fields. So what have these unique partnerships looked like over the years? What does it take to launch an entirely new field to reach the unreached?
For starters, these churches sent some of their own members to serve as missionaries, demonstrating a remarkable priority on global missions. Additionally, church teams took part in short-term trips to these fields, participated in yearly consultations with the missionary teams and sent and received frequent communication with the missionaries.
Typically, lay church members led these church teams, establishing a sense of ownership in the church’s support. These “home teams” kept missionaries informed on what was taking place in the church, they organized consistent prayer meetings to pray for the missionaries and some have even used their skills to help with logistical tasks, such as the creation and distribution of missionary newsletters.
The idea behind this model of a church partnership began in the 90’s when *Matthew, a current pastor in Michigan, wanted to bring the gospel to the Islamic world. He wanted to be supported and sent by a church, along with a small team. This desire to be fully backed by a church was rooted in a desire to have missionaries personally known by a church, rather than simply names on a prayer card or newsletter.
When initiating a partnership with Central Wesleyan Church, *Matthew said he told the church exactly what they intended to do, down to the number of house churches they wanted to plant in a specific amount of time. That way, there was full transparency as to what the goals were and what the church was helping with.
After spending a year attending and getting to know the church on an intimate level, he and the first team of missionaries sent to the Turkic-Arabic area were sent by Central Wesleyan Church – which provided 50% of everyone’s funds to go and start the work in an unreached area.
After cultivating this first partnership with Central, *Matthew then sought out other church partnerships to replicate this model of church partnership. He recruited about three other families and connected them with churches that wanted to bless the work, and God truly led and made a way.
One individual who was recruited is now the current Turkic-Arabic Area Director, *Luke. *Luke has also been blessed to experience the abundant benefits to having this type of personal relationship with churches. For one, *Luke said people felt much more tied to the mission – they weren’t just sending money to the cause, they had ownership in it. They knew Luke and his family personally.
*Roger and *Mary, former missionaries on the Fotizo field, received support from their home church, Stoney Church, for all 14 years of their service. During this partnership, *Mary said the church “home team” kept them encouraged and plugged into church activities.
Stoney Church also demonstrated enthusiasm in hearing about the work that was taking place on the field.
“We could tell that the mission mattered and that we mattered to them … We got the clear sense that people derive joy from investing in things that matter and we certainly felt like our service was a blessing to the church,” *Mary said.
The missionary teams and church “home teams” would also alternate visiting one another to give reports and to reconnect throughout the years. *Luke said this rhythm allowed there to be good engagement on both sides, rather than on just one side.
While pastoral transitions led to the shifting of other missional priorities, *Luke said they celebrate what these church partnerships have been able to do and support throughout the years. Partnerships like these can be done in seasons, he explained – some for initiating the work and others for furthering the development of projects. They don’t have to be lifelong commitments.
We praise God for all of the church partnerships that have been cultivated over the years. It’s not lost on us that these faithful partnerships have helped keep our missionaries on mission. As we continue to learn from various types of partnership over the years, we hope and pray that churches will continue to step out in faith – and maybe even help to launch new fields and send some of their own church members.
*Names have been changed due to security guidelines